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Eric's Sunday Sermon; The Battle Within

Updated on October 4, 2016

Just an old native work of art

I wonder if this was just done by a child, or if it was done by a medicine man. Piute most likely.
I wonder if this was just done by a child, or if it was done by a medicine man. Piute most likely. | Source

Lessons bound in leather and honor

This sermon is not for the faint of heart. It is suggested not to read it if you are not ready to question yourself.

There is a man. You may assume it is the author/preacher but we make a full anonymity commitment. He is not a good man. Now do not jump to conclusions here. He tries to be a good man. He works hard at being a good man. But he just cannot measure up to what he believes is good. Is this you? (I use man generically for it applies to women the same – does it apply to children?)

There is so much wrong with this man, sometimes he hates himself. But God always loves him. I hope I do not go too quickly to the point. Because this man wakes up and falls to his knees. He does not want to do harm to others but he is wired differently than how he wants the current to flow.

Is there a possibility that man can do good? Well it seems that he can do so. He can teach and lead and learn. He stops at the light and gives money to the beggar. He actually buys and distributes blankets to those who live on the streets. He begs forgiveness. And he forgives. But those are of a substance made of hand. Sometimes not one of heart. Can one cleanse their heart of less than good feelings? Man is not evil. But man does evil. How can a good man cause harm to another? Am I talking about you? Or am I talking about me?

Some of us have so much love flowing our way that we are overflowing with love yet we seem sometimes to disregard it. How can a man reach down and hold a youngster’s hand and yet not plant plants that provide love and food and beauty? Why does man hate? Is the road to hell filled with good intentions – I pretty much do not think so. That road is filled with a lack of expanding our love to others. You are awesome even if you fail.

Probably my songwriter son is tired of this, but he ain't never been there like me.

You might want to think about this one

In this exact spot there is a world famous photo of a combatant be executed. Perhaps you remember, I do.Vietnam is not a war but a place.
In this exact spot there is a world famous photo of a combatant be executed. Perhaps you remember, I do.Vietnam is not a war but a place. | Source

Well maybe you might want to thank God you are crazy

Who are we to judge?

It would be easy to claim and proclaim that man is made faulty and sinful. I do not buy that for a single second. Our metaphoric man was born illegitimate and a bastard with birth defects. Where did the concepts of original sin and bearing the sins of our father come from? I think one must bend the scripture to come to such outrageous concepts that a little tiny premature baby is born with sin. I sin but my four children did not sin before birth. I beg of a Bible Thumper to prove me wrong. The notion came from Nicea and a catholic dogma. You were born awesome. You are awesome. Forgive us our trespasses comes way later in life. No baby trespasses. Did you know that there is a legal doctrine about fruit from your neighbor’s tree hanging over your fence? Yes it is called the Volunteer concept. That fruit that hangs over your boundary line is yours. Just some fun trivia to lighten things up.

Back to some serious stuff. Why does my imaginary man need to pray and meditate in order to do right? Shouldn’t our default position be one of good and righteousness? Please forgive me Father in heaven for my default position is one of self-satisfaction and ego. Oh how I wish it were not so. And believe me the self righteous will come forth and tell me that I am not as filled with the Holy Spirit as they are. What arrogance. So I was in a white robe underneath a tree preaching. With the rope tied around the waste. I was a “holy” man. I asked the twenty or so young people which one of them had sinned and raise your hand. Not a single hand went up. It cracks me up to this day. Who among us has not sinned?

This man gave his soul. What have I given?

I have no right to have such a great son.

What up with America?
What up with America? | Source

Please just let it be

But you are more than a gift to earth. You in your birth are wonderful and the angels exhort your wonderment. I just love an old legal saying. It comes from asking a court not to give you money but to provide for equity in a given situation. Maybe a boundary line dispute or a right to use a driveway to get to your home. And it goes like this; “we come with hat in hand on bended knee asking for justice”. Not a prayer for relief and not a demand for retribution but a supplication after acting right. My hypothetical man could never ask for such judgment for he comes before the court already doing wrong.

My man was and is a man.

