LEARN FROM A BOOK – ANGELA’S ASHES

BOOK TITLE: ANGELA’S ASHES; A MEMOIR OF THE AUTHOR

AUTHOR: FRANK McCourt

“WHO HAS WOE?”

Addiction to alcohol is the root of many societal ills and life’s tragedies. Many cases of reckless driving and ghastly motor accidents are as a result of drunk driving. Countless Innocent pedestrians have had their lives abruptly terminated by drunk hit and run drivers. Abuse of alcohol is a destructive way of life.

Some addicts don’t end up dead, they just lose their minds. They stop their cars in the middle of nowhere and collapse in deep slumber right behind their wheels. Those who have no cars wobble on feet in limbo, feet that sometimes do not make it back home from the drinking joints; feet that lead them straight into the nearest stinking gutter and there, deposit their waste of a body.

Some men drink and become monsters. Consumed by alcohol triggered rage, they throw their fists at anyone in sight. Complaining wives, embarrassed children, nosy or concerned neighbors, are all targets and victims of such fists.

Manufacturers of alcoholic beverages advice consumers to drink responsively but this moral advice fall on deaf ears for many who abuse alcohol.

In “Angela’s Ashes”, Frank McCourt described an Ireland where drinking is a revered tradition amongst men. Young boys are initiated into the pub life as soon as they turn sixteen, and that is as good as a rite of passage for them into the macho world of men. However, one’s drinking life is not an accepted excuse to become a nuisance. To which I argue that if you do become a nuisance, why should anybody blame you, after all, prevention is better than cure.

In this book, Frank’s father, Malachy, has a drinking problem which served as the root of all evil in the story. No, the other characters were not saints. Angela’s mother for instance should be blamed for giving up on her daughter as useless, and withdrawing from her maternal responsibility to painstakingly encourage and help her child develop the inner strength needed to fit productively into the society. Taking the easy way out by sending Angela off to America where, according to her, “there’s room for all sorts of uselessness”, turned out to be a terrible mistake. And as for Angela, she should be blamed for her lack of self control. Having reckless sex with a total stranger at touchdown in America was rather careless. And her aunts should be blamed for disregarding the fact that Malachy was no husband material. They shouldn’t have forced him to marry their niece just because he had planted a child in her womb without due process!

But of all the sins, the sin of Malachy McCourt is the greatest because of his addiction to alcohol. Though naïve, Angela was prepared to make the best of a bad situation by willing to settle down to a life of wife and mother. As for Malachy, he had a first love that wasn’t willing to share him with another.

“Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who go in search of mixed wine”. Proverbs 23 vs. 29-30.

Malachy went in search of mixed wine. Every dime he earned paid for his trips to the pub even though there were important bills to clear. Angela was always at home with the children, waiting, praying, and hoping that Malachy would do the right thing whenever it was pay day. The children were hungry, they were getting sick, and they were dying. The future looked absolutely bleak, but Malachy cared more about his liquor. The saddest thing about the situation was that Malachy remained devoted to the bottle to the very end.

Frank McCourt did the strangest thing; he told a sad tale and almost took away my right to cry. Frank was so funny, I was reading a sad book and I was laughing. But as soon as I turned the last page, and I put the book down, a strong urge for sober reflection settled on me.

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise”, Proverbs 20 vs. 1.
The McCourt’s’ family would have had honor instead of shame. They would have had happiness instead of pain. There would have been no death in the family, if Malachy had not been constantly overpowered by his desire for alcohol.

Dear FOJ,

“do not look on the wine when it is red, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and it stings like a viper, your eyes will see strange things and your heart will utter perverse things. Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: “they have struck me, but I was not hurt; they have beaten me, but I did not feel it, when shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?” Proverbs 23 vs. 31-35

Yours Truly,

Moni.

THE LIE THAT COULDNT BE.

Something. Something is impressed on your mind, and on your soul, and on your spirit, and on your body so strongly, yet it is a lie.

It could have sparked with desire for something to be true and the desperate search for the slightest sign that it could be.

I heard a story and now I share it with you. The wife of a prominent preacher got sick, so sick that it was feared she might not survive. A sister in the congregation who apparently admired the powerful preacher a little too much started hearing a voice telling her that the preacher’s wife would die and she was the woman the preacher would re-marry. The sister believed and feeling very honored, she pledged a large sum of money to God, a gesture of gratitude.

The preacher’s wife’s sickness got worse in spite of prayers, fasting and medical attention. The sister promptly redeemed her pledge, believing that the time was near. But suddenly, the preacher’s wife began to get better, and better, until, miraculously, she was completely healed. She remained the preacher’s wife and the sister who had heard a voice was disappointed. I wonder if she eventually realized that a lie had conquered her.

