Recently I read the book Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything in Italy, India and Indonesia. This woman's journey of self-discovery through very different parts of the world fascinated me, made me laugh at times, and definitely made me think. I would recommend this to my friends because I feel her vulnerability blended with independence as a woman in her 30's is somehow relatable.
At the same time, her successful search for spiritual enlightenment in India became all too convenient in my opinion. Like an Indian friend who read the book said to me, there are yogis who spend the majority of their lives trying to attain the sort of nirvana that she describes toward the end of her few months at an ashram there. I hope that wasn't too much a spoiler for anyone who wants to read the book. There's more to this portion of the book, of course. Sometimes I wonder if people simply convince themselves that they are experiencing some sort of connection with a higher power. But maybe that faith in the experience is all that matters?
Then yesterday I watched the movie Jesus Camp about children being trained as Evangelical Christians to be soldiers for Christ or something like that. Spiritually inspiring? Not exactly. A bit scary and disturbing? Oh yes. There are times when I admire someone's complete dedication to her or his faith and suspension of intellectual disbelief in order to follow a spiritual path. But these children- my God (um, I mean, your God... whatever)! How can an eight-year-old make the decision to dedicate her life to spreading Jesus' message and "saving" others? How can you tell children to pray and speak in tongues to Jesus? I thought speaking in tongues was supposed to occur out of someone's control, as if the Holy Spirit had taken over the person's body. But I swear these kids were almost competing to see who could pray the hardest and the best and who would be "touched by Jesus" and cry the most. They spoke of trying to pray away the hypocrisy of the world, but here they were with a superiority complex about having found the right path and judging others when they also say that God is the only one who can judge. Hmm. And they say there's no political agenda but then they teach the children to pray for the new Supreme Court judge to be a pro-lifer.
Okay, end rant on that. See the movie if this topic interests you. I do believe finding your own spirituality is important, but I don't think one should exploit religion for convenience or for political gain.