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A Liberal God, Revealed Print E-mail
By Howard Kainz   
Saturday, 09 July 2011

A friend, aware of my recently published book on God, gave me his copy of Neale Donald Walsch’s Conversations with God, Book 2. I’m not sure why. Perhaps he hoped this would expand my knowledge of the “subject matter,” or give me some clues about how to write a New York Times best-seller. In any event, the experience was eye-opening about what large numbers of people are now reading about God.

Starting with Book 2 is not really a problem, since God/Walsch summarizes points from Book 1 at various places. The author claims that these books were written during some difficult times he experienced during the 1990s; he started to write down questions or comments for God, and thoughts would pop into his head.

Walsch has a Catholic background, and brings up things he remembers from catechism classes – original sin, heaven, hell, purgatory, mortal and venial sin, confession, holy days of obligation, etc. God (occasionally referred to as a “she”) listens patiently to this litany, and then reminds him that this is religion. The only important thing, however, is spirituality; and religion is at odds with spirituality: “Religion cannot stand Spirituality. It cannot abide it. For Spirituality may bring you to a different conclusion than a particular religion – and this no known religion can tolerate.”

The “different conclusions” include: There is no such thing as original sin; no devil; no good and evil; no right or wrong; no “Ten Commandments.” Everything is interconnected, and the task of the spiritual person is to overcome any sense of separation and reactivate consciousness of his/her unity with all. (God is a panentheistic God; we all exist as members of His/Her marvelous body, although we may have a nagging sense of separation.)

A major catalyst for development in this “spirituality” is sex. Pages are devoted to the pleasures of masturbation, gay sex, and “kinky sex”; and God recommends the Hindu/Buddhist Tantric methods for achieving spiritual energy through sex. God suggests that Walsch say “I love sex” ten times a day, to overcome any lingering sexual guilt.

Walsch, however, still has doubts about a statement God made in Book 1, about Hitler being in heaven. So God explains for several pages why this is so: First, he says, evil doesn’t exist. Hitler, like all of us, was affected by the prevailing group consciousness (including a lot of German Christians), and merely brought anti-Semitism to a head. But the deaths he brought about were not “evil.” 

Why? Death is the most enjoyable experience we can imagine. The men, women, and children put to death in the gas chambers, like all of us at death, were in ecstasy. When I read this, I imagined Hitler’s victims getting together with him in the afterlife. (One strange and unexplained fact is that while Hitler went straight to heaven, Neal Walsch, according to God’s report in Book 1, is presently in his 648th reincarnation. But perhaps this will be clarified in Book 3.)


         Read this, not that

The latter sections of the book are largely devoted to an extensive discussion of environmental issues, our economic and political evolution to a one-world consciousness, the existence of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, education for global consciousness after the pattern of Waldorf schools (a German theosophical institution), ideas about how universal love can overcome wars and violence, and how the discrepancy between the “haves” and the “have nots” can be overcome through redistribution and limits on excessive wealth. The eventual goal is the complete elimination of money. God admits that some of the advice he is giving reflects positions of the Democratic Party, but assures us that he is divinely bipartisan, and even has kind words for the one-world vision of George W. Bush.

Towards the end, God tells Walsch to “forget about religion,” and ends with a heated tirade against religion for making people lose faith in themselves, for causing fear of God and agnosticism, for giving rise to the notion that we are somehow “less” than God, for teaching that we need intermediaries to approach God, and for instigating shame about natural bodily functions like sex, which should not just be indulged, but celebrated.

Though it wouldn’t be good for sales, this book might be more accurately be titled, My Idea of God. It’s hard to imagine how millions of people in America buy such works thinking they’re illuminating. But it is useful in clarifying just what sort of God new-age and new-consciousness liberals have in mind. And it shows why persons who mention anything that smacks of religious “rules” are now regarded by the “enlightened” as pitiable at best, dangerous at worst.    

Real Christians think that the Son of God might be our best source for a truly “objective” idea of such matters. When Phillip asked Jesus (John 14:8) to “show us the Father,” he was admonished by the Lord Himself, because to see Jesus is to see the Father. And Jesus throughout the Gospels describes attributes of the Father – His providence, personal care for each person, willingness to forgive, as well as meting out justice and judgment. In particular, Chapter 6 of Matthew’s Gospel describes in detail the various qualities of God the Father.

