mark monday's Reviews > The Celestine Prophecy

The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield
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's review
Nov 09, 2011

did not like it
bookshelves: mythopoeikon, super-private-journal

a mea culpa for me and Ruby!

once upon a time, a long time ago, i was an Entertainment Insurance Underwriter for AIG (well, a junior underwriter). i got to read a lot of scripts, i dealt with a lot of famous people, i got paid a lot of money. it was a time of much partying, much coke, an expense account, 1.5 assistants, and daily hangovers. one day i learned that i had written a movie policy that was so successful, so full of clever exclusions to coverage that it managed to cut off an entire family from any AIG benefits after a fatal helicopter crash. i found this out because the current CEO was visiting the san francisco office and decided to stop by and see this promising young underwriter to tell him "the good news". that was the day i realized that i was an evil person. i looked inside and didn't see a whole lot there. soon after, i quit my job and became a counselor for homeless kids, and so my life changed.

during this time period, i had an associate named Ruby. we had a complicated relationship, based around sex, drugs, and a long trip to Turkey. Ruby was a Crisis Management Underwriter... she wrote policies for folks working in danger zones. her policies included kidnap insurance, explosion insurance (car & building & home), insurance that included services from high-tech spy & security group Kroll and information brokers/ hostage negotiators Pinkerton, insurance that allowed you to insure various limbs and appendages so that you could get a financial return if you were kidnapped and some torture-amputation occurred. her promo materials included an empty swing with a teddy bear (kidnap insurance), the world on fire (global coverage), and some cute lil' gray styrofoam bombs. no joke. later, she quit her job and moved on to buying and selling condominiums.

we were two heartless people. Ruby's favorite book in the whole wide world was The Celestine Prophecy. it formed her view on life and how to live it... "it taught her so much". she read it multiple times, and loaned it to me. i loved it. "it spoke to me"... it gave me a perspective on the world that had me nodding my empty little head repeatedly in agreement while reading it.

good grief! this must have been a monstrous book indeed if it gave such toxic, horrible individuals a kind of bizarrely personalized spirituality and a host of new agey life lessons to cling to desperately. sometimes you can judge the value of a book by the readers who love that book.

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02/17 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-50 of 77) (77 new)

message 1: by Donna (new)

Donna Please write a book about this. Who says a story about insurance can't be interesting? Wow. I think this is my all time favourite review. DIdn't read the book (phew) because I never like books that call themselves spiritual.

message 2: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday wow, thanks Donna & Brian! i'm going to look around and see if i can find some of those old promo materials and post their images to this review.

message 3: by Donna (new)

Donna I'm still traumatized by reading the details of the student insurance flyers they used to distribute in elementary school. 700$ for an eye. 1,000 for a hand. No wonder I wouldn't climb the ropes in gym.

message 4: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday sounds like AIG did some elementary school outreach!

message 5: by TK421 (new)

TK421 we all make mistakes...

message 6: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday true, true. i suppose it is what you do with and after those mistakes that matters in the long run. perhaps. but this is one of my life's Big Three Mistakes and so it pops up in my mind from time to time, and it comes with so much fuckin regret and anger towards the former mark. ah well, live and learn, right? for some reason, writing my mini review of Bright Lights brought back the memory of this past life.

message 7: by Wendy Darling (new)

Wendy Darling But you're all better now, right?

message 8: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday ah yes! in life, and right now too, after purging in this review.

message 9: by Manny (new)

Manny Donna wrote: "Please write a book about this. Who says a story about insurance can't be interesting? Wow."

A movie script might be even better. It sounds like you'd have the connections to be able to pitch it... and I'm wondering why I can't think of a single movie whose main character is an underwriter. Just crying out to be made!

message 10: by mark (last edited Nov 09, 2011 12:20AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday but it would have to be an angsty indie movie - and i hate those!

there is one insurance movie that i like a lot. it's about an insurance adjuster. it's called The Adjuster.

i found Adjustment folks to be creepy, overly friendly but still somehow blandly without affect, just off. i suppose it was the nature of their job. not a popular unit.

message 11: by Manny (new)

Manny Thanks, I will check out The Adjuster!

