Selected by the New Yorker, Financial Times and New Statesman as a Book of the Year ´Diana Evans is a lyrical and glorious writer; a precise poet of the human heart´ Naomi Alderman´You can take a leap, do something off the wall, something reckless. It´s your last chance, and most people miss it.´ South London, 2008. Two couples find themselves at a moment of reckoning, on the brink of acceptance or revolution. Melissa has a new baby and doesn´t want to let it change her but, in the crooked walls of a narrow Victorian terrace, she begins to disappear. Michael, growing daily more accustomed to his commute, still loves Melissa but can´t quite get close enough to her to stay faithful. Meanwhile out in the suburbs, Stephanie is happy with Damian and their three children, but the death of Damian´s father has thrown him into crisis - or is it something, or someone, else? Are they all just in the wrong place? Are any of them prepared to take the leap? Set against the backdrop of Barack Obama´s historic election victory, Ordinary People is an intimate, immersive study of identity and parenthood, sex and grief, friendship and aging, and the fragile architecture of love. With its distinctive prose and irresistible soundtrack, it is the story of our lives, and those moments that threaten to unravel us.
From the authors of the international bestseller Why Nations Fail, a crucial new big-picture framework that answers the question of how liberty flourishes in some states but falls to authoritarianism or anarchy in others--and explains how it can continue to thrive despite new threats. Liberty is hardly the ´´natural´´ order of things. In most places and at most times, the strong have dominated the weak and human freedom has been quashed by force or by customs and norms. Either states have been too weak to protect individuals from these threats or states have been too strong for people to protect themselves from despotism. Liberty emerges only when a delicate and precarious balance is struck between state and society. There is a Western myth that political liberty is a durable construct, a steady state, arrived at by a process of ´´enlightenment.´´ This static view is a fantasy, the authors argue; rather, the corridor to liberty is narrow and stays open only via a fundamental and incessant struggle between state and society. The power of state institutions and the elites that control them has never gone uncontested in a free society. In fact, the capacity to contest them is the definition of liberty. State institutions have to evolve continuously as the nature of conflicts and needs of society change, and thus society´s ability to keep state and rulers accountable must intensify in tandem with the capabilities of the state. This struggle between state and society becomes self-reinforcing, inducing both to develop a richer array of capacities just to keep moving forward along the corridor. Yet this struggle also underscores the fragile nature of liberty. It is built on a fragile balance between state and society, between economic, political, and social elites and citizens, between institutions and norms. One side of the balance gets too strong, and as has often happened in history, liberty begins to wane. Liberty depends on the vigilant mobilization of society. But it also needs state institutions to continuously reinvent themselves in order to meet new economic and social challenges that can close off the corridor to liberty. Today we are in the midst of a time of wrenching destabilization. We need liberty more than ever, and yet the corridor to liberty is becoming narrower and more treacherous. The danger on the horizon is not ´´just´´ the loss of our political freedom, however grim that is in itself; it is also the disintegration of the prosperity and safety that critically depend on liberty. The opposite of the corridor of liberty is the road to ruin.
This book is direct and to the point. In it we share a word the church does not want to hear in this modern age of political correctness. But we really need to consider the implications. ´´You can enter God´s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.´´ We must start with the narrowness. Many people are made nervous by this. It is obvious that most pastors and priests are. How can you build a church by telling the people things like this? It is not good to talk about exclusiveness. This is certainly part of the narrowness of the gate. In modern America this is where we get into trouble very quickly from the PC media police. Jesus could not have made it clearer. This aspect of the narrowness is made clear by many things he said. If you are into the words of Jesus typeset in red ink - these are in red. He lays it out boldly - in a way that cannot be ignored. ´´Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved.´´ However, it is obvious to us all that today many local church pastors have trouble saying that Jesus is the gate, the door to the life abundant. It is commonly not preached because the whole approach sounds a bit narrow-minded. But it is much stronger than that. As you will see in this book, many powerful, active church members will find themselves outside with no way to enter heaven. 1. Language: English. Narrator: Tim Côté. Audio sample: http://samples.audible.de/bk/acx0/044430/bk_acx0_044430_sample.mp3. Digital audiobook in aax.