So let us speak of a story from biblical times. There was a down right dirty whore. For sure they caught her in the act. It was a sin punishable by man by death by stoning. Nasty business I hear some folks still practice it. And this crazy man stood between the stones and the lady. By all rights they should have stoned him to death also. But in a dirty worn out robe and sandals befitting a beggar he spoke. And he told them that “he without sin must cast the first stone”. Well by all accounts each man laid down his stone and walked away. I do believe that I was that whore. Perhaps you are also.

Maybe one day I met a man without sin. He was a decorated hero from a crazy war that was nearly glorified by a show called MASH. He had a nasty wound in his thigh yet he never limped. He was my mentor in my early years. His name was Emmet Dijon. He was from Cajun country and as black as the ace of spades. He lost a son in the Vietnam atrocity. I had no babysitter for both my parents worked saving others in their medical professions. He was one of the few, the proud and a master gunny before a black man could be one. At age six he did not whoop my behind but would make me stand erect with shoulders proud. He taught me how to shovel and to put in a day’s work. Kind of crazy looking back on it as I was just a pup. Emmet taught me to be proud of who I was. He taught me how to catch catfish with my bare hands. Maybe someday I will tell you the story on how he instructed me how to catch a twelve foot long Boa Constrictor that had been killing small livestock.

Right and wrong, black and white, sunup or sundown. Somehow they blur.

Sometimes I just do not feel like loving - dang

Good is not a shopping basket

So one day this hypothetical man was faced with a 44 caliber six inches from his face. A calmness overtook the man. Such a calmness that it made the Hell’s Angel gunman pistol whip him instead of shooting him. The bad man did not go down but rather came back with a right cross that broke nearly off the biker’s nose and then proceeded to break three ribs and dislocate his knee enough to send him to the hospital. I told you the hypothetical man was a bad man.

And so we come to the end of this story of the bad man and proceed to a sermon. God does not love you as many think. God wants to love you. There is this battle between good and evil. A bad man can do good as a good man can do wrong. You get to wake up each morning and decide if you will do good or evil. Is this a curse? Or is it a blessing? We are not endowed to do just good. We are endowed to make our decisions. I think you will choose good. But that is entirely up to you. I am pained to leave you a choice. It is really hard sometimes. Follow your “gut” and things will be well.

Shoot three girls just came by asking about their lost dog. OK I held their hands and visited our neighbors. We did not find her, but we tried. I reckon I am a failure. Or maybe I am blessed.

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    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 8 months ago

      Eric , my friend . You know what I , as an absolute sinner and a plain bad dude , love about your sermons ?

      They come from as pure a heart as any writing I have ever read , I say read about because we should be neighbors , with good fences of course and I suspect although I do not know anything of importance that that "battle " you write of is from within . Let me tell you something about inner battles that I do know .

      I have a friend with a good heart

      There are winds that tear at our souls from within

      as if the winds of November

      There are memories that hammer at our minds

      it hurts even to remember

      Visions of our past blind us

      like a curtain before our eye's

      and the memory of touch haunts us

      even without the lies

      Though once in a while we find a spark

      and that spark ignites

      And a fire grows within our heart

      to warm our nights

      That warmth spreads unto a sermon

      as unselfish as a pure heart knows

      And in that sermon there comes a warmth

      as pure as driven snows

      Once I saw in a cloud a vision

      it was God looking down and I knew

      at the end of that vision a smile

      he was smiling at you

      Thank You for the sermons - all of them.

    • threekeys profile image

      ThreeKeys 8 months ago from Australia

      Hi Eric.

      I cannot respond to you from a Bible/Christian knowing perspective so it maybe I may not have picked up on the true essence of your sermon. However in saying that I would like to respond if I may.....

      I personally believe we are born whole and pure but to expand ourselves hoilistically we are born into a particular family lineage to either continue the family's PEMS challenges and or resolve the PEMS (to varying degrees) through our own individual nature and framework.. And that could mean for one person, to be shown or tempted by the opposites in life (duality), of what that person likes, believes or desires. Because one doesn't know the what the day is like without the night; love without hate; peace without war.... Also, within that we have a choice. A choice of deciding which part of our nature we will choose to feed. Will we continue to feed the primal savage within? Maybe, sometimes. Will we feed the civilized one within? Maybe, sometimes.

