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How Do We Know When It's God?: A Spiritual Memoir Hardcover – August 26, 1999

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

How do we know when it's God? That's a tough question, explains Dan Wakefield, whose memoir gives a painful account of fabricating God's will in order to justify his personal desires and delusions. Wakefield's accounts of stumbling through a brutal "EST" seminar, the soul-snuffing world of Hollywood screenplay writing, and bouts of despair will reassure Christian readers that they can make mistakes (the same ones--over and over again) and still find comfort in faith. "In fact, this memoir of mine could more aptly be titled When Good People Do Bad Things--or at least stupid things, things that hurt themselves and others," Wakefield confesses.

The most painful stories come from Wakefield's failed love affairs and marriages--perhaps because he still seems confused and squeamish when it comes to loving women. Nonetheless, the man has earned his badge of wisdom, mostly because he is not afraid to hold himself up to the light of God honestly. This is a thoroughly engaging memoir, written by an accomplished storyteller, revealing all the blunders humans make when we try to honor (and secretly ghostwrite) the master plan. --Gail Hudson

From Publishers Weekly

In 1988, Wakefield (Going All the Way) thought he had set his feet firmly on the spiritual path. He had just published Returning, an inspiring memoir about his return to faith and health after decades of heavy drinking and serious despair. He was happily running workshops around the country, helping people recognize the way the spiritual manifested in their own lives. As detailed here, when he then meets up with an old high school crush on a visit to his hometown in Indianapolis, he feels that the overwhelming attraction they share is a sign from God that they should marry and live happily ever after. As soon as the ceremony is over, however, Wakefield realizes that he has made a major mistake. Divorced within months, he's left feeling as if the joy and balance he has treasured has "collapsed within me, like a tent brought down in a high wind." Step by step, Wakefield finds his way to a new kind of openness to himself and to God. He turns to yoga, "going back to the body to find the spirit," and learns in other areas of his life to listen more deeply to the truth of his physical and emotional being. Moving from Boston to New York to Miami Beach, Wakefield learns that discerning God's will starts with paying attention to what is, without rushing to facile conclusions. Wakefield offers readers an engrossing story as well as a guide to spiritual maturity. With breathtaking honesty, he shows that real spiritual faith requires that we be explorers, open to the possibility that our wrong turns and mishaps might lead to the richest territory of all. (Aug.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (August 26, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316917788
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316917780
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,258,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Jeffery K. Matheus on October 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
If you are a fan of Indiana-bred novelist and spiritual writer Dan Wakefield, then make sure that you don't pass up this book! Although the title does not acknowledge any "Part 2", this book is actully a follow up to Wakefield's earlier spiritual autobiography "Returning". But whereas "Returning" dealt with the story of Wakefield's coming to faith in God after years as an atheist, this book deals with the up ever-winding Christian journey that Wakefield has lived since then. If you are fan of Wakefield's novels, then this book will give you some real insights as to what he was thinking and living when he wrote "Selling Out" and "Under The Apple Tree" in particular. This book also tells the story of how Wakefield's first novel, "Going All the Way", was made into a movie, with much involvement and enthusiasm from Wakefield himself. The book is quite episodic in its narative, and each chapter seems to move from one crisis and/or triumph to another. My favorite chapter deals with the time that Wakefield attended a supposedly Jung-ian "Post Christian" retreat, which in fact turned out to be nothing short of an anti-Christian brainwashing camp! The way in which Wakefield wisely deals with the pushy "Post Christian" group leaders, and verbally defends his faith in Christ along the way (under the worst of adversity and peer-pressure!), makes for some real page-turning moments! Some traditional Christian readers may be put off by Wakefield's almost brutal honesty in places. He admits to alcohol and drug abuse (although he has since gotten sober). He recounts several unhealthy sexual releationships, with a variety of diverse and willing women, and he is not above using occassional profanity. But if these things do not scare you away, then "How Do We Know When It's God" is well worth your time and money!
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Format: Hardcover
As always, Dan Wakefield offers us an interesting, engaging, honest portrayal of his spiritual hunger--a craving that both leads him to places of darkness as well as hope. Without self-pity, Wakefield offers his mistakes and shortcomings as part of the pilgrimage of growth. This book, like his others, are candid and refreshing--the perfect read for imperfect pilgrims searching for an authentic voice in the world of spirituality.
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Format: Hardcover
Wakefield described this book as "how not to do it", an extremely accurate description. In addition to being very informative, it is an extremely enjoyable read. He leads the reader through all of his victories AND his (many) mistakes and defeats. Although this book doesn't contain all "the answers", I felt so much better just knowing that the spiritual wilderness I am currently traversing has been survived by someone who lived to write about it! Thanks Dan!
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By A Customer on August 28, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book asks the most important question: where does guidance come from, where does impulse come from? How can we know when we're following our hearts, our highest wisdom, and when we're being tugged by dark forces? Does it matter? Wakefield's account of his journey is searingly honest, moving, and alwyas laced with humor, usually at his own expense. It's a delight to read and I recommend it strongly to seekers on any path, or those who follow the pathless path.
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By A Customer on September 8, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Dan Wakefield is that rare writer who calls himself to reckon for his acts and thoughts and by his courageous example calls the reader to ask the hard questions of himself. Written with humor and humility, How Do We Know When It's God is a light in the darkness.
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