If you’ve never read Falling into Grace, perhaps now would be a good time to do so. If you’ve already read Falling into Grace, perhaps it is time to re-read it. (New bulk pricing means you can buy for your whole community.)
I read this book four times in a row, which I never do with books, because finishing it was like a painful separation from a best friend and I wasn’t ready to let go! It was easy to read, made sense, described my experience, reminded me of how much I am loved and drew me closer to God. I can’t say enough good things about this book! And yes, I’ve also shared it with non-Baha’is who have found it helpful. – Susan Gammage
The book is about resolving the stresses involved in becoming and/or remaining a Baha’i. But many of the ideas it presents are helpful in dealing with ANY kind of stress. And let’s face it. We are ALL extremely stressed right now. Perhaps today most of all.
When it was first published, 20 years ago, it sold more copies in 6 months than most Baha’i books sell in a decade. That is because so many people found it helpful that they passed it on to their friends, and their friend’s friends.
Here are just a few of the reviews it received:
“You were soooooo right about this wonderful, wonderful, WONDERFUL book. It has lightened my heart a LOT. I feel almost as though it has been pumped full of helium and is floating above me, tethered by just a string. It made me remember being 17 and the thrill of being a new Baha’i, oh what wonderful days those were. I feel almost as though Justice were part of our group of youth — how we spent so much time together, enthralled with the Faith and with each other. Do you remember? Oh, boy!… You were right about this book speaking so exactly to the issues I’ve been struggling with—guilt, shame, forgiveness, even about being open to receiving God’s material gifts!” (a friend of a friend)
“Well, I finally took the step [declaration] today! It seemed like the right step, the only way to go. Falling Into Grace helped, along with a few other “co-incidences.” Thank you so much for giving me the book to read. I finally decided that I had no choice, that I was already chosen, that I didn’t have to feel ready or needy or worthy. It was all a matter of GRACE, and it was a gift, all free, there waiting for me.” (A New Bahá’í)
“Have they no shame?”
Part of the chaos we are experiencing in the world today is the result of the clash between an old-world approach to reward and punishment through external “law and order” policies, and a new-world approach to human behavior based on an internal moral compass.
Baha’is are caught with one foot in each world. This can cause a lot of internal stress. Here is what Falling into Grace has to say about this:
“Shame is an internalization of the fear of God. It makes us feel bad, therefore it is a self-inflicted punishment.
“You will note that Bahá’u’lláh suggests that very few people have the faculty of shame, while ‘Abdu’l-Bahá states that it is possible to educate the masses so that it becomes the primary deterrent to disobedience. I have come to believe that the difference between these two perspectives is an indication of the transitional times we are living in. Just as an individual’s capacity to feel shame increases as his or her source of motivation shifts inward with maturity, so does humanity’s collective capacity for shame increase as society matures.
“What this means on a practical, psychological and social level is that our culture is trying to impose a reward and punishment model for motivation on some people who are already overwhelmed by shame. At the same time, we try to shame other people into obedience when they only respond to external rewards and punishments.
“We often compare current social chaos to the stage of adolescence. If we consider that at least some of the difficulties of adolescence come from the shift from external to internal sources of motivation, then we can see why attitudes towards reward and punishment, love and shame have shaken the foundations of today’s personal, social and religious institutions. Shame has a subtle but powerful impact on so many areas of our lives – including the rise of New-Age religions, drug abuse, crime, fundamentalism and immorality that I will have to save much of what I would like to say for a future book (BK-LLL). For now I will limit my comments to the effect of shame on the Bahá’í Community.
Shame in the Bahá’í Community
“It would be reasonable to assume that anyone who was willing to look into a new religion in spite of the disdain of his or her friends, family and neighbors would have to be more internally motivated than the average person. This suggests that most Bahá’ís start out with a more developed sense of shame than other people do. Nevertheless, we come from a Judeo-Christian culture that is strongly organized around a reward and punishment model. This puts us, essentially, in two worlds at once – expecting, and sometimes even creating a double dose of punishment for each of our mistakes. Unless we quickly come to a healthy understanding of shame, we run the risk of being overwhelmed and swept away from the rewarding side of the Faith.”
Why Me? is another book to help you through our current crisis.
I wrote about this book a few months back. This “spiritual guide to growing through tests” can help you understand why bad things happen, and give you the faith you need to face them. There’s a new 5-pack price so you can share the hope with your friends.
Need something to cheer you up?
Perhaps you aren’t quite ready to tackle stress or chaos. Here’s a fun book just to make you cheer.
At a new lower price, and with new bulk pricing for giving to preschools & children’s classes, this delightful preschool or early-reader book will give children and their parents something to cheer about. Do you know someone who could use a reason to smile? Just look at that cover! Look long enough, and you can’t help but start to smile yourself. Read the text and enjoy the rest of the illustrations inside and you just might start feeling good all over.
I don’t care if you are an adult or child, this book is a bright and shining spot in an ailing world. Click on the link to read the entire text.
And finally, just for fun, consider giving copies of Blueberry Bear, a charming hard-bound early-reader book, to every child in your local preschools. Case pricing makes it easy, and the simple story will spark curiosity and independent thinking at a young age. Parents will be impressed by the Baha’is’ generosity.
Why did the yellow bear turn blue? Invite your preschooler to figure it out.