American Pilgrimage: Eleven Sacred Journeys and Spiritual Destinations

Jana Riess, Author, Mark Ogilbee, Author . Paraclete $16.95 (207p) ISBN 978-1-55725-447-4

Riess, author of The Spiritual Traveler and PW 's religion book review editor, and writer/editor Ogilbee reveal 11 American hot spots for the spiritually inclined, organized into four themes: healing, hospitality, boundary-crossing and modern "saint" devotionals. From the start, the authors distinguish the tourist—bound for fixed locales—from the pilgrim, who plunges into new environs "both external and internal" in the search for self-discovery. The authors' cross-country excursions yield colorful descriptions and keen observations of sites like El Santuario de Chimayo in New Mexico, where a humble hole in the ground purportedly bears restorative mud; the shrine of St. Jude, patron saint of hopeless causes, in working-class Chicago; a youthful, vivacious Community of Jesus in Cape Cod; and, of course, Graceland, the quintessential American pilgrimage for throngs of "Presleyterians." With discerning insight, the authors consider what makes their selections uniquely American, beyond physical location: each reflects the "porousness" and flexibility of the country's faith, which embraces an array of rituals, folklore and mysticism that spring from not only traditional religion, but also more secular spirituality and the rhythms of nature. Riess and Ogilbee wisely recognize that the psychology of taking the journey figures as much as the destination, affirming, "Pilgrimage tells us that God is everywhere." (June)

Reviewed on: 03/13/2006
Release date: 06/01/2006
Genre: Nonfiction
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