BOOK REVIEWS

Five Foundations of Human Development (FFHD) – A Proposal for Our Survival in the Twenty-First Century and the New Millennium

Five Star Book Review – november 2011
Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA)
November 6, 2011

1. Bookviews – October 2011
—By Alan Caruba
Founding member of the National Book Critics Circle
My Picks of the Month
September 30, 2011

 2. Book Review – April 2010
—L. Anthony Watkins, Psychology Major, University of Toronto
Social Pathology/ Mental Health, Correctional Services and Psychiatric
Forensic Assessment

National Coordinator for the Attitudinal Development Project
Youth Training and Employment Partnership Program (YTEPP)
The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies

3. Book Review – October 2008
Commissioned by The Ethnic Umbrella newspaper
—Antonio Villarroel, M.Sc. Columnist
Toronto, ON, Canada

  1. FIVE STAR BOOK REVIEW

Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA)
November 6, 2011

An excellent and much recommended read, not to be overlooked

“How do we develop our lives and find our calling in life?” Five Foundations of Human Development” is a unique exploration of human nature and how we pursue it through life. Discussing spirituality, morality, society, intellectualism, and physicality, Gibbs and Grey provide much to think about in the vein of human nature and the future. “Five Foundations of Human Development” is an excellent and much recommended read, not to be overlooked.”

Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA)
Email: mwbookrevw@aol.com
http://www.midwestbookreview.com/

  1. BOOKVIEWS BY ALAN CARUBA

A monthly report on the best in new fiction and non-fiction books. Alan Caruba is a charter member of the National Book Critics Circle and has been reviewing for more than five decades. Bookviews does not accept galleys, only finished, published books should be sent. To request a review, first email acaruba@aol.com

Friday, September 30, 2011
Bookviews – October 2011
By Alan Caruba
Founding member of the National Book Critics Circle

My Picks of the Month

“. . . Last year I reviewed “New Deal or Raw Deal?” by Burton Folsom, Jr. It was and, in my view, still is the best book I have read on this period in the nation’s history that spanned the Great Depression years of the 1930s. Michael Hiltzick, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist has written The New Deal: A Modern History ($30.00, Free Press) of the same period 80 years ago and come to some very different conclusions. Indeed, his take on that period and especially on Franklin D. Roosevelt are quite different from Folsom’s. In many ways it is an apologia for FDR, a rewrite of the many other books that examined this period that generally assert that FDR’s administrations actually extended and worsened the Depression with its hodge-podge of programs and its taxation policies. Astonishingly, Hiltzick asserts that FDR was in fact a conservative as were his remedies. Hiltzick has labored hard and produced a large book that is the reverse mirror image of the way most others perceived the Depression.
For those who seek new knowledge and new insights, to challenge their intellect, two such books will surely do so. There is probably no single threat to the future of America than the “global” efforts to bring it and all other nations under the control of organizations like the United Nations, the EU and the International Criminal Court. John Fonte poses the question Sovereignty or Submission: Will Americans Rule Themselves or be Ruled by Others? ($25.95, Encounter Books) A PhD in world history and director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for American Common Culture, Fonte examines the way “globalists”, including America’s leading progressive elites, are working to establish a “global rule of law.” We are seeing efforts to re-interpret the U.S. Constitution and impose so-called global law in its place and the result can only be a day on which Americans awake to discover that all the protections they have taken for granted have vanished. In many examples drawn from around the world, this book issues a warning that must be heeded.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN, John R. Bolton, says “John Fonte’s comprehensive dissection of the global governance impulse should be required reading for anyone interested in preserving America’s constitutional freedoms.” The other intellectual challenge is found in Five Foundations of Human Development by Errol Gibbs and Philip [Grey] ($25.95, Author House, soft cover). It is the result of eleven years of research and writing, and the combined travel experiences to 36 [32] countries. It explores the question of whether our materially driven lives undermine the spiritual purpose of our existence. The authors, both Christians, examine five foundations, spiritual, moral, social, intellectual, and physical that define our existence. Together they have spelled out a blueprint for the survival of humanity. Christians will find much to enjoy in this book as they are its intended readers. . .

