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Rocky

Remember when, PFLAP, VP told you to put away reading...?

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Well, I've been thinking about that... and how easily people get conned (in general) these days.

So I found an intriguing essay about classic literature that contrasts with VP quite well.

https://medium.com/@spencerbaum/3-reasons-why-you-should-read-more-classic-literature-in-2019-e762cb5c910c

 

Call me Ishmael.

The famous opening sentence of Moby Dick, so short and provocative, is welcoming and familiar to the 21st century reader, who is accustomed to snappy prose with short sentences and lots of white space.

A few sentences later in Melville’s masterpiece we get a sentence that’s more representative of the novel to come.

In just a bit I’m going to quote that sentence, and insist that you read it.

And I mean really read it. Don’t skim it. This essay is about to make the argument that there is value to the way the classics force us to slow down and concentrate, and it will be easier for you to understand that point if you experience it first.

Here’s the quote from Moby Dick. Please read it slowly and carefully:

 

"Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off — then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can."

 

 

This brings us to the first and, to my mind, most important reason to read the classics in 2019 2020.

1. You should read classic literature because it forces you to think deeply and concentrate.

21st century media is hell on the attention span.

But you already know this.

You know that our digital devices are shortening our attention spans, teaching us to only skim the surface of ideas, and making us addicts to tiny dopamine bursts that come from (among other things) the Like and Share buttons.

As we near the end of the second decade of the 21st century we’ve developed widespread awareness that our devices have made us shallow thinkers. We’re less cognizant, however, of the effect of the content itself.

Or the style in which the content is written.

Have you ever wondered why so many of the articles you read, like this one, are organized in numbered lists?

Or why the writing in these articles is so often organized into ultra-short paragraphs, many of them only one sentence long?

We, the content creators of the 21st century, have learned to write in snappy lists with short sentences and one-sentence paragraphs.

We write this way because this is what you, the content consumers of the 21st century, choose to read.

You like content that is clear, concise, simple, and to the point. You’re in a hurry (always), and we writers know, God do we know, that we are competing not just against other essays or other books, but against the endless siren songs of Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter.

We know that if we ask too much of you, say, if we give you a long sentence or, God forbid, a long paragraph, we might be taxing your mind more than you’re interested in having it taxed. We know that a complicated, multi-layered thought, one that might require you to slow down or reread a sentence or look up from your screen and think for a minute is too much to ask when your phone is bursting with notifications and there’s a new video on your favorite Youtube channel and everyone’s talking about that new show on Netflix but you haven’t even seen the last new show everyone was talking about yet and you’ve got ten tabs open on your browser and 3,000 unread books on your Kindle and holy hell who has time to consume it all just open my vein and fill it with listicles please!

There’s a cost to all this.

In the book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains (a 2011 Pulitzer Prize finalist for general nonfiction), Nicolas Carr looks at all the research in neuroscience and psychology about what the Internet is doing to our brains and determines that, yes, our ceaseless attempts to skim this glut of information is making us shallow thinkers who are far less capable of deep, focused, intense thought than our parents and grandparents were.

You should read the classics in 2019 to unlearn the shallowness and impatience you are learning in your hyper-accelerated 21st century life.

When you read Melville (or Hugo or Austen or Tolstoy or Plato or Shakespeare) you are sharing headspace with someone who is much better at slow, deep, meaningful thinking than you are because they’ve never lived in the shallows like you do.

*****


The essay continues, but I hope you get the point. Wierwille obviously didn't want you to THINK.

 

 

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I'm unplugged from a lot of the information overload items you mentioned there, partly for exactly that reason.  They take up all your time, and do it on their terms.  Technology can be a tool, but for many people it's a crutch.    I've been a fan of William Shakespeare for quite some time.   I've been a fan of reading a good book for quite some time.    One thing I find interesting about books older than around WWII  is that they're written for a FAR more selective audience.  Many writers would have been shocked to think of interested laymen reading their books.  I once saw someone criticize a book (now in public domain due to age)  where the writer quoted Latin and didn't translate it.  The critic claimed he did it to be pretentious.  No, I've read a few books that were contemporary to it, and they do the same thing.  It was expected your reading audience was familiar with Latin and didn't need a translation;. 

