Well, to be more accurate, it was written for my high school self - or as Steve McSwain might put it, my high school ego. I appreciate his insights now in a way that I might not have been able to as a teenager. They are insights for which perhaps I was not ready, for which I was yet asleep, unconscious; or else insights that I almost certainly would have perceived as dangerous. Indeed, The Enoch Factor is chock full of ideas that I'm sure most religious people - especially Christians - would find most threatening.
And McSwain is well aware that people entrenched in dogmatism and orthodoxy, regardless of the tradition (Protestant, Catholic, Islamic, Judaic), will approach his book with the same kind of inhibition that I would have had as a young Baptist devotee.
Admittedly, some of my perspectives today are outside the mainstream of conventional Christian thought.
Well you can stop right there, sir. There's no room in Christianity for critical thinking. Everything we need to know about God we can find in The Bible, ever read it?
Those who only know about God usually have a lot to say. Those who genuinely know God have little to say… if what you "say" about the Bible is more important that what the Bible says to you, then you're living under a great delusion.
And so it went through my first few years of college. I exchanged lengthy and sometimes contentious theological e-mails with my humanities professor, even while participating in a discipleship group that was described as a spiritual-boot-camp. That was an intense year for my intellect. I have since added ideas from the likes of Ishmael, The Celestine Prophecy, The Way Of The Peaceful Warrior, and The Kingdom of God Is Within You to my consciousness. And the conversations I've had all these years resounded sympathetically as I made my way through The Enoch Factor.
Having been raised in a Baptist tradition, like me, McSwain lists The "Beliefs" I Was Told to Believe - foundational (American) Christian beliefs that, it would seem, he no longer holds. Of the 13 listed, I no longer hold 9 of them myself.
And this is precisely why this book is dangerous. McSwain swings left and right at the straw men of religion, tearing them to shreds. The book will make the orthodox person of faith question his or her suppositions; and it just might change people, if they let it. But let me assure you - this is ok!
Though the religious may struggle through the seemingly wishy-washy truth claims in The Enoch Factor, they are constantly reminded that McSwain doesn't purport to knowing about God or religion or claims to truth, but rather about knowing God.
"No detail about God could ever substitute for knowing God," he writes.
To know God is to walk with God [as Enoch is reported to have done in Genesis]. It is to live your life in the awareness of an indescribable and eternal presence that is within you and all around you, beneath you but also beyond you. It is personal and yet mysterious...
Of course McSwain emphasizes the importance of knowing God for one's personal life, his or her individual journey. But there's also a sense of urgency in his exhortations for us to ditch religious militancy and to know intimacy with God - and each other - instead.
Throughout the history of humanity, religion has been the prime cause of most human division and destruction… People are more divided [now] than perhaps at any other time in the history of the human race… Unless there are profound changes in human consciousness - that is, changes in how we look at each other and how we treat each other, there is little hope for humanity's survival.
Thankfully, this is easier than religious leaders would have us believe. "God wants to be known. Why would he make it difficult?" McSwain assures us instead that it's quite easy, that we really need only to wake up, that "If you have awakened, you are beginning to know this possibility, too."
I think I'm yet rubbing my eyes myself.