Why does it have to be angsty and indie? What's wrong with the full-blown Hollywood treatment?

message 12: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday because it would be like Reality Bites + Battle in Seattle + The Real World San Francisco. lots of talking. featuring a nerdy bi lead. who wants to see that?

hey wait a sec, i do! that does sound awesome... yeah, i'm going to hollywood! i'm gonna be RICH!

message 13: by Manny (new)

Manny I'm glad you were so easily persuadable. Can I come in on this? As you'll see here and here, I know all about pitching movie scripts...

message 14: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday you're in!

message 15: by Manny (new)

Manny This is great. When do we start?

message 16: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie W love this review

message 17: by Alex (new)

Alex Flynn Well if you want it to be a big budget just add some time travel. Imagine the horrors of an insurance company in a world with time travel. Or juxtapose every single disaster movie of the past ten years with an adjustor. Just think of the poor insurance agent sent out to New York City The Day After Tomorrow.

message 18: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Please, Bird Brian. Twincest or nothing.

message 19: by Libbie Hawker (new)

Libbie Hawker (L.M. Ironside) HEY-O! Best ending to a review ever. Following.

message 20: by Miriam (new)

Miriam Did you know there is a kiddie picture-book version of the Celestine Prophecy? I bought a copy at the library book sale so a kid would be spared.

message 21: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday thanks Stephanie & Lavender!

Stu & Brian... you are in. we're all gonna be RICH!

sorry, Eh, no twincest. casting would be a difficulty. however, if you are able to find the right twins... YOU ARE IN.

manny, we are starting 13 years ago! i am going back in time right now to 28-year old mark to commence our time traveling adventures, as research for the film. will report back soon.

Miriam, your brave efforts inspire us all. i am going to look for all copies of Celestine Prophecy, Many Lives Many Masters, and The Secret at the next library sale. and then burn them! sometimes book burning is not such a bad thing. sometimes it helps people, in a big-picture kinda way!

message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

Plus, anything remotely connected to Bjork automatically becomes ten times more awesome.

For guys. For girls, let's just say not all of us are charmed by her.

message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh, I wasn't talking looks either - she's cute enough - just as the living embodiment of the MPDG, I think most women are contractually obligated to hate her. Is all.

message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

Sorry, yeah.

The origin of the phrase. Also, the origin of My Year of Flops, which is my favorite.

message 25: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye Speaking unprofessionally, I'd be worried about whether you could get a completion guarantee for this film. That would be the ultimate underwriter's revenge on a good idea.

message 26: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday oh i don't know about that... time travel & twincest are very low-risk endeavors. they'd barely warrant an exclusion.

message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm not going to argue with your professional experience...oh, who am I kidding...I am! From all the admittedly fictional books I've read, time travel is very dangerous business. You might accidentally knock your peeping Tom dad out of a tree, take his place, and have mom hit on you in the freakiest scenario ever! Or squash a butterfly or something.

message 28: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday ah, good point. the canny underwriter would write a butterfly effect type exclusion and AIG would proceed to charge an arm and a leg. dang. i think the film will have to go with a more mom-and-pop insurance firm like Insure You R Us.

message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

Maybe you could squash a butterfly, and have AIG turn into a mom and pop firm.

message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

Or get the Pinkertons to do it for you.

message 31: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday i like the way your mind works. now i'm thinking that if i squash just the right butterfly, neither twincest nor cannibalism would be taboo - and the film can go from taboo-breaking to being a sweet movie about togetherness and the human heart. and that would be entirely insurable. time travel solves all problems!

message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

Aww, a heart-warming feel-good (and taste-good!) tale.

message 33: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday you know, it's all about the wonders of the human heart, the beauty of it, its importance as a part of the human condition, its many flavors depending on spicing & saucing.

message 34: by Brandon (new)

Brandon I'd totally be up for watching a movie. I'm an insurance broker and have had my fair share of problems with underwriters - I'd love to learn more about your job!

message 35: by Kemper (new)

Kemper mark wrote: "you know, it's all about the wonders of the human heart, the beauty of it, its importance as a part of the human condition, its many flavors depending on spicing & saucing."

