IN SEARCH OF GRACE: A Religious Outsider's Journey Across America's Landscape of Faith

Kristin Hahn, Author . Morrow $24.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-380-97701-7

Burned out by her stint as a successful Hollywood writer, Hahn—a Generation Xer with no religious upbringing—made a journey through America's religious landscape to try to understand not so much theology as practice. She immersed herself in long interviews with believers of almost 20 different religions, from mainstream to alternative, and often joined them in some aspect of their ritual practices. Each chapter title captures the active spirit of the book: "Yielding with the Amish," "Testifying with Mormon Missionaries," "Fasting with Muslims" or "Casting Spells with Witches." Hahn's writing is astonishingly vivid, and she describes her encounters with a cocktail of good humor, respect, curiosity, admiration and the occasional wry but gentle criticism. It is especially remarkable that she can review the basic elements of religions and somehow make it all seem fresh and fascinating. Her facts, unfortunately, are not always airtight; LDS missionary service does not "guarantee the young volunteers a space in at least one of the three" kingdoms of heaven, and Virginia Harris, chair of the board of directors of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, is not "heir to Mrs. Eddy's throne." If there is a bias in Hahn's writing, it is an expected one for the child of a postmodern age: she leans toward religions that are inclusive of multiple paths to God and remains wary of those that make exclusive claims to truth and authority. Still, the book should be particularly attractive to 20- and 30-somethings, who will appreciate its flavorful narratives. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 03/18/2002
Release date: 03/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
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