For information about the book and the authors, please visit website: www.ffhdwritersinc.com

http://bookviewsbyalancaruba.blogspot.com/2011/09/bookviews-october-2011.html

  1. TRANSCRIPT OF BOOK REVIEW BY: L. ANTHONY WATKINS

Event: Five Foundations of Human Development Book Launch
Country: The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
Venue: National Library and Information Systems (NALIS)
Date: April 14th 2012

Keynote Presenter:

L. ANTHONY WATKINS is an accomplished Organizational Development Consultant. After majoring in Psychology at the University of Toronto, he worked extensively in the fields of Social Pathology/ Mental Health, Correctional Services and Psychiatric Forensic Assessment. On his return to Trinidad and Tobago, he worked as a Guidance Officer, tutored with the University of the West Indies School of Continuing Studies and was the National Coordinator for the Attitudinal Development Project of the Youth Training and Employment Partnership Program (YTEPP).


FIVE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT (FFHD)

By: Errol A. Gibbs & Philip A. Grey

This book is trying to wrap your arms around the world, to wrap your mind around the complexity of creation, to embrace the fullness of God in your human understanding. Who would be bold enough to attempt something as comprehensive as this? What kind of spirit seeks to grasp and express the scope of this work?

Like the great rivers of the world that lead to the deepest of oceans, things begin in small remote places:

  • The single life events that are the experiences that give form to grounded concepts and frameworks.
  • The events that from patterns that begin to flow, more powerfully along the pathway to the sea, being shaped by the unfolding experiences but also helping to shape the space through which they pass.
  • The elements that are combined and blended into tributaries of thought, rivers that bring richness to our lives.

Gulotta Communications Inc. [United States] Press Release: “Mediated through solid Christian theology, empirical observation, science, and religion, Gibbs and Grey’s book offers a prodigiously researched cross-disciplinary analysis of the philosophical, religious, and practical challenges that humans must overcome if we are to have a future as a viable species… By adroitly bringing conscience into the equation, the authors do a masterful job of linking individuals and institutions—offering spiritually based hope for the prospect of solutions reflecting the oneness of humanity.”

The paradox is that to look at the single tributary or stream of thought is to deprive oneself of the complexity that is seen only from on high.

  • To bathe in the river of any chapter is to have a special experience
  • But to take a bird’s eye view of the overall system that the work addresses is to come face to face with a grand design.

Too much of what we do today is to focus on the fruits rather than the roots. Rooted in the illusion of the instant, we look to the end of the race. Who won gold? But where did the race really begin?

We speak glibly about:

  • “Eating a food” …
    • Oblivious to the law of the farm … caught up in the illusion of the instant.
    • Oblivious to the seed, the soil, the preparation, the watchfulness, the attention, the faith and trust …
  • Putting a roof over our head … dreaming of the space in which we live … as though the roof is where we begin.
  • Oblivious to the fundamental principle that to go anywhere we need to set out in the opposite direction first.

While the roof is above our heads, eventually, the strength, security and sustainability of the building is established only when we dig in the opposite direction … setting the foundation.

The authors take us initially not towards the spiritual, moral, social, intellectual and physical foundations and the detailed information that is a guide for day-to-day living but first to the Preeminent Foundations:

  • Who is God
  • Who is Jesus Christ
  • What is the Church
  • What is the Holy Bible
  • Who is a Christian

Below the basement is the sub-basement … bedrock … the source. Antonio Villaroel Columnist (Toronto): Gibbs and Grey make the point that this chameleon-like transformation leaves humanity feeling cut off at the “source” and the authors’ fivefold path to human development is an attempt to return to a more spiritual age, where former chief protagonist, the spiritual person, is allowed once again to take the lead on the world’s stage.

To truly understand the river, we need to know the springs that trickle out of the mountain-tops, we need to experience the awesome grandeur of the mountain valleys, the wider vistas of the valley stage and the calm but rich and powerful currents of the plain stage.

This work takes us through these multiple stages, and inviting us to see the bigger integrated picture of Human Development … seeking to surface the meaningfulness of life and providing us with the tools to achieve it.

  1. FIVE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT (FFHD)

© Errol A. Gibbs and Philip A. Grey

Five Foundations of Human Development (FFHD) is an ambitious project that, in the words of the authors, “offers hope for the survival of humanity in the 21st century and the new millennium.”

Scientific Ecclesiastes

Shall we begin with Ecclesiastes? I think so.