The idea of universal literacy appeals greatly to me, and offers the chance for everyone to educate themselves.  Now, with e-books available for free for many classics/public domain books,  reading them can be done for free.  That having been said, the offer won't be taken up by a large swath of the population.  That's a shame.  For that matter, many of them are cheap to own in print form because they're public domain.  

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18 minutes ago, WordWolf said:

I'm unplugged from a lot of the information overload items you mentioned there, partly for exactly that reason.  They take up all your time, and do it on their terms.  Technology can be a tool, but for many people it's a crutch.    I've been a fan of William Shakespeare for quite some time.   I've been a fan of reading a good book for quite some time.    One thing I find interesting about books older than around WWII  is that they're written for a FAR more selective audience.  Many writers would have been shocked to think of interested laymen reading their books.  I once saw someone criticize a book (now in public domain due to age)  where the writer quoted Latin and didn't translate it.  The critic claimed he did it to be pretentious.  No, I've read a few books that were contemporary to it, and they do the same thing.  It was expected your reading audience was familiar with Latin and didn't need a translation;. 

The idea of universal literacy appeals greatly to me, and offers the chance for everyone to educate themselves.  Now, with e-books available for free for many classics/public domain books,  reading them can be done for free.  That having been said, the offer won't be taken up by a large swath of the population.  That's a shame.  For that matter, many of them are cheap to own in print form because they're public domain.  

I'd agree with you (actually, I do agree with you for the most part) except that I am able to block ads online for the most part. I abhor them. 

Because of the essay I quoted, I'm going to embark on a whaling ship soon (well, in the novel Moby Dick, which I didn't read in HS). I missed out on a lot of literature in HS. That's my biggest regret for those years of schooling. I did obtain Melville's book for free to read on my Kindle app.

I also didn't learn Latin in HS or college. I did take four years of French. However, having graduated... 48 years ago, and never having traveled to France or any other French-speaking land, the best I can do with it now is to watch movies wherein the dialogue is in French and try to recognize words and match them with the English subtitles. I won't rule out someday travelling to Paris. And perhaps Italy.

During my military service, I did make it to Germany twice. For that experience, I'm thankful.

I do spend more time reading, either books or current affairs/news.

It was in Air Force technical training that I learned to type. As a telecommunications system tech, I spent more than three years communicating by dedicated teletype (we called them "order wire"). It became imprinted in my brain. Probably that's why I am comfortable posting online in social media and GSC, and writing a blog.

Thanks, WW for your insight. :wave:  :beer: 

 

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Some people, present company excepted, could spend some time learning basic grammar and spelling.  That would significantly improve their thinking ability.

 

Completely agree that reading "classic" literature, or other older material, requires more "thinking" ability, and the ability to hold a thought for more than the nanosecond needed for pulp fiction.  Some older material, indeed, is very densely written, and difficult to understand when it goes on for several lines; yet amazingly, it's grammatically written despite its many clauses.  But wait!  If something is written with long sentences and some parts of the same literature are written with short sentences, that gives the reader the opportunity to think, "What other thought is the author trying to convey here?"

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I do remember wierwille’s final instructions to new students very well, because of the gentle reproof I received in taking a slight deviation from his instructions. I say slight because I did lay aside all other reading material – but I assumed the Old Testament and Gospels would be okay since they’re part of “The Word” too. (Now switching to my film noir voice) “And I would have gotten away with it scot-free, if it wasn’t for some two-bit bookworm opening his yapper to the ringleader who was putting the kibosh on thinking.” …uhm…the two-bit bookworm was me and I kept pestering my Twig coordinator with questions about stuff in the Old Testament and the Gospels. My goofy attempt at film-noir-talk is an homage to the wordiness of some great old movies.  I recently saw Emma     and actually enjoyed being pushed out of my kick-back-and-watch-the-action-mode of watching a movie – and track the elegant-and-elaborate-while-still-being-funny dialogue. I think I’ll have to buy it when it comes out on DVD so I can relish the dynamics of the screenplay a few more times.

