When the Faith You Grew Up With Has Lost Its Meaning
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For those who know they want a meaningful spiritual life, but don—t know where to find one. McLennan, long-time chaplain at Tufts University and the inspiration for Doonesbury’s Rev. Scotty Sloan, is ecumenical to a fault. No original metaphors here: McLennan sees himself as the mountain guide for lost trekkers—we—re all trying to bushwhack our way to the top of the same mountain, but, as any good college chaplain knows, there are many paths up. In nine easy steps, McLennan can get you to the top. First, you must be open to spiritual development and change, recognizing that your journey is every bit as important as your destination. Once you have mastered openness, you can move on to thinking about religion—engaging critically rather than falling back on knee-jerk reactions ingrained in childhood. Next comes experiencing, the stage in which —new ways will emerge to see the sunrise, hear the birds sing, smell the flowers, taste food, and feel the wind in your face.— Then, pick a religious path and, as the folks at Nike say, just do it: Read, worship, and eat your chosen religion. After you—ve partaken of gefilte fish and perused a few books by Lawrence Kushner, you—re ready to talk with —fellow travelers,— be they clergy or lay. Then move on to exploring other faiths, since learning about Ramadan can help you find keeping kosher more meaningful. The chapter on —Sitting— extols you to pray or meditate, and —Suffering— explores the role of religion during crisis. Finally, —Rejoicing— reminds us of the spiritual highs to be found in holiday feasts, sing-alongs, and weddings. Centuries hence, historians of late-20th-century America will finger this guide as evidence that millennial Americans were a spiritual people, but that theirs was a spirituality drenched in the easy, feel-good language of consumerism: Picking a religion is not so different from picking a new car. McLennan’s is less an aid to hikers than a handbook for outlet-mall devotees.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-06-065347-7
Page count: 256pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1999


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