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*** Don't miss my debut discussion of A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose (Oprah's Book Club, Selection 61) on Lisa.fm Book Club, online radio at 3 PM Pacific next week on March 25.
by Tracee Sioux
In church this Sunday I became more animated than usual. My belief system is not always consistent with typical Christian surface beliefs. I live in the deep South and people in these parts aren't known for their open minds, so out of self-preservation I generally make surface comments and keep my real feelings to myself.
But the glamorization of suffering came up. We must suffer like Jesus.
Suffering is highly over-rated and glamorized,I said. I frankly, think there is very little value in the suffering itself. I'm intimately familiar with fear and suffering and I have no high regard for it as a moral or religiously good concept. The overcoming of suffering, the joy, the transcendence - this is life.
I have always found the scriptures both difficult to understand and offensive. By offensive I mean, I get upset, frustrated and angry when I read them. Perhaps I'm not alone in this reaction.
Since reading A New Earth, however, I find them coming alive for me. I read a passage that I normally would have found very little meaning in and it's speaking to me, easy for me to translate and understand. It's like this book, A New Earth, serves as a sort of translation of The Spirit for me. You know, as in The Spirit or Holy Ghost frequently referred to in The Bible and all other spiritual works.
I believe it's because before I was always hindered by dogma and ideology and the Church's collective ego.
I always knew this attitude of "rightness" was offensive and missed the mark of the true intention of scriptural works. But, the "rightness" would produce so much anger in me that it was best not to delve to deeply.
Dogma and ideology and politics and close-mindedness was in my way. I had no real tool to get passed it.
I've been to churches that tout domestic violence as acceptable. Churches that claim Jesus came to set everyone free - except the half of the population that's female - who should let their husbands make all the decision because he has a penis which is synonymous with authority.
I've sat through sermons shouting about the whorishness of women who seek abortions - damning them to hell without compassion for their lack of access to healthcare. I've sat through homophobic gay-bashing as straight couples refuse to take responsibility for the decline of their own institution caused by being bad at marriage. It's not us, it's the gays endangering the family, they claim.
I've listened to calls to arms against all other faiths - they are wrong because we know we're right - Muslims, Mormons, Nation of Islam, Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists - all claim the truth as their own and tout the need to defend their own ideologies and dogma from the others who are so wrong they might be lead by Satan. It's enough to turn me off to the whole thing.
Thanks to this book I now know it's the collective ego of these religions that are distorting the sacred and truthful message with their own intolerance.
Even more profound is the knowledge that it is my own ego that knows they are wrong in their judgement of others that produces anger in me. That knowledge somehow makes their egoic righteousness easy to forgive and overlook.
Somehow the knowledge of how my ego reacts to their ego releases me from all the dogma and ideology and now reading Scriptures feels enlightening.
Genesis Ch. 1 - Let there be light.
It truly is an awakening.
If you missed any of the online classes you can download them for free at Oprah.com.
Please share how you've awakened since reading the book. I would love to hear your experiences.