Living with a Wild God

Living with a Wild God

“Try inserting an account of a mystical experience into a conversation, and you’ll likely get the same response as you would if you confided that you had been the victim of an alien abduction,”

Barbara Ehrenreich, Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever’s Search for the Truth about Everything

The first time I met Barbara Ehrenreich was when I read “Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking is Undermining America.” (Which reminds me, I must write a review on that book)  While the meeting wasn’t face-to-face and it is unlikely that we will have a conversation over coffee, Bright-sided gave me insight into her brilliant mind.

Barbara Ehrenreich is candid and determined to have honest dialogues that challenge the status quo. For someone who questions the idea of positive thinking, she embraces joy.

“I have a big foot in the joy camp.” Barbara Ehrenreich

“Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever’s Search for the Truth About Everything,” published in 2014 is her latest exploration into the unknowable. To be clear, Ms. Ehrenreich is an atheist and a skeptic.  Her response: “Why ‘revere’ the unknowable?  Why not find out what it is?”

Living with a Wild God, is as close to an autobiography as most would define the term.  Ms. Ehrenreich does not hold back in her frank retrospective.  The good and bad, are recounted in a forthright manner, including the mystical experience she had as a young girl.

Ms. Ehrenreich is highly intelligent, which is not surprising given that her father, a scientist, was endowed with a genius I.Q and photographic memory. With a PH.D. in cellular immunology, she took on the challenges of life, which were, at times, intensely difficult.

So, what happened on the pre-dawn walk in Lone Pine, California?  The reader is never quite certain. All we are told: “There were no visions, no prophetic voices or visits by totemic animals, just this blazing everywhere. Something poured into me, and I poured out into it.”  Here is where it becomes interesting. Ms. Ehrenreich is not certain of what happened either. Now, as an older woman, she looks back to explore the meaning of an event that remains vivid decades after its occurrence.

Perhaps the passage of time endows humanity with a greater capacity for understanding.   Is it possible that age allows freedom to accept there may be undiscovered possibilities?

My greatest takeaway from Living with a Wild God was logic, sound reasoning and yes, skepticism are essential to human endeavour; that searching and questioning enable us to move forward, to come face to face with the unknowable.

“You can and should use logic and reason all you want. But it would be a great mistake to ignore the stray bit of data that doesn’t fit into your preconceived theories, that may even confound everything you thought you were sure of.”

Barbara Ehrenreich, Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever’s Search for the Truth about Everything

 

31 Replies to “Living with a Wild God”

    1. Thank you for stopping by and commenting – much appreciated. You can follow Barbara Ehrenreich on Twitter and Goodreads. Have a great day!

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      1. Love it! Am really looking forward to my reading year, which includes at least two books picked up from your recommendations! 🙂 x

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  1. Who knows what is out there.. sometimes occurrences really can defy logic. I enjoyed your review and learning about this author, whom I had not heard of before. Thanks for another informative read ❤

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    1. Barbara Ehrenreich will challenge you. When I first started Bright-sided I had to put it down for a time. She made me think – and that is a good thing. I don’t agree with everything she writes, but that isn’t the point. She wants the dialogue – that’s what I like about her writing. Thanks for the comments. Sunshine in Vancouver today, but see that snow is coming our way again. Getting out my woolen hat!

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      1. I like a literary challenge (hence the recent Hemingway read). We had a blue sky day here too, although it was quite chilly. I wore hat, scarf, and gloves while outdoors. You bundle up in case there is more snow xx

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      2. Brrr – enjoying the chill in the air. I love the line by George RR Martin: “Winter is coming.” Three words say so much! Keep warm…

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  2. I have enjoyed the responses that you have received on this post. Very thought provoking. Good books always make readers ponder new thoughts

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    1. I agree wholeheartedly. Our ability to read and write has, in my opinion, been the greatest boon to humanity. We are able to transfer knowledge and information over centuries, tell our stories, and gain a greater understanding of our place within the universe. My favorite quote about reading is from dear Dr. Seuss:

      “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that your learn, the more places you’ll go.”

