Friday, September 12, 2014

Book Write-Up: Breaking Free, by Kevin W. Shorter

Kevin W. Shorter.  Breaking Free: How to Be Completely Free from Any Addiction.  Kevin Shorter, 2014.  See here for Amazon’s page about it.

Breaking Free contains Kevin Shorter’s suggestions on dealing with addiction.  Shorter writes from an evangelical Christian perspective, and he says that his own addiction was pornography.  Shorter’s suggestions include recognizing God’s love, allowing God to shape one’s perspective about one’s experiences and other people, looking at the root causes of addiction to find healing, doing service work to get out of oneself, and being in a non-judgmental group where one can share openly.  I would say that Shorter’s suggestions overlap with those of Alcoholics Anonymous, only Shorter’s perspective is evangelical Christian.

In my opinion, the greatest asset to Shorter’s book is his interpretation of I John.  I John is a book of the Bible that has long troubled me, since it seems to assert that people who sin repeatedly or who fail to love others are not truly saved.  Shorter offers another perspective: that addiction to a sin is not a sign that one is not saved at all, but rather is an indication that one has failed to shine God’s love into a certain area of one’s life.  I do not know if that is what I John originally meant, but I do find Shorter’s interpretation to be a constructive way of looking at the Christian life.

There were areas in which I may have differed from Shorter, but I could understand and appreciate his rationale.  First, I personally am not dogmatic about when God speaks to me.  But I can appreciate Shorter’s point that, with God’s help and the help of a mature human being, we may need to look at the negative experiences of our life and place them within a more positive narrative, or that we should look for the positive in ourselves and other people.  Second, I tend to shy away from small groups, but I can understand why many find them helpful.  I appreciated that Shorter mentioned the challenges of finding non-judgmental friends and a support system.

In some cases, I found myself wishing that Shorter gave specific examples.  Shorter mentioned service work as a way for one to get outside of oneself and thereby lessen alienation and depression.  In my opinion, he should have listed examples of service work that one can do.

Shorter’s book had grammatical mistakes, but, overall, they did not detract from the book’s readability or clarity.

The author of the book asked me to write a review.  That did not influence the review’s content.

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