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Who Needs God Paperback – January 1, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When Bad Things Happen to Good People and When All You've Ever Wanted Isn't Enough have attracted scores of people to Kushner as a spiritual counsellor and his new book promises to be another bestseller. The lack of a question mark after the title signals the rabbi's conviction: he doesn't ask, he states that we all need God. Kushner's approach is pragmatic and ecumenical rather than didactic; he believes that God hears people even when they protest divine "mishandling" of their affairs, complain or argue as clearly as they pray. Readers will be intrigued by the author's refutation of the big bangper web. theory on the world's origin, among the elemental subjects he covers. This is an inspirational book for all, no matter whether religious or skeptic. Jewish Book Club selection; BOMC alternate.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Attaining and then maintaining religious sense or persuasion is often difficult today. Our culture of individualism, self-sufficiency, and competitiveness thwarts, even nullifies spiritual inclinations, with technology a prime contender for our reverence even though it is totally "witless and unimaginative" on its own. Yet many people are vaguely aware of something lacking in their lives. Rabbi Kushner (best known for When Bad Things Happen to Good People ) believes that "human life has meaning . . . but only in religious terms." According to this crucial realization, it is religion that connects us to God and community. In the end, Rabbi Kushner goes so far as to define religion as community rather than theology--a point of contention. What, then, would be the point of his title? But mainly, he attempts to transcend differences while conveying basic spiritual truths. Recommended for general audiences. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/89.
- Carol J. Lichtenberg, Washington State Univ. Lib., Pullman
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone (January 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743234774
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743234771
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #368,445 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Harold S. Kushner is Rabbi Laureate of Temple Israel in Natick, Massachusetts, where he lives. His books include the huge bestseller When Bad Things Happen To Good People and When All You've Ever Wanted Isn't Enough.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By yygsgsdrassil on August 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
....I hide nothing about my search for spiritual awareness. If you've followed along some of the book reviews I've done in other places, because I do write articles under psuedonyms in other venues--you would know I've read a lot in the religious and spiritual and philosophical arena. Rabbi Kushner has written many books on how modern folks could cope in today's trials and tribulations starting with the great "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" which, in my estimation, still is one of the best books on the searching I have ever read.
This book, "Who Needs God" is written for those who are too-- should I say 'distracted' by everything to find the love God gives us through the fellowshipping and community of churches, and a hope that can be strenghtened by belief in and awareness of someone greater than our poor selves. Kushner writes passages that are sheer a chapter entitled "Can Modern People Pray" he says Psalm 73 is a "Spiritual Masterpiece" in which the author comes to experience God and "in the light of that experience, all doubt, all philosophical and intellectual questions melt away" and "once we have tasted the prescence of God, we will no longer envy the wicked..."
I cannot adequately describe how stirring and how helpful this book has been for me. It is has been a lifechanging expeience for me. You will have to get it and read it to find out for yourself..
The "full of sky" quote comes from Kushner's introduction in a fable about a Sky Maiden who leaves her earth-husband after he's opened the box she asked him not was to the husband empty, but to the Maiden, it was full of that which she came to know and love from her celestial existence....
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By D. Gehr on June 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
Well, I have to let you know that I had some difficulty getting into this book. That lasted all the way through the introduction. The only reason I gave this book four stars was that I had some difficulty following the author's train of thought at times. I am reading the book for the second time. I have found this book excellent for focusing on my own doubts on being Jewish and my relationship or lack there of between myself and G-d. This book provided the perspective I needed to reach inside and think of my own needs and the needs that G-d may have for me. This book is a great read and one that you will like to own.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J. Davis on December 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
I'm glad I read this book, but I'm afraid I will disappoint Rabbi Kushner with my response. A quick background on myself:Once I was a moderately observant Jew (went to High Holidays, tried not to work on Sabbath, etc..) A few years ago I read Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens,and a few others and completely lost all belief in God. With an open mind, I read Who Needs God to see if there was any chance I might regain some faith. I regret to say, that while I thought the book was enjoyable and passionate, it did not at all convince me that God or religion is necessary (or true) anymore. Rabbi Kushner's arguments for God (see p.177, where he says God is "found in the courage of the human soul....") just aren't compelling. The courage of human beings is evidence that some human beings have courage, nothing more. An empiricist like myself wants a little more evidence of God's existence. I find another non-religious Jew, Steven Weinberg, more convincing: "Remembrance of the Holocaust leaves me unsympathetic to attempts to justify the ways of God to man."

If a reader joins a congregation after reading this book, more power to him or her. But it won't be me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael Lewyn VINE VOICE on May 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
A nice, innocuous, not-too-deep book- designed not for scholars but for the sort of person who might believe in God but feels no particular Divine command to do anything and is turned off by organized religion. Thus, this is not a book for Christian fundamentalists or observant Jews, but for people who are trying to decide between some sort of liberal religion and no religion at all.

Kushner's goal is to defend religion to such people. He asserts that religion "helps us not by changing the facts, but by teaching us new ways of looking at those facts"- for example, to see food as "a bounty which calls for admiration and gratitude", rather than taking reality for granted. Similarly, religion enables us to deal with crises more effectively. A religious life makes tragedy easier to handle, because a religious community can console us more effectively than the odd friend here and there. And feeling forgiven by God enables people to think about their sins without feeling paralyzed by them. (By contrast, human feedback can make people feel crushed and hopeless if we are criticized too aggressively or patronized if their errors are treated as too minor).

He also suggests that religion caters to other psychological needs as well, including our needs for (a) a feeling that life is significant, (b) reverence and awe, to be aware of the things we can't control (the very reasons mighty animals like tigers tend to attract more interest in zoos than smaller animals), and c) our need to acknowledge our limitations.

Most of this book struck me as pretty obvious, elementary stuff. But one or two things grabbed me. Kushner tries to explain why Jews now prefer smaller synagogues than they once did.
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