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Book reflects America’s spirit

A USF advisor and professor can now add author to his lengthy list of credentials.

Rev. Melvin W. James, a licensed psychotherapist, trained theologian and diversity consultant, recently wrote God Bless America and the World, which describes his approach to life.

James wrote the book after seeing Americans unify around the statement “God bless America” after 9/11.

He lists three themes in the book — truth, justice and compassion — that he hopes will influence different kinds of leaders, from the president of a student organization to the head of a business.

“My goal is to give a vision of America that is compassionate. For example, in one of the chapters I talk about Hurricane Katrina; I give a distinction between politicians who briefly visit a place where there’s a disaster and people who come to a person who’s been in a disaster,” he said.

In other chapters, James addresses corporate greed, poverty, racism and political correctness and poses the question, “Where was God on September 11?”

James, a pastoral counselor specialist for the 32nd Street Church of God, received degrees in chemistry and theology and said his education influenced his way of thinking.

“I was challenged to look at life from different perspectives. Science concerns itself with data and objectivity,” he said. “And from a religious perspective, the concern is how to interpret meaning to life.”

Earl Conteh-Morgan, professor of international affairs, helped edit the book and said he feels it is relevant to USF students.

“James takes a biblical view of what the U.S. should be all about, and then he applies it to the social problems that are found in American society — problems of inequality, problems of moral decay and corruption in high places,” Conteh-Morgan said.

He also said the book is especially relevant in the financial crisis.

“I think it is a very appropriate book for the current trying times we are experiencing — not just in the U.S., but all over the world,” Conteh-Morgan said.

In the book, James addresses issues he feels are relevant to Americans in economic crisis and said morals should be on Americans’ minds.

“Are we going to be a society that focuses on the individual self to be egotistic or are we going to help persons who need our help? This is where the issue of compassion comes into play,” he said.

James said he believes Americans need to re-evaluate their values and focus on his key themes.

“As the richest nation and the most powerful nation, we’ve got to think of power and wealth but also be concerned about the other person, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or racial backgrounds,” he said. “We need to have more equity in society.”