Omnism

Columbia River Gorge

“When I admire the wonders of the sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.” ~ Dalai Lama

“Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others.” ~ Buddha

Omnism: The belief that no religion is truth but the truth is found in all religions.

It’s been many years since I left my church. And over the years there have been times when a student, with eagerness in his or her voice, would ask me if I was a Christian. I remember that enthusiasm of new belief. I know the precious and expanding feeling of being touched by the divine. So, there I’d stand not wanting to dampen that fresh young person’s fervor. Yet, I had to give an answer. I couldn’t honestly say that I was a Christian, so what I said was, “Yes, I believe that Jesus is the Son of God.” But I could never say that I believe we’re all sons and daughters of God and that Jesus was an example of who we could become. How could I explain my meandering spiritual journey and all the wonderful snippets of truth I’ve found in unexpected places along the way. It’s impossible to describe in just a few moments. It’s even difficult to explain when I have hours, or years of conversations to share how deeply Divine Oneness has touched my soul. So, at times I have wanted a word or phrase that describes my personal spiritual thought system just to make such encounters easier.

The other day I was surfing Facebook, something I’ve been doing less and less these days. That day I saw the meme which inspired the title of this post. “Omnism: The belief that no religion is truth but the truth is found in all religions.” When I read that, I let out a huge sigh of relief. I can finally give a name to my spiritual philosophy. I’m an omnist.

My first college degree was in religious studies. While studying, I began to see that religions were originally invented to try to make sense out of the mystery of why we’re here. Ancient people assumed that something greater than ourselves must have created us. That feeling has survived all through the ages. Most people believe that there is some sort of divine presence interacting with us in some way. However, as humanity expanded, some people grew out of their old religious beliefs and invented new ones to fit their new understandings. This process has caused thousands, if not millions of terrible conflicts throughout the centuries. After all, we don’t like change so we cling desperately to old thought patterns, except when we are forced, through circumstances, to throw them out. This has resulted in a hodgepodge of ancient and new beliefs coexisting along side one another.

Which brings us to what’s going on today. It feels to me like we’re at point in human history in which we must do some cosmic closet cleaning. Humanity has evolved to a certain point and we can’t go on using the old systems we have relied upon for so long. That’s scary because when all our deepest held beliefs are taken away, we’re lost. Our sense of self is challenged. I know what that feels like. It’s scary as hell. Yet, when that happened to me, one thing kept me going, I knew I was not alone. Divine Oneness was there supporting my spiritual explorations. Little by little I gained new insights and a new sense of self.

What I’ve learned is that truth is bigger than our human brains can comprehend. It’s so big that often it is hiding in plain sight but we’ve been conditioned to see only certain things and so we miss the truths that are right in front of our noses. I think we feel truth first, then we come to understand it by our intellect later.

Let me explain. When I was a child listening to the sermons, or to my Sunday school teacher, there were some points of doctrine I just couldn’t buy into. They felt wrong somehow. For example, I never believed the creation story in the bible where Adam was created first and then Eve from his rib. Why couldn’t they have been created at the same time? Or that Eve was supposed to be subordinate to Adam. That just didn’t make sense. I also never believed there was a devil, or that God punished people with floods and plagues. In my limited, child’s experience, God was love. That meant it didn’t make sense that God could be vengeful in any way. Even as a child, I felt like there was a whole lot more to God’s story than I could comprehend, and some of the old stories that tried to describe Her just didn’t fit my experience of who She was.

The last year or two, I’ve been driven to shake up my old belief system and throw out what no longer fits who I have become. But like weeds, they creep back, or maybe it’s that I haven’t gotten them completely rooted out yet. I feel like I’m weeding my mind garden so I can grow new crops and have the life that I’ve been dreaming of. And maybe what is happening to me on an individual level is happening world wide as well.

I know, that while I’m in my human form, I will never fully understand it all. Yet, I have that yearning to experience as much of the truth of God as I can. That means my spiritual search will never end until my last breath. Once I’ve gone back to the creative energy we call God, things will be different. At that point I will see it all, and that will be a happy day. Until then, I trust, and feel in my bones, that all the turmoil we’re experiencing is leading us to some better evolutionary plateau, which will lead us on to the next growth steps.

