The Instruction Manual
For Receiving God

Jason Shulman
(Sounds True)
Full disclosure demands that I tell you that I often throw away manuals and "Warranty and Support Information" that come with any new telephones, radios, CD players, heaters, televisions, fans, and even (I swear, it happened to me once) sex toys ("Place Tab I into Slot P.")

A lifelong aversion to being told what to do mixed with a heady spirit of experimentation means that I go ahead with whatever it is I have bought at Costco or Wal-Mart or Rite-Aid with scarcely a glance at the forty-four page booklet in sixteen languages that comes along with, say, my $29.95 steam iron.

Despite this problem with aid packages, I forged ahead with The Instruction Manual for Receiving God. Shulman's introduction tells us that he has created a book for everyone. "You can be Jewish or Christian, Muslim or Buddhist."

    You can even be an agnostic or an atheist, because the proof of the holiness of life is in the day-to-day encounters we all have with what is now, what went before, and what will be. It is a felt and real thing,

he concludes, with a vague touch of Wolkenkukusheim.

Each of the 108 aperçus is set out boldly at the top of the page in 16 point type: "Now is not only a time; it is a place;" "The body is enlightenment;" "To know God is our destiny."

These are followed by an exegesis, anywhere from ten words to 200 or 300, in smaller type:
--- "God needs knees, / Knees need God."
--- "Be naked. You have nothing to lose but pride and fear."
---"Your hands need to be empty in order to receive."
--- "Only open your heart to yourselves, and you will find God's mountain within your own soul."

As you can see, it's rather woolly there on the Shulman ranch, or mountain, or in the sky, or wherever he's declaiming from. Some of us are in favor of the most ancient Jewish custom of never but never speaking nor writing the name of YHVA. The concept of the divine is too profound, too potent; to utter it is an act of holy vandalism. Many of us have arrived at this eccentric aversion to naming the unameble from watching Christian television. The word "God" --- or for those pastors, "Gawd" --- is thrown about like a beach ball, tied to an 800 number, repeated so much that we recoil dazedly whenever we get hit with it.

Like these Christian head-hunters, Shulman seems to be presuming a personal power, no more nor less than Paul Crouch, Binny Hinn, and Creflo Dollar, who often assure us that they have God resting easily on their shoulders or in their back pockets. "I got God and you don't nyah," is the refrain.

"I am glad you are here with me, in the Emptiness of God" he says. "When we are consciously, personally aware of who we are --- flaws and all, greatness and all --- we hear God calling." Perhaps Yahweh is calling Shulman, but from the structure and general feel of The Instruction Manual for Receiving God, it's possible that, following the woozy style of the manual, some of us may find that the divine has turned off the telephone and unplugged the transmitter.

--- A. W. Allworthy
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