By Dave Palcsak
davepalcsak@gmail.com

“Punishment is now unfashionable…..because it creates moral distinctions among men, which, to the democratic mind, are odious. We prefer a meaningless collective guilt to a meaningful individual responsibility.”  Thomas Szasz.

“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”    Dwight Eisenhower

Some time ago a book was recommended to me. Several folks I’m close to have a difficult time understanding my recent and radical paradigm shift. This book was a reach out to help me understand how myopic and judgmental I have become. In fact, I still struggle with intensity. I have, at times fallen in to the: Win a battle lose the war mentality. This serves no one and I continue to try and improve in this area because if love and compassion are absent, it doesn’t matter what else is present. “For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” Ephesians 6:12. Good people are getting bad ideas and mind sets because our culture is becoming more and more Godless. You can’t be truly loving while ignoring truth. Right rarely equals easy.

Eat, pray love was a best seller when I read it. It’s now also a movie, a clothing line and a perfume. I think a restaurant chain is the next logical step, but they haven’t asked me. If you have been able to remain unfamiliar with this “feel good” blockbuster, let me summarize.

Elizabeth Gilbert (the author) sets out on a spiritual journey to find herself. She must have been pretty lost because in addition to the U.S. she travels to Italy, India and Bali. Fortunately, her publisher foots the bill. In addition to her goal of self-discovery, there is also the matter of writing a book. I don’t know if the movie and other industries were part of the original plan but to one degree or another, this is a profit driven venture. Can one have a truly spiritual journey funded by an employer while on assignment? I’ll give her the benefit of doubt and credit her for believing it possible. After all, flawed logic and truth twisting turn out to be critical for this book.

Her story is meant to be (and largely received as) an uplifting glorious triumph of a formerly troubled soul. She finds her special path to truth which may be different than yours or mine or anyone else. “It is your job to seek metaphors, teachers and rituals to move closer to divinity” she tells us. To her credit, she emphatically and clearly states she has no theological training and little knowledge. She proves this throughout the book. It is actually a source of pride to her because studying scriptures and intellectual analysis only get in the way. “All real experiences of God occur in a meditative state.” That’s one heck of a statement for one who is admittedly ignorant theologically. She obviously learned something along the way. It’s amazing what you can “discover” when you know what you want to be taught going in. Ironically, the ball got rolling by what seems to me, an answered prayer.

Early in the book, our heroine is in the depths of despair. She is very unhappy with her marriage. This despite stating that she and her husband were right where they planned to be in life. In her pain and confusion she cried out to the God of the universe. This was her first prayer. He answered. “Go to bed”. That’s it, nothing more. No way to know for sure but that sounds like it could have come from the God I worship. She listened, went to bed and slept well. Step into our authors shoes for a moment. You’ve prayed one time in your life and received an answer. Batting 1000. Wouldn’t you step up to the plate again?

Later in the book she refers back to her “tearful night of prayer.” There’s only been the one. God led her to seek her spiritual guru who introduced her to the man who would be her first but not last affair. She has spoken of shaman’s, mystics…..you name it, but no other mention of prayer to God until she reflects incorrectly (by her own account) on her one answered prayer. “Go to bed.” Thus began her search. But how does “go to bed” translate to find your guru and commit adultery? She further deludes herself by praying again with a ready-made answer. All her subsequent prayers are answered by this or some variation: “I love you no matter what and will help you no matter what.” How nice to have a god rubber stamp! It’s all about her. Her gurus, shamans and other shopping cart influences let her realize “self-contentment is a gift to the world achieved from within.” The ultimate goal is a state of constant bliss. One of the truly sad moments our gallant gal had to endure was when she saw a mother with her infant. Having a baby is “self-depriving.” Apparently the program is not only chunk the husband but get rid of those troublesome offspring too. This is what we celebrate? Ghastly.

As I continued to endure this wretched journey, I wondered when charity would show up. After all, a feel good story, even one devoid of truth and ethics, requires some sort of good deed. The manufactured charity fits in perfectly with the rest of her story. She solicits donations from friends (how much if any she donated is unclear) to buy a home for a less fortunate woman. The woman is described as a mystic and sexual healer among other things. In our culture we would call her a prostitute and a Madame. She wasn’t trying to help her get out of the business, but instead she was just providing a more suitable brothel. There is no one God can’t redeem and we are called to help. A good example of not helping is…….say, giving a blow torch to a pyromaniac.

This book resonates with many. It doesn’t mean they’re bad people. It does reflect society’s eagerness to embrace the pretty package. It looks so nice with bows and ribbons but don’t open or examine it. It’s a great thing when anyone finds whatever truth that works for them. It’s real neat that our truth prize can be whatever we want it to be. How wonderful and politically correct for all! The only problem is, in addition to being irresponsible, it’s also intellectually untenable.

Universalism (please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universalism for a basic definition) is more popular and accepted now than ever before… It’ also 100% crap. You cannot pick and choose different doctrine from mutually exclusive religions as if you’re shopping at some spiritual store. “This is what the Lord, the King of Israel and its Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts says: I am the first and I am the last. There is no God but Me.” Isaiah 44:6. That is one scripture of many clearly stating, with zero ambiguity that there is only one God and Redeemer (His Divine son Jesus). The Koran is emphatic in its claim that Allah had no begotten son. Contrary to what most folks think, the Muslim god is not the same as the Christian God. Hinduism has many deities. Buddhism has none. The point is you can’t be an amalgamation of different doctrines. If you’re a Muslim, you can’t be part Hindu. Christians can’t believe in the self-enlightenment higher conscience a Buddhist seeks. Whatever you believe or don’t believe, you can’t seriously think God is something you can create… There’s one thing every sane person knows about God……..it ain’t you.
We are sadly misguided by the notion that truth is what you perceive it, or want it to be. Elizabeth Gilbert didn’t seek truth. She sought justification. This is not a triumphant story. The fact that so many look at it as one is tragic.

Dave
davepalcsak@gmail.com

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