 

I do agree with the idea that reading the classics and other older books can challenge one to think deeper and concentrate.  When I was younger I did that a lot more without even thinking about it    :rolleyes:  - without batting an eye.  In high school my best friend and I would get into reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels and talk about various plots and characters. I think the mystery genre can be quite immersive in the stream of consciousness of the characters. For me, trying to understand what motivates a character or how they came to their viewpoint is the real mystery to unravel.

After reading WordWolf’s post – that got me to thinking I might crack open The Complete Works of Shakespeare that’s collecting dust on a shelf. Maybe after I finish  God is Love by Gerald Bray   . This is a systematic theology with a different approach. It reads like a theologian or philosopher having a conversation with a layman – since there are no scripture references in the main text – they are footnoted at the bottom of the page. I like it that way, and often find myself bringing a certain passage to mind from something he’s talking about and then verifying I’m tracking his line of thought by seeing that passage noted below – not saying I’m as smart as him – but at least we’re on the same page.  :rolleyes:

Edited by T-Bone
Ye Olde Revisions

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53 minutes ago, T-Bone said:

I assumed the Old Testament and Gospels would be okay since they’re part of “The Word” too

How sinful of you, T-Bone, to read those! :biglaugh:  Without having been properly instructed by VPW!!! :biglaugh:

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How strange that the Gospels were thought to be unworthy of our attention.  That is where we learn about Jesus Christ after all, a rather important subject if you're a Christian, to put it mildly.

And we were always led to believe that reading anything other than The Word or collaterals or The Way Mag etc. was "off the Word".  Now I read what I want, including the Bible.  Actually, my enjoyment of the Bible has increased since I've been out of TWI.

 

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I still have a hard time reading the Church Epistles because whenever I start reading them I have a hard time getting myself to think about what is being said outside of Way dogma.

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To be honest, I still find it hard to settle down to read the Bible, and for a long time after my exit, all I could read was condemnation.  When I do settle to read or study, I really enjoy it and am surprised constantly at all the wonderful gems there are.  So much was withheld from us - we were given a diet and kept so busy that it was hard to find time to look at non-SNS or non-Corps or other non-class stuff unless it was the basis for the current rant.

One of the best ways of getting back into reading the Bible was to pick up The Message, with its wildly different terminology.  Really makes you look twice.  Now, for preference, I use Holman Christian Standard Bible, which is in good, modern English and seems to convey accurately (according to what I now understand) the intention behind the words; I also look at many other versions.

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Heh, I recall when in-rez I wandered into Plurality Palace (a give-away location, for those who haven't been to HQ).  There were some books on a shelf and (being a prolific and avid reader of just about anything) I sat down and started flipping through one.  No idea what the book was about (a novel, perhaps?) but my priggish Corps sisters came in, saw me, and threatened to report me to the Corps Coordinator if I didn't stop immediately and come outside.  She would have done, too, and been commended for doing so.  I surrendered my guilty pleasure, complied, and went with her.

Ohhh - petty minds.

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10 hours ago, rubina said:

I still have a hard time reading the Church Epistles because whenever I start reading them I have a hard time getting myself to think about what is being said outside of Way dogma.

 

9 hours ago, Twinky said:

To be honest, I still find it hard to settle down to read the Bible, and for a long time after my exit, all I could read was condemnation.  When I do settle to read or study, I really enjoy it and am surprised constantly at all the wonderful gems there are.  So much was withheld from us - we were given a diet and kept so busy that it was hard to find time to look at non-SNS or non-Corps or other non-class stuff unless it was the basis for the current rant.

One of the best ways of getting back into reading the Bible was to pick up The Message, with its wildly different terminology.  Really makes you look twice.  Now, for preference, I use Holman Christian Standard Bible, which is in good, modern English and seems to convey accurately (according to what I now understand) the intention behind the words; I also look at many other versions.

