I want to thank each of you who have supported the new publication of PBH. Thank you deeply and from my heart for the great ratings you have given the new book on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com.
Thank you for reviews you might yet give. Thank you for supporting the desperately needed message of my book – love, compassion and non-judgement! In gratitude I live. In gratitude I honor all that is good.
I received a letter today (2/27/13) from a man incarcerated in an Idaho prison. I would like to share how he came by a copy of my book: “Greetings. My name is . . . . . I am a pedophile and have an addiction to pornography. I am currently sitting in prison as a result of my crimes. I have just finished reading your book, “Perfect Brightness of Hope” for the second time. Words can’t describe the thoughts and feelings I have for you, your book, and your testimony. Thank You. . . . . I would like you to know how I came about getting your book. At Christmas Time, one of my 5 sisters was in a bookstore wondering what books she might buy to send me. As you know, books coming into prisons must be sent directly from the bookstore. When my sister went into the bookstore, she prayed a quick prayer to know what books I needed. She told me that Perfect Brightness of Hope jumped off the shelf to her. She asked again what other books she might choose and two others, ‘Conquering Your Own Goliaths,’ and ‘Getting Past If Only,’ stood out for her. After receiving the books, I sat back on my bed to look over what was sent. As I was pondering the book titles, I was overcome by the Holy Spirit and knew that these were great books and that they were chosen just for me at this time.”
A few other comments from this letter are pertinent. After giving some of his history as a returned LDS Missionary, his marriage, his addiction to “caffiene” [I describe my similar addiction in Perfect Brightness] and his descent into pornography and addiction he writes: “I”ve failed my family, my now ‘ex-wife,’ and my children. I so deeply understood the words from your Dedication Page for Perfect Brightness: ‘To all whose lives are affected by alcoholism and addiction. More especially to my first family whose lives were so terrible altered and for whom I will always need forgiveness.'”
A few more comments from his letter: “I had several days and months of just wanting the world to stop spinning. I want off this ride. I’m so tired of this.” “At one time, I had the thinking that I was the only one who had troubles. But, [your book] helped me understand there are others, perhaps many others. I am so grateful for the success stories and testimonies of overcoming.” “Thank you so much for your inspiration.” “If you could change your addiction [in your book] from alcohol and drugs for my sex and pornographic addiction, you would have written my book. You give me HOPE.”
I recently sent a copy of my new book to a good friend who is serving time in a Utah prison. In a letter to his mom, dated Jan 27, 2012, he mentioned the following:
“I think I mentioned [in an earlier letter] the (LDS) Branch President’s plan to order 15 copies of Phil’s new book, “Perfect Brightness of Hope,” and his intention to give them to friends and some of the inmates here. Well, he did so and I’m happy [and not a bit surprised :)] to say that Phil’s life and story have impacted our little community in wonderful ways. Our Institute class Wednesday night was devoted to the subjects of hope and commitment and Phil’s book was at the center of discussion. You [Phil] are an inspiration my friend, and your book is a Godsend reborn. God Bless you for your tireless service.” Josh
Continuing with the “Intended Audience for Perfect Brightness of Hope” topic, the following experience emphasizes how my book affected someone with no direct experience regarding addiction or alcoholism.
When I retired from a career with FranklinCovey Co., I left a copy of my book with my co-worker and friend, Sean Covey. Sean was like most of the good people I knew in the company, unaware and uninformed of the plight of alcoholics and addicts. Frankly, he thought he had no reason to read my book. A few years later he was working on a book entitled, “Six Decisions You’ll Have to Make: A Guidebook for Teens.” He knew one of the decisions had to be about addictions as this was swiftly becoming a major issue among teens. He was stuck. He had no personal experience and had no idea where to begin. Here is what he wrote to me in an email:
“I wanted to share what happened to me the other day. I am writing a book for teens and one of the chapters is on addictions. I was stuck and didn’t have anything to say. So I picked up the book you gave me several years ago (which I hadn’t read) and started thumbing through it. Hours later I finished the whole thing. I was taken aback by the book. When I finished, I wept because I had experienced everything you went through. I felt the spirit so strong. I felt like I was led to read that book and it influenced the way I wrote the chapter on addictions. After reading it, the words just flowed. It was one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read. Thanks so much for writing it. Every church member ought to read it. Sean” (*Note: Sean briefly tells my story in his book and includes the notes my daughter left on my desk. See Chapter 5 of PBH, pages 74 & 75.
I share this experience because it captures perfectly what I had hoped would be the effect of Perfect Brightness of Hope: Increased understanding leading to increased compassion for those with little or no direct experience with alcoholism or addiction.
On a hot Sunday morning in July, 1980, following a week of heavy binge drinking and in great despair and hopelessness, I walked mile after mile through neighborhoods in the small Mormon community where I lived. As I walked, I observed many families leaving their homes to attend church. Even though I was filled with remorse and sorrow, I could still feel the goodness of these families. I realized that they had no idea of the sorrowful man who walked, with heavy burden, on the sidewalks of their neighborhoods. On that morning there arose within me a powerful conviction to someday write of my experiences as a Mormon alcoholic. (See page 85 of Perfect Brightness of Hope).
Contrary to the popular notion about my story, the intended audience for my “someday book” that morning was not the alcoholic or addict. It was just the opposite. The powerful desire I felt that morning was to someday help the “good person” —those with no clue about the plight of the alcoholic—to better understand this deadly disease and the plight of those who have it. I was filled with compassion towards the good people I saw that morning. I felt that if I could someday increase their understanding of me as an addict/alcoholic, I would also increase their compassion toward me, and others like me.(To be cont.)