      I believe we can't really say "never". By that I mean, we cannot say for sure we would always do X, Y and Z in every situation. Its like Milton's well known authourity experiment. "Normal/typical" students changed dramatically when power and a lack of accountability occurred.

      I hope I responded with relevance Eric

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 8 months ago from San Diego California

      In this day and age it's almost impossible to tell good from bad without a scorecard. What we grew up thinking was bad is now good and acceptable. It's a confusing world to even try to be good because the moral compass doesn't point the same way all the time.

      Once again, another stellar sermon to kick my butt before I'm off to work. Your goodness shines through with every word you write.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 8 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I spent years in a fifteen round heavyweight fight with myself, pounding away, body blows, overhand rights, stiff jabs....never could score a knockout, but plenty of damage was done.

      I'm done with that bullshit, excuse my language. Today I am satisfied simply being Mr. Imperfect!

      In other words, I get it!!!!!

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 8 months ago from Escondido, CA

      Thank you Eric for sharing and providing thoughts through reflection. Your sharing always provide that for me.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Ed, this writing gig is tearing me up. And I mean that in a good way, because what is there is not always so pretty. But I have formed these loves, I reckon the proper term for the love is agape. There are just souls in my life that have nourished and fed my growth as a person. I mean no disrespect for cow dung, but you have fertilized my being and my blossoms. I look deep within, which is not always very nice, and I find you have touched my innerness. Your caring for me means so much, Thank you.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Threekeys, I have a buddy from 77 or so. He told me that a friend is a person that listens to your bull...., calls you on it and then continues to listen to it. I really like interacting with you. If we agreed on everything one of is would be a pansy. (is that pc) I have this super duper cool family that I stupidly feud with half the time. My bad. I was born with defects and fatherless, and that family adopted me and through a spiritual osmosis put their blood in me. But friend, I just cannot seem to do right by them. Nothing on them, all on me. Please do not give up on me and keep up the good stuff you are feeding me.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Mel, here is a weird one. There is about a 50/50 split on folk who are directionally challenged or not. You could blind fold me drop me in the Mojave desert and in three seconds I could point to north. My wife cannot figure her way out of Macy's. But if you drop me just south of Sidney it takes all my will to figure out north. Now that is a silly way to get to our moral compass. I carry a compass as I hike in Vietnam. You carry a moral compass daily. I don't need no stinking compass in the Rockies. But I need a moral compass downtown San Diego. But I do not need a physical compass as even the smell of the bay can set my bearings. (sorry I go on here) You deliver to addresses that you know by heart. You deliver goodness to us by heart. My danged moral compass is more like this kaleidoscope my mom willed me. Whether you like it or not it is your job to keep me headed in the right direction.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Bill one time I tied one let behind my back. And I still found a way to kick my self silly with my other leg. Dang it, my pards and gals and family could not lay out a more beautiful red carpet for me to walk down, God they love me, but I still find the mud puddle.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Tim my momma used to say about folks that just were not practical but just plain good. "That man could not fight his way out of a paper sack". If you were not younger than me, I would call you uncle. You are a good man.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 8 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      I remember a saying that goes, "Whether we are or whether we aren't is up to us." I don't know who said it, but I believe it. One day, I am an angel from heaven, helping someone in need. The next, I am a devil from hell come to torment myself. I believe that there is a life better than this, one where we wake up and say, "Lord, what would thou have me to do today?" Perhaps, then, we will know just how much he loves us!

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 8 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Your introduction, telling the story of an “unnamed man”, reminded me of another person. He was a law student, a brilliant student well on his way to what would no doubt be a successful career. One evening, as he was returning to his room from his studies, a severe thunderstorm came up very suddenly. A bolt of lightning struck the ground, missing him by inches. He was certain that he would die and vowed, at that moment, to leave study of the law and devote his life to the church.

      He knew in his heart that he needed to get right with God, to abandon his sinful ways. He called himself “a miserable little pygmy…dust and ashes and full of sin.” So convinced was he that he could never be rid of his sinful nature, he despised himself, routinely fasting and self-flagellating. His physical and spiritual salvation came when, one day he found these words in scripture “By grace you have been saved; it is not by your own works.” This man was Martin Luther.