Rubina brings up a good point – I think there have been a few threads discussing the latent aspect of TWI’s teachings – which lie dormant or hidden until circumstances are suitable for further development or action  - like when you’re reading Romans 8 and start recalling what wierwille said about carnal versus spiritual – which can split off into other veins of thought like “maybe I’ve been reading too much worldly stuff lately…that’s why I’m not being spiritual”…I think a lot of ex-TWI folks experience that – I know I have…reminds me of…I think it was on VH1, ...remember those pop up music videos   ...My wife and I loved those….TWI pop ups ---mmmmm not so much.

 

it’s been my experience that rather than trying to suppress those “TWI pop-ups”, I’ve practically overwhelmed “the system” (my noggin :rolleyes:  ) with a plethora of new and various input (other Bible versions, commentaries, non-TWI Bible studies, systematic theology, etc.). I try to adhere to the sound advice of I Thessalonians 5:21 “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” ; use good critical thinking skills and keep an open mind. I’m comfortable with some ideas and concepts being in a state of flux – and enjoy the freedom I have to decide what items fall into that “uncertainty category”.  All this mental activity (as opposed to the passive method of absorbing TWI dogma unquestioningly) has become "the dominant force" that more often than not trumps TWI pop ups.

 

Twinky also brought up another good point – changing what Bible version to read. For efficiency and economy I have two parallel Bibles – each has 4 different versions

NIV, KJV, NASB, Amplified parallel Bible ...and NKJV, ESV, NLT, The Message  parallel Bible.

 

Then for grins you might want to check out some editors’ attempts to put the Bible in chronological order – sometimes the Gospels get a little dicey :biglaugh:  .

The Integrated Study Bible – a chronological approach    and    The Narrated Bible - in chronological order   

 

And just to be realistic and practical - there is nothing wrong with salvaging what you want from TWI – be it certain teachings, reference material, Bible version preference.  I still refer to  Bullinger’s Companion Bible and “How to Enjoy the Bible” occasionally, and some of my reference material – like concordances and Lexicons are for the KJV – partly because I still used that version for a while after I left TWI ...and also - after reading KJV for 12 years and referring to Bullinger stuff while in TWI,  I now have something of a natural cross-reference system in my head, handy for recalling where a chapter and  verse says blah blah or where Bullinger addressed a certain word or noted a certain structure in the passage...Maybe I’m just being more selective and re-purposing some pop ups... I dunno :biglaugh: .

 

 

 Thinking about what Rocky said  “You should read classic literature because it forces you to think deeply and concentrate” – should apply to reading one of the greatest classics – the Bible. Yes, some old habits are hard to break – but if you can resist the temptation to “put a teaching together for the next fellowship” or the impulse to “find other verses that might corroborate TWI dogma” – and instead just read it afresh...for example, picture yourself sitting in Nympha’s home somewhere near Laodicea (see Col.4: 15ff) and after someone has read a letter from Paul, it is then passed around and you get to look at it all you want for as long as you want…Commentaries and Bible studies can be helpful – but just reading the Bible while resisting the urge to activate all of our vast mental subroutines of accumulated knowledge :biglaugh:    , might freshen up our ability to think deeply and concentrate.

Edited by T-Bone
The revised mind is the key to new revisions

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I've just started reading Schindler's Ark (the book upon which the hit movie Schindler's List is based, and now re-released under that title).  The author, Thomas Keneally, is a novelist by trade.  He has collected many accounts of Schindler from Jewish survivors and other sources, and put this book together in novel-style, though he is at pains to point out that only the dialogue is fictional, and that that follows known patterns or summarises known conversations.  It's what's known as a "non-fiction novel" and the author won the Booker Prize for it.

We all know the story.  I thought the book might be more pacey.  It's not at all pacey.  Some sentences are short, graphic.  Others are long, covering five or six or eight or more lines, quite convoluted, lots of clauses and subclauses, asides, details: you have to read twice if not more to get the sense of the sentence.  Keneally is anxious to sketch out this man Schindler, to show the readers his complexity; and to show the slow, inexorable, degradation of the Jewish population of Crakow.  And, indeed, the slow, inexorable, degradation of the German population, to think that such treatment of other human beings is acceptable.  I believe that's what the author intended. 

