LifeWalk

______________________ LIFE, FAITH, ETCETERA

Love Is The Cure June 20, 2013

loveisthecure
Love Is the Cure: On Life, Loss, and the End of AIDS
– By Elton John

While there is certainly some very interesting autobiographical material here, this is not primarily an autobiography.  It is a book about AIDS.

Elton looks at the beginning of the AIDS crisis, and then brings us up to date.  From the science to societal reaction we’re given the facts, as well as many stories of lives directly impacted by AIDS.  Of course, all our lives are impacted by AIDS.

We start with a story of a small town in Indiana called Kokomo, as we look at the life of Ryan White.  Ryan was a teenage hemophiliac who became infected with HIV from a contaminated blood treatment. We see, as Elton John states, that Ryan and his family were “true Christians.”  The story also reveals the very non-Christian actions and attitudes of many of the church-goers and residents of Kokomo at that time.  The majority of the townsfolk ostracize this afflicted boy and his family.  “It seemed like a modern-day witch hunt, and Ryan was to be burned at the stake.” Adults were worse than the kids who teased and tormented him. His entire family suffered. This is some sad, sad commentary on the nature of fear, religion, and those who propose to represent God.  But even through being shunned by the town, his classmates and his “church,” Ryan said “There’s always hope with the Lord. I have a lot of trust in God.”
Eventually, Ryan and his family did have to leave town so Ryan wouldn’t have to be buried in such a place of evil hatred.  The town he moved to, only miles away, welcomed him with open arms.  In the end, Ryan reached the entire nation.
The faith, love, and Christ-likeness of Ryan and his mother forever changed the life of Elton John.  Elton is very honest about how his addictions, anger and ego were in control of his life.  “You can’t imagine how selfish I was at the time, what an asshole I had become.” Seeing Ryan give out so much love in the face of so much hate helped E.J. face his own demons.  Elton entered rehab in 1990 and has been sober ever since.  His interactions and friendship with Ryan White also led to the creation of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

Elton shares stories of personal loss, as so many of his friends and acquaintances were suffering and dying from this pandemic. There are stories of people like Rock Hudson and Freddie Mercury.

We also see AIDS on more of a national level.  This, of course, includes people like Jerry Falwell, again on their religious high-horses proclaiming AIDS victims are just getting what they deserve.  Even some government leaders help spread the hate, fear, and misinformation that ads fuel to the fire of an already devastating crisis.

And we look at AIDS from a global perspective.
Over in Africa, we see that in addition to an extremely bad AIDS situation, there is also an epidemic of rape.  Someone is raped every 26 seconds.  The men and leaders seem to think this is normal behavior, and punish the women who attempt to report being raped.  These unreported atrocities give tremendous momentum to the spread of the disease.
Another disgusting story is about how the Bayer pharmaceutical company knowingly sold tainted, AIDS transmitting medication to other countries so they wouldn’t have to throw them out and lose money.

Throughout this book, we’re shown the many faces of AIDS.  The involvement of some famous warriors against this disease, like President Bill Clinton, Paul Michael Glaser, Princess Diana,  Elizabeth Taylor, and many others is discussed.  We examine what has been done, and where we need to go from here.

I would be remiss as a reviewer if I did not mention the book’s shortcomings.  They can be summed up by saying “Elton John is not an author.”  The writing stumbles from time to time, and there is much redundancy.
Having said that, the stories are far too interesting, and the information far too vital to miss reading “Love Is The Cure.”

I’ve always enjoyed Elton’s music.  At the same time, I sensed that he was pretty much a jerk.  Reading this book has helped me see a different side of Elton John:
A loving, helpful, mellowed-by-age-and-experience, redeemed Elton John.  When he speaks of his drug use, party-life, and “unprotected” multiple sexual encounters he says that it’s a “miracle” he never contracted AIDS.  I feel he does not use that word lightly.
His miracle is one with which I can totally identify.

“Love Is The Cure” is truly an eye-opener, and I thank God that Elton John has written it.


Buy the book. Click HERE.


