Dying to Control: The 21st Century Dilemma by Leon R. Hayduchok - Hayduchok's basic premise is that what was wrong about Eve and Adam eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil was that they were trying to live as they saw fit and not as God saw fit-they thought they were in control. Okay, I can go with that-Hayduchok seems to that this his premise is radical, but it does not seem that radical to me. What I cannot buy is that he thinks God cursed the ground and animals in order to help people-to remind us where our priorities should be, but curses do not seem loving to me. Hayduchok even writes that, "To curse someone is to wish that person misfortune or doom. Curses tend to be spite or vindictive, and they typically don't have redemptive intentions," (85) With that in mind, I have a hard time believing that God would even curse animals or the earth that She made. To love someone is to wish them the best, so I really do not see how a God that curses can be compatible with a God that loves. I must turn back to what Sea Raven insisted in her book, "Theology from Exile," we must ask ourselves if we believe the nature of God is "violent or nonviolent" when reading Scripture (7). I believe our God is nonviolent, towards all beings, including Mother Earth, so I must look at the curse in a different way. I believe "the curse" may be our interpretation of how we feel when life gets harder, but do I really think God cursed anybody? No. I may feel cursed, but I am not cursed. It is much easier for us to raise our fists and cry, "God, you made the Earth hard and not to our liking and you made women feel labor pains!" but that is abdicating our responsibility to see life as it really is. The fact is that life is hard and we do not need to blame God for it to be so. It just is. I do agree with Hayduchok's assertion that life is harder when we try to control everything on our own, but instead of saying that we should leave everything to God, I say that we should do things together. As I review what my options are for the day, I should listen for God's call for the better way, but it is up to I to act. And it is up to myself to not just do what God says, but rather to dream with Her and to offer my own ideas in prayer and to see what seems like the best way. My relationship with God is more like a partnership-sometimes I receive encouragement and sometimes I get a scolding and sometimes I praise God and sometimes I am angry at Her and all of that is okay. We try to do things together and in those moments of harmony are when the world is restored, for it is true that the world is out of balance, but I do not believe it is because of a curse, but because the world and God are not working together.
Hayduchok brings a lot of reflections about his personal troubles into the book, which again, at first I appreciated, but after a while, something else began to bug me: he never uses the phrase, "mental illness." He talks quite extensively about having a "breakdown" and anxiety, even suicidal thoughts, but instead of saying that he had a mental illness and needed treatment, he says that all he needed was, "perspective" (95). He seems to think that the total reason for all of his problems is because he was not letting God be fully in control of his life, but I think this is a dangerous idea. One can follow God and be depressed-look at Mother Teresa, who was depressed for the majority of her years. Depression, anxiety, are mental illnesses, not a lack of perspective. While I do think that thinking positively and being in communion with God can offer relief and goodness, sometimes a mental illness is so pervasive that it prevents a person from being able to do so, which is why they need compassion and affordable treatment-not a lecture or "perspective." I know I was only able to gain a new, healthier perspective after I started taking my current medication. My medications, therapy, and DBT treatment are the conduit that have allowed my brain to be able to focus on God's will and love, not the other way around.
I started out liking the book and by the end, I was annoyed, so I do not think I would really recommend the book. It is helpful if you want an overview of different theories about the Eve and Adam story, but otherwise, I would skip it.