In the wake of recent controversy over the issue of embellishments and unverified facts in author James Frey’s best-selling book, “A Million Little Pieces,” Christian prison evangelist Marty Angelo today spoke out in support of television talk show host Oprah Winfrey and her stand on the “redemptive” value of Frey’s controversial best-seller.
Angelo has recently finished writing a book entitled, “Once Life Matters: A New Beginning,” chronicling the true story of his struggle as a major entertainment industry executive caught up in a life of drugs, booze, rock/disco music, and a six-year sentence to a federal prison for possession and conspiracy to distribute cocaine. It is a powerful, life-changing account of his delivery from addiction, and is scheduled for release on January 30, 2006.
“I think Oprah should be commended for not only standing behind her ‘redemptive’ remarks regarding Frey’s book, but also for her willingness to keep the book on her ‘Oprah’s Book Club’ picks list,” said Angelo during a recent Christian drug rehab founder’s meeting.
While Angelo does not condone the inclusion of fictional elements in a book marketed as non-fiction, he says, “The controversy surrounding the recent accusations that Frey embellished some of his statements in his book is relatively minor compared to the fact this man claims he cleared one of the biggest hurdles in his life—his substance abuse. That’s the bottom line issue.”
“Right now the media seems to be negatively attacking the messenger instead of concentrating on promoting the positive message of redemption, as Oprah so clearly points out,” Angelo adds. “In terms of the benefit to readers as a self-help book, the message is the key issue, not the minor story details. One needs to stay focused on what the real message is—overcoming addiction.”
“Oprah should be applauded for being a willing vessel, as all she really seems to want to do is help people.” Angelo adds, “I honesty do not think she does this type of thing just for the money. She is well beyond that and has proven herself time after time. She has already earned plenty of money years ago so I am sure she is now all about giving back. And that is what we are all called to do.”
As a professing evangelical Christian, Angelo naturally offers a very different perspective on redemption than does Frey, who rejects belief in a Supreme Being. Angelo’s book focuses on the Christian message of redemption that Jesus continues to change people’s lives, one at a time, taking away the yearning for abusing substances and replacing it with love, peace, and the desire of one’s hearts. “It’s great that Mr. Frey had the will power to just say “No,” but not everyone can white-knuckle it through recovery on their own strength,” says Angelo. “My book is a testimony to God’s saving grace and the real redemptive power He performed in my own life, and performs in others’ lives all the time.”
Despite the difference in approaches, Angelo agrees with Frey that people were not created to be in bondage to addictions. “I applaud the fact that he’s bold enough to stand up and proclaim that he does not have to continue to be a slave to drugs or alcohol. When I speak in prisons, I see the direct result and consequences of living a life of substance abuse. I know; I was one of them. People who are in dire need of help should not let the negative media coverage of Mr. Frey’s book take away from their search for lives free of substance abuse. There is help and personal redemption for all of us. This is the real message of hope.”
ABOUT MARTY ANGELO
Prior to his dramatic conversion to Christianity in 1981, Marty Angelo was an entertainment business entrepreneur for 20 years, working and partying with music greats like the late Jimi Hendricks, John Lennon, Janis Joplin, and Jethro Tull. As a personal manager for rock bands and a successful record promoter, his Top Ten” disco record listings were regularly published in “Billboard” magazine. Voted one of the top 20 disco record promoters in the nation in the ‘70s, Angelo wrote, created and produced the popular show “Disco Step-by-Step,” the first television show dedicated to disco dance music. Angelo also promoted the major motion picture “Saturday Night Fever,” “Thank God It’s Friday” and “Fame.”
Angelo’s book, “Once Life Matters: A New Beginning,” is an inspirational true account that reveals how Jesus totally transformed his life from a prisoner to drugs, booze, rock/disco music and prison into a strong witness to God's saving grace and mercy. Written by someone who has been in the trenches and walked the walk of recovery, the book is expected to have a tremendous impact and be a real help to those seeking freedom from their addictions.
“Once Life Matters: A New Beginning” is part of the “70 x 7 Freedom Series” published by Prison Impact Ministries and distributed through the Library of Hope, Impact of Life Ministries, Prison Impact Ministries, the Coalition of Prison Evangelists, and the International Prison Ministry. 20,000 copies will be distributed offered free of charge to rehab programs, churches, prison outreaches, and throughout the nation’s prisons to inmates. “I did not write my book for fame, fortune and television appearances,” comments Angelo. “I primarily wrote it to be given away free-of-charge to people incarcerated all over the world.”
Marty Angelo has served as an Assistant Aftercare Director and Los Angeles Area Director for Chuck Colson's “Prison Fellowship Ministries,” as a Counselor/Teacher for “Teen Challenge of Southern California,” as the Director of Evangelism for “Faith Farm Ministries,” and as Court Liaison for the Palm Beach County Sheriff's “Drug Farm” boot camp program. He is currently a full time independent prison evangelist based in the Los Angeles area.