Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Good Book

A book that has influenced my thinking greatly has as its stated purpose, "To destroy mercilessly, without any compromise whatsoever, in the mentations and feelings of the reader, the beliefs and views, by centuries rooted in him, about everything existing in the world."

The book is Beelzebubs Tales to his Grandson, An Objectively Impartial Criticism of the Life of Man. The first time I attempted to read it it took me about six years. The second time was a little easier. It took five days of constant reading, probably 14 hours per day. Since then I have been browsing through it occasionally. It's a good book, but it is, I admit, a little tough to read. The author, a Russian gentlemen, intentionally made it difficult. He stated once, "I bury the bone so deep that the dogs have to scratch for it."

Why would someone write a book that is nearly impossible to read with the intention of destroying every belief that we presently have?

He is not going for the mass market.

He is looking for the rare person, who Ratso Rizzo in Midnight Cowboy aptly classified as "Wacko," who has been disappointed by every path he has searched and is desperate to find something that makes sense. This desperation creates a level of internal discomfort so great, like the worst itch that you can imagine, that it inpsires someone to attempt to read about a thousand pages that, at first glance, make no sense.

The basic premise of the book is that at some point in the past, because of some cosmic event, mankind lost the ability to see himself and the world clearly. The result is a fear and confusion that continues to plague our existence and prevent us from reaching the level of peace and contentment that we once had. In order to regain what we lost we must relearn everything we believe to be true, hence the necessity to destroy all of our existing beliefs.

This may seem a little radical and unrealistic. However, when you acknowledge the depth of the problems we are facing it does makes sense that the solution is not simple. I don't imagine that we can unlearn everything that we have been taught for the last five thousand years. What I do think is possible and would be extremely valuable is if we began to question many of our beliefs, especially those that we are most attached to. The consequences of this might inspire a series of forces that might begin to enable us to get along with each other a little better.

The message of this book is not to convince the reader of anything but to implant within the mind and heart of the reader a seed of doubt and discomfort from which a new world might be created. This is a big idea. To begin to question the advice of so called experts and authorities. To begin to give up some of the crutches that we have used to enable us to deal with the uncertainty and insecurity of our day to day existence--well, it's tough. But it is freeing and in my mind exciting.

This book is just one of the many tools that are being made available to us now. They actually have always been available, but now more than ever we need to dig our way out of the trap that has been created to test our muster and spirit. We can if we want leave everything in God's hands. But I don't think that this is what He wants from us now.

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