The latest studies find that nearly one in three Americans will change their religious affiliation at some point in their lives. We are, more than ever, a nation of God hoppers.
For New York Times bestselling author and former NPR foreign correspondent Eric Weiner — an agnostic by default — a health scare that put him briefly in the hospital leads him on an unexpected exploration of faith. While in pain and awaiting a diagnosis, a well-meaning nurse asks him a simple, blunt question: “Have you found your God yet?”
This out of the blue query nags, prods, and ultimately launches him on a far-flung journey to do just that. The result is Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine, a funny, illuminating chronicle of his globe-spanning spiritual quest to find a faith that fits.
Weiner, a longtime “spiritual voyeur” and inveterate traveler, realizes that while he has been privy to a wide range of religious practices, he’s never seriously considered these concepts in his own life. Face to face with his own mortality, and spurred on by the question of what spiritual principles to impart to his young daughter, he decides to correct this omission, undertaking a worldwide exploration of religions and hoping to come to a personal understanding of the divine.
The journey that results is rich in insight, humor, and heart. Willing to do anything to better understand faith, and to find the god or gods that speak to him, he travels to Nepal, where he meditates with Tibetan lamas and a guy named Wayne. He sojourns to Turkey, where he whirls (not so well, as it turns out) with Sufi dervishes. He heads to China, where he attempts to unblock his chi; to Israel, where he studies Kabbalah, sans Madonna; to the Bronx, where he volunteers at a homeless shelter run by Franciscan friars, and to Las Vegas, where he has a close encounter with Raelians (followers of the world’s largest UFO-based religion).
At each stop along the way, Weiner keeps an open mind, leaves judgment at the door, and tackles our most pressing spiritual questions: Where do we come from? What happens when we die? How should we live our lives? Where do all the missing socks go?
With his trademark wit and warmth, he leaves no stone unturned. At a time when more Americans than ever are choosing a new faith, and when spiritual questions loom large in the modern age, Man Seeks God presents a perspective on religion that is sure to delight, inspire, and entertain.
Eric Weiner is author of the New York Times bestseller The Geography of Bliss, which has been translated into 18 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.
Weiner will be talking and signing his new book on Thursday, Jan. 26, 8 p.m., at Books & Books, 265 Aragon Ave. in Coral Gables.
For more information, visit online at www.ericweinerbooks.com.