Ian Griffin is a freelance speech writer who helps high-level executives craft their communications for maximum impact. He has a blog called Professionally Speaking where he wrote a book review on a rather strange book, Tasting the Moon by Meg Fortune McDonnell. Griffin describes the book as “723 pages of observations on the meaning of life, death, transcendence and everything in between.” It is more than that if take the editorial review at Amazon seriously.
This is the story of a "no holds barred” pathway through life—from the author’s eccentric childhood, through the tumult of the 1960’s, to the ashram of Adi Da Samraj, the spiritual teacher she encountered in the 70’s. With disarming and raw candor, Meg Fortune McDonnell recounts the ego-deaths and transformations she went through as she followed her unorthodox teacher around the globe—and to uncharted spiritual dimensions not located on the map.
Would I have ever noticed this book or read it. Probably not. In fact, I only read a few pages online at Amazon aided by word searches.
What caught my attention was Griffins claim in his review that the book provides, “Irrefutable evidence that the Shroud of Turin is not authentic.” When I see the word “irrefutable” I turn into an instant skeptic. When I see it linked to the Shroud of Turin, for or against authenticity, I can’t help thinking of Gertrude Stein’s famous line:
Argument is to me the air I breathe. Given any proposition, I cannot help believing the other side and defending it.
If Griffin was right then McDonnell would have been famous just for that. So would her “beloved,” guru. There is nothing in the book, that I could find in the few pages that dealt with the shroud, except incomplete thought processes and attempts to grab authority by claiming to have studied the shroud carefully.
There were examples of not really getting the fact right such as:
He [= the ashram of Adi Da Samraj] reviewed reports on the history of the Shroud— starting with the prevalent assumption that it was brought out of the Holy Land by Emperor Constantine’s mother, Helena, in the 4th century.
Prevalent assumption? Was that ever so?
There is some humor. There is this example of silly thinking used to demonstrate . . . well, silly thinking:
According to Alice and Jason, the Shroud was created when the first disciples to arrive at Jesus’ gravesite, wanting to get in, rolled the boulder blocking the entry to the tomb— but the wrong way. Right over Jesus’ body. The pressure of the boulder on top of. . . well, you know. . . created an imprint on the sheet underneath, the sheet we now know as “the Shroud.”
The Alice-and-Jason theory of the Shroud further posits that the disciples were So freaked out by having done this, they quickly hid the crushed body. To cover up what happened, they told everyone else who arrived at the gravesite that there was no body to be found—because, uhm, er, uh, because Jesus had ascended into heaven.
Beloved [= the ashram of Adi Da Samraj] roared laughing at this theory. And I thought, despite its irreverence, Alice and Jason’s theory was a clever way of letting Beloved know they understood what he was getting at—without proper investigation and education, people can believe the strangest stuff. It’s important to think.
Could she have not mocked the guru more, not meaning to of course.
But read the review, yourself. Read the book. It is only 723 pages (I read enough, thank you). It has five 5-star reviews over at Amazon; five perfect reviews is irrefutable proof that the author has five friends.
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