Synopses & Reviews
Lee Kravitz is adrift.
Shaken deeply after 9/11 and the loss of his job, he begins to feel the pull toward rediscovering his spiritualitya yearning long-buried since young adulthood. But in this hes alonehis wife doesnt understand why their family life cant provide what he needs, and his friends cant relate. When he suffers what he thinks is a heart attack and finds himself calling out for God, Lee realizes he must take action, whatever the cost.
In Pilgrim, Lees journey takes him to many placesfrom the quiet reflection of Buddhist meditation groups and Quaker meetings to the joyous noise of Hindu ecstatic chanting sessions and a candlelit Christmas Eve massuntil he finds a place where he feels hes finally found the community he has sought. Along the way, he strives to reconcile his needs and beliefs with those of his family, knowing that he may be risking their bond.
In documenting his quest to pursue a contemplative life in the chaos of everyday existence, Lee offers a blueprint for anyone who might find himself lost at one point or another. Spanning areas of faith from Judaism to Protestantism to Nada yoga, the book also explores the latest research on the effects religion and God have on our brains, emotions, and health.
A thoughtful, stirring blend of memoir, religion, and science, Pilgrim is an engrossing narrative that speaks to the universal need to feel connected to the world around us.
"In his mid-50s, journalist and memoirist Kravitz (Unfinished Business) set off on a self-described 'spiritual shopping expedition.' Though raised Jewish, Kravitz's last extended sojourn into spirituality had been in college, and he was now married to an atheist who did not understand his desire for a richer spiritual life. This predictable memoir chronicles Kravitz's two years of 'shopping for God': attending Quaker meeting with a neighbor; taking a class called 'Foundations of Self-Healing and Contemplative Life,' which explored the Four Noble Truths; dipping into devotional chant. Along the way, friends get cancer and his aunt dies, bringing mortality home. This 'long and winding road' ultimately leads Kravitz to the Jewish Renewal movement. He lands in a small progressive Jewish community near his apartment on the Upper West Side. His wife does not wholly join in, but does take a challah-making workshop and begins preparing Shabbat dinners. It is okay, he concludes in anodyne fashion, if his kids don't become religious, as long as they lead 'empathic, meaning-filled lives.' Agent: David Black, David Black Agency. (May)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Lee Kravitz has brilliantly captured the spirit of searching so many of us feel. Pilgrim
is the perfect book for our time—open, engaging, even suspenseful. You'll be cheering him on even as you learn more about yourself."—Bruce Feiler, bestselling author of Walking the Bible
and The Secrets of Happy Families
“In Pilgrim, Lee Kravitz takes us along on his deeply-felt spiritual journey. This is a courageous work filled with wisdom and life lessons that all of us can benefit from.”—Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps and bestselling author of Listening Is an Act of Love and Ties That Bind
“What a beautiful, honest, enlightening, modest, and wise book this is. Lee has written a map for all us wanderers and seekers who take the perennial spiritual challenge to "Go Forth" and become the artists of our own life. Pilgrim is crackling with insights, and reminds us that the most important quality of a genuine spiritual journey is its unpredictability, but if we risk the life we have we gain a maze of grace. Thank you, Lee!”—Rabbi Irwin Kula, author of Yearnings and president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership
“Lee Kravitzs journey of spiritual renewal leads him right into the heart of what matters most: family, community, and love. Pilgrim is a beautiful, heartfelt book for anyone who has struggled with the big questions about passion and purpose - which is to say, everyone.”—Hope Edelman, bestselling author of Motherless Daughters and The Possibility of Everything
"An engaging meditation on the language of faith."The New York Times Book Review
"A unique and glorious voice."Boston Globe
"[Kathleen Norris] writes about religion with the imagination of a poet."Chicago Tribune
"It's hard to imagine less off-putting or pious writing about religion than this sublimely commonsensical lexicon of words and concepts that, as Kathleen Norris explains them, have rarely sounded less frighteningor quite so simple to understand."Elle
"One of the most eloquent yet earthbound spiritual writers of our time...frequently irreverent and funny...She makes us converts to her simple faith of warmth."San Francisco Sunday Examiner and Chronicle
"Definitely worthwhile reading...She combines an impressive understanding of theology with personal experience, making her essays read like letters from a highly literate friend."People
A former editor in chief of Parade
magazine embarks on a spiritual quest that goes to the heart of what really matters in life
Lee Kravitz is adriftshaken deeply after 9/11 and the loss of his job, he begins to feel the pull toward rediscovering his spirituality. He faces resistance from his wife, who doesnt understand why their family life cant provide what he needs, but when he suffers what he thinks is a heart attack and calls out for God, Lee realizes he must take action. His journey takes him to many placesQuaker meetings, Catholic mass, and even sessions with an astrologerand blends memoir, religion, and science, culminating in a narrative that speaks to the universal need to feel connected to the world around us.
In documenting his quest to pursue a contemplative life in the chaos of everyday existence and fit his religion-shaped needs into a secular mold, Lee offers a blueprint for anyone who might find himself lost at one point or another. With forays into meditation, Quakerism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Protestantism, Judaism, and more, Pilgrim is an engrossing, thoughtful, and stirring guide for readers of Kathleen Norris and Anne Lamott.
Struggling with her return to the Christian church after many years away, Kathleen Norris found it was the language of Christianity that most distanced her from faith. Words like "judgment," "faith," "dogma," "salvation," "sinner"—even "Christ"—formed what she called her "scary vocabulary," words that had become so codified or abstract that their meanings were all but impenetrable. She found she had to wrestle with them and make them her own before they could confer their blessings and their grace. Blending history, theology, storytelling, etymology, and memoir, Norris uses these words as a starting point for reflection, and offers a moving account of her own gradual conversion. She evokes a rich spirituality rooted firmly in the chaos of everyday life—and offers believers and doubters alike an illuminating perspective on how we can embrace ancient traditions and find faith in the contemporary world.
About the Author
Lee Kravitz is the author of the widely acclaimed memoir Unfinished Business and the former editor-in-chief of Parade magazine. Previously, he was founding editor of React magazine and an editorial director of Scholastic Inc. Lee serves as the board president of Youth Communication. He lives with his wife and children in New York City and Clinton Corners, New York.
Table of Contents
Amazing Grace Preface
Inheritance: Blessing and Curse
Conversion: The Family Story
Belief, Doubt, and Sacred Ambiguity
Inheritance: What Religion Were You Raised in, and WhatAre You Now?
Conversion: The Stories
Virgin Mary, Mother of God
Conversion: The Feminist Impasse
Conversion: One More Boom
Sinner, Wretch, and Reprobate
Good and Evil
The Bible: Illiteracies and Ironies
Conversion: The Wild West
The Bible Study
Conversion: My Ebenezer
The Bible: Give Me a Word
Conversion: The Scary Stuff
Imagination (Or, How Many Christians Does It Take to Balance N. Scott Momaday?)
Prayer as Remembrance: The Expert Marksman's Medal
Interpretation: "I Know Not"
Prayer as Mystery
The New Jerusalem