Thursday, May 21, 2009

Warning! Danger! Alarm!

You know that type of email ... the type that gets forwarded umpteen times over the years, added to by many, letting us know that yet another dangerous element is "out there" trying to deceive us, and suck us into the slippery slope of destruction. Whether it's Madalyn Murray O'Hair threatening to take "Touched by an Angel" off the air (never mind that Madalyn has been dead for 18+ years now, or that said show was discontinued a decade ago), or some "proof" that Obama really is the antichrist (sheesh!), these emails require that we turn off our brains and jump into the fear-parade. Oh - and if you do send it (to 10 people in 3.5 minutes), then angels will bless you with a winning lottery ticket ... and don't waste time (because the angels have stop-watches) ... and if you *don't* send it, then Jesus will deny you, and your armpits will be infested with the fleas of 10,000 camels. Selah.

Amongst marketing specialists, it's well known that Christians are among the most gullible of all groups... we've been well-taught to turn off our brains, and to believe whatever an "expert" or a "leader" tells us. We swallow whole what we're fed, and buy into the myth that asking questions is tantamount to rebellion.

So, I got one of those emails today ... one that declared that a series of books, called, "Conversations with God," was dangerous, and that we. must. not. let. our. children. read. them. It even pulled out all the stops, saying that not only did Oprah promote the books, but that Dr. James Dobson denounced them (a double-whammy!). Those two names have been more influential in determining the thoughts and actions of Christians than Jesus Himself in recent years ...!

Normally, I let these sorts of emails go ... there's usually no point. But, as I opened this one, and began to read (and even before knowing which book was causing such a ruckus), I sensed a strong urge to respond ... and once I saw the title, I knew that I must. You see, I've just spent the past couple of months reading the entire "Conversations with God" series ... and have been delighted with them. Didn't say I agreed with them 100%, or even close (no book fits that description for me), but they certainly challenged me, gave me food for thought, and inspired me to have my *own* conversations with God. Good was done here today.

This was my response to that email:

Just wanted to chime in as one who has read this book (& all the successive ones), all by Neale Donald Walsch.

I didn't allow myself to read them for about 15 or so years, back when I first became aware of them... because my pastor (& other "authorities") told me they were evil ... and that was the end of the discussion. Back then, I believed God wanted me to listen to what other humans told me (if they deemed themselves to be my spiritual leaders), and to swallow-whole what I was fed.

Only recently has my relationship with God been transformed ... so that I now trust He who is within me (the Spirit leading me into all truth), He whom I experience, rather than trusting others who tell me about God. I believe that the Scriptures give us an incredible account of person after person who experienced first-hand experiences with the Living God ... and that He wants the same for us. Too often, I observe, Christians seem content to have second-hand/vicarious encounters with God ... living off of what others (in the past, in the present) experience. I just can't settle for that anymore.

Out of this new-found relationship with God, I've come to trust Him vastly more. I take Him at His word that He is leading me, and that He is everywhere ... how would any of us escape Omnipresence? And, He, who created this world, who sustains all that is, is in all things ... including us ... in Him we live and move and have our being. I trust that He has given me (and all of you) discernment ... and it's like a muscle ... it's either atrophied or developed, depending on how often and consistently we use it.

I've come to delight in finding the Truth of Christ in all manner of places in which He's not "supposed" to show up ... and why wouldn't He lavishly slather His truth all over the planet, amongst all peoples? He is drawing all men to Himself, as He promised. And that's the only way any of us get to Him (we cannot congratulate ourselves for our faith ... that too is given by Him). I see no more divisions of "us" and "them" ... I see everyone being of Him, and being drawn to Him ... that we're all in various stages of our awareness of Him. I believe that Truth is not a concept to defend, but a Person to Know. I have come to trust Him to lead me, to escort me on this divine "scavenger hunt" for more and more of the glory of *all truth*. I've lost my fear in this exploration, because I've discovered that He really *is* with me. As He is with each of you ... He is not a respecter of persons. He is all in all.

