Although Neale Donald Walsch's "Conversations with God" is not usually thought of as an organized religious denomination in the traditional sense, there are (as of 2 September 2005) organized Conversations With God Study Centers throughout the United States in at least 25 states, 4 U.S. territories, and 16 foreign countries. Neale Donald Walsch is the founder of ReCreation and the Conversations with God Foundation, organizations which create study groups and sponsor other activities to promote Walsch's spiritual teachings.
Neale Donald Walsch and Conversations With God are typically identified as part of the New Age religious movement. Stephen Simon makes repeated references to "new age" art and philosophies that he embraces and admires. It would probably be accurate to identify Stephen Simon as an adherent of New Age religion, although, as with many New Age believers, it also might be overly reductionist to so. Stephen Simon makes it clear in his book that his enthusiasm for spirituality and religion does not exclude, and actually embraces, religion and spirituality as expressed in longer-recognized "traditional" religious denominations.
In the "Acknowledgements" section of his book, Stephen Simon explained how his spiritual mentor Neale Donald Walsch convinced him to write this book. From: The Force Is with You: Mystical Movie Messages that Inspire Our Lives, Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc.: Charlottesville, Virginia (2002), page xiii-xiv:
Remember when you were a kid and your parents caught you and a friend trying to do some crazy stunt like a backyard science experiment? Taking responsibility for wild flights of fancy is not exactly one our strong suits when we're children... That's how "the dog ate my homework" got started. Not exactly an advanced spiritual practice but, then again, we were kids and most of us have grown considerably since those days; therefore, I just want to say from the onset here that NEALE DONALD WALSCH MADE ME DO THIS!Stephen Simon's spiritual leader, Neale Donald Walsch (the author of the Conversations With God series of books and the founder of the Conversations With God Foundation) was the person who convinced Simon to write the book The Force Is with You. Neale Donald Walsch wrote the forward to the book. Some excerpts from Neale Donald Walsch's forward follow, from: The Force Is with You, pages xvii-xix:
Neale had been talking to me for weeks about writing this book and, frankly, I thought he had taken leave of his senses. I had never written anything more complicated than my mrketing list every week, and even that was constantly revised by my daughters--so it wasn't exactly a solid foundation on which I could bild. Neale was relentless. He really felt I should just sit down and write and, truthfully, he's a hard guy to turn down. Neale has been a friend and an inspiration to me for a few years now. Our company Metafilmics is working with Neale on filmed versions of his Conversations with God books, and I've come to know and deeply respect not only his work but also Neale as a really great guy.
Finally, one day, Neale wouldn't take no for an answer again, and I thought to myself that maybe I should pay closer attention. Who was I to challenge his "sources"? [meaning God] He gave me a schedule and some great writing tips... and I started to write. He told me the book would come out of me in two months. I started the first draft in April, and finished it slightly less than two months later.
Forget E.F. Hutton. When Neale talks, I listen. And so do a lot of other people. He inspires me, and he inspired this book, and for both, I am eternally grateful. Any tips on the stock market, Neale?
If you love movies, you're going to love this book. If you love life, you're going to adore it... I call these the Stories of Stories. These are the stories of the making of stories, and of what some of our most popular stories have had in store for us--whether we knew it or now.
This particular story is going to be told by a wonderful friend of mine--who also happens to be one of the master storytellers on the planet--Stephen Simon.
Working with the wonderful tool of film, Stephen is responsible for bringing to the world two of its most special stories ever, Somewhere in Time and What Dreams May Come... these two are stories that the heart cannot forget, carrying messages that only old souls could imagine, but that all souls resonate with deeply.
When I first saw these movies I wondered whether their extraordinary messages were being sent consciously and deliberately, or arrived on the doorstep of my mind as mwere after-products of the movie-making process--unintended outcomes of what were simply commercial ventures. Then, as I traveled my own surprising life path, I chanced to meet the producer of these films... and I got to find out.
No, they were definitely not unintended outcomes.
Stephen (and his co-producer on Dreams, Barnet Bain) was very much aware of the incredible nature of the messages he was sending with these films, and made them for that reason.
Here was a conscious filmmaker, who was choosing consciously to help shift the consciousness of the planet with his life work. I am proud to now list Stephen Simon among my close friends. Not because he is a Hollywood producer (he allows that to impress you for about three and a half minutes), but because he is one of the courageous members of our human family: someone who has chosen to be a messenger, someone who has chosen to make a difference, someone who has chosen to see a brighter world and a grander truth and a wider vision, and who seeks to share it with all of us--not so that we can see how special his world is, but so that we may be inspired to bring that specialness to our own.
This is life-changing stuff I'm talking about here. These films have messages that change inner realities--and those kinds of changes alter outer experiences, and can shift the collective experience of the planet.
One day as I was talking with Stephen about all this, we began a quick thumbnail review of how many other movies we could think of that contained real mind-bending, consciousness-shifting messages, and before too many minutes had passed the list had grown very long.
Starting with Matrix (a very recent and vivid example) and moving right on to other contemporary films such as The Kid (one of my personal favorites), Pay It Forward, Field of Dreams, Cocoon, Frequency, Groundhog Day, Star Wars, The 13th Floor, Ghost, and many others, then on to older movies like Defending Your Life, Resurrection, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, The Razor's Edge, and countless more, we impressed ourselves with the vastness of the inventory of truly meaningful movie messages we were able to catalogue with just a moment's thought.
Neither of us was particularly surprised by this, however. We both understood that important and timely messages are constantly being sent to life about life, and that the performing arts--including the high-impact medium of movies--were among the chief means by which the Universe was sending them. Entertainment, it turns out, is a great delivery system.
"You know, Stephen, you ought to write a book about that!" I suddenly blurted. "I'm sure that peopl are aware, as we are, that there's more to many movies than meets the eye. Wouldn't it be great to have an 'insider' from Hollywood reveal to us how this is being done. And maybe even point out to us some of the mystical movie messages we may have missed?"
"Oh, I don't know," Stephen hesitated. "I'm a movie producer, not an author. That's your stage."
"Hey," I insisted, "if you can talk, you can write! Besides, who better to tell this story than someone who's been making these stories and sending these messages?"
He thought about it for a moment, and I pressed the advantage. "Stephen, the world needs to hear about this. We need to have a compilation of what we've been telling ourselves--an all-in-one-place, entertaining, breezy but important look at the messages movies have been sending us. And you're just the person to do it. In fact, you're the perfect person to do it."