The author of the Book of Ecclesiastes, identified as “the Philosopher”, evinces the spirit of modern day scientific inquiry when he declares in Chapter 1 verse 12, “I determined that I would examine and study all the things that are done in this world.”
Perhaps not so characteristic of the modern age – at least not of academicians that govern scientific dialogue from their (proverbial) ivory towers – “the Philosopher” presents us with the conclusion of his study in verses 17-18,”But I found out that I might as well be chasing the wind. The wiser you are, the more worries you have; the more you know, the more it hurts.”
Gibbs and Grey, authors of FFHD, interpret the Philosopher’s conclusion as demonstrating “the intrinsic links between advancements in material knowledge and the Spiritual decline of nations.” And further, “The fall of the great empires of the ancient world is a testament to this correlation, and an illustration of the futility of a society that abandons God’s plan for human survival.”
This interpretation provides an undercurrent to many of the thoughts and ideas in the book, and appears to be a primary motivation for Gibbs and Grey’s entire oeuvre. Follow me.

Spirituality

The first and primary theme of the book deals with that collective side of ourselves, most conspicuous in so-called primitive societies, that celebrates our spiritual nature as the central and organizing principle of our societies. It is within these very societies, and under the leadership of “spiritual man”, that the Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – were founded.
Yet, in our modern or “advanced” age, humanity awakens, with each new generation, to find itself adrift on the vast ocean of existence, and under the captaincy of an entirely new creature, “scientific man”, if you will, or “materialistic man” – that side of ourselves that places material knowledge as society’s highest value.
Gibbs and Grey make the point that this chameleon-like transformation leaves humanity feeling cut off at the “source” and the authors’ fivefold path to human development is an attempt to return to a more spiritual age, where former chief protagonist, the spiritual person, is allowed once again to take the lead on the world’s stage. The result just might be that humanity would come full circle, as it were, with our collective eyes more open, and better for the experience. I am reminded here of a literary allusion to this possibility in a few of the sunset lines of T.S. Eliot’s Fourth Quartet, Little Gidding,

“We shall not cease from exploration,

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.”

Morality

The second theme of the book, the disparity of material wealth among nations, the author’s attribute to the “accumulation of superfluous wealth” among nations of the West. This theme is related to the second foundation of FFHD, namely morality – just as the first theme is related to the first foundation, namely spirituality (more on the foundations proper later).
At the very heart of the book, pp. 273-5 [pp. 247-4], we find what is perhaps its thematic climax. The responsibility to attain a more equitable distribution of wealth, say the authors, is essentially a spiritual one and “flows from the heart.”

Here, the authors marry the themes of spirituality and morality by saying that the way our spirituality is realized in this material world is via ethical/moral behavior or, alternatively, the recognition of our spiritual nature is what leads us to behave morally in this material world of God’s creation. This link at the heart of the book between the two major themes, is, in the opinion of this reader, almost ethereal in its brilliance. Brilliant for reasons not the least of which is that it affords the opportunity for everyone in our society to be a leader.
The authors point out that this universal law of human experience is summed up in the equally universal moral code of all the major world religions; namely “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12
The spiritual essence of this universal moral code is that it places people above material wants and desires and begs the rhetorical question, “What kind of ‘heaven’ (i.e., what a wonderful spiritual experience) life in this world could be if people were as important, or more important, than money.”

Fuller Disclosure

It is, no doubt, the many years of experience – both as humans and Christians (not that these are mutually exclusive!) – under the authors’ collective belts that allow them to speak so authoritatively not only on fundamental issues surrounding their faith, but on other topics they have tackled in the book, topics as diverse as education and technology, economics and health.

Canute B. Blake, in his foreword to the book, says “Grey and Gibbs have combined world travel experience in various countries within North and South America, Europe, Asia, the Caribbean and Africa.” The authors, however, and perhaps disappointingly for the reader, have chosen to keep their experiences to themselves! The book, therefore, lacks the very persuasive influence of the human voice. The writing comes across as mildly dogmatic, monotone, bathed in a certain prosaic abstraction that “drowns out” the authors’ very inspiring themes.
The authors may have knowingly sacrificed a more personal perspective for the ‘foundational’ one they were trying to achieve, but, in the opinion of this reader, the sacrifice was not necessary. The religious experience is, after all, one of the most personal of all experiences.
Nevertheless, we find the following lines written on page 95. After explaining how “Love begins with God”, the authors assert “We will know that God’s love is working in us and through us when we voluntarily enter the great battlefield of races and cultures, and champion the poor, the aged, the hungry, the dispossessed and the disenfranchised. It is only within these environments that God’s incomprehensible love manifests its greatest patience with us, and we see its capacity to transform human lives, to overcome fear and to inspire care and compassion.”

Here we find the evidence of the authors’ own rich experiences, on which these lines are so plainly based, poking it’s head through their restrictive writing style. The reader is left itching for a more direct disclosure of the authors’ experiences emanating from the love of the God of Abraham and their resultant love for the “dispossessed” of humanity.