A baffling story was recorded in Jeremiah 28 about Hananiah, the son of Azur the prophet. Why did he say, “God said,” when God had not spoken? Why was he so bold and confident? He stood up in the house of God, in the presence of Jeremiah the prophet, all the priests and all the people and gave a prophecy. Hananiah’s words were comforting. Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon had conquered the world and held all bound, including Israel. To hear a prophecy that freedom would come to all within twenty four months was fantastic news from God. But was it from God?
God refuted Hananiah’s words, He said:

“I have put a yoke of iron on the neck of all nations that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and they shall serve him.” Jeremiah 28 vs. 18

Prophet Jeremiah confronted Hananiah, he said:

“Hear now Hananiah, the LORD has not sent you, but you make this people trust in a lie”. Jeremiah 28 vs. 15

Hananiah must have heard a voice, but it was not the voice of God. Perhaps he questioned why Nebuchadnezzar held the world in captivity. Perhaps he thought people ought to be free, especially Israel. Perhaps he became consumed with these thoughts that he began to hear a voice telling him that the tyranny of Nebuchadnezzar would soon be over. Perhaps he heard the voice clearly, it was strong on him, too persistent to resist, deny or ignore. Perhaps it became such a burden that he couldn’t eat or sleep well. Perhaps that was why he was fearless when he gave his prophecy. Unfortunately, he was in error, a lie had conquered him.

God sentenced Hananiah to death for his error, Jeremiah 28 vs. 16-17.

It is not only when you are too desperate for something to be true that a lie could conquer you, if you have no regard for the truth, you set yourself up to be smitten by a lie.

King Ahab of Israel had made up his mind to go to war against Ramoth Gilead, 1 Kings 22. The place was under the control of the king of Syria but Ahab claimed it belonged to Israel and he wanted it back. War was a bad idea but four hundred prophets assured him of victory. Four hundred! Could four hundred prophets be wrong? A friend of mine made a joke about the advert sign hanging from the roof of a certain local canteen.

“Food at mama Sikira’s canteen is sweet, one thousand flies cannot be wrong!”

The flies may not be wrong but just how appealing would a canteen swarming with flies be to any hungry fellow who wants to stay alive for the next meal? Mama Sikira’s food maybe delicious but it is also contaminated! The prophecy of the four hundred prophets was good news, but it was also a lie. The one prophet who told Ahab the truth was asked to be locked up in prison and nourished with the bread and water of affliction.

Ahab went to fight his war but he did not return, even thought he had boasted to Michaiah that he would return in peace. 1 kings 22 vs. 1-40

Dear FOJ,

Sometimes a lie is conspicuous; all it takes to detect it is common sense and a keen attention to detail. There are subtle lies that will challenge your sense of honesty and sincerity in such a way that if a little compromise is no big deal to you, the lie would pass unnoticed. And there are tricky lies that are perfect imitation of truth; it would take a knowing in your spirit by the Spirit of God for you to cry foul!

Yours truly,

Moni.

I LOVE YOU.

“I have loved you, “says the LORD. “Yet you say, ‘in what way have You loved us?” Malachi 1 vs. 2a

Love brought life and happiness to Cinderella, pain and death to Romeo and Juliet. Look around you, the story hasn’t changed, when people find love, it’s either they can’t stop smiling, or they can’t stop crying.

Love, what is love? Generally speaking, love has to do with affection, warm feelings, and great care for somebody or something. Care and affection are simple words in dictionary world but in the hearts of people, they are as complex and astonishing as any of the wonders of the world on record.

There are men and women who expect anyone in a love relationship with them to be ready to subject themselves to all manner of abuse in the name of love. There are children who believe that the parent who cares is that who neither scolds nor enforce discipline strictly. I think it’s something we all know, that for many of us, love is selfish. But according to 1st Corinthians 13, it ought not to be so.

The search for love beats the search for gold, and love is sweet when the fire to give it all burns on both ends. Love is pain when all its sacrifices, gifts, romantic songs and poems are treated with disdain. If someone abhors your love for lust of another, no matter what you do, you will still have to answer to the question, “what have you ever done for me?” if you say, “But I have loved you,” you will hear, “how? In what way have you loved me?”

What is a frustrated lover supposed to do?

Walk away.

Precisely.

But God says He cannot do that.

“How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I set you like Ze-boiim? My heart churns within me; my sympathy is stirred”.

If a man withdraws his love from a woman or vice versa, it is possible for the stripped party to move on. But if God withdraws His love from His people, they will be destroyed. God is a Father, and His people are His children and His love for them goes way back.

“When Israel was a child, I loved him,
And out of Egypt I called my son”. Hosea 11 vs. 1

God showed affection and care for His people although they took Him for granted.

“I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them.”

In any true love story, two hearts must beat as one, which was not the case with God and Israel, His son.

“As they called them, so they went from them; they sacrificed to Baal, and burned incense to carved images” Hosea 11 vs. 7

And again:

“My people are bent on backsliding from me. Though they call to the Most High, none at all exalt him.” Hosea 11 vs. 7

Yet, God does not want this love story to end. Like a patient lover, he keeps hoping for a change of attitude in His people.

“So you, by the help of your God, return; observe mercy and justice, and wait on your God continually.” Hosea 12 vs. 6

Dear FOJ,

Today, you are God’s first born, because anyone in Christ is Israel to Him, spiritual Israel, Romans 2 vs. 28-29. God loves you, His heart beats for you but do you appreciate God’s love? Selfishness is a cataract, sin is a cataract, do not let them blind you to God’s love. If your heart has left Him, know that He would like you to RETURN.

Yours truly,

Moni.