"Change, Reflections on Personal Growth" by James Armstrong, Book Review
A Message of Hope
Inside this small, powerful book, a message of hope rings clear. The author has sprinkled the pages with read-between-the-lines messages made clear through multiple examples of famous people and celebrities.
Mr. Armstrong, former President of the National Council of Churches, lays the groundwork on the method of bringing happiness and joy into our lives. With his newest release, he shines a ray of hope that things can and will get better. But there are individual things each of us must do to make these changes possible.
"In life, things are always in flux," says Professor Armstrong, author of Change - Reflections on Personal Growth and Social Transformation. We experience change everyday in our work, our lives, in industry, in world leaders, even changes in the values that we were taught as children. Things change. That is the only constant.
As a former Methodist Bishop and minister, he captivated audiences with his non traditional and at times controversial revelations from the pulpit. His frank, compelling manner drew in audiences to capacity in the churches were he ministered. During his tenure at Broadway United Methodist Church in Indianapolis,during a time of radical social change, church membership grew beyond two thousand members.
He never led the traditional sheltered life of the cloistered minister operating from the sterile confines of a parsonage. He went about the world making things change. He is a proponent of the slogan popular during the past presidential campaign, "Be The Change."
Since those days of his ministry, his highly developed range of associations with world leaders, political figures and multiple leadership roles have afforded him an uncanny view of the world. His current position at Rollins College as Professor of Ethics continues to provide a platform to share wisdom gained through nearly nine decades in this world.
"Change is written into the very fabric of life. Be open to it. Seek it."— James Armstrong
This hundred page novel, published by Ridergreen Book Publishers, points to the ever changing values that have affected the lives of many influential people, shown both as examples and warnings in the book.
Mr. Armstrong mentions Oprah Winfrey, whose well known story demonstrates an ability to surpass our childhood difficulties. He states that although she positively affected the lives of millions in her daily broadcast on the Oprah Winfrey Show, that she fell short of her ideals in embracing a self-help program called The Secret. He believes that philosophy promotes a "quick fix culture".
He says, "We will not find the answers in quick-fix solutions."
"If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do."— Mahatma Gandhi
So where do the answers lie?
Mr. Armstrong discounts the writings of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale whose program "insisted that we don't have to depend on ourselves, we can embrace prayer-power," according to the author of the New York Times best-seller, The Power of Positive Thinking. To this, Mr. Armstrong disagrees and calls it a "shallow, far too simple approach to the complexities of human nature."
He believes that "positive thinking is fine as long as it is realistic." He speaks of our former President's fierce determination to turn his life around and asks if this is enough to inspire change in others. To some, yes, but to others, change is influenced by any number of things.
"We must first recognize there is no single, cheap and easy cure-all in the shallows of self-improvement." In Chapter 3, he writes that to move beyond our shallow self-improvement schemes we need to "turn our gaze inward."
The message comes out clear and true. We must become an active participant in the process. He quotes the words of Gandhi, "Be the change you wish to see."
He speaks of Jesus as one who wanted authenticity; as one who spoke out even in old times, against the politicians (scribes and Pharisees, priests and reverends) who were phonies. It was Jesus who told us, "Seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened unto you."
Dr. Armstrong, who is a retired professor of Ethics and Philosophy at Rollins College, says we must be open to change to affect a positive change in our own lives. We must be honest with ourselves.
Examples and Warnings
In this brief volume about change, we are given examples of people whose lives have changed dramatically when faced with stark reality. He mentions the duplicity of those in public view like John Edwards with his public betrayal of his wife accompanied by an out-of-wedlock child. The pages of history are peppered with the remains of public figures whose notorious misbehavior has become public.
He writes that we must shine the spotlight on ourselves and examine our own authenticity.
He instructs us to make our own list of what we really want and gives us clues as to what we might put on that list; a list that will include different things for each of us.
Through Dr. Armstrong's rich examples of lives which have undergone major upheaval and change, he quietly instructs us about what we must do to affect a quality of change within ourselves. He admonishes us to become "introspective; reflective; and really honest with ourselves about our attitudes and loyalties" that could use a good review.
He asks an important question, "Are you resigned to growing old and feeble, or are you older and growing, determined to drain the cup of life dry before moving into the mysteries of whatever tomorrow holds?"
The answer lies in reshaping our lives to embrace change, to evolve into the "fully-functioning, creative, ever-growing human being you are meant to be."
© 2013 Peg Cole