When I saw the title Sex Politics Religion: How Delusional Thinking Is Destroying America being promoted in my inbox, I just couldn’t resist. True, the author, Steve Siebold, is a self-help guru that started out in the weight loss niche. But, I thought “maybe this is worth a look.”
Siebold sells this book as a call to engage in critical thinking, and at least admits in the Introduction that the book is entirely his own opinion. Theoretically, this is meant to encourage (facilitate?) readers to engage in their own research, and reach their own conclusions about the topics he covers. I question the legitimacy of that, since Siebold only offers a single resource for further study in each chapter.
Now, to me, that means that the author himself only bothered to consult one resource himself on each issue, and then wrote the chapter. That really isn’t practicing what he’s preaching. As for the content itself, back to the “truth in advertising”, at least Siebold admitted freely that it really is just his personal opinion. Otherwise, I would have major issues with it.
The book is organized in sections based on the title, and each section has several chapters. On Sex, Siebold primarily offers information on alternative forms of marriage. I don’t mean gay marriage here, but various relationship structures that permit at least some level of infidelity, at least in terms of traditional marriage. His premise is that humans are not made for remaining loyal to a single person for life. Of course, that theoretically explains the high divorce rates in this country. He also has sharp words for the Puritanical nature of our society when it comes to sex. This all starts from the contention that the human sex drive is the most powerful force on earth. Now, I’m not sure I would go that far, but I will grant him that it is a very powerful thing. I’ll also grant him the contention that it is foolish to attempt to suppress it – just ask the Catholic Church on that one. All in all, Siebold is right that Americans are silly when it comes to sex, but his condescending tone probably won’t go down very well for many – especially the ones that are most guilty of that silliness.
On Politics, Siebold is largely Libertarian, and a pro-business fiscal conservative. Personal liberty trumps religious or political dogma for him, and as a result, his opinions tend toward smaller government. Of all of the sections in this book, this is the one that would be most tolerable to conservatives in general, since the rest of the book tends to call social conservatives on the carpet for suggesting that their belief systems be made the law of the land. However, Siebold is for assisted suicide, stem cell research, and the legalization of all gambling and drugs, so that might be a bit too radical on the personal liberties end for many conservatives. The most audacious suggestion the author makes is pulling essentially all of our troops overseas home, and placing them on the borders. A few weeks ago, I would expect to hear a great deal of railing against that, but given the latest developments where illegal immigration is concerned, it wouldn’t surprise me if some form of this would become a plank of the Romney campaign!
After reading the section on Religion, if there was any doubt before, it’s pretty obvious that Siebold is probably Agnostic, leaning heavily toward Atheism. He devotes a whole chapter to Catholicism, in spite of being raised Lutheran. If a reader is fed up with people from the left attacking religious beliefs in general, it is strongly suggested that he or she skips this section entirely. Suffice to say that Siebold minces no words, while essentially comparing belief in God to a belief in Santa Claus.
Steve Siebold’s Sex Politics Religion: How Delusional Thinking Is Destroying America is an interesting read, considering that it comes from a man that initially made his way in weight loss. While the book gives readers approximately what the author claims it does, his contention that this could become a highly controversial book falls flat. However, because Siebold isn’t re-inventing the wheel here, it is worth a look if only to prepare oneself to counter arguments against social conservatism, or to offer slightly different takes on some Libertarian principles. The lack of citations and a bibliography limits the usefulness of the text, at least for people that actually prefer to offer proof for their contentions. As for the goal of promoting critical thought, this text falls miserably short of its goal. That goal may have been attained if the author took the time to offer differing views from multiple sources. Siebold, in offering just his own thoughts, simply comes off as a condescending egotist that, in spite of his disclaimers to the contrary, is determined to make others think the way he does.