Today please help me welcome former ad exec and Tarcher nonfiction author Michelle Cromer. Today Michelle is sharing one of her favorite excerpts from her latest (Balboa Press/Hay House) release about The Age of Meaning.
Michelle Cromer is the author of “Exit Strategy” and a children’s book. She conducts workshops in which participants learn how to tap into a deep well of spirituality, serenity, and purpose. A woman of contradictions, Michelle believes that spirituality and capitalism can co-exist, that you have to sit still to get somewhere, and that – despite her best efforts – there are some questions for which the answers only come when you stop asking. . She lives with her family in El Paso, where her nonprofit works to bring justice for the missing and murdered in Juarez.
Part travel guide, part memoir, Where Am I Going? Moving From Religious Tourist to Spiritual Explorer takes the reader on a journey to finding this meaning in the same way that Michelle Cromer did for herself, through seven stages that connect each of us to the deepest part of our souls. This inspiring story of Michelle’s own quest for meaning in her life is a welcome departure from the typical preachy self-help book. Always spiritual, sometimes dangerous, often exotic, her search–as told by this funny, complex woman is a powerful lesson for anyone who also finally asks the Big Questions and begins their own spiritual journey and quest for purpose.
Turn on your TV on any Sunday morning and listen to some of the sermons launched from “pop Christianity” pulpits across the United States. According to these preachers, all we need to do is pray for what we want—to have faith—and all of our prayers will be answered when we want them, how we want them, and where we want them. Put your dollar in the slot, push a button, and wait for the answer to your prayers to roll down the chute.
Such preachers don’t corner the market on entitlement. The New Age movement, with its “law of attraction,” is yet another way of treating the universe like a cosmic Coke machine. The law of attraction tells us that if we simply think hard enough about it, “the universe,” aka God (by whatever name), will bring us health, wealth, success, and love. The law of attraction argues that thoughts (both conscious and unconscious) can affect things outside of the mind. Essentially, if you really want something and truly believe it’s possible, you’ll get it. (So . . . we’ll all win the lottery.) But be careful; according to the law, putting a lot of attention and thought into something you don’t really want means that you’ll probably get that too. So stop worrying about that piano falling out of the sky . . . because it will.
All of these people who preach entitlement are under the vulnerable and dangerous illusion that you can manipulate reason and, by extension, God. In an attempt to make sense of our complicated lives, we desperately try to make sense of what happens. So we take a law of science and manipulate it to fit our beliefs and superstitions. But why? Did I miss something? Why would anyone assume any of those things about God? Just because we have found a way to light a match doesn’t mean we can see through all of the darkness. Why pretend that we can?
Life may be easier to deal with if we believe that there is a reason why bad things happen, but this expectation is also a recipe for potential disaster. Those who seek this easy way out may find themselves confronted with greater despair and sorrow when their illusions crumble. Surviving pain and disappointment in life will require more than just letting go of the consoling belief that the universe is a reasonable place; it will require that we create a new and meaningful life. As we surrender our overreliance on the world of reason and its false security blanket, we emerge understanding that all the things we pretended to know never did satisfy our thirst for understanding the world around us.
But what will guide us though the rough waters of life? How will we make it through the unprecedented transition from having it all mapped out for us to starting over completely?
If God isn’t a cosmic Coke machine, and we kick reason to the curb, what’s left?