[For years, now, my wife and I have been involved in raising funds for our local AIDS Task Force here in Fort Wayne, Indiana through  their annual “AIDS Walk.”  This year’s walk is over, but you can still donate.
If you’d like to do so, click: www.Aids-Walk.info.
Thanks! Dave.]

Buy the book. Click HERE.

Quotes:

– The bottom line is, we’re all human, and we all deserve to be helped and to be loved.
– I was consumed by cocaine, booze, and who knows what else. I apparently never got the memo that the “Me” Decade ended in 1979. The Elton ego train kept rolling right through the ‘8Os.
– Ryan White inspired a nation, changed the course of a deadly epidemic, and helped save millions of lives.
– As a child with hemophilia, Ryan had been treated with compassion. As a child with AIDS, many treated him with contempt.
– Many religious institutions, governments, and the general public sent an unmistakable message to people with AIDS: We do not care about you.

Buy the book. Click HERE.

– Falwell and his ilk helped guarantee the AIDS epidemic would get far worse.
– It still stings to recall the pure, unadulterated hatred that was spewed at gays and AIDS sufferers.
– What makes AIDS so frightening, so very lethal, is that it takes advantage of more than our biological weaknesses. It take advantage of our social weaknesses.
– Conservative religious and political leaders continue to stand in the way of implementing what we know for a hard fact will save millions upon millions of lives.
– Fighting stigma is difficult work. Instead of directing our animosity and fear at someone’s disease, we direct it at the person who is sick.

Buy the book. Click HERE.

– The discrimination that the LGBT community [in Haiti] faced after the earthquake is hard to stomach.
– Like many people, I deeply regretted much of what [George W. Bush] did in office, but [his] decision to take aggressive action [with his [President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief] saved millions of lives.
– There are 2.5 million people infected with HIV in India, and their government has said essentially, “We don’t care about any of you because some of you are gay.”
– We certainly can’t do it without religious institutions on our side. Their power is too great, their influence too far-reaching. There is no excuse for furthering pain and injustice in the name of any god.
– For a small fraction of what was spent on the war in Iraq, America would forever be heralded as the country that won the war against AIDS.

Buy the book. Click HERE.

– The cure for AIDS is a matter of changing hearts and educating minds.
– The fight against AIDS comes down to compassion.

Buy the book. Click HERE.



WE ALL HAVE AIDS

 

Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them April 3, 2010

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“Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them:
A Fair and Balanced Look At The Right”
by Al Franken

The humor in this book really was laugh-out-loud funny.  The truth in this book was turn-my-stomach sickening.  There were even a few parts that were tears-in-my-eyes sad.

This book came out in 2003.  I really wish I would have read it then.  I still may not have read it now, if not for the recommendation of a family member.  The thing is, in 2003, I may not yet have been at a place in my journey where I was ready for this.  Maybe.  Maybe not.

Long before I read this book, I began to realize that most on the “left” hold their beliefs, not due to a lack of morality, as right-wing evangelical leaders would have us believe, but actually because of their morality.  Many, because of their Christian faith.  That was pointed out by one of my favorite authors, Philip Yancey.  He mentioned that as he was relating his experiences with President and Hillary Clinton.  It was truly one of those scales-falling-from-my-eyes moments.  Reading “Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them” was another.

The language contained in the pages of Mr. Franken’s book can be very raw, but far more vulgar than any language could ever be, are the actions, lies, and abominations committed by those exposed in this book.
Some of the people discussed are, well, just plain stupid.  But much worse, most are not.  They are, instead, calculating and intentional as they lie, manipulate, distort, and smear.

This book is extremely well researched, and has detailed footnotes, endnotes, and internet links, so you can verify all the facts for yourself.  Al Franken commissioned 14 Harvard students to do in-depth research so he could “do something my targets seem incapable of doing – get my facts straight.”

He exposes
Ann Coulter “whose lies are painstakingly crafted to serve her radical political agenda.”
Bill O’Reilly who “seems to lie for two reasons.  One, to polish his own apple”, and two, “to attack anyone who’s critical of him.”
Of George W. Bush: “The media thought he was kind of stupid.  He isn’t.  He’s just shamelessly dishonest.”
And there’s Hannity and Colmes, Bernie Goldberg, and many more lying liars.