It feels good to know that I’m an omnist, and that I can continue to seek truth wherever it may be found.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, magical realism, woman’s novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and will soon be available in a print-on-demand version at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Marketing Lessons

Fsbo – THE SPACE BETWEEN TIME

“Read. Read. Read. Just don’t read one type of book. Read different books by various authors so that you develop different styles.” ~ R. L. Stine

“Every year the literary press praises dozens if not hundreds of novels to the skies, asserting explicitly or implicitly that these books will probably not be suffering water damage in the basements of their author’s houses 20 years from now. But historically, anyway, that’s not the way the novelistic ecology works.” ~ Lev Grossman

“Buy other author’s books when you go to their events. Even if you aren’t going to read it. Even if you are going to give it away. Even if you aren’t interested. Not just for the author but for the bookstore. It’s karma and just plain good manners.” ~ M. J. Rose

Okay, I admit it, I know almost nothing about how to market and promote my book. I loved writing it, even on the hard days. But I get a headache when I try to make a plan to market it.

The other day I was fretting about how to spread the word that I’ve published a book. I mean isn’t that a great accomplishment? Yes, it is and I feel good about that, but there are thousands, perhaps even millions of books published every day. So how do I toot my horn loud enough so that people will pay attention to my work, but not become annoying with roboposts on social media?

There are so many books and articles with tips for the independent author about how to “build your brand,” or how to “build your audience.” They say you’ve got to build a social media presence, create an email list, write a blog, do a podcast, or video series to help you find your target audience. Of course you have to take time to figure out who your target audience is while doing all that. I wish I could find someone to do all the marketing for me. But since I don’t have a big publishing firm behind me, I have to do it myself. Which means I keep reading and trying to expand my social media reach. Some tips are helpful, but to be honest, most of it makes my head spin and my heart sink.

I hit upon this fantastic idea to search for women writers who might be willing to review my book on their blogs and I came across an Arizona writer who specializes in writing reviews for little known women authors. Aha! I thought I’d hit the jackpot when she said the description of my book sounded interesting and she was willing to review my book. Then, in subsequent emails, she mentioned that she didn’t like fantasy and my heart sank. Of course she wanted me to buy and review her book in return. (I’m sending mine to her for free.) So, what to do? I told her that my book was kind of on the order of Outlander, and not surprisingly she wrote back that she hadn’t read the series, that’s how much she hates fantasy. Okay, by this point I was getting extremely frustrated. She is not the first person I’ve encountered who says they hate fantasy, and won’t even try reading it. To me, reading lots of genres of books is what keeps my reading life interesting. On the other hand, fantasy is like eating my favorite comfort food. If I’m feeling upset, or bored, I go choose a fantasy book to lose myself in. Some are fantastic, others not so much, but when I hit a gem of a book, I follow that author.

Here’s the thing, my book, The Space Between Time, and Outlander, are not strictly fantasy. They are really in a new category called magical realism. Both books have elements of historical fiction, while including time travel, and a bit of intrigue and romance thrown in. They’re kind of a hodgepodge of genres most of them with realistic settings and events. Isabel Allende’s book The House of the Spirits is always referenced when talking about magical realism. But, it’s not a category we could choose when publishing my book. So, what do I call The Space Between Time, and how do I find my audience? Fortunately, we had a wide range of tags we could attach to my book description, from women’s fiction, to fantasy, to historical.

The other day I was contemplating this marketing dilemma just before meditating. And, behold, in my meditation an answer came to me. Go join fantasy groups on my social media sites. There are many shades of fantasy, and among those fans must be people who love magical realism, or soft core fantasy as one of my students calls it. While I was doing that, another thought came to me to join sites, and organizations that are for women writers, and about women’s fiction.

So, even though my head still spins after spending time networking with these groups, I do feel like eventually, I will find my readers.

Having written all of the above, I challenge those of you who say you don’t like fantasy, to read a book by a friend of mine, Stacy Bennett. The book is Quest of the Dreamwalker. I just finished rereading this book because my sister, niece, brother-in-law, and I have formed a book club group. They wanted me to suggest a book, and since we’re all lovers of fantasy, I suggested, Quest of the Dreamwalker. It’s a book I loved when I first read it, and have continued to think about long after I finished the last page. To me well written fantasy books such as this, help me get a better perspective on human experience, and human nature. Maybe it’s because I’m a magnet for other people’s feelings, but sometimes books that are set in my time period are too jarring. If it could happen to me or my neighbors, then I’m reluctant to read the book. But, historical fiction, mystery and suspence, fantasy, magical realism, even classic literature help me separate from the situation a bit, while still experiencing the story along with the characters.

