From Publishers Weekly
Riess, author of The Spiritual Traveler
's religion book review editor, and writer/editor Ogilbee reveal 11 American hot spots for the spiritually inclined, organized into four themes: healing, hospitality, boundary-crossing and modern "saint" devotionals. From the start, the authors distinguish the tourist—bound for fixed locales—from the pilgrim, who plunges into new environs "both external and internal" in the search for self-discovery. The authors' cross-country excursions yield colorful descriptions and keen observations of sites like El Santuario de Chimayo in New Mexico, where a humble hole in the ground purportedly bears restorative mud; the shrine of St. Jude, patron saint of hopeless causes, in working-class Chicago; a youthful, vivacious Community of Jesus in Cape Cod; and, of course, Graceland, the quintessential American pilgrimage for throngs of "Presleyterians." With discerning insight, the authors consider what makes their selections uniquely American, beyond physical location: each reflects the "porousness" and flexibility of the country's faith, which embraces an array of rituals, folklore and mysticism that spring from not only traditional religion, but also more secular spirituality and the rhythms of nature. Riess and Ogilbee wisely recognize that the psychology of taking the journey figures as much as the destination, affirming, "Pilgrimage tells us that God is everywhere." (June)
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This slim, entertaining volume makes clear that some pilgrimages are private, others a communal experience. Some involve distant travel, but as many can transpire in the backyard. Ogilbee and Riess describe pilgrimage as journeying devoted to "reflecting, and spending time in greater spiritual awareness" on the part of "boundary-crossers." The pilgrimages they describe are uniquely American in that, according to them, American religious experience essentially is porous and flexible. Thus, non-Catholics pray at Catholic sites like the National Shrine of St. Jude in Chicago (their example), Christians follow the teachings of Buddhists such as Thich Nhat Hanh, and people from all walks of life and religious faiths walk with nonbelievers to a sanctuary in Chimayo, New Mexico, on Good Friday in search of restoration of body and spirit. Other sites visited include the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky; Mission San Juan Capistrano in California; the red rock country of Sedona, Arizona; and even Elvis Presley's Graceland in Tennessee. Those drawn to armchair travel laced with spirituality will savor this modest book. June SawyersCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved