Saturday, February 27, 2010

Review: Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia

I recently finished "Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia" by Elizabeth Gilbert.  It is an auto-biography about her search for healing after a nasty divorce.  She visits Italy (where she learns pleasure for herself), India (where she seeks spirituality) and Indonesia (where she learns to balance pleasure and emotional health).

This book is pretty popular, and many have probably read it.  The first thing I'd like to say - as a Christian my perspective on the book is a little different, and this is the part I'd really like to focus on.  This book is written by a non-Christian woman seeking God, which I found to be very fascinating.  So for most of the book, I wondered "Will she get it?  Will she find Him?" and of course, I was rooting that she would.

Very early in the book she talks about her perception of Jesus.

Culturally, though not theologically, I'm a Christian. I was born a Protestant of the white Anglo-Saxon persuasion.  And while I do love that great teacher of peace who was called Jesus, and while I do reserve the right to ask myself in certain trying situations what indeed He would do, I can't swallow that one fixed rule of Christianity insisting that Christ is the only path to God.  Strictly speaking, then, I cannot call myself a Christian.  Most of the Christians I know accept my feelings on this with grace and open-mindedness.  Then again, most of the Christians I know don't speak very strictly.  To those who do speak (and think) strictly all I can do here is offer my regrets and for any hurt feelings and now excuse myself from their business.

- Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love, Chapter 3

Wowza...I don't believe I've ever had anyone say "It doesn't make sense there can only be one way into heaven!".  But, I have pondered this particular point extensively.  Of course, I do believe that without accepting Jesus, you simply cannot get in.  The rest of it - I think the Bible leaves a lot to interpretation and that interpretation is very personal.  I think a lot of people argue over a lot of things that are simply not important.  But this one thing - how to get into heaven - this one thing is so very set that I can't imagine someone even debating it.

I wondered what I would say to Elizabeth if this has been an in person comment.  I'll tell you what I would have said "What?  No way.  I can't believe you are even questioning this?"  LOL No - I would not have had anything catchy or thought provoking to say.  I know myself.  This is not my strong suite.

I read this part to William and he responded..."If there was more than one way, why would Jesus go through that?"  Very good question.  Jesus is God in human form.  Don't forget that.  Why leave if there was a Plan B.  This makes sense to me.  I don't know if it would have made sense to Elizabeth. I know many people just believe Jesus was a really nice man (as perhaps she does, since she thinks he was just a "great teacher of peace"). 

One other thing that really struck me was the fact that God will reach out to His people, even when they have the above philosophies.  She had a thing where when she was feeling really low she would write in her notebook.  And she would reach out and have responses.  Example, "Dear God where are you" and the reply might be "I'm right here.  And I love you."  Many of her experiences with God are very similar to my own...the plain way he speaks, the quiet voice.  I was chatting with a friend who I found it so fascinating, and my friend replied that a philosophy teacher of hers said "Truth is truth".  And I guess God is God.  He will respond to anyone who reaches out to Him, because He loves us.  He reaches us where we are at.

The last thing that really struck me was her general perception of Christians.  There is one point in the book where she compares the Taliban and the Christian Coalition.  I'll be honest, I'm not sure who she is referring too by the "Christian Coalition", but there are so many people in this world that label themselves as Christian but do not behave as such (far from it).  And honestly, the world often expects more out of a human being who is Christian than we are really capable of.  None of us are perfect.  Many of us make mistakes.  And that is going to be true no matter who you are. But, it is also a good reminder for all of us that in fact the world is watching.  And we need to do our best to be an example of God.  We can't do it through our power, but through His and His alone.  (At least I can't!)

This book is worth a read and completely fascinating, especially if you are interested in the non-Christian's perspective of God.  I think it is good for us to peek out every once in awhile (or more!) and be familiar with the world's viewpoint.

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