Return from Exile

Carol Orsborn, Author
Carol Orsborn, Author Continuum $21.95 (220p) ISBN 978-0-8264-1102-0
Reviewed on: 08/31/1998
Release date: 09/01/1998
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Orsborn, an author of popular books in applied spirituality (How Would Confucius Ask for a Raise?), decided at midlife to enroll in an academically demanding graduate school of theology. A Jew, she chose to attend a program in the heart of the Southern Bible belt. Her account of her first year in graduate school, written in the same breezy popular style of her previous books, will be of interest to the same popular audience addressed in those efforts. It's not so much that Orsborn makes readers care about her first year in graduate school as that she introduces an interesting community of seekers all struggling in one way or another to find their way home without succumbing to destructive personal and social forces of exclusion, fear, racism and sexism. Orsborn is at her best when she exposes both the anti- Semitism at the heart of Christian tradition and the surprising depth of Jewish self-hatred in her own experience, including a suburban Chicago upbringing and a long sojourn in San Francisco. The seekers encountered in Orsborn's lively account form a community in the process of discovering that they do not all have to be finding their way to the same home, a particular struggle for her Evangelical and Fundamentalist classmates. As the subtitle suggests, the story is also a personal account of Orsborn's return to Judaism by way of her encounter not only with her colleagues at Vanderbilt (both students and prominent faculty members) but also with the work of Abraham Joshua Heschel. Both the account and the popular introduction to Heschel will be of value to seekers on the way to and from a wide range of spiritual homes. (Sept.)
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