Monday, November 7, 2011

50 Books in a Year: Book #46 Ishmael

Ok, so when I was in late college early high school teaching (1997-2002 approximately) I really liked New Age Philosophy and Christian Spirituality. I read books like The Celestine Prophecy, a lot of those little books by Og Mandino, Deepak Chopra, lots of Ayn Rand, The Purpose Driven Church and many others. Frankly, I ate them up. I think I was at the right age (still seeking my place in the world), in the right mindset (believing in God, but not in what people do in the name of Christianity) and looking for a way to still believe in God through all of the mess.

Fast forward about 10 years, one adult job, a husband and a kid later and you have me. Sure, I could take time to put my philosophy of life on paper, but I'd rather talk to you about this book, Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. Ishmael is a gorilla who speaks to this lost soul of a man about man's greatest sin; thinking that we are top dog on the mountain of life and assuming that because of that fact, the world was made for us and only us.

A friend recommended it to me and raved about it so much that I started it that night (God Bless the power of the ereader). After about 40 pages, I definitely got what was going down, after about 70 pages I got bored at the gorilla baiting and debating with the man to give him clues about how to live, after about 90 pages (note how long it took me to read the book--months), I felt that Ishmael was beating, over my head, something I already got.

One day my friend wanted to talk to me about the book. I, of course, trashed it. I hated and still hate the rather abrupt ending, I don't see the point of learning from a telepathic gorilla and I get that we are destroying the world...I've stopped some of those rotten things I do, really! I don't really want to stop others, unless forced. I compared this book to other such books talking about how they were better. He listened to my rant and then said, "Well, I read this in college and it changed my whole life, it's one of the reasons I hate Christianity and have turned from religion because all religions are man made and flawed." And, that's when I got it, you see there's this whole part in the book about how in the name of Christianity we aren't doing good works and in the name of Christianity we are destroying ourselves and the world, at least that's how my adult, already formed my spiritual foundation, brain took it; because of this book Christians should be better Christians. He just remembered how this book said that Christians are destroying the world. I asked him to read it again with his adult brain and began to recognize that this book a] is in some way the background of me, if I'd read it in college when I was reading all that other stuff maybe, I too, would have come to the same conclusion and b] this book has way more power than I thought, you just have to be at the place in your life when you are building up or tearing down your foundation. I'm just glad that while I was reading all the books I listed above and more, I was still going to church and able to see how it was what people were doing to and in the name of Christianity not Christianity, itself that was the bad guy.

I'll be sure to never underestimate talking gorillas again.

3 Stars

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