Believer, Beware: First-Person Dispatches from the Margins of Faith

Jeff Sharlet, Selected by, Peter Manseau, Selected by . Beacon $16 (263p) ISBN 978-0-8070-7739-9

This is the second collection of contributions to the online magazine Killing the Buddha (which Sharlet and Manseau founded) to be published in book form. The editors are among the smart, candid, and insightful authors whose personal narratives form the book's 35 brief chapters. The selections represent a wide range of experiences from cheating on bar mitzvah prep to discovering hunger as spiritual food in a Ramadan fast, from sabotaging Bible camp to stumbling upon barbershop theology. Contributions reflect the scope of religious diversity, including orthodox Judaism, Roman Catholicism, Islam, Zen Buddhism and even a meditation on agnosticism. Some are funny, others heartbreaking, and some are simply revelatory. Despite the variety, the collection is unified by the contributors' wrestling with received religious traditions and expectations for belief and practice, each articulating a particular moment of the author's life. The voices are refreshingly honest. Given the narratives' personal nature, readers will not jive with each one but will find particularly thought provoking those that hone in on their own questions, suspicions and experiences. (July)

Reviewed on: 05/11/2009
Release date: 07/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
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