June 18, 2010

Bill Paradise writes book about how to nurture a relationship with God

By John Shaughnessy

Bill ParadiseBill Paradise believes that God has an image problem.

“Some of us—perhaps many of us—have this picture of God as a foreboding ogre with long gray beard, perpetual scowl and deep booming voice, who’s always angry about something. Like the grandfather some of us feared to visit when we were kids,” noted Paradise, a member of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Indianapolis.

“The truth is God is not at all like this popular image. He is instead like the loving, caring, doting father who can’t do enough for each one of his children. Who respects their freedom and stands back so they can exercise it. But who desperately wants to remain close and involved with each one of them.”

Paradise made that observation in his recently released book, You and God: How to Build the Most Important Relationship of Your Life.

At 69, Paradise feels blessed by his relationships with his wife of 40 years, Bernadette, his three grown children and his three grandchildren, but he also acknowledges that the “great purpose” of life is a relationship with God.

“Our human reality is this: If we want a life of purpose, meaning and significance, we have no choice but to seek God and relate to him,” Paradise writes. “We can chase all the false gods we want—money, power, pleasure, success, acceptance. But we will never find true, lasting satisfaction and meaning away from God.

“All you really need to do is ask God to come into your life and start talking with him. If you are sincere and make the effort, God will respond.”

The 256-page book includes tools, suggestions and personal reflection opportunities to help people grow closer to God. Paradise’s own spiritual development started when he accepted a friend’s invitation to join a small, faith-sharing group of men.

“I took a chance, showed up and the whole experience of relating to God has turned out to be a great adventure ever since,” he said.

While the book’s approach is geared to people of all faiths, Paradise believes that it can meet a particular need within the Catholic Church.

“Virtually every Catholic family has members who are no longer practicing their faith” he said. “My family in Detroit is a prime example—all of them raised in the faith, none of them practicing it anymore. You and God may be a book that helps folks reconnect with God, even if it doesn’t pull them all the way back into the Church—at least immediately.”

Retired now, Paradise prays every day, reads spiritual books and stays involved in volunteer activities. He believes those ingredients are important to building a relationship with God.

After 35 years of trying to move closer to God, Paradise offers this view of what people can expect from a deeper relationship with God.

“Expect it to become thoroughly enjoyable,” he writes. “Through daily, personal contact, you are becoming friends with God. You are confiding in him. You are seeking his help in the everyday affairs of life. You are putting your trust in him.

“If you stay alert, you are becoming aware that he is definitely responding to you. You can feel his care and love for you. He is more and more reachable for you. All of this adds up to you enjoying God just as you do other close, intimate relationships.”

(You and God is available at www.billparadisebooks.com and www.amazon.com. It can also be ordered through Borders and Barnes & Noble book stores. The book costs $12.95.)

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