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Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine Hardcover – December 5, 2011
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"Throughout this marvelously entertaining journey, precious and universal truths emerge amid the churning of Weiner's self-conscious intellect and self-deprecating sense of humor. Weiner manages to suspend disbelief long enough to share tales of divine wonders, a possibility in all of us."―Booklist (Starred Review)
"Book of the month... Much of the power of this pilgrimage comes from the characters Weiner encounters-informed, impassioned, and idiosyncratic guides who lead the ever-questioning, ever-doubting author on a magical mystery tour that illuminates our inner and outer paths."―National Geographic Traveler
"I came to Eric Weiner's MAN SEEKS GOD looking for a fight. But in the end, I didn't find the fight I was looking for; instead, I found an affable, candid, deeply thoughtful, sometimes ironic and funny soul, with whom I shared certain similarities.... In the end, despite my proclivity for theological fisticuffs, Mr. Weiner's candor and thoughtfulness were entirely disarming. Whereas some people spend a lifetime searching for their god, Mr. Weiner's whirlwind speed-dating of deities is a thing to behold. I came to admire Mr. Weiner's tenacity and verve, trotting off to places I'll likely never go -- at least not for the same reasons -- pursuing and spending long hours with the kinds of people I'll likely only meet in passing, all in an effort to better understand the world and himself and to 'find his God.'"―Pittsburgh Post Gazette
"Winsome, self-deprecating humor marks every page."
"Well-researched, informative and engaging, MAN SEEKS GOD is packed with facts and wisdom that, regardless of which God you root for, will leave what a Buddhist friend of Weiner's calls 'Post-it Notes on the brain.'"
"It is not so much the various religions and religious practices examined that make MAN SEEKS GOD compelling, but the people Weiner encounters and spends time with as he travels around the world in search of something to fill the proverbial 'God shaped hole.'...[an] honest and neurotic, generally entertaining book."―Bookreporter.com
"Writing about spirituality is fraught with ironies: Isn't the divine supposed to be beyond words? How to describe the inner landscape without sounding insane or precious? Eric Weiner's quirky religion-hopping travelogue, MAN SEEKS GOD actually embraces these pitfalls, while poking good-natured fun at the genre.... a refreshing departure from more weighty spiritual tomes."
―San Francisco Chronicle
"In a time when many religious people insist only their own faith is valid, Weiner traveled the world in a quest for answers to spiritual questions.... Not taking himself (or others) too seriously, Weiner's travels take him to Turkey, where he whirls, dervish-style; and Las Vegas, where he encounters Raelians, who base their beliefs on UFOs. He studies Kabbalah (without Madonna) and meditates with Tibetan lamas."―New York Post
"Books about God tend to fall into two categories: objective inquiries into the nature of belief and personal tales of spiritual awakening...Weiner's 'Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine' nimbly and often hilariously straddles the fence between the two genres....He's Woody Allen channeling Karen Armstrong."
―New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Eric Weiner is author of the New York Times bestseller The Geography of Bliss, which has been translated into eighteen languages. A former correspondent for NPR and the New York Times, Weiner has reported from more than three dozen countries. His work has appeared in the New Republic, Slate, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Foreign Policy, The New York Times Magazine, and the anthology, Best American Travel Writing. He divides his time between Starbucks and Caribou.
Top customer reviews
With a keen sense of heartfelt humor and sentiment, Weiner takes us directly to the sources...
Turkey for Muslim/Sufism beliefs; Kathmandu for Buddhism philosophy; a Franciscan friars homeless shelter in NYC; Las Vegas to a Raelian convention; China to study the principles of Taoism and then Israel to reconnect with his childhood roots of Judaism...along the way he dabbles in witchcraft and shamanism to see what they put forward.
The final analysis? Weiner stitches this all together and decides what divinity and spiritualism mean for him.
A clever, colorful approach to a sensitive subject.
Man Seeks God is definitely among the top 1% of my favorite books so far. Thank you Eric. In addition to the knowledge I got, I have added years to my life from all the laughing I did while reading this book.
In the book's opening pages, Weiner seems suspicious of relativistic and postmodern approaches to studying religion. (At one point, he calls postmodernism "too squishy.")The new-age impulse that has infiltrated so much of American religious thought does not appeal to him. This, paired with his sense of humor, got the book off to a promising start for me. I appreciated his willingness to be transparent with doctrine and practice he found strange or inconsistent. He seems sincere in his quest to find truth and honest enough to admit that not every faith system seems to have tapped into it.
I was disappointed to see this transparency grow opaque as the book progressed. He eventually seems to fall under the influence of the same relativistic notions that, earlier in the book, he criticizes. During his stint with the Raelians, who by far represent some of the strangest theology and ritual I have ever encountered, Weiner stifles the urge to think critically about what he is hearing: "No, questioning the premise of the Realian theology, such as it is, strikes me as an act of cruelty, of arrogance, and who am I, pride of intellect, to commit such a barbarous act?" (186). Hold the phone...simply questioning is considered a form of cruelty, a "barbarous act"? He later admits that he doesn't buy Raelism and even concedes that it's crazy, but resists the urge to dismiss it all-together, because "If this craziness does enrich their lives then who am I to mock them?" (188).
This leads to another problem I had with the book. There's a whiff of something disingenuous here, because, really, it is obvious that the point of this entire Raelian chapter is to expose the weirdness of this relatively new religious enterprise. Weiner wants readers to buy into the sincerity of his spiritual quest; he wants us to believe that he really is searching in places where he thinks he might find God. And, yet, I didn't buy for one second that he ever seriously considered Raelism a viable option, even before exploring it for himself. Kabbalah, yes, Budddhism, yes, Catholicsm, maybe, but Raelism? He implicitly pokes fun at them the whole way through, even in what he chooses to include as part of his narrative. There is just no way he takes breast-worship seriously or believes even for an instant that Rael's "angels" are anything more than some lusty man's attempt to reserve the most beautiful women for himself. (You'll have to read the book to see what I'm talking about...) I kept asking myself, is his adventure with Realism part of a sincere quest to find God, or just another journalistic gimmick used to entice readers? And, then, when he refused to explicitly question Raelian theology even though it's obvious what he really thinks, I found him difficult to take seriously.
This book is not without merit. It's often funny and sometimes thought-provoking. It offers copious amounts of sermon fodder for pastors who like to engage with other religions and secular ideology. Despite my disagreement with his ultimate conclusions about faith (he advocates for what he called in his NPR interview an "Ikea God," which is basically one we assemble ourselves...),I sincerely liked Eric Weiner and found myself hoping that he overcomes his depression and spiritual malaise. Despite all of that, I just can't say that this is a great book, even though I did enjoy reading it at times.