Books by Sam Keen

Released: Aug. 1, 1997

The prolific Keen (Hymns to an Unknown God: Awakening the Spirit in Everyday Life, 1994; Fire in the Belly, 1991; etc.) sets out to explore why we obstinately hide from the knowledge that love (of one's family, one's labors, and of some one significant other) ``is the way, the truth, and the life,'' and to suggest how we may deal with those fears and find the kind of love that makes us feel ``rooted'' and secure in our lives. Mixing some frank autobiographical recollections with brief aphoristic explorations of love's nature and rewards, and mingling lists of questions for readers intent on analyzing their behavior with specific examples of those haplessly in pursuit of love in all the wrong places, Keen provides a deft review, often insightful (and even moving), flawed by its declamatory style and somewhat confused organization. More shrewdly self-aware than many self-help books, but still too dogmatic, too much of a fix-it manual, to provide a penetrating and original meditation on love. Read full book review >
Released: July 15, 1994

Pop psychology. Pop religiosity. Ultimately, just a New Age guru popping off. Keen (Fire in the Belly, 1990), the bestselling author who, along with poet Robert Bly, helped spark the so-called Men's Movement, here hopes to start a fire under society in general in this new look at religion and spirituality. According to Keen, we are experiencing a spiritual renaissance. Alienated from institutional religion, people are turning to 12-step programs, Native American spirituality, goddess worship, Eastern religions. Even scientists, who once eschewed the possibility of any reality beyond that discernable through science, are embracing religion. All are seeking spiritual security in the postmodern world where so much seems to have lost meaning. What is needed, the author avers, is new organizing myths for our time, new rituals to imbue our lives with meaning, new ways of sacralizing the ordinary and our everyday lives. He invites readers to journey with him as he attempts to map the route to this new awareness. Using insights of thinkers like Paul Tillich, Erich Fromm, and Martin Buber—and examples from pop icons as diverse as Clint Eastwood and the Grateful Dead—he shows how people can read their lives as sacred texts, freeing them from the canons of organized religion, and how they can approach ``ultimate reality.'' In particular, this means a healthy embrace of sexuality and the sensual and an ability to be creatively in community with other beings (human and otherwise). A final chapter provides a sampler of rituals for the inquiring spirit. Though he would doubtless reject the phrase, Keen has produced a theology for the New Age. In the process, he has covered ground traversed better by more serious scholars, notably Tom Driver (Patterns of Grace and The Magic of Ritual). One can't help feeling that this book was written simply because, as the author himself says, ``spirituality is in.'' Read full book review >
Released: May 15, 1992

Here, rescued from out-of-print limbo in an apparent attempt to capitalize on the success of Keen's bestselling A Fire in the Belly, comes a 1980 Keen work, slightly revised and given a new introduction—and a new name, so much more 90's-style than the original: What to Do When You're Bored and Blue. Well, as we pointed out 12 years ago, one thing you should not do is to read this book, which is, as we said then, full of ``bubble-headed mystical insights'' in which Keen ``takes boredom as a synonym for practically every lifestyle malady, from simply monotony to full- fledged depression,'' and recommends, among other tactics, that you ``replace the TV set with your own imagination: `On my channel 1 this morning, Sophia Loren and I are shipwrecked....' Flotsam.'' Read full book review >