Untamed book club
“We never stop to consider that most of the memos we live by were actually written by highly motivated men.” p. 243
Wow. Glennon is right. I have not really considered the origins of the structures around me. Racism built the world we live in. Sexism built the world we live in. Eew.
This excerpt is a little difficult to write about because it is very political, in my opinion. In the past, I would have been really afraid to say what I think because I wouldn’t have wanted to offend anyone that believed something different. The irony of that does not escape me. In order to be “good,” I would keep my opinions to myself so as not to rock the boat. Eew.
I am interested in the difference that Glennon points out about between religion and spirituality. To me, spirituality is personal. It is listening to your own self and what you know to be true, without being bound by the “rules” of the institutions around you. The story about Abby and her conflict with religion was powerful. Rejecting the rules of the church does not mean you are rejecting God. “When you chose yourself, you chose God. When you walked away from church, you took God with you. God is in you.” (p. 236)
This is all very relevant in our political climate right now. I wonder how religious people could support our racist, sexist president. I know that he says he agrees with the “rules” of many religions. But I wonder if some of his supporters question his motives, but are too afraid to break rank with their church. I wonder, especially as women that might be caged or afraid to rock the boat, what would happen if we lived in a world where we all did what we felt was right, rather than followed the “rules” around us, that were, after all, established by “highly motivated men.”
Great observations, Melanie.
As I was reading this section I was also struck by Abby's comment that when Glennon left the church she took God with her. I have a dear friend who is a pastor, and all her professional life she's been fighting to claim her space in her denomination. It's one of the more liberal Christian denominations, but it's still run by men. Her ex-husband is also a pastor who did not lose his congregation despite his having an affair with a parishioner, while she was denigrated for divorcing him! Excuse me?? On top of that she has two daughters, one who is openly gay and the other is bisexual. So for her chosen profession, the deck is really stacked against her.
But here's what I've observed: she lives within most of the rules, but is not afraid to speak out when she feels strongly that policy should be changed. She didn't just decide to become a pastor – she was called. Her God is so deep within her that she decided to serve despite the obstacles, knowing that she could make a significant difference in the lives of her flock. She is one of the most spiritual people I've ever met, and she has been an amazing inspiration for me on my own spiritual journey.
Melanie & Kelly, I too was struck by this section of the book, as well as Glennon's account of how being anti-abortion and anti-gay was a recent tactic to get the evangelical voting bloc to support certain politicians. So many people throughout the ages have been killed over religious beliefs. So many people haven't worn masks because that offends their sense of freedom and loyalty… spreading this virus more and more. Such tragedy in the face of a lack of common sense. But, unfortunately, "common sense" is a misnomer.
Fair warning: While brought up with the Jewish religion, I am not religious and never have been.
Whether someone calls himself/herself a devout Christian and is fine with children being locked in cages and taken away from their parents at the Mexican border (as one example), or someone calls himself/herself a devout Jew and keeps a Kosher home but eats a cheeseburger at a restaurant (eating meat & dairy in the same meal is not Kosher), many people make up their own rules and still identify as part of the umbrella religion. That's not common sense to me. I don't care about people making up their own rules about God/religion, as long as those rules don't hurt others or support leaders who create policies that hurt people.
Years ago, when my kids were young, a very sweet, educated and religious neighbor asked me how I teach my kids ethics without belonging to a temple. Wow!
I love how Glennon wrote that if you don't like something about a group you are part of, you have 3 options: do nothing (a bad idea), speak out & try to change the group or change groups. I'm just now remembering how, while this wasn't a group situation, when I was little, the pediatrician would always tickle me, which I hated, especially when I was sick. I asked my mom to make him stop. She told him that Susie didn't like the tickling. But he didn't stop. And I gave up on asking my mom to make him stop. This went on until we moved away when I was in 6th grade and had to get a new doctor. With my kids, I listened as best I could to their concerns (school was the most common place where issues cropped up outside our home). I intervened when necessary but otherwise coached them when it seemed that they were old enough to work on fighting their own battles, yet I always told them I'm here to help directly if needed. I was not going to be complicit when they were suffering. Before intervening, I always asked my kids if they themselves were guilty of anything in the particular situation. And I always told the teacher or principal that I'm aware of a problem, so here is what I gather from my child's side, and I'd like to hear input from all other sides to figure out what happened and how we can remedy the situation.
If I were in my mom's position, I'd have switched doctors as soon as he broke the newly stated rule. I think it's important to hold people accountable when entrusting them to be part of our circles.
Like John Lennon imagined, I would rather see a world at peace than a world (and country) divided by religion, etc. It's hard to imagine how our country and the world can ever get past our divisions. At least we have some control within our personal circles. That's a good start.
I like Glennon's version of God. She says somewhere in the early vignettes – that what's the difference if she came to her Knowing from (and I paraphrase) magical, mystical or spiritual ? She calls it god and it works for her.
I was also struck by this part of the book as well. In the 1980’s I got up in the evangelical power and I was one of those people who voted republican because I was against abortion. After I read this section, I got angry at myself that I got caught in it. It was about 10 years ago something started to change in my heart and I felt something was off. Jesus doesn’t talk about hating gays he talks about grace, mercy and love. I loved when Glennon says you have 3 choices, remain quiet, challenge power or leave. I chose the later and we left our church. It took awhile but we found one that was accepting of all people. Jesus says all are invited at his table not just a few.