The first 13 chapters really held me.  Somewhere after that, it went a little dry for me.  That only lasted for a couple or so chapters, and then it was back on track.

Chapter 24 is a great exposé on the “Wall Street Journal” and it’s hack journalism.

Chapter 25 was truly sad.  It chronicles how the right-wing media hijacked the pain and anguish of a family who lost a loved one.  They not only used the event as a political tool, they then blamed those suffering loss of the very political hijacking they themselves were doing.  Truly, some of the most despicable human behavior I have ever read about.

OK.  Even a great book may not be perfect.  Chapter 29 was, for me at least, a waste of time.  It is a fictional story called “Operation Chickenhawk.”  It does, in many places, make fun of the disgustingly vulgar piece of fiction that Bill O’Reilly wrote, “Those Who Trespass: A Novel of Murder and Television.”
Still, I found it unnecessary and distracting.   Later in the book there’s another bit of fiction in the form of a one-act play.  It didn’t do much for me, but it was far better than “Operation Chickenhawk.”  Still, there are well over 40 other chapters that you shouldn’t miss.

In the chapter called “I’m A Bad Liar,”  Al and friend set out to perpetrate an elaborate ruse on Bob Jones University.  It heads full force in the direction you would expect from a book like this, but then, it takes a surprising turn; one that gave me even more respect for Mr. Franken.

That’s followed by a chapter about Jerry Falwell.
OK, I know.  Falwell is funny enough without any help.  Well, maybe more scary than funny.

Chapter 33 discussed Abstinence education.  There are some very interesting statistics that every parent should read.

There’s a chapter called “The Gospel of Supply Side Jesus.”  The entire chapter is a “comic strip” of sorts.  It contrasts some of the quasi-Christian right-wing teachings with the actual gospel of Christ.  This chapter can actually be read, or rather watched online.  You can see this narrated version on YouTube at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AK7gI5lMB7M

“Our air, water, and wildlife are under attack.”
Ok.  What did you first think when you read that line?  Ranting of  some left-wing wacko extremist?  Chapter 39 will do wonders to change your mind.  Many of us know we’re killing ourselves and our planet, but here are real-world examples of how bad it really is, and which political party is doing all it can to make sure no one stops it.

There is information in this book about the war against terrorism.  Stories about 9/11.  Stories about advance information our government willfully ignored that could possibly have prevented that tragedy.  There’s documentation of, again, willful deception and lies to get the American people onboard for a war based largely on information about weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist.

Should you read this book?
* If you believe for one second that right-wing politicians are more moral than the left, you need to read this book.
* If you don’t realize that the right has used your Christianity and your faith as a tool to manipulate and control you, you need to read this book.
* If you’re one of those who, despite what you say, believe deep down that “Republican” and “Christian” are the same thing,
you need to read this book.
* If you are even close to being able to handle the truth, you need to read this book.

There is an updated version in paperback, which has “More Lies and New Lying Liars!”  If you get a chance, get that copy.  If it’s not available, the original is still a good choice.  If you consider yourself a Christian, and your vote (if you vote) is based on moral choices of the candidates, you, especially, should read this book.  Ignorance may be the reason we do some things in our lives.  I know it’s been my reason many times.  But, in the end, ignorance really isn’t an excuse.

There are some major, very serious, issues discussed in these pages.  So serious, that without the humor, would be much harder to take.  While this book is indeed serious, it’s also very, very funny.

Mr. Franken believes “We have to fight back.  But we can’t fight like they do.  They fight with lies.  We can’t do that.  We have to fight them with the truth.”

This book may open your eyes to what some of that truth really is.

— df

Buy the book at: https://www.amazon.com/Lies-Lying-Liars-Balanced-Right/dp/0452285216/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498649831&sr=8-1&keywords=lies+and+the+lying+liars+who+tell+them+by+al+franken

 

 

 
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