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The New Enlightenment - A Search for Global Civilization, Peace, and Spiritual Growth in the 21st Century Hardcover – December 1, 2009
About the Author
Author Grady Means--who splits his time between Washington (DC) and Half Moon Bay (CA)--is a self-described moderate Republican and life-long Catholic. He has been trained in business, philosophy, and engineering, and offers us a radical view of the spiritual needs of humans and the failure of religion to provide for those needs. His well-reasoned and logically presented arguments are certain to provoke deep thought and hot debate from people on all sides of contemporary religious and political spectra.
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Top Customer Reviews
Given the tone and argumentation of this original commentary, some readers may be puzzled to discover the author is a prominent Republican who has served in the White House, a formerly active Catholic layman, and a successful businessman who has managed billion-dollar global management consulting practices and authored books on international business. Yet, he is now the author of a provocative and incisive critique of serious deficiencies in Catholicism and other major world religions.
One of his primary theses is that these belief systems in their "doctrines, rituals, and codes" are "following the same path -- a path that cannot represent God's intent." He argues that they "tend to separate and rank human spirits rather than bringing them together under the rubric of love."
His concern is that "doctrinal religions are, by their very nature, opposed to values" such as "individual initiative, human liberty, fairness to the less fortunate, human equality" and "when applied in a fundamental form in the political arena can be corrosive to human peace and liberty."
Highly recommended for those who are open to exploring new roads on their spiritual journey.
I was brought up in a protestant household, attended Sunday school, sang and toured in a choir, played guitar and composed religious songs and assisted in running group events for children.
I watched as lives were destroyed (alcoholism, depression) around arguments about service formats, modern or traditional hymns, guitar vs. pipe organ and the hierarchy implied by being "born again". I began to think about the schism between faith and religion. I stopped attending church.
I can only agree with the conclusion that all doctrinal religion is corrosive, and the text articulated what I had "sensed" over the many years I have considered the man made nature of religion. Grady offers powerful tenets to renew our spirituality, the framework neatly dodging creation of a new dogma by asking us to connect and follow our spirit.
I have noticed that politics and religion have become intertwined. The move away from God and the Spirit has left a vacuum for many people, whether they admit it or not. As someone once observed, people keep saying "God is dead" (meaning religion), but addressing the reasons why God needed to be there in the first place are in short supply. "The New Enlightenment" covers this subject well.
I observe that politics has become like religion - unreasonable beliefs that are maintained by ignorance and enforced by like minded communities. The polarization of the US populace along feuding party lines is a testament to that. I see discrimination along party lines with exclusion by membership on both sides. Business organizations are microcosms of this - "process/ ideological politics" being used to crush/ force change through polarization (rather than party politics). Even removing religious right/ intellectual dictatorship left - politics have become a doctrinal religious experience for many.
Religion, culture, politics and gender are the foundations of bigotry - it is just the share of mind that changes.
Grady is articulating a case for change using doctrinal religion as an example. But the core issue as stated is true - people seek convenience, guidance and community - a spiritual life is way too difficult for many - there is no easy guidebook to self awareness, love of others or seeing the world through the eyes of others. If I am comfortable with a course of action and there are enough around me to affirm my position, I must be "safe".
Unreasonable beliefs and ignorance are corrosive, magnifying each other exponentially - religion is a manifestation, as is politics. Religion and Politics may be too genetically intertwined through the very nature of ourselves to ever be separated. However, the observation that religion is a big stick wielded politically is correct.
The start of the book reminded me of Coulombs' law, concerning the attraction of masses in free space. My electrostatics lecturer stated that everything can be derived from this equation. I have thought about this my entire adult life and have not been able to prove him completely crazy. Spiritual people should be attracted in free space by the weak forces; the issue is making the space free once again.
I am a new American. I was attracted to this country by its optimism, creativity and open business environment. At the conclusion of the citizenship ceremony, I was encouraged to engage in political discussions, enabling me to vote from an informed perspective, fully participating and contributing to our democratic government. Grady is asking that we renew our citizenship vows, embrace American Enlightenment and renew it with love and the spirit.
There are also some thought provoking sections on the ten commandments, and so many of the things I have wondered and thought about in terms of life, death, salvation, eternity....and when it all began.... This is a book that I think anyone who has the slightest doubts or questions about their own spirituality vs. what the religion they are part of is telling them -----or is ready to think hard about these questions - will find much food for thought and reflection...As the author states, since we live now in a period of time when a few fundamentalists can blow up a good part of the world with their non negotiable stances ---it is time to step back and look at religions a little more closely, and understand what we each are subscribing too ----it would be odd to end the world over religious stances and dogma, rather than listening to our own humanity and spirit...This book helps us think about these issues.