Occhiogrosso (Once a Catholic, 1987) offers profiles, based on in-depth interviews, of 14 men and women of every religious stripe who encountered a vital spiritual force that changed their lives. The author begins with Lex Hixon, a white-haired, pajama-clad scholar and religious man for all seasons. A sheik of a Sufi order, Hixon (born an Episcopalian) also claims to be an Eastern Orthodox Christian as well as a follower of Hindu Vedanta and a meditator in the Tibetan Buddhist mode. Despite the potential for spiritual confusion, Hixon finds a commonality among these faiths, cautioning against ``self-made'' religions: ``Those peripheral developments have always occurred, but the main forces within religion have been vibrant communities, rich in depth, and not simply circling around one charismatic individual.'' More conservatively, a middle-class Boston couple whom Occhiogrosso profiles explains how, after a weekend retreat called ``Marriage Encounter,'' they discovered that Roman Catholicism could be experienced as a vibrant spiritual community. Their faith inspired the couple to sacrifice their wealth and security in order to minister to the poor. Often Occhiogrosso zeroes in on practical applications of spirituality- -e.g., in the case of Bernard Glassman, a Zen master who is trying to develop an American Zen of business and social action by running a bakery and an agency to help the homeless in blighted Yonkers. Other notable profiles include those of Paul Lowe, a maverick guru who once served as a swami under the notorious Rajneesh, and Kathryn Quick, a Long Island housewife and mother who gave up her heritage of Conservative Judaism for the awakening of ``Kundalini'' power under the direction of famed Hindu Swami Muktananda. Enlivened by Occhiogrosso's account of his own wide-ranging religious quest, these stories illuminate and feed our near- boundless American need for some palpable proof of the power of the spirit.