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    1. A very interesting point. Barbara has a brilliant talent for debate, however I’m not certain whether she can debate her way out of this question. We are finite; from that perspective there will always be mysteries. How we chose to embrace this reality is a personal journey. And that journey has many twists and turns. Thank you so much for adding insight to this discussion.

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      1. I’m also a scientist who has struggled with this question. Don’t know if I ever mentioned a book I wrote about the intersection of spirit and science after I retired.

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      2. Thank you for this link. I have found your book on Amazon.com, but not on Amazon.ca. I would love to read your thoughts. Will follow-up with Amazon.ca if I can access the book via Kindle. So glad that we have connected.

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  3. Thank you for letting us know about this one! I believe in the mystical side of things and it’s interesting whenever science and that mystical side intersects.

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    1. I agree – very interesting. There has never been a easy connection between science and faith. I enjoyed Barbara’s refreshingly honest approach to this issue. This mystical experience changed her life, gave her a compassion for others. Over the years, she worked tirelessly for positive outcomes for all. Thank you so much for your comments and your visit.

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  4. Sounds like a Great book…. I’d like to say that we are all believers, no matter our particular Faith (or even, lack of it). Wishing you a Wonderful rest of your Sunday dear Rebecca… 🌸💐🌹

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    1. I agree wholeheartedly. The story of humanity throughout the centuries has demonstrated that faith, which comes in many forms, has been a constant companion. We only have to look at our mythologies to recognize our need to seek out the unknowable. We may live in an finite existence, however we recognize the possibility of the infinite.

      I especially like the way J.R.R. Tolkien writes about this topic:

      ““After all, I believe that legends and myths are largely made of ‘truth’, and indeed present aspects of it that can only be received in this mode; and long ago certain truths and modes of this kind were discovered and must always reappear.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien

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    1. That is the most powerful combination of all! I checked out the definition of “open mind.” Embedded in the meaning: an open minded person considers and is willing to accept new ideas. A benchmark for me to consider next time I argue a position with zeal and passion. I will listen with the same vigour. Thank you for your comments!!! Have a great day.

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  5. Excellent book review, makes me want to get a copy and add it to my ‘want to read’ list. I am going to reblog this article for you, it is a very good read.

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    1. As we all know well: common sense is not that common. Barbara Ehrenreich makes readers think. She is not easy, but that’s what I most like about her.

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  6. I had never heard of Barbara Ehrereich, she sounds very interesting. It is certainly refreshing that she doesn’t take things at face value.
    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. You would enjoy Barbara Ehrenreich, although she is not an easy read. It took me several days to finish “Living with a Wild God” for it isn’t a “page turner” novel. She challenges her readers to reconsider closely held cultural values. There are mixed reviews especially for this book, but to me she brings honesty to her readers. A prolific writer, she takes on difficult and controversial subjects. I want to read two of her other books: “Nickel and Dimed” and “Bait and Switch.” But I think that I will wait until next year…

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  7. “Try inserting an account of a mystical experience into a conversation, and you’ll likely get the same response as you would if you confided that you had been the victim of an alien abduction.”
    So true, and exactly why I only share these experiences with people I am very close with. They know me too well to discount it.
    It is the things that we don’t understand, and cannot explain, that are the most interesting and put us on the brink of wonder. Somehow, I would rather talk to you about this than Barbara.
    PS- Talking with Alison (Alison & Don) who live (when they aren’t traveling) in Vancouver, about coming in November to visit a nearby bird sanctuary with Sandhill Cranes and so much more, and want to know if you’d be interested????? Would be wonderful!

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    1. Cindy – I love your phrase “brink of wonder.” Barbara Ehrenreich’s books are not easy, nor do I agree with all her ideas, but I admire her tenacity, her determination and outright stubbornness to discover what is unknown. I would love to visit a bird sanctuary and meet Alison and Don! Actually, I visit a bird sanctuary every time I stop by your remarkable blog. Keep me posted!! Hugs!!!

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