God Bless the Broken Bones
365 daily confessional meditations and observations from the mind of practicing Stoic, William Ferraiolo.
You can learn a lot about yourself if you pay careful attention for one full year. Here are 365 daily meditations that, through their brutal confessionalism, will unearth the stoic in you.
'God Bless the Broken Bones won’t tickle your ears with pleasant words. Instead what you’ll find is a year of one man’s seemingly uncensored thoughts, fears, frustrations, longings, gratitude, and self-exhortations. Raw yet eloquent, William Ferraiolo’s musings reveal the daily challenges to living a life of equanimity and honor, and why there’s no worthier goal. At times this book might offend you. It will certainly challenge you. And if you’re willing, it might change you. I recommend you see for yourself.'
Seth J. Gillihan, PhD, author of Retrain Your Brain: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in 7 Weeks
Click on the circles below to see more reviews
https://debbiebambrick.wixsite.com/sacredwaymarking/post/truth-and-dare-philosopher-william-ferraiolo-s-bold-new-book-shows-the-importance-of-ugly-truths Truth and Dare: Philosopher William Ferraiolo's bold new book shows the importance of ugly truths God Bless the Broken Bones by William Ferraiolo Published by O Books (1 Oct. 2020) ISBN-13 : 978-1789044843 ISBN-10 : 1789044847 392 pages This first book review, examining the latest offering from philosopher William Ferraiolo, may seem like an odd choice for a blog on spirituality. He writes in the stoic tradition, which puts great emphasis on the rational. However, the assumption that rationality and spirituality are incompatible is a relatively modern one. Both philosophy and spirituality are engaged in the search for meaning and ultimate truths, and their implications for our lives. The book also deals with many themes which are central to the spiritual search, not least our attitudes to truth. We tend to view truth as something noble and absolute, but it can also be ugly and challenging, both in itself, and in what it reveals about our attitudes, prejudices and insecurities. Sitting with that ugliness can be deeply uncomfortable, as Ferraiolo’s book shows – he is scathing about the hypocrisy of society and also exercises a brutal honesty with regard to himself. But if we do not begin to engage uncomfortably with truth, we will never find the love to walk comfortably in its light. William Ferraiolo’s latest work God Bless the Broken Bones, released today on Kindle Download and in paperback in the UK from 1 October, comprises a year of Aurelian-style meditations on his attempts to live out his stoic philosophy. Written to himself in the second person, the book takes the form of daily reflections over the course of one year. Stoicism exhorts its followers to live a “virtuous” life – cultivating honesty, courage, intelligence, rationality, diligence, loyalty, physical and mental fitness, justice, honour and moral responsibility. In practice this means accepting that much of life is beyond our control, but that we do have power over our thoughts, speech, actions and reactions. Stoics believe it’s pointless to worry about or try to control other people or external events; instead it’s best to develop virtuous qualities in our own attitudes and behaviours. To complicate matters, virtue doesn’t come naturally to most people, at least no more naturally its opposite. Virtue requires effort. In God Bless the Broken Bones Ferraiolo subjects his own efforts to uncompromising scrutiny, and demands equal integrity from the reader, warning that, “The author did not write this book for liars, pathetic weaklings, or perpetual adolescents who masquerade as adults.” (Introduction) He refuses to "photoshop" his life, laying bare his prejudices, weaknesses and occasional outright rejection of the virtuous path. “You have, in fact,” he acknowledges, “exploited those who are easy prey on more than one occasion. If you are brutally honest, you must confess that you have enjoyed doing so, and you must also admit that you have made short shrift of the weak and the stupid without any subsequent compunction, regret, or remorse on more than one occasion” (Jan 21). Needless to say, he is not trying to be liked. This would be refreshing, were it not for a blanket pessimism and contentiousness which makes one feel he is trying a little too hard to be disliked! (He typically refers to the rest of us with such colourful epithets as “talking apes”, “imbeciles” and “the idiot public”)! “Perhaps the entire human race is similarly doomed to meaningless ignobility…” he speculates at one point, “Misanthropy is not entirely unwarranted.” (May 21) At times his contemptuous approach to society comes across as arrogant, but if this is a book born of arrogance, it is never the less sired by courage. A casual and passing reference to the author’s experience of mental illness, an, “anxiety and depression disorder”, rendering him, “slightly crazy” (Dec 28), adds credibility to the pessimism and nascent misanthropy, and further reveals the strength of spirit involved in taking on a project which exposes Ferraiolo not just on an intellectual level, but on a very personal one too. The book does not shy away from the weighty and even taboo, touching on subjects from politics, through disability, sexuality, immigration, and race, to violence, illness, love and death. However it is pleasingly tempered with wit. Feraiolo has a sardonic take on the world and a brilliantly expressive turn of phrase which made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion. Such gems are scattered throughout the book, but there are also whole entries which focus on the lighter side – one of my personal favourites deals with meetings: “a close cousin of sado-masochism”; (April 15) whilst another explores the puzzling conundrum: “Why so many ass doctors?” (June 4) Ferraiolo warns his views may offend, and he is right. There are many entries in this book which make uncomfortable reading. For me, the insistence that uncontrolled immigration is causing “the incipient death of the West” (June 13); and the robust defence of US gun culture, in which he asserts that those who don’t exercise their right to carry