Thank you for sharing about your friend, Kelly. Yes. What an inspiration..that is what is called walking the walk and talking the talk. SO unlike so many people who call themselves Christian. It's an important reminder, like so many other things, that we can't judge a book by its cover..meaning, we can't lump all Christian, even conservative Christians into the same category. We must meet people with compassion and curiosity. Get to know the people behind the rhetoric. I think this is going to be something high on the list of priorities after Biden takes office…how will he bridge this massive divide, one among so many? Thanks Kelly
Love this comment Lisa. Thank you for sharing about your journey. I think this is what is so important for all of us to do, right now and always. We may think one thing until we learn and our hearts and minds expand. I was raised Catholic but never took to it because of the hypocrisy– the disgusting priests who'd teach ccd drunk or be so fat they could barely button their shirts. And don't get me started on the teaching around being female. But as Glennon says somewhere in this section, these lessons are burned into our hearts at such an early age and damn is it hard work to leave them behind. I'm so glad you found a place that works for you and your family..a place that teaches love and acceptance.
Great comment Sue, and another one of your stories that I hadn't heard. I'm sorry that your mom didn't listen to you and validate your concerns or follow up and make him stop. And how amazing! That you were able to turn that experience into a massive lesson on how you'd parent your kids differently and followed through on it..giving them love and guidance but also support them to "fight" their own battles. I don't think I did that enough..It's hard enough for me to fight my own battles. I'm going through something right now…not worth getting into, but it's a huge reminder to me regarding how far I still have to go to own my boundaries and to be okay exerting them whether they offend other people or not. And to NOT feel guilty about it. I was blown away by Glennon's research into the evangelical history. Not surprised,though, AT ALL. With all I've learned in the last several years with their anti Planned Parenthood lies and propaganda, the way they paid the woman who was the real Roe to speak out against abortion..it's just disgusting. Everything about them is disgusting and has NOTHING to do with being Christian. I agree..I have no idea how these divides are going to start healing…
Thank you Mel for your great write up. This section made me angry for all the reasons I've spoken about ad nauseam on this page and elsewhere, and even in my response to Sue's comment. The lies and hypocrisy under the guise of religion and the bill of goods we've all been sold. Exactly! The memos written by highly motivated men. And the lies they tell themselves to make their abhorrent behavior acceptable to themselves. I could go on and on. I won't. It's just too exhausting. But I very much value the difference between spirituality and religion. I learned that difference on my own healing journey when I acknowledged what I felt was missing from my life but didn't know where to turn. All those years I sat in a pew staring up at a bloody Jesus with his crown of thorns. No one told me, or maybe I'd stopped listening too long ago, that the place to find what I was seeking, as Glennon reminds us, was inside myself. She writes so beautifully about finding the divine in the "least" among us. As I wrote when I mused what the world would be like if all the children knew they would always have enough.. this is the same. What kind of world would this be if we all knew that "God" lives inside us and we don't have to earn a connection to the divine. It is inherent because we are born divine.
Thank you for sharing about your friend, Kelly. She sounds amazing It is so brave to challenge institutional norms. She is doing so because she is listening to her knowing and honoring her calling.
And Tracey, I agree that this is a perfect example of how we should not lump people into groups and make assumptions, but be open and curious. This is how we will move forward from such a divisive time.
Sue, the story you shared about the doctor… 😮
I love hearing the stories of you as a little girl because you did know your boundaries and were in touch with what felt right and what did not. The problem comes when the grownups in our life, whether they are parents, teachers, doctors, etc, do not honor those boundaries.
It is wonderful that you were able to listen to your children and help them through challenges. It is tricky with kids sometimes because they can be very one-sided in their perceptions and often omit the whole story. But it is great that through listening and honoring their voices and boundaries, you were able to support them and help them know that they were heard.
Thank you for sharing your realizations. It is understandable that politics and religion have become so intertwined, but also problematic in many ways. When we get back to our knowing…what we know in ourselves, what we know about God, Jesus, things do seem to clear up a bit. ❤
Thank you Tracey.
Yes, yes, and yes.
As you know, I grew up in the church and attended fairly regularly until COVID. Since then, I have taken a step away and have been pursuing the knowing inside. I wonder when/if/how the religion and spirituality will intertwine. I think they will, but we will see.
For me, there was so much to think about in Melanie’s post. As I continued to read the insightful responses from everyone, I had to stop to really take it all in. I think this is the point in the book that really sucked me in, which really captured my heart and soul.
There is a paragraph (p.245) that best reflects what I am working on now.
“The point of the story was never that This One is more Gd than the rest. The point is that if we can find good in those we’ve been trained to see as bad, if we can find ourselves in those we’ve been indoctrinated to see as other, then we become unable to hurt them. When we stop hurting them, we stop hurting ourselves. When we stop hurting ourselves, we begin to heal.”
I read this passage several times. I’m not certain if we first need to stop hurting ourselves, so that we can heal, and then we stop hurting others, or if Glennon has it right. I do believe that we are all connected – heck, we all breathe the same air. And I also agree that our freedom is in knowing our strength, power, our beauty, and ourselves. It is remembering our goodness, our gold. It is knowing that we share the whole of our human experience – the 10,000 joys and the 10,000 sorrows with equanimity. When we can allow ourselves and others to just be, without judgment we live without cages.
Melanie, thanks for pointing out that I knew my boundaries as a child. I felt like I didn't have boundaries when I was growing up, but yes, I realize that I did. They just weren't respected a lot of the time. As an adult, I have grappled with knowing that my feelings and boundaries were often ignored by my parents when I was a child. While I was able to discuss this with my parents when I was well info adulthood, and they apoligized, I still know my brother's needs outweighed mine throughout his life. It's a hard pill to swallow. But my experiences led me to tune in to my children's feelings and boundaries better (I hope) than I otherwise would have. Parenting is hard! If we are continually trying to make up for our parents' lackluster parenting skills, you'd think that this far into the human race we'd all be more mentally sound by now. Lol
Beautifully said Faithe. Thank you