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My Book: Bipolar Disorder And Religious Faith


Brother Jeff
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Hey everybody,

 

I have decided to write a book that will focus primarily on bipolar disorder and religious faith, and of course the story of my religious journey. The book is far from finished and needs fleshing out and editing but I have a good start on it. I will have to ask Dr. Richard Carrier for his permission to use his lecture material in my book but I don't see why he wouldn't say yes... Any and all feedback greatly appreciated!!

 

Bipolar Religiosity - Bipolar Disorder and My Religious Experience.pdf

 

Thanks and Glory!

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Interesting read, Brother Jeff.  I am sure you have had intense difficulties based on what you describe.  Overall, I found what you wrote to be very interesting and I can see really good potential for an important contribution.  Understanding that this is a very early draft, but since you asked for any and all comments, I will provide a few.

 

The Title:  "Bipolar Disorder and Religious Faith"

 

The title does a good job of letting the reader know what is coming from within the pages that they will read.  My only thought is that you may want to personalize it a little more.  That title sounds fairly clinical, like something that would be written by a health care professional for a professional journal.  I think what people would want to read is how your bipolar disorder affected you and I think you may want to rethink the title to convey that idea.

 

Your theme:  My take on your theme is that you are not really writing about religion per se.  Rather, you are writing about how your bipolar disorder manifested itself in you.  From what I understand, it manifested itself in bouts of intense religiosity which seemed very real to you, even to the point of being totally convincing.  What is more, even after you understood that your bipolar disorder manifested itself this way, the bouts of intense religiosity (as what happened recently) were still convincing, at least for a short time.  In fact, it was so convincing to you that your intellectually convincing research on why Christianity was not true did not protect you from your bipolar episodes of intense religiosity.

 

I may not have your theme correct, of course.  However, my point is to spend a lot of time thinking about your theme and then let every word you write further that theme.  If you write something that does not further the theme, then either delete it or change it so it does.

 

Chapters:  Again, I know this is the very early stages of your book.  But you may want to start thinking early about how to break it down into discrete chapters.  Your book as a whole conveys a single theme.  Each chapter should convey a sub-theme which adds to the overall theme.  You may want to begin now thinking about each sub-theme you have by making separate notes.  After you have done that, then turn each of those sub-themes into separate chapters.  Obviously, as you progress, you may want or need to make some changes by either adding chapters or even combining several chapters.

 

Other thoughts:  Here are a few things I noted which are not too important, but I offer them to for what they may be worth.

 

I thought a few of your paragraphs were a little too long and should have been broken down into several paragraphs.

 

Be careful about using too many colloquialisms.  For example, I noted that you often used the word "pretty" as a modifier when the modifier was not to describe how something or someone looked.  Things like "pretty good" (not an exact quote, but I think you get the drift).  Do not use the word "pretty" unless you are describing how something or someone looks.  E.g. She was a pretty girl (and even in this example, you would be better off with a description of the girl).

 

Be careful about overusing phrases or words.  For example, I saw where you would often use the phrase something to the effect that something was "...a lot of fun" or words to that effect.  Try describing what was fun about the experience rather than simply saying it was fun.

 

I think what readers would be most interested in is how your bipolar disorder affected you personally.  You definitely need a good description of the disorder so the reader who is unfamiliar with the disorder (like me) understands it.  But what will be intensely interesting is a good description of how the disorder in its various phases made you feel inside and how it impacted your life and the lives of your loved ones and circle of friends.  Any health care professional could write about the disorder from a clinical perspective, but you have a unique perspective on it because you experience it.  Just think how your description could help others with the disorder and help their family members understand how the disorder is impacting their loved one.  That could be a great contribution!

 

Do not use the smiley faces.  :)

 

I don't think you should include the screen shots.  They are too difficult to read.  Try summarizing them or, if you feel they are necessary, retype them so they are readable.

 

Think twice about including the articles in verbatim fashion.  You may want to consider summarizing them in the main text and then, if you deem it appropriate, include them in verbatim fashion as attachments at the end of the book.  Also, explain why you wrote them and what was it about your bi-polar disorder which contributed to them being worded the way they were.  I think what I saw were articles which showed you as a gungho Christian followed by articles which showed you rejecting the religion.  I assume this was to demonstrate your manic phase and your depressive phase.  But that is only my assumption.  I think you need to explain that (if my assumption is correct).

