3 out of 4 stars
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"Our God is love, our race is human, and our religion is oneness."
Reverend Jim Rosemergy, quoted by Andree Cuenod.
Have you noticed our world is kind of a mess? Wake UP: our old beliefs don't work any more by Andree Cuenod is a philosophical dissertation that explains how our worldview came to be, why our current religious and scientific dogmatism is failing, and the shift that humanity needs. The book comprises six main parts: the first one explains the importance of assessing our current worldview, the second one dives into our predominant belief systems, the third one explains what long-lost spiritual wisdom systems believed, the fourth one tackles metaphysics, the fifth one states the author’s belief system, and the last one explains the shift that is already happening and what different roles people have in it. The author also included four very useful appendices that sum up or deep-dive into the previously mentioned topics.
There are many praiseworthy aspects of this book. The first commendable trait that stood out to me is that the author focuses not just on Christianity or on Western beliefs, but covers a vast array of cultures, religions, and belief systems. Second, her amount of knowledge is mind-blowing, and I can’t fathom the sheer volume of research needed to build this book. Third, it takes an honest, courageous, and open-minded person to question not only the culture she was raised in but even her new set of beliefs, while acknowledging that her position (as all of us) is biased. I think that being open to constant growth is a sign of greatness.
On the downside, this is not a light read. It’s long and full of straight-up abstract philosophical facts and observations, which makes the reading dull. This is not a book to read in one sitting, but one to digest slowly. Also, the author relies heavily on direct quotations, which makes the reading feel choppy at times. Furthermore, Cuenod states that the Catholic Church believes in creationism. In fact, Pope John Paul II admitted the validity of the theory of evolution and, from then on, the Church has not denied it (Tagliabue, John. “Pope Bolsters Church’s Support For Scientific View of Evolution.” New York Times, 25 Oct. 1996, www.nytimes.com/1996/10/25/world/pope-b ... ution.html.)
Finally, some moral issues stem from her beliefs which can make readers uncomfortable. My major concern is that Andree Cuenod asserts (to put it simply) that we choose our own suffering and that people who hurt us do so “with our knowledge and complicity, and for our benefit.” I don’t know if that’s true (I don’t claim to be enlightened), but I know this mentality won’t help victims that are trying to break free of the guilt cycle or even of an abusive situation, and it can end up being plain offensive, such as claiming that “Both victims and perpetrators of such as the Nazi Holocaust and all other genocide are such beings [Earth angels].”
Because of the dutiful research and the variety of cultures and beliefs the author assesses with precision, as well as for her constant willingness to question everything, I rate Wake UP: our old beliefs don’t work any more 3 out of 4 stars. Incorrect or insensitive data and an edition with over ten mistakes led me to subtract one star.
I would not recommend this book to fundamentalists of all religions or staunch atheists unless they’re willing to be challenged. Readers who don't have patience for long, abstract reflections will not like this book either. Wake UP: our old beliefs don’t work any more is an ideal read for people on a spiritual quest, open-minded seekers, readers who enjoy philosophy or comparative religions.
WAKE UP!, 2nd. Edition (2020)
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