A BOOK REVIEW
“It’s not the power of the curse, it’s the power you give the curse.”
~ Penelope movie
It’s funny how our minds can trick us. I just read a new Fast Company article (you can read it here) about hurricanes. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers found that a female named “storm seems less threatening and less foreboding. And as a result of that less perceived risk and intensity, we see people less willing to take shelter, more likely to delay evacuating.” “You would think that things would be different, that people would bring to mind more severe, deadly, feminine storms, and maybe they would judge the female storms as more severe than the male storms, but they don’t,” team leader Shavitt said. “Our findings suggest that gender bias could be strong enough to overcome specific experiences with storms.”
One of the best books I read this year has got to be Joseph T. Hallinan’s “Kidding Ourselves.” The book explores the ways in which we deceive ourselves and how the self-deception often allows us to adjust to the stresses of life. The author does an incredible job of sharing intriguing stories and sound statistics to present the power of the human mind to shape reality. Examples of placebos that often work better than the real thing and other “remedies of imagination” are the focus of the book. It all comes back to how we think about things.
We are influenced by others and our life experiences whether we realize it or not. “We form a narrative of sorts in our head” and these stories affect the way we observe things. Sometimes we tell ourselves lies and start to believe them. We fail to see the truth even if we’re looking directly at it!
Because I am a pastor, I found the section on superstition and religion most intriguing. The author shares that our interpretations are often controlled by our own self-interests. I have found this to be true in Christianity. I was brought up to believe certain things about the Bible, God, eternity, and life. I deceived myself to believe that I had it figured out and that the Bible was perfectly black and white in all things. These beliefs gave me a foundation of “exact truths.” I have now found freedom in embracing the complexities, questions, mysteries, and beauties of life and the Word of God. I have allowed myself to try and realize that everyone’s story matters to God and that “one man’s superstition is another man’s religion.” In many cases, I have seen Christians (and other religions) fight for their beliefs and hurt their environment and fellow man.
Robert Bolton shared that “a belief is not merely an idea the mind possesses, it is an idea that possesses the mind.” It’s sad but true. Instead of trying to figure out what we believe and why we believe it, we often settle for what we’ve been taught and deceive ourselves into believing our way is right. When we do this, we may close ourselves to loving others and finding out what really matters in life. My wife shared that it’s not the rules that we are against “it is that man has created the rules based off their interpretation of the Bible.” We “should examine them for ourselves in the Bible.” I’m guessing that the author may not be into religion because it is grouped in the superstition part of the book but he does agree that religion and the hope it offers do give its followers an edge.
Have I been deceived and is it possible that my belief in God and His kingdom of love, peace, restoration and hope is just something created in my mind? I don’t believe so. I have this thing called faith. Faith is not knowing. Faith is trusting, believing, and having hope despite the doubts and struggles along the way. I also believe that we need to be careful of the deceptions that lead us to living a life of lies, trick us into following our own way, and the tragedy of being “drunk with power” “dulling our sensitivity toward others.”
“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.” James 1:16-18
Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review and I highly recommend this book.