But will there be tacos??

message 36: by Miriam (new)

Miriam So your story is now about an incestuous cannibal with a ?

message 37: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday here's another mea culpa: i just deleted a couple of my messages where i discussed my past co-workers. because, who knows, they may be living right down the block from me or here on GR, watching my every move. it is very important that i stay safe if this movie is going to happen.

Brandon - i didn't know you were a broker. ah, the connectivity! ah, brokers. i enjoyed many a long night drinking and drugging it up with the various brokers i worked with.

Kemper - never fear, heart tacos will be on the catering menu

Miriam - that is the most beautiful thing i've seen today. such a happy, metallic heart! just like mine

message 38: by gaby (new)

gaby Wow, i am, as the housewives of Atlanta would say, "tardy to this party."

Just wanted to give a weird shout out regarding Kroll, a company that I had never heard of until a few days ago, and which has now figured very prominently into this week, and which is continuing to contribute to what has been hands-down the most bizarre week of my five year legal career. And it's only Thursday!

message 39: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday at AIG, one of the things i used to look forward to every week was the combined Kroll-Pinkerton Report, which evaluated dangers to americans on a country by country basis, and assigned each of the reviewed country a specific Threat Level. from this report i learned fascinating and terrible things about Algeria, the Philippines, Columbia, etc. the 90s were apparently a time of more-than-daily kidnapping and Algerian villages being wiped out on a weekly or monthly basis, and - most importantly for Kroll/Pinkerton - much danger for americans abroad. these reports were references i cited for raising or eliminating coverage for various movies that wanted low-cost movie productions in 'dangerous' countries.

message 40: by Alex (new)

Alex Flynn I just jumped back in and saw that the Pinkerton's are in the mix for time travel. I really think you can solve your butterfly/underwriting problem by going back to Pennsylvania, recruiting the Molly Maguires, and using them to destroy the Pinkerton's of yore (damn Pinkerton's) thus eliminating a present day threat. As for Kroll, I believe this will do


or maybe that was Krull. either way, it should do the trick, for AIG as well. Then you can film in whatever dangerously cheap backwater you want.

message 41: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday and he is IN. where did that actor ever go? i now want this movie to function as a kind of Krull remake. i want to include an old wizard being replaced by a shapeshifter in a swamp. i want a kindly cyclops and an eerie black castle from space. i want, i want, i want. and i really, really want to somehow include that weapon above. the boomadagger is the best weapon ever.

Magdelanye Have just had so much fun with this discussion I will throw in my 2cents worth, because, to my utter consternation, I loved the Celestine Prophecy and found it immediately practical. I had resisted it, for all the usual reasons, but it literally fell on my head from the display case as I was passing it. I firmly put it back, but when I passed again (small library) it jumped me again, I got the message and was amazed at how much I liked it. Its not at all pretentous or dogmatic.
so ultimately, if an icky person likes a great book, does that make the book icky?
(if a great person likes an icky book, does that make the person icky?)

message 43: by mark (last edited Nov 11, 2011 01:06AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday so ultimately, if an icky person likes a great book, does that make the book icky? (if a great person likes an icky book, does that make the person icky?)

hmmm, that parenthetical is a very good point Magdelanye. food for thought. there are a lot of folks who i like & respect who also love American Psycho - which i consider to be the ickiest book of all time.

obviously i have two different experiences with this book: when i first read it - extremely positive; when i contemplate having read and responded to it, many years later - contemptuous & eye-rolling. i'll admit that nowadays i have an automatic reaction against new agey journey type books that teach people life lessons and new ways to look at life. perhaps that reaction is simply due to having a critical eye towards my own past behavior; or perhaps it is just a knee-jerk reaction to new age type lessons in general. i'm not a book snob (far from it) but i do have antipathy towards books that answer questions rather than ask them of the reader.

