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Because I don’t go to church or participate in any organized spiritual or fraternal groups, I didn’t think that I performed or was attached to any rituals. Recently, though, I spent a little time lately examining my activities and intentions. Quotidian rituals include making the bed every day, compulsively checking that the garage door is closed (three times check and say, “door’s closed”), brushing and flossing my teeth, and applying eye cream at night. There are certainly activities I wish were daily-without fail and more intentional: walking, meditation, performing acts of charity or kindness, and
(the circumlogical) daily intention.

Examining my activities for rituals showed me less about the ritual and more about my self than I would admit before now. The compulsive activities MUST be done. I experimented a few times — try to leave the bed unmade. One time I got as far as sitting in the car before I went back into the house and made the bed. I’ve driven back from the end of the block if I can’t remember ritually closing the garage door. Deliberately refusing these rituals left me feeling vulnerable and exposed; incomplete and unable to free my attention. Perhaps that’s the real value of ritual. it allows you to bundle your angst or anxieties into a tightly controlled activity — it’s an agreement you make with your psyche for a mechanism to facilitate compartmentalization.

Emma helping me write

Emma helping me write

I don’t have any rituals for writing. I have some preferences, though. I’ve learned i write better after meditation. I write better by following a thread of thought intuitively. The times I’ve set out with a specific subject or occasion, I’ve struggled greatly. I enjoy Celtic music while writing. Most of the time I write directly on the laptop, though without specific location, but there are times I work from notes I’d written on paper. Sometimes Emma helps, but usually she just purrs moral support.

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theshack

I first read a review of The Shack several months ago, praising its courage in subject matter. Unfortunately, I can’t agree — the book doesn’t live up to the effusive praise most have given it. It’s just too poorly written.

I am always interested in books that explore practical spirituality. When I went online to the library catalog, I found out that A LOT of others must be, too. I landed about number 300 on the waiting list (Yikes!). However, my number came up this week and, because it looked like a fast read, I started and finished it in less than a day, putting the biography of Walt Whitman and his brothers’ lives during the civil war, Now the Drum of War, that I had been reading on hold.

I imagine that those who have heaped praise on the book have done so mostly because there are not a lot of well-written books of this type available for them. I’m certain the publishing industry has noticed this lack in the genre by now. The Shack was originally self-published and ostensibly intended only as a gift for the author’s family. It was shopped to publishers and rejected by several (again, I believe it was rejected because of the writing quality – not the subject matter).

The author does make some interesting points, unfortunately, those salient points are glossed over too quickly: that god doesn’t speak directly to anyone anymore (as god did in ancient times), but relies exclusively on the “guilt-edged bible” to do his communication for him [sic], that god is a Euro-white male “papa” image that limits divinity; Jesus’ humanity, or own attachment to the simple dualities of good and bad. The parable’s basic plot line and theme have potential and surely resonates with people — how can a loving god allow such a terrible crime to happen to an innocent child? I just wish the author had been more skilled when he attempted to give us the answer.