Here is a short description of Quest of the Dreamwalker, from my perspective. As Cara and Falin, helped by Khoury, Archer and Bradan, face danger from an evil sorcerer, they try to unravel who they are, and what their aborted purpose might be. In the process we get glimpses of their hopes, fears, grief, love, and connection to one another. While the book does take place in a made up world, and there are sorcerers, and a reluctant dragon, this book could almost be classified as medieval historical fiction. There are shamanic type characters and paranormal experiences, but if you’ve read The Shack, or The Alchemist, you’re used to that kind of thing anyway. Think about it, aren’t dark sorcerers just a representation of the darker side of human nature? And dragons, as part of our mythology, represent greed, or intelligence, or love of the land, or even wisdom. To me the main themes of this book are the same as most general fiction. It involves characters who are wounded and dealing with unhealed grief and pain. They are seeking self-discovery, finding their purpose, and finding and expressing love. I highly recommend this book, even to those of you who might not think you like fantasy.

Okay I’ve done my good deed for the day. I will continue to explore genres of fiction that I might normally shy away from. I will also continue to learn how best to promote my work.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, magical realism, woman’s novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and will soon be available in a print-on-demand version at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

What I Learned from Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock

“I’m full of fears and I do my best to avoid difficulties and any kind of complications. I like everything around me to be clear as crystal and completely calm.” ~ Alfred Hitchcock

“Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.” ~ Alfred Hitchcock

“The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them.” ~ Alfred Hitchcock

I’m a little slow on the uptake, or maybe it’s just that now I fully understand, on all levels, that key ingredient that makes great writing endure. It’s emotion. You have to engage the reader, or audience member emotionally, or they won’t remember your work. “I remember most how the books made me feel.” A recent guest said on the “What Do I Read Next” podcast by Anne Bogel, that I have recently subscribed to.

I’m also taking a course through Turner Classic Movies about Alfred Hitchcock. An interesting thing I’ve learned about his style was that he always wanted his audience to connect emotionally with his main characters.

Then I felt chagrin when I realized, my last two posts, which got no likes or comments, were too intellectual. They didn’t express the emotion that I always feel when I make connections between big ideas. I often feel a sinking or rising feeling in my solar plexus. What I feel physically confirms what I think I know intellectually. But now I see that I have not done a good job expressing those emotion so you, my readers can connect to my excitement, or dismay, or whatever the heck I’m feeling. In a way, I’m just following my strengths.

I don’t mean to play “The Devil made me do it,” card. Let me explain before I go on. When I was teaching high school, someone recommended that I read the book Teach With Your Strengths, by Rosanne Liesveld and Jo Ann Miller. I love finding out more about my personality traits, so I bought the book. At the end you take the quiz to discover what your top five strengths are. Mine are empathy, intellection, connectedness, ideation, and strategic. Four of those strengths have to with the way I use my brain. Even though empathy is at the top of the list, I have to admit, I was completely surprised by the last four traits. Never before had I even thought about why I love to analyze everything. But when I watched the interview segments last week with Alfred Hitchcock, I got it. I’m a little bit like him, deadpan on the outside, swirling with emotions on the inside.

When something happens to me, lots of emotions are churning around inside me. But over the years through lots of moves, and toxic school, and work environments, I’ve learned to play ‘possum. It’s my defense mechanism to keep myself from getting ridiculed. So on the outside I look perfectly calm, while inside my emotions are doing somersaults. Alfred Hitchcock was the same way during the interview we watched in class. He was so deadpan. Yet what his many biographers, the instructor, and many movie critics have said is that, what makes his movies endure is how they make us feel. So, he must have been in touch with universal human emotions on some level.

That’s something I need to keep working on as a writer, especially when I’m working on these blog posts and other non-fiction work. Because the best non-fiction books I’ve read tell personal stories that engage my emotions as a reader. I can relate to the feelings expressed by the author.

This insight couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve begun working on a new book titled, Inner Life of a Late Bloomer Baby Boomer, and even though it’s not a memoir, the essays do express my personal viewpoint about life. Each piece needs to reveal my emotions about the ideas I’m sharing. I think this will be easier now that I’m older and have been more open about expressing how I really feel instead of keeping silent. No more playing ‘possum for me.

Just now as I write this post, I know why I didn’t continue on with a higher degree in religion. It’s because theater grasped my emotions and taught me many of the same things that were expressed in my religion classes. But, theology is too academic. I honestly don’t remember many of the concepts I learned during those years of studying religion. What I do remember was how excited my instructors were to share the subjects they loved. Their excitement rubbed off on me and my world view was expanded, but the details of the concepts are gone.

