Many people go ballistic at the very mention of Neale Donald Walsch, the author of “Conversations With God.” In 1995 Walsch wrote a book about his private conversations with God, i.e. Walsch asked God questions and God replied as a voice in Walsch’s mind. Walsch wrote down both the questions and the answers as they were happening, or so he claims. Through Walsch, “God” thereby explains the meaning and purpose of life and what God does and does not do in regard to humans.
I started reading this book some months ago, got through the first three chapters and gave up. Although I agreed with a lot of it, I decided Walsch’s God was a bit too flaky for me. Furthermore, he sounded like a Democrat. No thanks.
However, I’ve decided to give the book another look. A book that causes that much anger over one’s concept of God must be worth reading. I have decided to read the book in its entirety, underline passages that I agree with and also those I do not agree with. I will then write a comprehensive review of Walsch’s book. It won’t be a hit job, but it won’t be a whitewash either. Since I am not a member of any organized religion, I have no ax to grind. Walsch is not the first by any means to invent his own religion and so it pays to be skeptical. Many invented religions turn out to be weird cults or scams (or both).
Why do people invent religions and why do others follow them? L. Ron Hubbard, the creater of Scientology, was quoted as saying that “Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion.” If you invent your own religion and convince others that you are a prophet, you reap the rewards of both power and money.
Last night, desperate for something to watch on TV and finding little due to the writer’s strike, I tuned into an episode of South Park, “Trapped In The Closet.” This is the cartoon show of grade school kids in Colorado, i.e. Kyle, Cartman, Kenny and Stan. Stan takes a Scientology test and is identified by the Church of Scientology as “the reincarnation of L. Ron Hubbard.” The show describes the beliefs of Scientologists as set down by the Prophet Hubbard, and those beliefs are pretty bizarre, to say the least. In fairness, I would have to say that they are only slightly more weird than the beliefs of Mormons. Before there was L. Ron Hubbard, there was Joseph Smith. No matter what fantastic stories a “prophet” might create, there will always be some who will believe and follow.
At the end of the show, Stan disavows his prophethood to an assembly of believers. He says, “We all want so much to know who we are and where we come from that sometimes we’ll believe just about anything.” Well said, Stan. It’s a good point to remember as I begin Walsch’s book.