So far, I've read four chapters; it's taking time.  As it happens, I've visited Crakow [Krakow].  I can picture some of the locations.  I know the official view of the current population; in fact, they claim to treasure the Jewish population now, by way of apology, and there's a nice Jewish centre.   But the populace has changed its mind once, from companionable living together in a thriving community, to rabid hatred and mass murder; and now they treasure this population group?  I wonder.  I wonder at myself - what would it take for me to behave like that?   Would I be sucked in (I was sucked in by one organisation that we all know)?  Or would I take a stand against?  Such thoughts come from a slower-moving piece of literature.

https://www.amazon.com/Schindlers-List/dp/B00NBELTP2/ref=sr_1_13?crid=1VFRMYE62F86Z&dchild=1&keywords=schindlers+ark&qid=1587823061&s=books&sprefix=schindlers+ar%2Caps%2C223&sr=1-13

 

 

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Getting easier as I read more.  Mostly dispensed with the very long sentences.  Reporting fairly unemotionally on the unimaginable horror that was Crakow at the time.  It's the sentence structure that conveys the horror, the confusion, the hopes and the fragility.

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On 4/22/2020 at 10:37 AM, rubina said:

I still have a hard time reading the Church Epistles because whenever I start reading them I have a hard time getting myself to think about what is being said outside of Way dogma.

I purposely bought a different, more modern Bible translation after leaving twi in order to prevent Way brain and triggers from the KJV.  And read a lot of the gospels.

just read the last comment by others. I agree that the Message Bible is great. I also have recently enjoyed the Passion Translation.  Both are somewhat outside the box, but good to read.   For study, I would use something different.  

 

Edited by penguin2
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38 minutes ago, penguin2 said:

I purposely bought a different, more modern Bible translation after leaving twi in order to prevent Way brain and triggers from the KJV.  And read a lot of the gospels.

just read the last comment by others. I agree that the Message Bible is great. I also have recently enjoyed the Passion Translation.  Both are somewhat outside the box, but good to read.   For study, I would use something different.  

 

Intriguing. John 1:1-5 from the Passion Translation
 

In the very beginning[a] the Living Expression[b] was already there.

And the Living Expression was with God, yet fully God.[c]

They were together—face-to-face,[d] in the very beginning.[e]
And through his creative inspiration
    this Living Expression made all things,[f]
    for nothing has existence apart from him!
Life came into being[g] because of him,
    for his life is light for all humanity.[h]
And this Living Expression is the Light that bursts through gloom[i]
    the Light that darkness could not diminish![j]

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The same verses from the Message Bible:
 

1-2 The Word was first,
the Word present to God,
    God present to the Word.
The Word was God,
    in readiness for God from day one.

3-5 Everything was created through him;
    nothing—not one thing!—
    came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life,
    and the Life was Light to live by. 
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
    the darkness couldn’t put it out.

From my perspective (as it is now, not what it was 30+ years ago), I'm thrilled by penguin2's ideas.

I'm not right and you're not wrong. (Which contrasts how I viewed things 35 years ago).

In much the same way reading classic literature can help a person learn how to think deeply, it seems obvious that comparing these two versions/translations CAN foster deep thinking.

This is important because I believe there is so much to God that we puny humans can even come close to comprehending.

Thanks so much to every commenter here for your thoughts and suggestions. WE belong to each other not because we fellowship in the same living room or annual cult festival, but because we share a journey and a heritage and can fellowship with each other in THIS cyber living room.

I love you. :knuddel:  :love3:

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Thanks guys, I've been reading the NIV translation. I really came back to Christ after reading the Gospels and seeing that there was so much more to Christianity than what the Way taught. 

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On 4/20/2020 at 11:20 PM, Rocky said:

 

 

This brings us to the first and, to my mind, most important reason to read the classics in 2019 2020.

1. You should read classic literature because it forces you to think deeply and concentrate.

21st century media is hell on the attention span.

But you already know this.