So, I feel I must apologize to all of you. I’m going to work on infusing my work with more emotion, even while sharing the interesting ideas that spark my imagination. It’s a goal that should keep me busy for the next twenty or thirty years, and I hope will improve my writing.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, magical realism novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and will soon be available in a print-on-demand version at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Topsy Turvy

U.S. Constitution

“War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” ~ George Orwell

“Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.” ~ John F. Kennedy

“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” ~ Albert Einstein

“The universe as we know it is a joint product of the observer and the observed.” ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

In the U.S. we have just celebrated Independence Day. This year I have been reflecting on the importance of the words in The Declaration of Independence and The United States Constitution, which are known world wide for the concepts behind the words in them. Those words changed the world. They express concepts that were new at the time, like freedom for all, equality, the pursuit of happiness, self-governance and so many others. Our country became an experiment in working together so that all our citizens would prosper in peace.

We created this country so we could live in peace, but peace doesn’t come out of conflict. I use our history as evidence. Not long after we won our independence, we were at war again in 1812. Then many wars followed: The Civil War, the Indian wars, the Spanish American War, World Wars I and II, Korean War, the Viet Nam War, and … you get the idea. We’re so used to what it feels like to be at war, that we have created the Temperance Movement to combat drunkenness. That left the door open for organized crime to move in which created more fighting. We now have the war on cancer, war on drugs, war on HIV/AIDS, war against poverty, and so on.

The use of the word war in all these instances, reflects our mindset. What if, instead of creating war monuments, we honored our war heroes by helping the family members left behind, and helped the living reintegrate into society? I have often heard war heroes say they hate it when we put them up on a pedestal. I’ve never been a warrior, but I imagine that those who must go and fight are the ones who want peace the most. They have seen horrendous things that haunt them for the rest of their lives. What if we helped them deal with their PTSD and find a measure of peace instead of asking them to be in parades with the weapons of war? I mean, do we really want to continue to glorify something so horrific?

Over the last three years I’ve learned some important lessons about words, the concepts behind them, and how we have misused them. Take for example the axiom, “Seeing is believing.” Most people would agree that that is true. But what would happen if we turn that phrase on its head and say, “I’ll see it when I believe it?”

I follow Pam Grout, author of E Squared, E Cubed, and Thank and Grow Rich. In a recent blog post she pointed out that we are “connected to everyone and everything that exists through an invisible field of intelligence and energy.” Scientists call this entanglement. If you want to know more, click here to read her blog post. In it she writes about recent discoveries about entanglement. I don’t want to get too technical, but these experiments by physicists prove that what we think, creates our reality. So, the phrase, “I’ll see it when I believe it,” is completely true.

Since scientists are turning what we thought we knew upside down, and recent events in this country and around the world are topsy turvy, it must be time to take a closer look at what we were sure we knew as fact.

This past weekend my husband and I watched the movie Arrival again. It perfectly illustrates what I’m trying to express here rather clumsily.

In the movie, Earth is visited by twelve large craft from outer space. Whenever that happens in movies, and I assume it would happen in real life too, the first reaction is one of fear. In the movie, the world leaders put the military on alert so they can defend our planet. But a main plot point is the difference between making decisions based on what has happened in the past on this planet, and learning new ways of thinking and being based on the language of the aliens. The protagonist is a woman linguist named Louise. She’s able to both teach the aliens our language and then learn theirs as well. In the process she begins to “dream” about future events in her own life. Learning the language of the aliens rewires her brain. She sees time and space the way the aliens do. In one crucial scene, Louise tries to get the government and military officials to understand the difference between the way we use the word weapon, and the way the aliens use it. But, as you can imagine, since that is a word with lots of baggage attached to it, she is not successful. So she takes desperate measures.

What this movie says to me is that we are often reacting to the words used by the people around us. We often make expedient choices based on fear rather than thinking of the long term consequences of our actions. The movie points out that words are inconsistent things. Their meanings really depend on who is using them, and how they are perceived. Therefore, sometimes we get angry at what someone says, thinking we understand what they mean, when in reality, they may mean something completely different. Some words are so charged with emotion that they trigger a violent response. In such cases, it’s hard to calm down enough to contemplate other possible meanings. A quote from a book Louise has written before her encounter with the aliens is this: “Language is the foundation of civilization. It is the glue that holds a people together. It is the first weapon drawn in a conflict.”

We find ourselves in conflict all over the world right now, and the question is, will we react to the words that fly around the news and social medias, or will we take time to look at the intent behind the words? Or maybe better still, find a balance between challenging the words, and believing that we can create a better world by using better words. We can practice seeing and feeling what it’s like to live in peace rather than in war. If we do that, eventually we will see the world we have wanted ever since The Declaration of Independence was written.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, paranormal novel in which two women must rebuild their lives. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and will soon be available in a print-on-demand version at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.