Monday, December 31, 2012

BC2012: Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine by Eric Weiner

I enjoyed Weiner's The Geography of Bliss, wherein he visited numerous countries in search of happiness, so I was excited to spot this book at Barnes & Noble in Green Bay, WI last June. Unfortunately, it was hardcover and I didn't feel like spending that much, so I took a picture of it with my cell phone as a reminder. In November I got an offer for 30% off one book at B&N, and I discovered that this had just been released in paperback.

This book is somewhat similar to The Geography of Bliss in that Weiner again visits different countries, but this time he is searching for a religion. This book offers a lot to both believers and non-believers (Weiner describes himself as a "confusionist") because religion and philosophy are so intertwined. Here are just a couple of the lines that made me stop and think for a moment:
A Franciscan friar says, "When in doubt, be thankful."
A Kabbalah teacher says, "The opposite of sadness is not happiness but clarity."
Weiner admits that he sampled only a tiny percentage of the world's religions, but I think depth is more interesting than breadth so that didn't bother me. His chapter on shamanism is noticeably weak compared to the others, however. He should have explored it more thoroughly or chosen a different religion entirely (I vote for Hinduism, easily the largest religion omitted from the book).

This book deserves a more lengthy review, but frankly it's 2013 already so I have to move on. I had to bend the rules to fit Man Seeks God into Book Challenge 2012; I finished it before midnight in Honolulu but not Chicago (I'm still going to backdate this post as I have with others at month-end--you didn't really think I cranked out all those book reviews between 11:30 and midnight, did you?). As I said before, I needed a better finish than Gilbert Gottfried!

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