You know that our digital devices are shortening our attention spans, teaching us to only skim the surface of ideas, and making us addicts to tiny dopamine bursts that come from (among other things) the Like and Share buttons.

As we near the end of the second decade of the 21st century we’ve developed widespread awareness that our devices have made us shallow thinkers. We’re less cognizant, however, of the effect of the content itself.

Or the style in which the content is written.

Have you ever wondered why so many of the articles you read, like this one, are organized in numbered lists?

Or why the writing in these articles is so often organized into ultra-short paragraphs, many of them only one sentence long?

We, the content creators of the 21st century, have learned to write in snappy lists with short sentences and one-sentence paragraphs.

We write this way because this is what you, the content consumers of the 21st century, choose to read.

You like content that is clear, concise, simple, and to the point. You’re in a hurry (always), and we writers know, God do we know, that we are competing not just against other essays or other books, but against the endless siren songs of Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter.

We know that if we ask too much of you, say, if we give you a long sentence or, God forbid, a long paragraph, we might be taxing your mind more than you’re interested in having it taxed. We know that a complicated, multi-layered thought, one that might require you to slow down or reread a sentence or look up from your screen and think for a minute is too much to ask when your phone is bursting with notifications and there’s a new video on your favorite Youtube channel and everyone’s talking about that new show on Netflix but you haven’t even seen the last new show everyone was talking about yet and you’ve got ten tabs open on your browser and 3,000 unread books on your Kindle and holy hell who has time to consume it all just open my vein and fill it with listicles please!

There’s a cost to all this.

In the book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains (a 2011 Pulitzer Prize finalist for general nonfiction), Nicolas Carr looks at all the research in neuroscience and psychology about what the Internet is doing to our brains and determines that, yes, our ceaseless attempts to skim this glut of information is making us shallow thinkers who are far less capable of deep, focused, intense thought than our parents and grandparents were.

You should read the classics in 2019 to unlearn the shallowness and impatience you are learning in your hyper-accelerated 21st century life.

When you read Melville (or Hugo or Austen or Tolstoy or Plato or Shakespeare) you are sharing headspace with someone who is much better at slow, deep, meaningful thinking than you are because they’ve never lived in the shallows like you do.

 

 

 

I've tried to deny the effect that technology has had on me for so long, but recently its become really apparent. I thought that I had the ability to concentrate, focus and, read deep texts, but once I started to try it, I realized how little patience I had. I realized how much I depend on short articles an flashy videos to learn things when I probably should have sat down and read through the issue.  

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57 minutes ago, rubina said:

I've tried to deny the effect that technology has had on me for so long, but recently its become really apparent. I thought that I had the ability to concentrate, focus and, read deep texts, but once I started to try it, I realized how little patience I had. I realized how much I depend on short articles an flashy videos to learn things when I probably should have sat down and read through the issue.  

I totally understand.

A couple years ago i started/tried reading a book by Peter Gabel, a law professor who has been a university president. (Desire for Mutual Recognition). What I could get through (and understand) made sense. But his sentences were almost exclusively very long with numerous dependent clauses.

I got frustrated and gave up. I wrote a review on amazon giving it only three stars. The handful of other reviews and rates were primarily five star.

Professor Gavel contacted me by email (which was posted on my blog site). We had a nice 20-30 minute chat on zoom.

Now I reflect back to a cost accounting class I took in the mid-1980s. The instructor apparently very much disliked my (then) writing style. I had been using long sentences. Never got higher than a C grade on any writing assignment in that class.

Jump forward a decade and while working for an Arizona state government agency, I took a professional development class the agency offered on Effective Writing.

That class changed my life dramatically. I've been writing a LOT ever since. I had numerous op-eds and letters to editors published afterward.

Now I write a blog (political) and have posted more than 1,100 of my own essays to it.

For the last couple of years, I've been thinking in terms of writing fiction. I still haven't written much of it. But hopefully, when I get started, it will flow like rivers.

All of that to make the point that if nobody reads any of it, I don't see the point. So, I try not to write those humongous sentences anymore. :beer:

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