An American Catholic theologian offers a candid memoir about his unusual spiritual journey and a plea for ecumenical tolerance.
A checkered path led the author to his present calling as professor of comparative theology at the University of Notre Dame, as he recounts in these personal essays. Raised in upstate New York, Malkovsky drifted into the Catholic Church via the anti–Vietnam War movement and moved from monastic life to the study of theology in Germany, where he began to learn about liberation theology and “God’s preferential option for the poor.” His interests in the Hindu-Christian dialogue took him to the University of Pune, India, where he frequented the Christa Prema Seva Ashram and immersed himself in the study of Sanskrit. Malkovsky’s years in India profoundly influenced his sense of spirituality—by practicing yoga and meditation, being healed by an Ayurvedic physician, and observing closely the lives of the extremely poor and disenfranchised—but he also met a Muslim woman who became his wife. Though she converted to Catholicism, her family did not immediately accept her choice. Malkovsky shares how his witness and participation in Hindu and Muslim rituals such as burials and weddings have deeply moved and impressed him, adding yet another rich layer to the expression of human spirituality that can be understood and embraced by all. In a long chapter on yoga, the author takes aim at opponents of the practice, called “demonic” by some Catholics and Protestant evangelicals. For Malkovsky, yoga imparted a rigorous control over the body and a “healthy dualism” compatible with Christianity.
Refreshingly free of self-serious dogmatism, the author’s study of other religions shows how it deepened his commitment to his Christian faith.