 

What you quoted from your recent website was interesting and I think really shows what you were going through at the time.  However, I think there was some rehashing what you had already written about.  Consider using partial quotes.

 

You mentioned having written another book but then abandoned it because you had plagiarized other authors.  Don't admit to plagiarism because I think when a reader reads that they will suspect you of it again.  Either don't mention the book at all (if it is not important) or simply say that you decided not to publish it.

 

I highly commend you for your efforts and I want to encourage you to finish it and do your absolute best to get it published.  As I have already said, you have the makings of a significant contribution!

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Thanks very much for the excellent thoughts and feedback, Brother Overcame Faith! Very much appreciated! Glory!

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I'd like to help with this if I can; I'm also bp, had similar spontaneous reactions with religion, and I'm writing also.

 

You're going to have to research a lot, read a lot.  Writing is work.  I'll be one of several thousand who will tell you that.  The hardest parts of being a bp author are being able to work in the different emotional states.  Words come out quite differently between them.  What's more, motivation and inspiration fluctuate with the swings, as I'm certain you're noticing.

 

I chose fiction, with characters designed to personify the different emotional states, which allows me to write no matter what state I'm in, and convincingly.  Writing a hyper character when you're manic, or a depressed character when you're depressed rewards readers who expect real characters, with real characters.

 

I'll read your draft.

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...Okay, You need a prospectus.  An outline of chapters would help you, concise, focused summaries of one sentence each to start.

 

I agree with OF, it's about you in general, not bipolar conditions and religion, though it's clear you're looking at it from this angle.  A self-study.  I understand the need for those.  The autobiographical chapters flowed very well.  The others didn't.  I think if you wrote an autobiography, you could do something really good.  Think about ways to grip your reader, for example, music in the garbage (and a million other things) could offer an emotional experience for a reader taken into the situation with sounds and dialogue and expression.

 

When you cite sources, you need to say why you're citing them, say more about them.  Presently we have nothing.

 

Keep on, Brother.

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This is great stuff. Brother Jeff. Glory!

 

I have a similar manuscript in my hands, written by someone who developed schizophrenia in his early 20s as he was midway through a PhD in math. I personally would love to see a book that combines the narratives of people who experience both a mental health challenge and religious belief. Having multiple perspectives in one book would shed new light on both mental health and Christianity.

 

Keep up the great work!!!

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Thanks for the feedback, everybody! I know that writing a book is a lot of work but I am doing the writing when I feel up to it. No rush to get it done. I have added a lot of my past religious and non-religious writing to show how my beliefs have jumped all over the map along with the phases of my bipolar illness. I still have a lot of writing and editing to do to bring it all together into one cohesive whole, but I am making progress on it. Glory!

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I have decided to omit the sections outlining why I don't buy into the Christian faith. That's appropriate material for another book if I want to write it, but not this one. Here is the latest draft. It still needs work but it is coming together nicely!

 

Bipolar Disorder and Religious Faith.pdf

 

Glory!

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I think it's great that you have the discipline to write this book...I am also bipolar and have struggled with "religious" experiences in past manic states.  I wish you success with this endeavor.

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Here's the latest and greatest version of the book. It is coming along very nicely!

 

Bipolar Religiosity - Bipolar Disorder and My Religious Experience.pdf

 

Glory!

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I think it's great that you have the discipline to write this book...I am also bipolar and have struggled with "religious" experiences in past manic states.  I wish you success with this endeavor.

 

Thanks very much, Sister BipolarA. :)

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I'll read the new version and make comments. It may be a few days, but i will read it.

 

I really appreciate your help with this project, Brother Overcame Faith! Thank you! Glory!

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I haven't read it all yet, but I want to make a few early comments.  I really like your new title!  You also have it very nicely organized with the table of contents very well done.  I'll give you some more comments as I read it (which may take a while).

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I am almost done with the book! In fact, I consider this to be the final product except for some minor editing.

 

Bipolar Religiosity - Bipolar Disorder and My Religious Experience.pdf

 

Glory!

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Here's the latest version. Almost the finished product! :)

 

Bipolar Religiosity - Bipolar Disorder and My Religious Experience.pdf

 

Glory!

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