Jason is the pastor of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Schaefferstown, Pennsylvania. A social worker before his call to full-time ministry, Jason received his Doctorate in Ministry from Sewanee: University of the South School of Theology and his Master’s from Johnson University. He and his wife, Heather, have two children (Katelyn and Nate) and one happy but shy dog (Cookie).
A great resource for anyone interested in learning how to approach life with greater balance and more insight.
Greg Marcus’s immensely informative book, The Spiritual Practice of Good Actions, is written with a purpose—to help people learn how to feel in their heart what the mind understands.
In it the author points out, “When we practice Mussar we are adjusting and correcting our soul.” Undeniably, that is what this book will do for you! It is nothing short of a workout for the soul.
Learning how to achieve better balance within your soul is not an easy task. It can take time to develop and patient endurance to perfect. In the book Dr. Marcus guides you gently and teaches you thoroughly on how to do just that. The wide array of subjects discussed, humility, patience, gratitude, silence, to name a few, are addressed in a concise manner to not bog down the flow of the book, yet are thought-provoking enough to give contemplative pause.
I enthusiastically recommend this book. It was a blessing to have received this book to read and review. It is a book for everyone, regardless of religious affiliation. It is a great resource for anyone interested in learning how to approach life with greater balance and more insight. It is a wealth of concentrated nuggets of wisdom.
James, the main character, meets a 150 year old lady with a mystery-filled reputation. To add to the suspense, James discovers the two of them have something in common—something found in the woods.
They’re wonderful, and if only you could tell your human loved ones of the bond you can share with one of those strange creatures, perhaps humans could learn from them, the 150 year old lady said to James.
The story moves along at a good pace and keeps you guessing, what happens next? An interesting, unique story filled with enough suspense to hold your attention. I enjoyed it. Our ten-year old daughter really enjoyed it. She can’t wait to get the next two books in the trilogy to see what happens next.
When it comes to writing, don’t be too shortsighted.
A Diary of Writing Wisdom (and other nonsense)
The Need for Farsightedness
Human beings are naturally shortsighted. The current opinions are the ones we see in front of us, the ones that are discussed in current magazines and on social media. It is natural to concentrate on current trends and hot topics. But there are two disadvantages in doing so. One is that we fail to learn from the past; the other is that we fail to look to the future.
Interestingly, these two forms of shortsightedness are connected, for one of the clearest lessons we learn from the past is that the “normal” of one generation is out-of-date in the next. In theory this is not hard to accept. At one time or another we have all read books/excerpts from articles written many centuries ago and smiled at the quaintness of the ideas and the language contained therein; and we realize that our own generation would be unique were it not for the fact that it will appear equally quaint in years to come.
I wonder, for instance, what our descendants will think of the Zombie Apocalypse theory or of stem-cell research. It is difficult for us to see it as future generations are likely to see it. Robert Burns once prayed for the gift to see ourselves as others see us. It would be an even greater gift to see ourselves as people in the 23rd Century will see us.
When it comes to writing, don’t be too shortsighted. Learn from your past. Don’t just let it lay dormant. Incorporate what you’ve learned from the past into your script of today. Believe it or not, this looking-back approach can help writer’s generate even greater power to look ahead. It can help writer’s ignore the temptation to write only about current trends and hot topics. It can even help writers become less shortsighted and more farsighted—nearby distractions become blurry while the ability to see distant goals and objectives become more and more clear.
Brian Wu’s approach to teaching children about the immune system in his book, Fort Applegate & The Battle of Wounded Knee, was informative and effective. As Wu states in his opening “tips” section, one of the primary goals in the writing of this book is for it to be used as a means of getting children interested in their immune system, and as a teaching tool. I found this to be true.
Wu is certainly well qualified for the field in which he is writing about. He holds a PhD in integrative biology and disease and is an MD Candidate. But don’t let all of that education intimidate you. Brian’s storytelling is very child friendly.
My eight year old daughter read the book. Afterward she asked me, “Dad, do I have T-Cells and B-Cells like that boy in the story?” A great example of the author’s intent; get children more interested in talking about their health, and get parents more involved in educating their children about their bodies.
Though the book is not very long, Brian does a fine job in touching upon the highlights of the immune system. And he does it by introducing you to Nolan, a young explorer who cuts his knee on a rock. With a little imagination, Nolan takes us to the front lines of the battle going-on inside his body. As the white blood cells attempt to rescue him, it is just the beginning of the attack of the Bacteria Gang.
Editor’s Note: After reading Jason’s review, I wish I had taken this one instead of offering it to him and his family.-RH
ABOUT BRIAN WU
Brian Wu graduated with a Bachelor’s Science Degree in Physiology and Neurobiology. Currently, he holds a PhD and is an MD Candidate (KSOM, USC) in integrative biology and disease. He is also an experienced writer and editor for a large number of prestigious web pages. Brian values the ability of all ages to learn from the power of stories. His mission is to write about health conditions, educational topics, and life situations in an entertaining way in order to help children understand their own health conditions and daily circumstances.
Writing, for Jason Royle, is a way to express the ongoing story of theology. With every book or article, he hopes readers get a sense of the complexity of God and the necessity of faith. Captivated by the spiritual component of life, Jason loves to read everything from the Greek classics to the Sunday comics. Amazon Author Page. @@jeroyle
The Latin proverb simulac hoc, ergo propter hoc, which may be translated, “everything is the product of its environment,” is the basis for this writing theory.
According to this idea authors are like rivers. Rivers do not create water; they receive it from springs and streams. In the same way authors receive their ideas from the streams of thought that are flowing in the corner of the world in which they live. A middle-class Eastern author will receive middle-class Eastern ideas. A working-class Western author will receive working-class Western ideas.
To say it another way, authors “are what they eat.” This idea applies to minds as well as to bodies. It assumes that, just as my body is the product of red curry or pulled-pork BBQ (depending on my background), so also my mind is the product of French ideas or American ideas, liberal ideas or conservative ideas (depending on my background).
Growing authors, however, will realize this about themselves and seek out ways to “alternate” what they eat (every once in a while).
As a step toward becoming more aware of the kind of writer you now are. As a step toward becoming the kind of writer you someday wish to be—take time to consider not only how what you eat may be contributing to your writing, but how what you only eat may also be limiting your writing.
Most literary criticism is concerned with what authors write. The idea of strategically using silence in your writing, by contrast, is concerned not so much with what authors write as it is with what they do not write.
When it comes to writing a book, here are a couple of questions every author should consider: Is it sometimes better to leave things a little open ended? Or should you absolutely, every single time, try your best to describe every tiny detail your vivid imagination can divulge? Do you leave room for your reader’s imagination to have a life of it’s own? Or are you, perhaps, limiting the imagination of your reader by over doing it? Do you have adjective-itis?
“The dog did nothing in the nighttime.”
“That was the curious thing,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.
The main weakness about this idea that silence can be golden, of course, is that it fails to take into account the way books are actually written—with adjectives. But when is enough enough? That’s the real question to consider.
Below is a six word story I recently entered in a contest:
The dawn. The pilgrimage. The dust.
What comes to mind when you think of the dawn? Awakening? A new day? Who woke-up? A teenager? A married couple? Whoever/whatever it was inspired a pilgrimage. What kind of pilgrimage? Spiritual? Adventuresome? Why dust? You get the idea.
So the next time you want to include more because you feel a strong urge to tell your readers more about how Smith furrowed his brow and glared with genuine distrust at his shimmering spoonful of crimson colored magic tonic—NyQuil—force yourself to leave out the extra things you think you should include.
There will be plenty of opportunity in your book for you to write more—but sometimes less is the golden rule you should follow.