A peripatetic journalist and the author of The Geography of Bliss (2008) jets around the globe trying to find a religion that makes sense for him.
Born a Jew (but no longer observing), Weiner received a recent medical scare and was startled by a nurse’s question: “Have you found your God yet?” That question propelled the author in his search through a tiny fraction of the world’s religions. Some of the groups he chose—Wiccans and Raelians, for example, the latter a UFO-based religion whose Las Vegas convention Weiner attended—seem choices based more on whimsy and sensationalism than a sincere response to the nurse’s question. Still, Weiner is often an appealing tour guide, complaining throughout about the quality of the coffee, making fun of his efforts to whirl like a dervish, chiding himself for his inability to meditate, recording his fears when he walked down a city street or met a Wiccan named Black Cat and telling how he sneaked out of sessions for a drink. Weiner also samples some more conventional religions, like Buddhism and Taoism, and he lived with some Franciscans at a shelter in the South Bronx. The author even explores shamanism at a remote Maryland location, though he confesses a discomfort with polytheism. Weiner ends his quest in Israel, where he studied Kabbalah with a variety of teachers. The author’s conclusion—find what works for you—is hardly novel, and the tone and diction are informal and self-deprecating but sometimes clichéd.
A mixture of sincerity, sensationalism and irony that alternately delights, informs and annoys.