Thursday, June 6, 2019

Book Nook: Beyond the Lies

Why do drug and alcohol abuse seem to follow success in sports? Is it the pressure, the big money, or loneliness at the top? Is it an attempt to fill a void in one's life?

Some people are born with more talent and gifts than most—like Anthony Morgan, the main character in Van Brabson's new book, Beyond the Lies. For them the future couldn't look brighter. Others are born into this world struggling for breath—life for them continues to be a constant struggle and an uncertain future. The common denominator for both is the realization, at some point, that no matter how successful or unsuccessful he or she is, there is an inescapable void deep within each that begs to be filled, a soul that longs to be known—truly known.

Such was the case with baseball up-and-comer Anthony "Missile” Morgan. He had everything going for him until he lost his father—his hero and mentor. Then he slipped into a downward spiral of booze, lies and baseball. His career and life were in serious jeopardy.

About the same time, Jesse Cartwright, Anthony's best childhood friend, was struggling with her own demons. She wanted to make something of her life, but circumstances erected one barrier after another in her path to move forward. Soon their paths grew apart and the emptiness in each of their lives deepened. Could they ever rekindle the relationship they once had? Or would something or someone else fill the deepening void?

Vanderbilt Brabson III was born in Knoxville, TN, and graduated from the University of Tennessee. A conference speaker and writer, Vanderbilt is one of the featured writers in Ordinary People magazine. Beyond the Lies is the second of three books he is presently releasing for publication. The first is entitled, The Gatekeeper, and the third is schedule to be released this Spring. A widower, Vanderbilt resides in Tennessee near two of his four children.

I had a chance to interview him to learn more.

Why did you decide to write this book?  Although the characters are fictional the book deals with at least two very important issues facing young people today.  The first issue is underage drinking.  In the U.S. alone, over 4,000 deaths of young people occur annually as a result of underage drinking.  Upwards of better than 100,000 emergency room visits occur annually in the U.S. involving underage drinking-related injuries and other conditions.  This is tragic because these statistics reveal the magnitude of the number of lives being destroyed and families being torn apart.  And we can all agree that every solitary life matters...especially to their loved ones.  
The second issue concerns the need for young people (especially student athletes) to set the right priorities.  It is extremely important for parents of high school student athletes, whose skills have colleges courting them for scholarship offers, to have “THE TALK” with their athlete sons and daughters about realistically setting the right priorities and not putting all their eggs-of-hope in one basket.  Therefore, it is enormously important that parents stress the value of a good education to their student athlete sons and daughters.  Why?  Because sooner or later all athletes—through injury, illness, being cut from the squad, or retirement, will have to put the ball down—many sooner than later.  Then what?  These student athletes need to understand upfront that what one puts in his/her head and heart is what ultimately will carry him or her through life.  
Besides, the percentages of great high school athletes going on to play college sports, and great college athletes going on to play pro sports is extremely low.  Approximately 7% (1 in 14) of high school athletes will actually go on to play college sports.  Of that 7%, only 2% (1 in 54) of them will play NCAA Division 1 sports, and less than 2% of all college athletes will go on to play pro sports.  Therefore, parents need to arm their high school student athlete sons and daughters with good information which will enable these young athletes to make wise decisions.       
Why is it so important to expose the information behind the lies?
Knowledge is power, and ignorance is never bliss.  As I said before, every life truly matters. The response of parents to the book Beyond The Lies is encouraging when they are faced with these two very real issues of 1) young people setting the right priorities and 2) underage drinking.  As a child and teenager growing up, I was exposed to plenty of both—young people making bad decisions, which would cost them dearly for the rest of their lives, and underage drinking, which ruined many lives and families.  But there is hope!  Hope, for all who have been victimized by their really poor decisions, and freedom for those who have become slaves to alcohol and other addictive substances.  But such hope and freedom start for all at the same place—admitting that one needs help.  A drug addict cannot truly be helped until he/she acknowledges they have a drug problem.  An alcoholic cannot be rehabilitated until he/she first acknowledges they have an alcohol problem.  And a sinner cannot be saved until he/she confesses he/she is a sinner in need of a Savior.             

What are some solutions to this ongoing problem?  Ever go to the refrigerator looking for something to eat or drink, and although the fridge is full, you reach for nothing.  Why?  Because even though you see a lot of food and refreshments, inwardly you know not one of the of the things you are staring at will satisfy your hunger nor quench your thirst.  So, you close the refrigerator door and walk away.  That is a metaphor for a spiritual reality.  The spiritual problem is one of emptiness.  Emptiness is to the soul; what pain is to the body.  It tells us something is wrong.  This is because God has created within each of us a spiritual vacuum that He alone can fill, and a throne that He alone can occupy.  We can take the enticements of the world’s fortune, fame, power, and pleasure and seek to fill that inner vacuum and occupy that inner throne of our hearts, but such things will only satisfy temporarily.  Then we find ourselves back where we started—spiritually empty. The Scriptures declare in Ecclesiastes 3:11 that God has put eternity in the hearts of men.  That means that at the end of the day, all of us (whether we are willing to admit to ourselves or not) know deep within there is more to life than what we see around us. To truly fill the spiritual emptiness within, we must allow God to take His rightful place upon the throne of our hearts.  If we do, He will also fill that spiritual void in our lives.  This is the message of Beyond The Lies, a Christian, coming of age, sports, romance novel.     

Beyond the Lies
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