Monday, August 20, 2012

Artist's Way Week Five

So this is where I start to go off the rails with Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way.  Oh, I'm still doing my morning pages and treating myself to exciting "dates" like going to the garden center or renting a movie from Amazon Instant Viewing (ah, life in a small town). 

For Week Five, Cameron talks about prosperity.  Now I suppose there are ways to talk about prosperity that aren't offensive--for example, the President could talk about how to increase national prosperity, and that would be nice (nicer yet if he had a workable plan, but we'll let that pass).  But in general, when you use the word prosperity, you've lost me.  First off, it's more or less a polite way of saying money.  Second, it's too diffuse and general a term.  What is prosperity?  Is it having a fresh cup of quality coffee every morning?  Compared to most of the world's standards for living, that's pretty prosperous, and I could check that off--I am prosperous.  But that doesn't mean I don't owe a small nation's GDP in student loans.  My net worth on a financial scale is negative. 

But Cameron insists that God wants to help me out with all this.  Indeed, the only hangup is that I am too reluctant and faithless to really trust God to help me become prosperous.

It is, I hope, self-evident that this is crap.  It is a grotesque blend of Prosperity Gospel and The Secret: the worst of both worlds.  It is where New Age meets televangelists, and can you really imagine a worse place than that?

Jesus is not Santa Claus.  He does not hand out candy as a reward for good behavior.  I wish he did because then a) I'd get to meet him, and b) I would maybe have some candy.  Like, maybe one fuzzy Bit o' Honey.  Remember when Jesus said, "Your father who sees in secret will reward you in secret"?  That didn't mean a flashy car.  That meant the kingdom of heaven.  You know, after you die?

One of the Artist's Way exercises for this week had me write down the reasons I couldn't really believe in a supportive God.  I felt only one word was needed: Auschwitz.  Yes, the Holocaust is an answer so easy that it's almost cliche, but there is nothing else that so cleanly encapsulates the fact that God is not going to protect you from bad things.  He may support your spirit, he may whisk you off to a life of ease and joy among the clouds, but the one thing he doesn't do is shut down the fricking gas chambers when you're about to be killed.  God's chosen people prayed for deliverance, and six million of them were killed.  So the next time you start talking to God about how you'd really like a new car, or even a big bag of groceries so you can stop eating those disgusting canned peas, put it in perspective. 

I know this is a lengthy post, and it's obvious that Cameron has pushed some of my buttons with this stuff.  But saying that we can achieve prosperity by entering the flow or obeying God or anything other than working our asses off and hoping for the best is the worst kind of first-world victim blaming.  Sorry, small child who is dying of starvation right now.  I guess you just didn't trust God enough.

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