SEATTLE – Here’s a sobering snapshot of American life: Nearly 90,000 books on Amazon deal with self-esteem, and recent statistics report antidepressants are one of the top prescribed drugs in the USA, as more than 40 million Americans annually experience a mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety.* Given these facts, it’s not surprising that others might be looking for ways to find out why there is this apparent epidemic of sadness and disappointment.
First time author William Combs isn’t surprised by these statistics because he believes deep down every person feels inadequate—what he calls naked.
“Even if you clothe yourself with everything the world can offer in an attempt to be complete and fulfilled, you will always find circumstances that undercut your confidence, leaving you feeling vulnerable and naked,” Combs said.
By taking readers all the way back to the life of Adam and Eve in the garden, Combs explores this feeling of being incomplete and vulnerable and finds fresh ways of looking at who we are in his just released book, Who Told You That You Were Naked? A Refreshing Reexamination of the Garden of Eden.
This sense of inadequacy goes back, he says, to the defining moment for humans when Adam and Eve gained the knowledge of good and evil.
Combs combines a unique storytelling approach with tightly-written prose and sees innocence and good intentions gone wrong in that tumultuous afternoon in the garden.
With the coming of that knowledge and the effects of sin in our lives and the world, he gently points to the effects of knowing we are, outside of Christ, indeed naked.
“The knowledge of good and evil is a ruthless taskmaster, and it is at the heart of your expression of self,” Combs writes. “Who told you that you need to be thinner, prettier, more athletic, or have a bigger car or an impressive job with a bigger paycheck?” he writes.
He connects this knowledge of good and evil with New Testament teaching about man’s awareness of his sinfulness, discussing the varied perceptions both Christians and non-Christians have about sin.
And he challenges us to accept the love and grace God offers us through faith in Jesus Christ –a salvation that extends far beyond a view of sin as a list of offenses to be catalogued and resisted.
“We can ‘clothe’ ourselves with the trappings of wealth, education, a notable position, or even religious piety in an attempt to persuade ourselves we no longer feel vulnerable,” he writes.
“Or, we can grapple with the gravity of our situation and acknowledge with Paul the ‘other law’ in our members waging war against us and making us captive to the law of sin. This admission is not just a one-time event but a continuous, lifelong recognition of our total inability to free ourselves from our feelings of nakedness.”
“As long as we try, we will be functioning under the law of sin and death. But if we quit trying – if we die to sin – and believe there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, then we can live according to the law of the Spirit of Life and walk in the light as he is in the light.”
The book arises out of the whole of Combs’ life thus far, as his character was forged and his faith deepened in the crucible of tough challenges.
Combs grew up in a family that homesteaded on the Alaskan frontier after World War II, driving up the Alcan Highway and using WWII surplus equipment to begin their new life as farmers. He shares some of his stories from those days when the only conveniences the family had was an indoor pitcher pump and Coleman lanterns–no plumbing or electricity–in the brutal cold and wilderness. His dad had become partially disabled in the war, and much fell on his young shoulders as the oldest son, molding his character in those challenging circumstances.
His extensive experience as a pastor and as a computing systems architect also inform his approach to distilling ideas, and his sacrificial love as caregiver for his college sweetheart and wife of 48 years during the final years of her life drew him into even closer communion with the Lord.
In its review published Jan. 15, Kirkus Reviews said, “This readable discussion on sin, faith, and salvation offers an inventive, informed take on Eden and the nature of faith.”
A Seattle resident, Combs retired both as a Presbyterian minister and from a 23-year career at Boeing. He holds D. Min. and M. Div from Fuller Theological Seminary and a BA from Alaska Methodist University.
Who Told You That You Were Naked? A Refreshing Reexamination of the Garden of Eden [ISBN 978-1-942587-68-2] released in April from Carpenter’s Son Publishing. It will be available from Amazon and other online retailers, as well as in selected book stores.
Profits from the sale of the paperback and audio book versions will be donated to charity. In addition, a free e-book or Kindle edition may be downloaded for free. For more information, visit WilliamCombsAuthor.com.
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For a review copy or to interview, contact Joni Sullivan Baker, Buoyancy PR, at 513/319-3231 or email@example.com.
*Statistics on mental illness from National Association for Mental Illness (NAMI), 2015 http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers; prescription rate of antidepressants from Mayo Clinic study, http://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/nearly-7-in-10-americans-take-prescription-drugs-mayo-clinic-olmsted-medical-center-find/