and i think i have a lot of antipathy towards Celestine Prophecy because - despite being a book that functions as a guide to living a positive life that looks to the future - at the time of reading it, i was able to digest all of its lessons - and yet never felt as if i had to change in my own life, it did not support critical self-analysis of my part in the world... if anything, i felt somehow empowered by it all. which, in retrospect, doesn't sit well with me.

i think to truly promote change, a book or art in general or people in general have to challenge things in our lives that make us complacent. Celestine Prophecy only aided me in my complacency. but is that the book's fault or my own fault? who knows.

I loved the Celestine Prophecy and found it immediately practical.

i would love to know more specifics. although i can understand if you are hesitant to say more, because this thread could clearly be taken as one that is derisive to positive feelings about the book. but still... would love to know how it was immediately practical.

I had resisted it, for all the usual reasons, but it literally fell on my head from the display case as I was passing it. I firmly put it back, but when I passed again (small library) it jumped me again,

funny! it really wanted to be in your life!

message 44: by Magdelanye (last edited Nov 11, 2011 02:17AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Magdelanye thanks for responding so sensitively to my comments. Obviously I am not afraid to be the odd woman out, but I was rather cringing in anticipation of scorn...
I think we bring our own personal history to add to each book we read. Perhaps theCP did work positively for you. After all, you woke up! You changed!

Because of your sympathetic response, I will reveal this much. I was just finishing this book when my lover dumped me, for a really stupid reason. Instead of just holing up with my misery, I called him and asked to see him once more. I devised a seperation ritual, with tips from the book, and we went down to the beach and did a ceremonial toke (well no, that wasnt from the book) but at the end, I actually asked the universe for any comments. It was beautiful day, but at that moment, and only where we were seated, it started to rain! I had to laugh, for I felt quite validated by the whole ceremony and the rain confirmed for me that yes, he was making a foolish mistake and that our story wasnt finished.
And do you know, it was so.

I should add that I am not so keen on ritual, per se.
I am far to devoted to spontanety and intuitive impulse. But this little episode got me right out of my funk, and I never would have thought of doing anything like that if it werent for this book :)

p.s. I think the fountainhead is the ickiest book of all time but some lovely people seem to like it.

message 45: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday that is quite a nice story. and thank you for sharing it.

Perhaps theCP did work positively for you. After all, you woke up! You changed!

an interesting point. although i do think my actual waking point, the icy splash of water to my face, was my realization that i had 'succeeded' in my job by fucking over an already tragedy-stricken family. i'll always remember that terrible feeling. what a wake-up call that was.

p.s. I think the fountainhead is the ickiest book of all time

it is definitely a contender! that book upset both my stomach and my mind. i once ended a relationship with someone because i realized that her outlook on life, and on the people around her, was an exact parallel to her favorite book - the poisoned water that is The Fountainhead.


my gosh, what is it with this here post and its attempt to render water as a kind of poetic metaphor? boo! pretentious!

message 46: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Wow is all I can say about this review and thread. I really thought you were making that stuff up......but true? Huh.

Being a underwriter or a broker would be nightmare jobs for me on so many levels.

I read this book....loads o' crap is what I thought too.

message 47: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday thanks Stephanie! as far as the review goes, all true. my late 20s.

message 48: by Tim (new) - rated it 1 star

Tim Man! There's a book in this story of yours! Please write it. I'll recommend it to any fool that starts babbling on about books like this and The Secret.

message 49: by Jean-marcel (new)

Jean-marcel I guess this would make more sense if I had read this book, but I have an inkling. A girl I know really wanted me to read this, too. I believe it was also loved by my stepmother. Her one book gift to me (that I remember) was The Seven habits of Highly Effective People. No endorsement. I'm edging further and further away from Celestine.

message 50: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday thanks Tim. The Secret is a whole other kettle of rotten fish.

don't edge away, Jean-marcel... RUN!

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