      Eric my brother, we are all sin-filled. Every one of us. You don’t have a corner on that commodity.

      I must disagree with your statement that infants do not sin. Perhaps I’m parsing words here. The Bible tells us “you were sinful from birth.” Not “sinning”, but “sin-full”. The seed of sin exists in all human beings. It is what the Word calls “the Old Adam.” If not at birth, then when? At age 100 days, or 365, or ???

      The seed of sin exists in all of us, but I also believe that through baptism the seed of faith is there as well.

      We all sin. And you know what the beautiful part of that is? God knew, long before you and I were conceived, exactly who and what all of us would be, what we would do, and what we would become. Despite that, He STILL allowed us to be. He loved us that much, because He had and HAS a plan for all of us.

      That, my friend, is love.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Denise as absurd as it may sound our duality of good and evil is real. That funny little cartoon concept of the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other is not bull crap. I have a Mormon buddy and he told me "there is no line to cross Eric, there is right and wrong" and pushed me into the mighty Colorado river at Lee's crossing For some silly thought I swam across and not back. And then by golly I marched up the bank and swam back. My God mother was the daughter of the son of Joseph Smith. I have not the courage to not swim against tide. It is not in my blood.

      And Sister Denise your bring me solace.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 8 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      Eric, it is interesting that you should bring up your Mormon friends. I, too, am a Mormon. There are some who would say that we are either wicked or we are righteous. Personally, I believe that there is a lot of gray area in between, and that is where most of us are!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 8 months ago from Southern Illinois

      The way I see life, we are given a free range to do what we do. We have a choice, either try ( and I said " try " to do good or bad. I believe we all know right from wrong. Sometimes we slip up and do wrong, more often we do good. We wage battles from yesteryear and we overcome. God doesn't ask the impossible from us. If we will do for others as we would want others do for us, then we opened the lock. Another good sermon. I like Emmet. Peace Eric..

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 8 months ago from Queensland Australia

      There is much butt kicking in this sermon, Eric. Man, do I deserve it. There is a guy, an Aussie, who along with his best friend were kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan and held for months. He was released his friend not so fortunate. This man had been far from perfect and was a self-confessed sinner. He began to think every day could be his last. For some reason God saw fit to spare him. Now this man is determined to make the most of his life..he does everything NOW not put off til tomorrow. He is embracing life, but only trying to do good and see the positives of life. He faced evil in the eye ..and didn't like it .. Now helps others wherever he can, so his friend's death wasn't in vain. He learnt a lesson from adversity. I wish I was that man.

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 8 months ago from LOS ANGELES

      I agree with Mel. It seems like the things that were considered sin when I was growing up is now acceptable. It reminds me of the scripture in Genesis, when God tells Cain " If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is always crouching at your door." Once I began to seriously seek God, the temptation to sin appeared overwhelming. I am far from perfect but once I realized that doing the right thing allowed me to have a good nights rest the battle within me became less and less.

    • junko profile image

      junko 8 months ago

      The Spirit of God in man and in I, know right from wrong basically. Most of the wrong we do, we do it knowing it's wrong because it taste good, feel good, or look good. The more we seek we find , the more we ask more is given, the more doors knocked are opened . We are charged once we know, that's way many don't want to know or seek to find no doors to open. For those who know but act like they don't know, though rich,may live in hell a long time. We that know better but, do worst don't have to die to go to Hell their's can be here on earth. Those that never knew God may die young but some who know God may live wanting to die but, death will flee. The Beast is also spiritual and can relate to our spirit as the Spirit of God do but, The Beast lies most of the time

      If the sons of the fathers that sinned is living well because of the father's sins before they were born they owe a debt to the sons of the fathers sinned against before they were born. It is the right thing to do.

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 8 months ago from United States

      Nice work my friend. We all need to take an inner look. whonu

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 8 months ago from london

      A passionate effort! I commend you for it. Continue... continue... May you continue to be blessed... may all beings be happy. Much Love.

