I am not sure why Barbara Berger
decided to name her book "Fast Food For the Soul." She doesn't
mention a reason anywhere in the book. And I must admit, I started reading this
book with a really bad attitude, because of that title. Fast food for the soul
- what exactly does the author mean by that, I wondered. Will it clog my mental
arteries like grease from a cheeseburger?
Will I have to work off excess soul calories like doing extra aerobics
to make up for eating half a cheese pizza? I found it to be an interesting and
unfortunate choice of names, to say the least.
After reading the book, I am still
not too sure about the name, but the actual contents were really more like
macrobiotics for the soul. Definitely good for you, and pretty spare; more
nouvelle cuisine than gravy-topped or chicken-fried.
Subtitled "The Road to
Power," this book deals heavily with affirmations, and reads like an
extremely long one. "We are what we think. We become what we believe. Our
life is what we visualize. Our life is what we say it is." Thus begins our
journey to self-realization, and every chapter of the book is full of similar
cosmic sound bites. Perhaps the fast food part refers to the feel-good effect
these pearls of wisdom may have on readers. French fries, after all, are pretty
satisfying, and so is this if you pay attention.
Berger notes that the power of
affirmations or mantras has long been recognized. "The Bible and other
ancient scriptures all speak of the power of the word. They teach that our
words are the creative force of the universe, alive with power for good or
evil." Many branches of psychology likewise recognize the immense power of
words, phrases, and voice. Berger
supplies affirmations, as well as suggestions on how to create your own
effective versions, on just about every topic you can think of, from releasing
the negatives in your life, to eating less. These, too, are often short,
catchy, memorable phrases along the lines of, "Everything in the universe
is energy and energy doesn't like to be trapped or to stagnate. Energy likes to
circulate," and "Nobody, and I mean nobody, is going to come and save
you from your life. You are going to have to do it all by yourself."
Fast Food for the Soul is
not a very long book, only 152 pages, but there is a lot of wisdom packed in
those pages. Although the language is deceptively simple - no flowery
adjectives, complicated phrasing, dramatic monologues or other distractions
here - give it a chance. It took me a couple of chapters to decide that Berger
is not talking down to her readers. She is just putting everything as simply as
possible, so everybody gets it and the maximum amount actually sticks. And
there are lessons here that everyone could benefit from, with the possible
exception of those few people already as positive and motivated as Mary
Poppins. Give it a shot!
2003 April Chase
April Chase is a freelance journalist and book
reviewer who lives in Western Colorado. She is a regular contributor to a
number of publications, including The Business Times of Western Colorado and
Dream Network Journal.