Book Review: Handling Strife – Ideas for Happier Living by David Butcher

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Book Review
Book Title: Handling Strife: Ideas for Happier Living
Author: David M. Butcher
Date Read: October 12th – October 23rd, 2016
Date Reviewed: October 23rd, 2016

Introduction: I received this book as an uncorrected advance copy for an honest review. I decided to pick this book up because I wanted a little non-fiction in my life, but it turns out I also got a splash of religion (specifically Christianity).

Quick Summary: This book is not only about handling strife, but pretty much every topic you can imagine a person might deal with – hate, love, trust, guilt, shame, honesty, happiness, jealousy, envy, price, the bible, the afterlife, music, control, truth, and more. The book talks a lot about Christianity, and the author gives his opinion a lot. There are also lots of stories shared about his personal experiences and other’s experiences. If you do not want to read one man’s specific opinions on all of the topics listed above, this book is not for you.

Quick Review: I did not enjoy this book, but not for the reason you might think. I tossed the entire religion aspect out of the door – I would not judge this book based on this man’s religious beliefs. I have read many books with many different religious views and they have been wonderful. I didn’t like this book because this writer is not exactly culturally friendly. His choice in wording makes this book sink all the way to a simple one star review. This book could have been a much higher star if he treaded carefully with his wording in some situations. I knew what he meant, but what he said might not go well with other readers. So, readers beware. There are lots of opinions and bad choices in the wording department.

For a slight change in my review format, I’m going to go chapter by chapter. I read this book twice, the first time through I tried to write my normal formatted review and it was incredibly hard – I had lots of criticism and lots of love depending on the chapter. So, I’m going to go chapter by chapter for this book so my followers/readers can get a much better understanding of why my rating is so low.

Chapter 1: Idea #1 Walk in Truth
This chapter started off pretty well. I was impressed with this man’s view on truth and how to ensure you do not lie. This is a great lesson for people! Being honest is a great way to live (when it’s appropriate). But, of course, the choice of wording did not exactly turn out well in this chapter. He mentions how you should always be honest, such as if your wife is wearing a dress you don’t like, tell her to change so her dress matches her highlights (which you do like). This didn’t sit well with me. What if his wife liked that dress? Should she have to change because you don’t like her dress? If she asked your opinion and she didn’t like the dress, perhaps that honesty would work well here, but the situation is iffy. Overall, this sentence made my view change for this whole chapter.

Chapter 2: Idea #2 Be Real
Another good idea to live by, but the author’s wording yet again had me wondering what his ideal thought of “being real” is. He discusses the subconscious wants, needs and desires, and then begins to talk about the “perfect life”. A spouse must “always” look good, they must never disagree with them, they must keep the house clean and do the laundry before it’s needed. Well, okay, that might be in his household but that doesn’t always stand true for everyone. The wording for this made it seem like everyone’s spouse must do this, so I wasn’t impressed. The chapter continues to go on with poor wording choice, such as the fact that not having enough money is never a catastrophe. I would disagree with that statement, to a degree. If you consider how some countries do not have health care, if you could not afford your treatment it would be a catastrophe. If you lost your home, your car, your career, and even more because you are so sick you cannot go on and cannot afford health care, I would feel like that could be a catastrophe. It was simply poor wording choice, and it could have been worded like “not having enough for extras in your life” could have worked better to get his point across. The final part of this chapter that got my blood boiling was how he talked about children. I don’t have any, but I work with lots of children so I didn’t appreciate this wording choice. He questioned anyone who is a parent and if they loved their child at all (poor wording choice) and then continued to ask about loving them to consider their feelings before punishing them. Again, good point – don’t yell and swear at them to hurt their feelings and teach them a valuable life lessons – but poor wording.

Chapter 3: Idea #3 Get Rid of Guilt and Shame
In this chapter, David did an excellent job of describing the difference between guilt and shame. They are definitely two very different concepts that can be mistaken for one another, and I applaud his descriptions and explanations. Although, yet again, the wording choice or lack of explanation further on left me feeling cheated. Our author tells a story of a man he used to know, he killed someone and then decided to change his life after he got out of jail. He got married, got a job, went to church and became a good man. As a picky reader, does this make a good man? I would need much more explanation, since I know a lot of married people with jobs that go to church that are not necessarily “good people”, but his definition of a “good person” may not be mine. This man could have made an honest mistake and actually be a wonderful person, but David lets on that this man is not good, so I felt confused. Eventually David explains a “bad person” – people who kill (okay, sounds reasonable in some situations), people who gamble (this can be a problem/addiction for people, but they are not necessarily bad people for this…) and people who smoke and drink (doesn’t necessarily mean someone is bad, I know smokers and drinkers/alcoholics who are wonderful people). There are many different levels of “bad”, and I feel like if he wanted to discuss bad people, discussing the levels could have made a better distinction between murderers and recreational drinkers.

