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