(so why am I blathering on like this...?)

Not too long ago, I felt myself being nudged to read "Conversations with God". I resisted, and He insisted. I finally relented, and plunged in, with plenty of "don't let me be deceived, God" prayers (and my God is the Father who will not give me a snake when I ask for a fish).

I have to say, I've been inordinately blessed by what I've read. I don't take it as wholesale absolute truth, LOL, but see it as the reflections of one man, sharing what he believes. Do I believe that God inspired him? Sure ... I believe God is continuously inspiring all of us, and that our filters are fallible and oh-so-human, and wont to be tainted by carnality. However, so too were the authors of the Scriptures... God could have used the purity of writing on stone tablets by Himself, but He chose instead to use fallible humans (perhaps so that we wouldn't worship the Bible, or inordinately put it upon a pedestal, but would turn to Him instead ... oops!).

I believe that we, too, are inspired ... God-breathed beings that we are. Nobody ever said any human resource was meant to be inerrant ... certainly the Bible doesn't call itself that -- we humans put that upon it. Unless the Spirit is interpreting what He inspired in the first place, we're just reading ink-on-page ... and the results of having done so are self-evident in the world (& Church) around us...

So ... do I consider "Conversations with God" to be dangerous? No... not for the person who exercises their own discernment, and reads with God ... asking Him to illumine as they go. I believe (& I mean no offense by this), that Evangelicalism has oftentimes taught us to not use our brains ... to trust in what we're told ... that we cannot trust our own hearts (the very place wherein the Spirit dwells ... the holy of holies in our temple), and so we fear that which challenges what we've been taught to swallow-whole.

For someone who's of that mindset, then, no, I wouldn't recommend "Conversations with God" ... but if someone is sure of who they are in Christ, those who have a living give-and-take relationship with Him, then go where you're led, enjoy what you explore, and know that you can KNOW what's of Him and what's not ...

I prayed this prayer 5 years ago, and He's never failed to answer it: "Show me what I believe that's of man, and what I believe that's of You ... I want nothing less than Your truth ... let me not settle for anything less."

And it's certainly ok to dismiss any or everything I'm saying here ... I'm just one human voice - listen to the Voice within.

Shalom, Dena


Cynthia said...


I appreciate your courage to speak out against the fear. These type of emails are sent down our homeschool co-op list all the time. I am known for debunking them because I can not tolerate the assimilation of fear and lies.

When this one was showed up in my inbox a couple of months ago, I did not even take on the issue of the book itself (on my reading list; just haven't gotten around to it yet) but merely the fact that it is an old email. The situation written about happened in 2002. Dr. Dobson did talk about the dangers of this book and Scholastic removed it from their catalog and Dr. Dobson even reported that on a follow up show.

All I did was point out the fear that this was spreading over a non issue. Scholastic has a marketing team that determines what books are included in their catalog ... it makes sense that a book with the title "Conversations with God" would be included in a Christian school catalog. This is not Satan out to trick our children. And it is a SEVEN year old email.

I couldn't believe the number of people who responded against my speaking the truth. They were grateful for the information. What?! Honestly, they would rather choose fear than truth.

This is just one of many stories that I have about our experiences in this conservative, mostly-fundamental homeschool group. I am sure I am a thorn in their sides.

Grace and Peace,


Dena said...

Yes, I've also come to treasure truth far above all fear. Perfect love casts out *all* fear (including, I believe, the fear of God). I do see that the fear of God is the beginning of all wisdom, but who wants to stay at the beginning..?

I love this passage from 1 John 4:

18There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

19 We love, because He first loved us.

And yet, how much of Christianity relies upon fears being taught, promoted, and revered...?

Why do we encourage a system in which perfect love is secondary to fear...?

(I feel a blog post coming on, LOL!)

Shalom, Dena