FAITHFULLY RELIGIONLESS-VIANVI PODCAST2
A book review by Viga Boland
I read FAITHFULLY RELIGIONLESS by Timber Hawkeye in two nights…at bedtime…when for me, most books are a sedative. But Timber Hawkeye’s second book was no sedative! I had to force myself to put it down and it wouldn’t leave me alone during the day either. I couldn’t wait to get back to it. But then, when it came time to review it, I didn’t know where to start. What approach would do it justice? How could I express how profoundly this memoir…it is a memoir…moved me? I wanted to sit down and discuss Timber’s book with him, not review it. And yet, I had to tell others how and why “Faithfully Religionless” had clarified my own thoughts on organized religion, faith, and above all, God. So forgive me if this is more than just a book review.
I turn 70 in 6 days. For the past 57 years, I have turned my back on all organized religion. As for faith and God, I’ve had no use for either since I was 11 when my biological father began sexually abusing me. When my prayers for deliverance from that life went unanswered, everything I’d been taught in the Catholic schools I attended seemed ludicrous. I rejected all of it and concluded the only one who could save me was me. At 24, when I finally got out of that abusive situation, with the love of a good husband I somehow found the strength inside myself to heal myself, and 5 years ago I finally told all in my memoir of sexual abuse, NO TEARS FOR MY FATHER.
What has all this got to do with Timber Hawkeye’s wonderful book, “Faithfully Religionless”? Everything. As I now prepare to speak at an upcoming conference on sexual violence, I can finally tell the delegates how I healed myself without therapy and without “finding religion and God” as so many do. Timber Hawkeye’s book told me what I had done…even though I didn’t know it! I had realized and accepted that I would never get an apology from my father, so I had “let go” as Timber says. I had accepted that those who hurt me had themselves been hurt and were not to be judged, but helped. I had recognized how the “emotions” I packed around my feelings continued to hurt me and distort both the facts and the memories of events, and that my efforts to explain the inexplicable…why my father had chosen to abuse me…were in vain. All those efforts had done was keep me chained to a past I couldn’t change.
I could write pages and pages on what resonated with me so profoundly in “Faithfully Religionless”. Indeed, after I finished reading, I went back through the book three more times making copious notes of what I want to share at that conference. So many people live by the traditional bible. I have no use for it. But Timber’s book has become my bible. No convoluted sentences; no worn out repetition of what’s been thumped into our heads since we were kids and which we just accept on blind faith and because our parents and elders told us it’s so. Just simple, down to earth suggestions for how to live our lives in peace with ourselves and others.
But I can’t leave this without addressing why I wanted to read this book so much. It has to do with that rejection of organized religion and God that I mentioned above. Over the years, I’ve grown so weary of people telling me I need Jesus, that I need to believe, have faith, love God. I reached hungrily for “Faithfully Religionless” as soon as it was available. Would it absolve me from feeling ashamed, even weird for being fed up with the overkill of organized religion? Was it possible others also didn’t embrace the idea of God as some white-robed man in the heavens who laid out my life’s path for me and would miraculously step in and help me when I found the path blocked with boulders?
Through his simple, honest words, Timber Hawkeye reassured me I wasn’t alone in my confusion about religion. He went further: he clarified why I felt that way. But most importantly, in his explanation of how he sees God, I realized Timber and I were on the same page and that I’d never lost God at all 57 years ago. Why? Because as Timber writes “God resides within each of us, and [that] when we serve others, give, forgive, accept, allow, zoom out, let go, and treat others with kindness, generosity, gratitude, compassion and empathy, we are acting out of the God-ness in our hearts, the goodness within, which feels like heaven right here on earth.”
To that, I say, “Amen” and thank you Timber Hawkeye. Everyone needs to read FAITHFULLY RELIGIONLESS.