While Walsch occasionally cites passages about giving to the poor, about not judging, etc., he skips over the numerous passages in which Jesus refers to hell, or discusses sexuality – e.g., stating that lustful looks are the same as adultery (Mt. 5:28). But Walsch’s invention of an all-inclusive and permissive “liberal” God serves to dispel lingering fears of hell, and to relegate rules about sexuality and other potential sins to some archaic, pre-enlightenment realm.

It’s a self-contradictory, confused, and unsubstantial presentation of what it hopes is spirituality and may also, though quite strange, be exactly what many of our fellows mean now when they talk of their “spiritual” lives.

 
Howard Kainz is emeritus professor of philosophy at Marquette University. He is the author of many books, including the recently published The Existence of God and the Faith-Instinct

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Comments (8)Add Comment
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written by Jacob R, July 09, 2011
Wonderful...now I know why they're so stupid! Thank you...I had no idea such a book even existed, but I should have known. To be as ignorant as people are about religion you need books this stupid.
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written by richard, July 09, 2011
No human knows where people go after their death unless they are granted special insight by the Creator.
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written by debby, July 10, 2011
Wow! 2 weeks in a row with a Saturday post....when did this start? i'll have to go back thru the archives and see if i missed anyone's thoughts on life.
Well, just to add my 2 bits: for more years than i can recall -at least 15-i have read almost daily the Opus Dei devotional series In Conversation With God. 13 years ago i brought the book with me to the nail shop which a high-school friend of my husband's owned. While doing my nails, Susan asked me what i was reading. Another customer piped up, "Oh! Conversations with God was wonderful! Now I no longer feel guilty if I miss Mass!" Needless to say, i (gently) corrected her regarding my book's title and the error contained within her book. Soon after I purchased as a Christmas gift the Advent/Christmastide book for the salon owner. What Susan learned within this little 10 minute daily reading so impressed her, she not only went out and purchased the rest for herself, but she began to attend daily Mass and is still reading these devotionals almost daily.
There is a Scripture which states that in the latter years, men will believe that which "tickles their ears" and truth will be pronounced error, error truth. Such are our times. But people around us ARE hungry and thirsty, walking dead. Just as diet soda leaves you more thirsty for water than before you drank, so vacant philosophy leaves the soul. Let us offer them recourse to The True Food and Life giving Water to satisfy their soul, and not be afraid of rejection.
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written by SJM, July 10, 2011
It is so very sad that his books sell so well. People like to rationalize their behavior and are looking for books that reinforce their own erroneous ideas. It is even sadder that there are so many Neale Donald Walschs out there who make money from toxic offerings.

Unfortunately, I used to be one of those people and read too many of the wrong books. But the good news is that God's amazing grace saved me. Now I pray for others that they may see that God means what He says and that He wants what is best for us and what will bring us true joy.
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written by Rachel, July 11, 2011
These books (which I have not read) remind me of "The Shack" by William Young (which I did read). Both are huge best sellers because people want a God who allows them to live as they want, without making any tough decisions about how they live, and never telling them 'no'.

All fine and good (sarcasm) for this world but quite another thing for the next. All of these similar books make me shake my head as they are often lauded by people who seem so intelligent in other areas.
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written by Lisa Sajna, July 11, 2011
Think it is as foolish to lump all liberals and new agers into one group as it is foolish to lump all true believers in one group. I am a liberal democrat who believes In God, prays, and tries to follow the Ten Commandments as best she can, and when I fall short, I ask for forgiveness and try not to commit the same sin again, That being said - I also believe it is God's job to judge, not mine, and I support early abortion, birth control, gay rights, and on and on, as human rights in a human world. it is not my place to judge others for their choices!!!! it is God's job and only God's job.
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written by Robert Royal, July 11, 2011
Lisa, as a rule I let the columns here speak for themselves, but your sincere objections are so common in contemporary culture that I want to reply. No one has spoken of judging anyone else here, which everyone knows is God's job. Your conflating that point with substantive positions ignores several other points. For many people, especially those who regard themselves as Catholics, God has spoken in the Bible on abortion (early or late), homosexuality, and through his appointed authorities on contraception and other matters. While your unwillingness to judge other persons is admirable, whence comes your authority to ignore everything but a very reduced interpretation of the Ten Commandments? Until quite recently, every Christian of whatever stripe agreed on these moral matters, which suggests that the new view comes from somewhere else than the Christian tradition.
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written by Gabriel, July 11, 2011
It is not mercy to affirm someone in their sins. It is the most merciless thing you can do.

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