God Save Me From Your People
Save Me From Your People"
by Lisa Schneider
Neale Donald Walsch had
his first "conversation with God" in 1992, when at a particularly low point in
his life he scribbled down an angry letter to God -- and received what he
believed was a divine answer. As questions occurred to him, more answers came to
him and he wrote them all down in a process he describes as "exactly like
dictation." His best-selling "Conversations With God" books have been translated
into 27 different languages. He talked with Beliefnet about his latest book in
the series, "The New Revelations."
You say that human beings are facing "the sudden and eruptive disintegration of
life as we know it." What is the nature of this crisis in the world?
There have always been wars, and plagues, and horrible things happening
throughout human history. Is all of this somehow coming to a head now?
And you believe that organized religion not only doesn't help to resolve this
problem, doesn't offer us the solutions that we need -- but that it in fact
contributes to the problem?
Is the problem inherent in people, or does it emerge when we organize our
religions? Is it that people misunderstand the message of religions?
How do you misunderstand the following words [from Exodus 32]? "Take every man his sword by his side and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp and slay every man his brother and every man his companions and every man his neighbor." How do you misunderstand Numbers 25? "Take all the heads of the people and hang them up before the Lord." How do you misunderstand the quotations from the Qur'an or the Bhagavad Gita as well? Which are equally direct and very very violent. Listen to the Bhaghavad Gita at Chapter 2 text 31: "You should know that there is no better engagement for you than fighting on religious principles so there is no need for hesitation." Read the Qur'an at Surah 9:123: "Oh ye who believe fight the unbelievers who gird you about and let them find firmness in you and know that Allah is with those who fear him."
You cannot misunderstand these words, these words are very clear. Now apologists for all of these scriptural writings say, "Oh, those words are meant metaphorically, they don't really mean fight, as in fight and kill people. It's a metaphor, it means struggle on behalf of your faith. And that's all very well and good and I would suggest to you that probably 90% of the followers of those various faiths and the readers of those various texts agree that those words are today are to be understood as metaphors and not to be taken literally. Regretfully, however, about 10% take them quite literally and actually scream them out loud as they slit the throats or bomb the people with whom they disagree.
You say that God is always talking to us in different ways, and that we just
need to learn how to listen. So are we failing to listen the right way, or are
these exclusivist religions fundamentally flawed?
And it's not the first time nor will it be the last that that kind of atrocity is committed on the face of the earth by people in the name of God. Leading one to understand completely why we are now seeing bumper stickers all over the world: "God, Save Me From Your People."
The world is hungry. The world is starving for a new spiritual truth -- a truth that works in sustaining life, not a truth that brings an end to life. The world is searching for a new spiritual path, begging, begging for a new set of understandings. Most of its people simply do not dare to say so publicly. It can be very fearful for people to go against the prevailing notion of things, even when the prevailing notion of things is killing them.
Yet we must challenge ourselves, we must challenge our society, we must challenge our world. We must collectively ask, "Is this who we are? Is this who we choose to be? Is what we are now demonstrating in the world in our headlines in our daily news - is this the only way we can live? Is this the only way we can know how to behave? Is it possible that there might be another way? And do we have the courage to seriously look at what that might be? Do we have the courage to accept the answer that our searching uncovers?" That's the question of the day.
What is the "new spirituality" you are proposing?
But aren't they more than incomplete? All the things you talked about earlier --
all the violence in the sacred texts. You seemed to be saying they're not just
incomplete but wrong.
And "The New Revelations" of course is about exactly that. It contains nine new revelations that could form the basis of such an opening exploratory discussion, nine new theological concepts that are completely counter or different from many of the basic precepts and concepts of many of the exclusivist punitive organized religions in the world today.
I'll give you an example. New Revelation #3 says "No path to God is more direct than any other path. No religion is the one true religion. No people are the chosen people and no prophet is the greatest prophet." Now what would happen in the world today if the world simply embraced that new notion and nothing else new, just that one? If we just simply embraced that one as the one new concept that we chose to add to our old religions it would open the way for each of us to express and to experience our own religion as fully as we are today but simply stop us from making each other wrong and condemning each other for not doing their religion the same way we do ours.
New Revelation # 4 is equally interesting: "God needs nothing. God requires nothing in order to be happy. God is happiness itself. Therefore God requires nothing of anyone or anything in the universe." A non-need-based God sitting at the top of all religions would change the imperatives of those religions enormously and shift the axis of our religious experience away from needing to placate God to a place of co-creating with God.
We have done some terrible things on this planet in our attempt to placate God. We've persecuted others, causing them incredible suffering. We've killed people by the millions in order to please this God of ours. Our idea that God is not happy and that we are the cause is what has created the insane basis for insane religions to inspire people to act insanely.
Do you see yourself as a prophet?
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