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 8 months ago

      Eric , Remember my friend , I am not an educated man , But I know this , when we take a torn up inner man and spread him outwardly for all to see in a loving and meaningful way , we help to build love ! You won ! ....................:-]

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Many apologies for all who commented here without me promptly responding. I always blame it on not getting notices from HP. But this time I think it was human error.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Junko, you make some interesting points. It seems likely to me that we all have a form of two within the same.

      Your comment on passing down sins is interesting. I hope you mean it in a case by case manner. Otherwise you just justified the horrible atrocities in the Middle East and the cycle there can never end.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Whonu, yes we do. There is something about looking at ourselves that helps us look at things differently -- usually more positive. I think there is a song about that but I can't remember the name.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Manatita. I appreciate you as a good man to all.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Ed, that is very profound. This notion of complete honesty with no secrets has a lot of merit.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 8 months ago from New Delhi, India

      A very well written and insightful hub!

      As is said, To Err is human-----! We all do mistakes but admitting mistakes needs courage. I am glad I am able to do that and I do not give credit to myself for this. It is my faith in God that he is everywhere, and watching us and even forgiving us if we do some wrong.

      I do not want to live with guilt and therefore I ease my burden by submitting my good deeds as well as my not so good deeds to the Almighty.

      Thank you for sharing this thought provoking Sermon!

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      ChitrangadaSharan, thank you for sharing your very good thoughts and deeds with us. I basically have to actually concentrate in the evening and take an assessment of my day. Then I pray for guidance on mistakes and thanksgiving for things done right. I know I really should write them down to do this, but I am a bit lazy.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Oh my, so many great comments here that I have woefully inadequately responded to. In my upbringing when someone speaks to you, you owe them the courtesy of some response. And here it has not been some stranger in a check out line but good friends that I neglected. Perhaps it is the same at any rate. My apologies.

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      Eric Dierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Linda, I cannot for the life of me find that I responded to your great comment. It is profound.

      I think that when we speak of such intricacies of life we are rewarded then and there. But even more so when we write. Our very life of the spirit requires us to be challenged. I really do not get it all, but I know that an easy path is less rewarding to the soul than a difficult one. No I do not suggest going out and looking for issues but I do suggest hitting problems straight on with faith. And I love a good witness!

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      Eric Dierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Denise, you may not grow up in the Four Corners area and not have Mormons as friends. The sweetest gal I have ever known and was privileged to call a girlfriend was named Mary R. She was angelic so that she mesmerized me. I believe the seventh ward in Flagstaff AZ.

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      Eric Dierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Ruby; could it ever be as sweet as when the good things we receive are the result of Faith. I kind of like hard work. It sort of brings me back to my growing up days of youth (hopefully still growing) "Put your back into it boy". "Come on kid, give it all you got". And the results of such are very gratifying. But the bestest of the bestest in when it just comes from grace.

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      Eric Dierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      John you made me pause here. For sure who you write about is outstanding. But had you not written this comment I would not have known and been so inspired. You wonderful writers are essential so that stories be told. Will your story to me be passed on to my children? You bet your booties it will, and then again and again and again. A writer like you infuses us with good.

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      Eric Dierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Dana we are blessed to have been given this wonderful thing called contemplation. So often I see robots around me. I am not called upon to know exactly what is right and wrong. I am called upon to consider it. In this there is little solace. But it is so much better that I walk this path with friends like you and Mel that my heart is joy filled.

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      teaches12345 8 months ago

      I am so thankful God forgives and grants me grace and mercy each day. I strive to choose right but sometimes I miss the mark. But, it is something I always learn from to do better next time.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very cool, perhaps the best part of battle within is that it keeps our good side learning and growing -- and being loved.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 7 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Eric

      You've been reading over my shoulder!

      A book I'm reading at the moment about a guy (not a 'Bad' man but did some seriously bad things) who ended up working for the criminal underworld in Bombay.

      He talks of doing 'a wrong thing' for a 'right reason'

      Enjoyed this hub.

      Lawrence

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 7 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Lawrence, I think I know that book, just can't place it right now. There is indeed that wrong thing for right reason situation more often than we would like to think. And sometimes I laugh at myself for doing the right thing for the wrong reasons.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 7 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Eric

      The book's called 'Shantaram'

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 7 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thanks buddy, it is now on my list to read.

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