Tuesday, December 26, 2006

"Not in line with my beliefs"

This post is going to sting a bit so mom, dad, be aware. No it's not about you...but when you read it, you will be surprised I am being so bold (or maybe not!)

Ok, I read the book "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" (by Mitch Albom who also did "Tuesdays with Morrie") and I thought it was a great book. The simple message it sends is that we each make a significant impact on others, even people we don't know or have never met. It sends the message that our lives have meaning even when we think they don't.

I asked my mom, aunt and grandmother to read it, they enjoy reading and they have all endured stress lately and I thought they would enjoy it. I gave it to my aunt first. I prefaced giving her the book with "it's not a religious thing" it's just an inspiring book that helps us understand how important we are to others and the impact we have even when we don't mean to.

In a nutshell it's about an 83 year old guy named Eddie, a carnival ride maintenance guy who dies in an accident attempting to save a little girl from a falling ride. Throughout much of his life Eddie has felt he missed out on life itself. While alive, his life is mundane and boring, he thinks his life is meaningless and he goes about his day unemotional, with little expression, and even less joy. Then he dies and meets five people who I won't mention (go read the book!) are made up of a few who were once very close to him, a few just "known" and a few not known at all. They make Eddie sense of the life he lived on this earth, helped him forgive others and himself (which he could not do in his life). And in the end, Eddie is in Heaven and awaits the time when he will be one of five people to guide someone special and help them make sense of the life in which they lived, so they can move on to Heaven. And so the cycle is perpetuated.

The book was written by Mitch Albom and dedicated to his Uncle Eddie who while in the hospital one time awoke to see five people sitting in front of him, all people he had known in his past, I suppose he felt they were there to tell him something. Anyway that was Mitch's idea for the book.

Isn't that inspirational? It wasn't indecent, preachy, and talked nothing of religion, nothing of accepting Jesus, being Jewish, Muslim or anything else. It just talked of something simple....it teaches those of us who are alive that we ALL make a difference, not just to the people closest to us, the people we have contact with every day, but the people who we don't know and have never met. Our existence IS important....our lives have meaning.

Well today I get a call from my Aunt, a devout Christian, married to my uncle, who is also devout. I didn't get to the phone in time and she left me a phone message. I am very disappointed in her right now. I love her but am disappointed at the message she left. She said she began reading the book but decided to flip through it and found it was not in line with what she believes in.

I know she'd be furious at me if she knew I wrote this but I don't care. She will never see this anyway but I have to tell you that I was really upset when I heard her message. I find it very offensive that she decided it wasn't in line with her beliefs. The book wasn't profane, it didn't mock Jesus, it didn't mock ANY religion, it didn't mock anything good and moral. It wasn't for or against religion, in fact I don't believe religion is the issue of the book.

The book was simple---five people Eddie met in Heaven who helped explain what his earthly life meant and how he made a difference. Did Eddie meet Jesus Christ? I DON'T KNOW! Because that wasn't an issue, it wasn't the focus of the book.

So please someone tell me how this could OFFEND a Christian? I'm waiting.

I am in awe that my aunt could be so close-minded in her older and wiser days. Now don't get me wrong, she's a wonderful woman I love dearly, we all do, but surely of all the books she's ever read besides the Bible, she would find this somewhat inspirational, no? Oh sure she has the right to read what she wants and this isn't it. This is an inspirational book but it doesn't talk about Jesus, morality or being saved.

And so perhaps that's the problem with it, eh?

Rant over.


  1. Knowing a little about what this book entails, I'm surprised as well that my sister didn't want to go any further into reading it, but it doesn't shock me. You've got to remember that since she's been married to M., she's been under his influence, and sadly, I'm afraid she's very easy to influence. I never saw this in her until she married him. She was never like this before. She used to be a very open minded individual, Lord knows she's had to be to still love me after all these years. I love her too, but I know that she's changed. I, on the other hand, have always been set in my ways, as far as having certain beliefs that no one can change (as you know) and have been fortunate in that I married a man who respects how I feel about certain things and would never try to influence or change me. I'm open minded and can accept many new things into my life (as you know) with understanding and patience. I guess that's another reason why I love your dad so much. I'm looking forward to reading this book, as soon as I have the time to do it.

  2. Hi there sma. I just couldn't understand why such an inspiring book couldn't fit in with ANYONE's beliefs, except maybe for those who don't believe we go anywhere but in the ground and that's it after we die. How could it be a BAD thing to show people how meaningful their lives are?