The Foundations

To the foundations themselves, then, shall we?

The major two foundations of “human development,” as the authors call it, are spiritual and moral, in that order. Next are the social, intellectual and physical, in that order. About one sixth of the book (a hundred pages or so) is devoted to each of these five foundations.
In the section on spirituality, the authors, in keeping with their message of hope, discuss the characteristics of a society which is deeply rooted in the spiritual foundation. These characteristics include love, faith, hope, charity, peace, all of which – if the 6:00 pm news are any indication – seem like stations the “human train” has long since left, perhaps never to return.
In the moral foundation, distinction is made between “leadership” and “authority.” The authors make the case that genuine leadership – spiritual and moral – has become but a flickering candle amidst the glaring and intrusive “spotlights” of societies’ myriad “authority figures.”

The vast territory of the book’s subject matter is demarcated by a seemingly endless supply of biblical quotes, which typically sit with epigrammatic brilliance at the top of each chapter. These quotes echo the wisdom of the Bible and provide a flavor or sub-theme for each of the chapters in the book. For example, in discussing the nature and types of human relationships – the first part of the social foundation – the authors provide a biblical overture to the chapter from Romans 12:15-16. “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”

The author’s round out their discussion of the social foundation with a biblically based discussion of the nature and causes of racism; a prescriptive analysis of human behavior, emphasizing the biblical legacy of King Solomon, i.e. the Book of Proverbs; and an analysis of the social causes and consequences of low self esteem.

The authors open the intellectual foundation with a ‘theological’ distinction between education and intelligence. Education, say the authors, is “the sole prerogative of human beings,” while intelligence is rooted in our spiritual nature and therefore “begins with God.” In the third chapter the authors analyze “knowledge” introduced by another biblical quote, this time from Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” In this chapter, the authors dwell on their view that, despite the information explosion in our society, “The full storehouse of human knowledge over the past centuries is infinitesimal in comparison to … God’s storehouse of His Spiritual knowledge.”
The final chapter of the intellectual foundation dwells on humankind’s ability, or lack thereof, to guide the course of its own destiny. If time is a river, as it has often been likened to, then, by all accounts, the history of humanity has been one of it’s most tortuous estuaries. Human history can be defined as the very biography of human conflict, as though conflict itself were a species in its own right, complete with its own cultural, technological and political evolution. Who will be humanity’s most capable guide? The authors find their answer in “God and his Son Jesus Christ,” quoting from Proverbs 48:14 “For this is God, Our God forever and ever; He will be our guide Even to death.”

The authors open the physical foundation with a discussion of human health where they emphasize a botanical rather than a synthetic approach to pharmacology as an essential element in the medical paradigm. One of them (though they do not mention who) has recently been on the receiving end of a “catastrophic diagnosis.” Appropriately, the second chapter (of three) in the physical foundation is named, “catastrophic diseases,” which is principally an epidemiological inquiry into the major causes of death in developed nations, i.e. heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. The final chapter of the physical foundation extols the benefits of physical activity, in part through a collection of the writings of a variety of society’s health “authorities.”

Conclusion

The authors stress the book is for everyone, “… it has a message that everyone can read, and everyone can benefit from.” Canute B. Blake, however, says “The book … offers individuals in positions of leadership, both in private and public sectors, unique philosophical, religious and practical approaches from which to examine and solve the complex human problems of our modern world.” FFHD, therefore, can be seen as a paradigm of sorts, based on a hierarchical value system, and through which, it is proposed, leaders can tackle humanities myriad hang-ups, draw-downs, and other species-threatening problems.
As my eyes swept past the above lines from Blake (“The book … offers individuals …”) however, a random thought surfaced in my mind: “Politics is too important an issue to be left to the politicians.” And in the days that ensued, similar thoughts arose, “Medicine is far too important an issue to be left to pharmaceutically-trained doctors!” and “Scholarship in general is far too important an issue to be left to the scholars!” I envision a much more democratic system of knowledge in our society, rather than the hierarchical-based knowledge system we currently have. Knowledge is power, after all, and power must be distributed evenly. I propose, therefore, that Gibbs and Grey’s work should be targeted to the same grass roots communities from which it was evidently born, and not to the halls of power or of establishment academia.
True to the authors’ objective in writing the book, FFHD inspired this reader, at least, with hope and faith in the realization that there are still some among us whose actions are based on conviction not currency. Pick up your copy, and be inspired.

Antonio Villarroel, M.Sc. Columnist
Toronto, ON, Canada