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David Roche’s Militant Self-Acceptance

Lynne Murray says:

To be honest, I dreaded reading David Roche‘s book, The Church of 80% Sincerity. David has had so many challenges in life that I was afraid it would depress me. Also, I’m rather cynical about “inspirational” stuff. Fortunately so is David. I call him by his first name although we have not met, but in reading his book I felt close enough to him that it seemed only right and natural.His insights and humor are hard-won but devoid of pity–for which he has a few well-chosen four-letter words.

David was born with a facial disfigurement called cavernous hemangioma (a benign tumor consisting of blood vessels), and due to the few treatment options available in the 1940s and ’50s, he was left with more scarring from radiation and primitive reconstructive surgery. David does not hesitate, however; to call his face “a gift from God.” He is quick to add that it is one of those gifts where you say, “Gee, you shouldn’t have.”

David Roche

He grew up in a solidly supportive family and Catholic community. He was an altar boy and considered training for the priesthood, but when he applied to a seminary he was and told that he would never be considered because of his appearance, “People would not respect you as a priest.”

His life has included being spat at and called a monster. The primary tool he learned early on to deal with this was denial. Pretending nothing is wrong as a coping strategy has some advantages; it allowed David to become a high achiever. But the emotional costs are heavy.

The book is about David’s road to breaking through the denial, healing his emotional wounds, and developing such a positive outlook that those who view his one-man show are inevitably uplifted. He has succeeded to the point where he is now a sought-after motivational speaker, and his concept of 80% sincerity is down-to-earth and useful.

David’s honesty, persistence, common sense are moving. His humor is subversively hilarious.

“The church of the title is not a formal organization but a concept: “the church of choice for recovering perfectionists,” David explains. “You can be 80 percent sincere 100 percent of the time, or 100 percent sincere 80 percent of the time. It’s in that 20 percent area where you get some slack and you can be yourself.”

I laughed out loud when he recounted the urge to respond to a pestering little boy by saying, “Well, my face is like this because when I was a little boy like you, I touched my wee-wee.” Although, no children were psychologically harmed as a result of his contemplating saying this, his wit is real and wicked.

Anne Lamott describes his one-man show in the book’s foreword:

Everyone watching gets happy because he’s secretly giving instruction on how this could happen for them, too, this militant self-acceptance. He lost the great big outward thing, the good-looking package, and the real parts endured. They shine through like crazy, the brilliant mind and humor, the depth of generosity, the intense blue eyes, those beautiful hands.

David is just beginning to do signing events for his book, published February 5th, and he will be in the SF Bay Area February 11th to 19th. Details of his signing schedule are at his web page along with more excerpts from the book.

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2 Responses to “David Roche’s Militant Self-Acceptance”

  1. susan senator Says:

    WOW!!!!! I LOVE it!!! That is what I am after: “Militant self-acceptance.” My autistic son should have taught me that by now, but I still do the self-flagellation over not looking like the ideal. It is, unfortunately for some of us, a lifelong lesson to learn.

  2. linda Says:

    I love his face. I cannot stop looking at it. It is irresistable – breathtaking, challenging, rich and real – I can’t take my eyes off it, there is so much to see, and I don’t want to miss a single thing.

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