a gun are, “begging to be victimized” are just two. However, I believe in the adage, “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. I think is no bad thing to encounter opinions we do not like from time to time. Each of Ferraiolo’s self-reflective fire-crackers seems to me like a tiny spark, loosed upon a world that has forgotten that fire can warm and nourish as well as destroy. We have become a society which sees danger in every spark, but it is vital that we engage with and challenge our societal metanarratives, because that is how we assimilate our collective experiences, reinforce or reject those narratives, and evolve as a society. Ferraiolo repeatedly derides the modern fear of expressing controversial or politically incorrect opinions. As he points out, “A room full of people who all agree with each other about politics, morality, religion, and socioeconomic issues is not a diverse collection of humanity, no matter how many different races, ethnicities, or sexual orientations are represented in that room.” Although the whole book is an exercise in philosophical way marking, religion also features prominently. As part of this reflective journaling, Ferraiolo includes biblically-based reflections repeatedly as a device for orienting himself with respect to “God”, society and his own role in creation. This is particularly interesting given that his faith seems to range from optimistic agnosticism to a tentative Christianity, suggesting the desire to engage in spiritual waymarking has more to do with our innate need for meaning than adherence to a religion. For the author, faith in God promises an omnipotent presence which transcends the vagaries of our flawed and corrupt socio-political systems and brings justice in the form of an ultimate moral code and divine judgement. It reminds him of his relative insignificance and commonality with the rest of humanity; whilst the bible provides morality tales, such as the fall (April 13, 24)) and role models, like Moses (July 12), which he consciously invokes. He wants to believe in a God who is the embodiment of virtue, and though his stoic rationality always leaves room for doubt, he nevertheless derives purpose, direction and a sense of self through engagement with scripture. We all want a how-to guide in life, a quick fix, but in the end the best we can do is walk our own path, share our journey and be inspired by the travels of others. Ferraiolo is not trying to sell stoicism here (or if he is, he’s not making a very good job of it) but somehow it comes as a relief not to be confronted with another smilingly condescending pop-up expert. He is just a man, unique, flawed, struggling with himself, with the world, with God (all of whom often disappoint) and doing the best he can, warts and all. He represents humanity in all its messy, striving, contradictory glory. Ferraiolo is both cantankerous, bloody-minded misanthrope and virtuous puppy-loving family man. The book’s principal value for me is in its highlighting and interrogation of the cracks and contradictions in the individual, in society and in the narratives and beliefs we all take for granted. Faced with the perplexity, frustration, hope and disappointment of living, Ferraiolo uses Stoicism, Christianity and his own experience to triangulate his position day to day, steadily mapping his course, as the reader tries to keep up. As I turn the last page, I must admit that Ferraiolo has not always been an easy companion, but I have a strange feeling I will miss him. ~ Debbie Bambrick, Email
Nice mention in Stoic School: William Ferraiolo's newest book reveals that he has an incredibly timely and uncommonly practical insight into Stoic teachings on healing and hubris. We anticipate this book will be as enjoyable to read as his prior work. Here is an excerpt concerning hubris: “Every time that humanity, or any segment of the human race, has arrogated to itself the authority to determine what is good and what is evil, or to decide who counts as a fully-fledged ‘person’ and who does not, the result has been utterly disastrous, and the culmination of human arrogance has been genocide, slavery, oppression, and depravity.” ~ Stoic School, Facebook
What emerges from God Bless the Broken Bones is a very human portrait of a single year, each page the intellectual record of one day. Trained philosopher Ferraiolo pivots from quotidian events to universal concepts nimbly, but this book is not for academics. It’s for everyone who ever felt like life is a conversation between different parts of themselves. God Bless the Broken Bones puts one man’s version of this dialogue on display. It offers answers then challenges those answers a few pages later. Ferraiolo is less concerned with the product of thought than its processes. His writing calls readers to examine their lives the same way. ~ David Stevens, Associate Professor, Department of English, The University of Richmond
God Bless the Broken Bones won’t tickle your ears with pleasant words. Instead what you’ll find is a year of one man’s seemingly uncensored thoughts, fears, frustrations, longings, gratitude, and self-exhortations. Raw yet eloquent, William Ferraiolo’s musings reveal the daily challenges to living a life of equanimity and honor, and why there’s no worthier goal. At times this book might offend you. It will certainly challenge you. And if you’re willing, it might change you. I recommend you see for yourself. ~ Seth Gillihan
Equal parts bracing, discomfiting, and illuminating. A ringside seat to the author's worthy struggles to live the best of the Stoic and Cynic traditions in the modern world. If you're looking for feel good platitudes, move along, but if ancient wisdom delivered with the immediacy of a palm heel strike sounds refreshing, this is what you've been looking for. ~ Robert Glenn, Navy veteran
Ferraiolo's book, God Bless the Broken Bones, is a welcome punch to the face, akin to that one from a friend who's willing to punch you in the face when you most deserve it, and we would do well to appreciate it each morning, yet even this is less than nothing compared to those who face genuine suffering every day of their lives. Highly recommended. ~ Brint Montgomery, PhD, co-author of Relational Theology