Sunday, December 20, 2015

Book #27 "Eat Pray Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert

I was not expecting to like this book, mostly because it's infamous as the "middle-aged divorced woman's bible" but I wanted to read it just to know what it was about.  And I hated the beginning of it.  Gilbert comes across as amazingly self-centered and high maintenance.  Then she complains that during their divorce her husband would call her selfish.  Ha - she is.  She's obsessed with herself and every detail of her personality.  She literally prays to herself and her self answers.  I nearly stopped reading at several parts, but I continued because the book is just really interesting.  She's a great writer, and she details her travels to Italy, India, and Indonesia over the course of a year.  Gilbert is very outgoing and immediately makes friends in each city and has interesting and hilarious adventures.  I enjoyed reading all of it, even the more ridiculous parts.

Gilbert's religion is pantheistic, with strong influences from yoga and some Americanized spiritualism.  It's primarily based on feelings and desires, not logic.  (She believes that the pope signed her spiritual petition for her divorce to be over even though that's not something the pope would agree with.  She also believes that her ex-husband's soul communicated with her soul and forgave her even though he probably still hates her to this day.)  She also prays sometimes by writing in a journal and answering herself and she literally believes that she is her own god.  This book was probably a large part of that type of spiritualism becoming so common in America, along with the fact that our American arrogance made us very ready to accept ourselves as gods.  I honestly found the spiritual sections of the book very interesting even though they were jaw-droppingly strange in places.

I enjoy reading about other religions and I find it interesting.  What bothers me is that Gilbert doesn't seem to recognize the delineation between religions.  At points she mentions that there were Christians at the ashram studying mediation with her, and that her religion includes all religions.  That's not true.  Her religion is distinctly and undeniably different from most major religions and only watered-down Christians or Muslims or Hindus could agree with her religious ideas.  Jesus said "I am the way the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me."  That's obviously not compatible with Gilbert's "all religions are valid and everyone needs to just accept everything" attitude.

Overall, this book was very interesting.  The cultures she traveled to and the people she met were fascinating.  She's an excellent writer and this book is definitely worth reading, perhaps especially if you disagree with her religious ideas.  It helped me to better understand American spirituality, which is so pervasive in our country that it's worth learning more about.

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