In search of grace : a religious outsider's journey across America's landscape of faith /
by Kristin Hahn.
New York : W. Morrow, c2002.
xvi, 302 p.
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New York : W. Morrow, c2002.
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Includes bibliographical references.
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Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2002-03-18:
Burned out by her stint as a successful Hollywood writer, Hahn a Generation Xer with no religious upbringing made a journey through America's religious landscape to try to understand not so much theology as practice. She immersed herself in long interviews with believers of almost 20 different religions, from mainstream to alternative, and often joined them in some aspect of their ritual practices. Each chapter title captures the active spirit of the book: "Yielding with the Amish," "Testifying with Mormon Missionaries," "Fasting with Muslims" or "Casting Spells with Witches." Hahn's writing is astonishingly vivid, and she describes her encounters with a cocktail of good humor, respect, curiosity, admiration and the occasional wry but gentle criticism. It is especially remarkable that she can review the basic elements of religions and somehow make it all seem fresh and fascinating. Her facts, unfortunately, are not always airtight; LDS missionary service does not "guarantee the young volunteers a space in at least one of the three" kingdoms of heaven, and Virginia Harris, chair of the board of directors of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, is not "heir to Mrs. Eddy's throne." If there is a bias in Hahn's writing, it is an expected one for the child of a postmodern age: she leans toward religions that are inclusive of multiple paths to God and remains wary of those that make exclusive claims to truth and authority. Still, the book should be particularly attractive to 20- and 30-somethings, who will appreciate its flavorful narratives. (Apr.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Appeared in Library Journal on 2002-04-01:
Thomas Jefferson, a Unitarian, once said that if he were to form a new religious sect he would follow the example of the bee, extracting the honey of every sect. Both of these books attempt to extract that which is religion in America, presenting authentic accounts of believers from many different religions. Both are also the culmination of years of research, in which the authors sought out everyday experiences in various religions throughout America. Each author has a unique manner of presenting the findings of what spirituality means for him or her. Gooch (William Paterson Univ.; City Poet) chooses an anthropological approach in analyzing five underexposed religions in America. His personal narrative includes detailed journalistic accounts of particular spiritualities, such as reading the Urantia Book, speaking with Deepak Chopra, and worship with the gay congregation of Cathedral of Hope in Dallas. Gooch documents the changes and formations in these spiritual groups, exploring, for instance, the changes in New Melleray Abbey, IA, from a visit in 1976 to a more recent retreat. He then provides a background to the Trappist filial tradition. Author and documentary filmmaker Hahn presents an armchair exploration of more than 20 distinct religions. She provides a short one- to three-page summary of the philosophy or doctrine of the religion to show how it motivates the religion. The remainder of the chapter covers the particular essence of a religion as she experienced it from attending services, prayer meetings, and rituals and interviewing members of the religion. A full spectrum of religion experiences is covered, from smoking sacred tobacco with Native American medicine men to an E-Meter reading with the Scientologists, and Hahn extracts the personal meanings of each. Both of these books provide something unique and do not set out to validate or invalidate any one religion or individual. Gooch's journalistic approach is recommended for large religion collections; Hahn's book is recommended for general audiences for its more personal, popular approach. Leo Kriz, West Des Moines P.L., IA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, March 2002
Washington Post, March 2002
Library Journal, April 2002
Boston Globe, September 2002
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Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introductionp. xiii
Native American Beliefs
Communing with a Medicine Manp. 3
Appropriating with Non-Indiansp. 20
Yielding with the Amishp. 31
Congregating with Monks and Nunsp. 51
Testifying with Mormon Missionariesp. 67
Praying with Practical Christiansp. 82
Spreading the Word with Preachersp. 97
Spreading the Wealth with Unitarian Universalistsp. 111
Listening with Spiritualistsp. 121
Sanctifying with Jewsp. 139
Improvising with the Self-Taughtp. 156
Fasting with Muslimsp. 165
Meditating with Mastersp. 185
Worshiping with Devoteesp. 201
Stretching with Yogisp. 217
The New Age
Godding with a Bestselling Authorp. 235
Recovering with a Friendp. 247
Crossing the Bridge with Scientologistsp. 257
Casting Spells with Witchesp. 275
Epiloguep. 291
Notesp. 297
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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