D.E.'s Reviews > Mutant Message Down Under

Mutant Message Down Under by Marlo Morgan
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's review
May 11, 2012

did not like it
bookshelves: inspirational, visionary
Read in May, 2012

Update: It has just come to my attention, through internet searches, that a huge controversy attended the publication of this book during the mid to late 1990s due to the fact that Marlo Morgan's journey with these Australian aborigines, and what she wrote about the culture and life and religion of the tribe, were reported to be a hoax. Ms. Morgan at one point admitted that it had been a hoax. However, the book attained tremendous popularity and she continued marketing the book and giving lectures around the world on its subject matter. She claimed knowledge of Aborigine culture through her experiences and her lectures were to help people become enlightened through such knowledge. There was huge opposition and outrage at her book and actions among the Australian aboriginal communities, which organized a protest tour to the U.S. and met with many different leaders to try to get Ms. Morgan to cease and desist her misrepresentations of Aboriginal culture.

I was shocked and dismayed to learn of this, as the book is written so convincingly that I believed the story and stood in awe of what it revealed about the Aboriginal culture. The reports I have written unfortunately do not detail what parts of the information are false and which may be true. Knowing that would be of the greatest help to readers.

Unfortunately there is a steep cultural divide relating to this subject matter. Indigenous groups, both in Australia and the U.S., strongly resent non-native persons "appropriating" native culture and religion and using it for perceived commercial gain. Moreover, they especially object to non-native persons starting pseudo-religious movements using purported native religious rites and customs and turning it into profit-making new-age or "native" spiritual ventures. They consider this to be appropriating their sacred religious and spiritual customs and knowledge and altering and misrepresenting it for their own commercial use.

I do understand and agree with the objections and protests of these Native groups and what has been done with their cultures. We have to remember that in both countries (the U.S. and Australia) the indigenous peoples were conquered, murdered en masse, thrown out of their homelands and for many many years deprived of the freedom to worship (practice their own spiritual beliefs). Their cultures were intentionally destroyed. After all that, it must hurt and offend them to have their sacred beliefs and knowledge misrepresented and ripped off to be used by non-tribal members in non-authentic "spiritual" practices.

In modern society, Marlo Morgan has a perfect right to write a novel, put whatever in it she wishes, and sell it. However, morally and ethically, she does not have the right to perpetrate such a huge hoax on her readers and the Native communities, capitalizing on her readers' ignorance of that culture. If she had couched the entire story in terms of science fiction and set the story on another planet, there would have been no problem with her story. But I believed what she was saying - I had no way of knowing it was false. And so what she has done is very disappointing and dismaying - and a big waste of talent. I loved this book, and I loved its insights. I just wish they hadn't been one thing masquerading as something else.

[My old original post begun liks this:] I've only just begun this book, and the insight it is providing thus far is amazing. Don't let the setting or specific subject matter put you off. The rewards and revelations thus far are incomparable. This is advertised as fictionalized true experience. I fail to see how any of it is fiction, just from the nature of the author's narration. This is one of the rare mind-blowing books that broadens your horizons in ways never imagined.

I have to take my review statement back now. If you are into spiritual journeys, you can read it, but don't give it too much credence. I wished it had been true!
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