  3. Anonymous12/28/2006

    Okay Jess, I can tell you why your Aunt doesn't want to read the book. Christians believe that the only way to get to heaven is by accepting Jesus as your saviour. If this book doesn't talk about Jesus how would Eddie ever get to heaven in the first place. While I can agree with the fact that we impact peoples live whether we are aware of it or not, I do not see how you can leave Jesus out of the heaven equation. Accepting Jesus as your saviour equals a life in heaven. I believe a book like this would give people a false sense of security or warm fuzzy feelings, but does nothing to truly draw you nearer to God. It may help someone to be kinder and more thoughtful, but neither of those two things will get you to heaven. One could be as close to perfect as humanly possible, but that will still not get you into heaven. Only accepting Jesus as your personal saviour will get you to heaven.

    So I actually understand exactly where your Aunt is coming from. I don't think you should look at her as being close minded, but holding true to her beliefs and honest enough to tell you the truth. And trust me, it is tough to tell people you love that you disagree with them spirtitually.

    I hope I wasn't too preachy, but it was a religious topic;)--ST

  4. Ok first off, when Eddie died, how do we know he didn't meet Jesus? See he was already in Heaven so we have to assume he got there somehow.....how he got there is subject to interpretation depending on one's religious beliefs but that is not the core message of the book.

    He DID get to Heaven, the book is about who he meets when he gets there. These five people were there to help him make his transition. I think the problem is what you and my aunt are reading into it, is exactly what isn't in the book which is the Jesus factor, as I call it.

    The book isn't about Jesus folks. It is about the five people who Eddie met in Heaven who helped him understand his life better so he could make sense of it. Where in the Bible does it say that can't happen? Isn't it true that when a person goes to Heaven they are with their loved ones? There you go....

    With all due respect, and I know you and I can talk religion because we've been friends for more than 20 years....my mother being Jewish believes things differently from you so I think you guys may agree to disagree :)

    While I am still on the bench as far as religion...my mother's father was Jewish and the son of Orthodox Jews. I know he's in Heaven although while in this life he did not accept Jesus as his Savior. Friends that we are ST, I know you understand when I say it's hard for someone who is non-Christian to accept any possibility their loved one who was a good and decent person, did not go to Heaven. That's where we disagree but hey friends can disagree. You've never been judgmental and you've always encouraged religious discussion even though our thoughts have differed. I respect you because you are open-minded, and I can say that because I've known you so long. The history behind what I was talking about with my aunt is much more detailed but in a nutshell to toss aside this great inspiring book because it doesn't mention Jesus (what would be the point if he was already in Heaven?) is well close-minded in my opinion. And my mom is right, I know what force is behind this certain situation.

  5. Anonymous12/29/2006

    With respect to your Aunt, I don't know her. With respect to me, I wouldn't read the book.

    There is a song where a person dreamed they went to heaven and people keep approaching him telling him how his life had impacted them. The difference is in each case he had lead the person to Jesus either directly or indirectly. For example, by teaching Sunday school and supporting missionaries. It is a beautiful song.

    I suppose this will have to be another agree to disagree moment:)

    Love ya,

  6. I suppose we have to agree to disagree because I can't see the harm in a book where five people whose lives you impacted greet you in Heaven. I mean if he's in Heaven obviously he got there somehow. I don't know that the Bible says you can't meet up with people in Heaven and they explain your life to you does it? I thought the Bible says something about being with your loved ones when you get to Heaven. Hmm...

    Susan you've never judged me so I can handle us disagreeing it's just that well...trust my mom and me on this one....there's more here than what we can talk about!

    Love ya both!

  7. I've done so much soul searching on this one. I feel that there are so many different religions in the world, but ultimately, no matter what they teach, if you are a good person and observe the beliefs of your religion, you will go to that better place when you leave this plane of existence. No matter what you are, Christian, Jew, Moslem, etc, there is a place for you to go when you leave this world, according to what you believe. Why can't people understand this and respect it? In example, why do some feel that if a man/woman doesn't accept Christ as their savior they will not go to heaven?? We all have our own beliefs. Who can speak for GOD?? The bible was written by men, not GOD. How can any of us judge another simply by what's written in the bible? Who knows GOD'S thoughts?? HE is the spirit that created all of us. GOD wouldn't judge us by our beliefs, he judges us by the good that is in our hearts. I've gone on too much about this and I'm sure I will be disagreed with, but this is how I feel.