Chapter 4: Idea #4 Take Control
The author’s stories and situations are very out there in this chapter. He explains why becoming angry is a bad thing – it can escalate to the point you will start killing people left and right, so never get angry. He also paints his parents as horrible people in this chapter, and explains how as a small child he corrected their behaviour. This entire chapter I felt like it wasn’t necessarily truthful, or it was missing explanations as to how these make sense, but that’s just my opinion.

Chapter 5: Idea #5 Eliminate Worry and Fear
I overall liked this chapter, minus one sentence. He explains how getting rid of useless worry and fear will help you get over strife, which is a great lesson for people. I tend to worry a lot and I got a lot out of this chapter! Except for one point, he describes how he went on a trip and knew the trip would be over when “God” let him run out of money. I’m not sure that’s exactly how a trip works (you usually plan to be there for a certain number of days and bring money for just in case situations where you need more…but hey, what do I know?).

Chapter 6: Idea #6 Envy, Jealousy and Pride
As a writer/reader/reviewer/editor, this chapter left me with my blood boiling. David M. Butcher explains how envy and jealousy are the same thing (they are not, they are similar but definitely not the same). He then continues to belittle cooks and welfare recipients (I don’t know how these two are similar, but apparently they are) and says they need to change and become better. I believe he meant this as a situational story, but I felt like something had been left out during the writing process. Some people on welfare are actively trying to get better but may just be in a bad spot (I know many like this, trying to get a job or losing one due to a horrible circumstance that was not related to them) and I know many cooks who are great people who do not need to “change” to be better.

Chapter 7: Idea #7 Love and Hate
This chapter is half amazing and half bad wording. Bad wording first – all women look for princes, according to this author, and all will be disappointed when they get a regular man. I wouldn’t necessarily agree with this, not all women want a knight in shining armor (perhaps young girls do, but that’s conditioning from society, but hey, that’s another issue). And then the good wording – David discusses learning to love ourselves. Society conditions us to learn to love and accept others, but not ourselves. This is truly important, especially with mental health issues in today’s society. I will give major props, and that specific part of this chapter deserves six out of five stars.

Chapter 8: Idea #8 Be Happy
This whole chapter was incredible, no poor wording at all! David discusses that being happy takes effort – you need to decide to be happy. If anything, I would have added more to this chapter – such as everyday will not always be a ten on the scale of one to ten of happiness, sometimes it will only be a one.

Chapter 9: Idea #9 Learn To Trust
This chapter had a lot of strange stories about learning to trust prayer – if you pray, in three days something good will happen. One woman got a random item out of a catalog that she didn’t order in three days, one man got a $200 Jesus status given to him, etc, etc. And if it doesn’t come in three days, wait a year or so, it’ll happen! Not necessarily true, but hey, this author is trying to get people to trust in time and patience, so kudos to him.

Chapter 10: Idea #10 Spreading Fear and Hate
I liked this chapter a lot, and the author had great examples. Some of them were a bit out there, but it got the point across that some people spread fear and hate, and it’s important to try to not be one of those people.

Chapter 11: Idea #11 The Bible
This chapter explained a bit of how the bible has changed from religion to religion and why it was separated into parts. I found it interesting, but it didn’t necessarily need to be in a book that talked about handling stress and strife in your life.

Chapter 12: Idea #12 One God?
If anything, I just wanted to call out a great Shakespearean reference to Romeo and Juliet – the rose by any other name reference was a great way to allude to other works but get the point across – great job David!

Chapter 13: Idea #13 Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin?
This is the chapter where readers should really beware. It is the best chapter of the book for me, since it explains how people preach the bible yet don’t exactly follow what they preach – but the author does the same thing here. He preaches that women should be given the option to have an abortion, but then he contradicts himself in saying get the women lots of help to not get the abortion at all. Contradictory, but it is a literal example of what he is discussing. He also compares how people are against sexuality and other choices (because of bible versions) but the bible also says to not cut yourself or dress up as the other gender, yet we let people get tattoos, women wear pants and men get ear piercings.

Chapter 14, 15, 16, & 17
These final chapters are very short and don’t seem to apply at all to the title of this book – handling strife. Life after death, music, loving Jesus and the Kingdom of God are discussed. It’s an interesting selection of chapters, but seem redundant and repetitive in my opinion.

Final Thoughts:
David has some great references – such as Halloweentown and Captain America, as well as Shakespeare and the Bible. I didn’t like this book due to the contradictory nature of David’s words, but I did find it helpful and insightful. The book is opinionated, so reader’s need to beware when reading. You are not going to agree with all of David’s thoughts, but you may get something out of this book. To me, it seemed like a large collections of sermons piled into one book, but it wasn’t exactly culturally sensitive.

One out of five stars due to the cultural insensitivity and contradictory nature of the novel.

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briarsreviews

I'm a Canadian book, television and film reviewer. I accept review requests! Feel free to leave a comment if you are interested in specific reviews. I accept review requests on this website or via briarramses@gmail.com

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