I am enjoying this book but not loving it.
Lets get the negative point out of the way: I have never been a fan of religion; I have tried visiting many different sects of Christianity (RC, Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, and more) but have always felt the "sermons" to be more about "man the sinner, the fallible creature who can never be good enough until he is dead, and finally gets to go to Heaven". Who wants to grow up hearing negative crap like that? It conditions your brain to see yourself as lacking potential, missing something, bad. "Original sin" is probably the most psychologically and everlasting damage the church could ever instill in its congregation. We should be told of our infinite potential for everything, the blessings and the goodness within us, our abilities to achieve all that Jesus achieved and more (as Jesus told people was possible). But that doesn't happen in traditional church and that has never sat well with me. If you don't give a flower sunlight and water, the most precious gifts from god, the flower dies. Humans are the same.
So, while reading this book there are times when Butterworth comes across as a "minister" and that gets my "ego up". I started to turn away from the wise words within. But that is my problem, and once I realized that it was happening, I could use the "gap" I have learned to create between action and reaction, picture myself doing that or thinking it, and then choose NOT to react in my traditional way.
Once I did that, the beauty of this book was opened up to me, and the path to a higher understanding was cleared for me.
God, The Universe, Force, whatever you want to call it, acted through me, to help me see things differently. God didn't *give* me clear sight; it wasn't a "gift", or an "offer" for being a good boy. I don't believe that God works that way. In fact I really don't believe in the Christian concept/belief/guess of "God". Not the god of traditional Christian doctrine anyway. The words of Jesus, what Jesus was trying to convey, and the interpretations of the religion OF Jesus, as opposed to the current religion ABOUT Jesus by the trained storytellers in the traditional Christian churches (ie. priests, ministers, etc) just don't seem to mesh right for me. And they never have. To me.
But the explanations/interpretations in this book make a lot more sense to me.
So we lose one star due to the activated ego caused by the sometimes, "I the minister say unto thee..." (he never says that of course) feeling of this book.
The fantastic four stars are explained below:
Butterworth explains many of the quotes used in the bible in a way that my skeptical mind can understand. I have never found the teachings of the church particularly compelling, nor have I been able to accept them easily. Jesus as a man I can understand. Jesus as a prophet, a learned and enlightened man I can agree to. But Jesus as incarnate God, going about tossing out "gifts" from God left right and center has always been tough for me to swallow.
Butterworth's explanations of HIS church's interpretations (Unity Church) make much more sense to me. For example when Jesus had to pay the Roman taxes he told Peter to go and catch a fish and in the fish's mouth would be a gold coin. And so it was. Taken literally it sounds kind of silly, but when we understand that this was and still is an expression, a metaphor of "riches through work" we can begin to see a realistic situation: "Peter go and do your job, work hard, apply your trade, your skills and use your mind to catch a load of fish. Then go to the market and sell the fish. We can pay the taxes with your profits." These are the words of a wise man to a man who is panicking and has forgotten that within himself he has all the knowledge and skill to overcome the challenge at hand.
Butterworth also discusses the meaning of heaven on earth, God within us, looking into ourselves to find God (as opposed to God being some personal relationship, some extraterrestrial being, "out there"), and also the natural Divinity of Man.
I don't believe this can be called self-worship; the author clearly is trying to show us if God is everywhere, then God is also within us, as well as without. This is an explanation trying to show we mortal creatures that if we work hard, if we challenge ourselves, if we always seek the higher path, choose the Good for the Great, and understand that we are not born in sin, but rather born in Love and God's grace therefore have the chance to strive with our own hard efforts to grow and tap into our god-given divinity, then we have the chance to become better people and we have the opportunity to live in the Kingdom of heaven right now. Right here.
The Unity Church has a different take on the translation of the ancient words of Jesus, compared to traditional church interpretations. I would not say one is right and one is wrong, and neither should anyone jump to that conclusion. Because the Bible, and the words inside are millennia old, have been translated back and forth from so many languages and between people with so many different opinions that nobody can rightfully claim that one version is right and the others are wrong. What is important is the message, and how the message makes sense to YOU.
Many miracles occur in the words, the story in the bible. But couldn't they just be something that happened, that the people of thousands of years ago couldn't explain? After all, gravity was a miracle of God at one time, but now we know it is just a Scientific Law. A miracle isn't necessary a gift from god that SHe gives to some and not to others. Were that so, then it would mean that God was selective, and God liked to play favourites. That does not sound at at all like a God of infinite love.
For the traditional Christian, this book might be a bit tough, because it very well could challenge the beliefs your church, and the men and women who have worked there instilled in you through their interpretation of the Bible. On the other hand, it might help you to see a little bit more clearly into the religion OF Jesus, instead of traditional doctrine which focuses on the religion ABOUT Jesus. It doesn't HAVE to be "supernatural" things going on in the bible; after all, Jesus taught that we are able to attain a similar understanding to him, if we followed the right way.
For the non-believer, or undetermined believer, the words of Jesus and his disciples, when taken out of "miracle context" make a HUGE amount of sense and can really open your eyes so that you understand your spiritual, divine self even more. This is a good thing as it helps us to really see that we can give thanks, love, gratitude and appreciation for what we have now, and expand that to encompass others naturally while focusing on improving ourselves, making our lives richer, healthier and more spiritually satisfying, which leads to a much healthier and happier outlook on the world, our current situations and challenges.
This is a good book as it helps me to grow, and to understand myself even better; the potential within me and also that which exists within every other human born and yet to be born flows from deep within. And that deep spot is where God resides.
One final word: what really matters most, I think, is the good things you take away from this book. If the information in here helps you to see things even a little more clearly, expands your horizons a tiny amount, leads you to to become even a fraction better, and points you in a good direction THAT MAKES SENSE TO YOU, then the book and the words within have value. And meaning.
And I love you.