Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sacred Pathways and Celebrity Diets

Dear Friends,

Last week over dinner my husband and I had a conversation about the barrage of celebrity diet advertisements on our Facebook news-feeds. Aren't they bizarre sometimes? "Baby-food Diet," "M-Plan Mushroom Diet," "Five Factor Diet" (in which you cook with only five ingredients), and of course don't forget to stock up on the "revoluntionary fat-buster" diet supplement --Garcinia Camogia!

My husband said he heard a radio talk show host say the only celebrity diet worth following is the "Marilyn Monroe Diet."

"The Marilyn Monroe Diet?!!" I had no idea there was such a thing.

I did a search online. It really exists! And you are absolutely guaranteed to look like the Blonde Bombshell if you follow it.

One journalist went on the "Marilyn Monroe Diet" for ten days. She ate two raw eggs whipped in warm milk for breakfast, no lunch, broiled liver, steak, or lamb with five carrots for dinner, and a hot-fudge sundae for dessert.

Here is part of her entry for the final day:
"I have stayed basically the same weight and have a huge cystic pimple on chin. But my breasts seem — slightly? — more firm, and I don’t have to drink raw eggs anymore. Raw eggs make everything seem tolerable in comparison."
Ayiyi. I think I'd rather eat bread, potatoes, and a Philly Cheesesteak on occasion. I think I'd rather eat a fresh Cobb salad, or homemade chicken noodle soup! Maybe instead of trying to be Marilyn . . . I'll just be me.

Now let's talk about diets for the soul --

Recently my pastor loaned me his copy of Sacred Pathways: Discover Your Soul's Path to God by Gary Thomas.

I gobbled it up like a hungry child.
"Instead of learning from others, Christians have often chosen to segregate themselves by starting a new church whenever worship preferences diverge. Unless you happen to be born into just the right tradition, you're brought up to feed on somebody else's diet."

With a heavy heart I think of the church of my childhood. It began as a church split because there was a disagreement over whether or not puppets depicting Bible characters should be used in children's church.

Puppets? They split the church over puppets?! 

I think, too, of some of my life-long spiritual frustrations --

Why does this little plastic communion cup and stale cracker make me sad? Why am I afraid to admit that lighting this candle helps me pray? Why does my heart positively ache with a yearning for beauty? Why am I afraid to lift my hands in church?

Ina Garten's maple glaze. Drizzle on muffins, scones, quick bread, and cake.
Mix  1  1/4 cup confectioners sugar, 1/2 cup real maple syrup, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.

Thomas describes nine "sacred pathways" for those who feel like they are stuck in a one-size-fits-all spirituality. Each of these temperaments has unique traits, strengths, and potential pitfalls. Most individuals will find their spiritual temperament to be composite of multiple "pathways." 

Here is a list of the nine "Sacred Pathways":
Naturalist: Loving God out of Doors
Sensate: Loving God with the Senses
Traditionalist: Loving God through Ritual and Symbol
Ascetics: Loving God in Solitude and Simplicity
Activists: Loving God through Confrontation
Caregiver: Loving God by Loving Others
Enthusiast: Loving God with Mystery and Celebration
Contemplative: Loving God through Adoration
Intellectual: Loving God with the Mind

Sacred Pathways offers a short test at the end of each chapter to help you determine which pathways help you relate to God best. I scored highest as a "Sensate" and lowest as an "Activist."  This was helpful information. (For example, now I know why I hesitate to share the status updates of my activist friends.)

This is a 100 year old recipe for apple cake that my friend, Tim Fall, shared on his blog.
Let me clarify: I am not trying to implore you to leave your faith tradition! But I will encourage you to give grace to others who might need to exercise their faith in a way that is different from you. Let's celebrate the wondrous diversity of spiritual life, while at the same time being wary of the potential pitfalls that come with each "sacred pathway."

Do you sometimes feel pressured to practice your faith in a way that does not suit your spiritual temperament?

Peace & Joy,


P.S. I'm eager to develop this further. Viewing some of the authors of the classics through this lens might help me answer the question, "Why did the author write this book?