A New Yorker’s wandering spiritual memoir.
In his late 50s, former Parade editor in chief Kravitz (Unfinished Business: One Man's Extraordinary Year of Trying to Do the Right Things, 2010) decided that he needed to find a spiritual dimension to his life. Raised as a Jew, he rejected the religion of his family out of hand due to a distaste for the services of his youth. As a young man, Kravitz dabbled in Christianity but then spent nearly four decades suppressing or ignoring any spiritual desires and instincts. This was largely due to the fact that his wife (also born Jewish) was steadfastly atheist. Though Kravitz paints his wife’s atheism as a source of tension, readers find her to be a tolerant, even supportive, partner in the midst of his quest for meaning. Given the book’s subtitle, readers await a climactic moment of conflict, yet nothing of the sort arises. Kravitz seems to be risking little for his faith, and his struggle seems especially insignificant in the shadow of his immigrant ancestors’ memories. The author’s two-year journey of faith traditions was one that could only exist in a place like New York. He sat in on Quaker meetings and was drawn into transcendental meditation. He explored chanting and Buddhism and even consulted with an astrologer. In the end, he settled on Jewish Renewal, in which mysticism and Eastern religions inform ancient Jewish ritual, and he joined a Renewal synagogue near his home. Readers may be convinced that this may simply be a pit stop, not an ending point, for the author. Kravitz is unclear on whether he believes in an actual, supernatural God, though he makes it clear that he is unconcerned what path his children take, “[a]s long as they lead empathic, meaning-filled lives.”
An unsatisfying memoir of the search for meaning.