50 Shades of Judgment

Last week, a friend posted that she guiltily bought a dollar copy of Fifty Shades of Grey  from the library’s remnants table and felt like her integrity was compromised for the mere act of buying it. Lots of people piped up with comments, mostly about how banal and ridiculous the book was.

I said that I read all three in the trilogy and loved them. Her response: shock, that a writer of my quality and dedication could submit myself to such drek.

Well, she’s a great friend and a friend for a long time and so this is the conversation that happens when you trust someone and know the depth of their character. Nonetheless, it made me wonder yet again why people are so judgmental about anyone who deigns to read these books and enjoy the experience.

Last year, when 50 Shades was all the hype, I wrote a series of very well-read blogs about the phenomenon. I mentioned schoolyard conversations with moms on both sides defending their position for or against the books. I waxed curious about why people are so reluctant to admit to liking a book about kinky sex and dom-submissive relationships.

And I still wonder, renewed by last week’s exchange, why no one sees the inherent feminine strength in this series of books.

Sure, the writing is tepid, at best. The storylines are unbelievable, definitely. So what?

What’s wrong with reading a book that doesn’t rise to the standard level of literary exquisiteness? What’s wrong with burying oneself in “beach reading” and admitting to enjoying it?

We are a judgmental society that would be better-served to notice the inherent reverence in each and every one of us, rather than the inherent weaknesses.

I spent the holiday weekend in Madison, Wisconsin at Bhakti Fest Midwest, doing yoga, attending workshops and chanting and jamming to kirtan concerts late every night. The familiar refrain that kept repeating: If you don’t see God in all, you don’t see God at all. (Yogi Bhajan)

Substitute the word God for Spirit or Holiness or whatever makes you feel more secularly comfortable. The phrase stands. If we don’t have reverence for each and every creature on this planet, we can’t possibly understand what reverence is.

It’s just a book. Who cares who likes it or who doesn’t? Free discourse is the lifeblood of our world. And individual perspective is what strengthens us all.

By the way, at Bhakti Fest a shamanic intuitive gave me a 15-minute reading. When we were done, I reached out my hand to shake hers in thanks. “We hug here,” she said and engulfed me in a big hug. “I love you!” she said, and I thought, you don’t know me – how can you love me?

That’s where I am wrong.

Love is not preferential attachment dependent upon knowing the depths of another person.

Love is universal understanding, being able to see yourself in another, to step in their shoes and understand their worries and their victories. So yeah, she probably does love me.

I’m still working on it.

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