Synopses & Reviews
As the host of one of National Public Radios most popular interview programs, Michael Krasny has spent decades leading conversations on every imaginable topic and discussing lifes most important questions with the foremost thinkers of our time. Now he brings his wide-ranging knowledge and perceptive intelligence to a thoughtful and thought-provoking exploration of belief — and lack of belief.
Many books and pundits advocate for a specific God, while others adamantly declare there is no God. Yet these strident viewpoints often speak right past each other, rarely convincing anyone but the already convinced. In Spiritual Envy, Krasny helps believers and nonbelievers alike understand their own questions about faith and religion, about God and human responsibility.
Krasny challenges each of us to look closely at faith and its power, and to examine the positive and negative aspects of religion as expressed in culture, literature, and human relationships. Personal and universal, timely and timeless, this is a deeply wise yet warmly welcoming conversation, an invitation to ask ones own questions — no matter how inconclusive the answers.
"The contention between the 'new' atheists and the devout is causing a resurgence in agnostic studies. Krasny (Off Mike) is a public radio host and a self-declared agnostic, maintaining a position that 'stands open to verification of either side of the God question.' Deftly balancing biography and literary scholarship, the book is both a personal examination of agnosticism and a balanced voice in the complex debate over faith's role in society. Krasny grew up a strong believer in his Jewish faith, until adolescent questioning led him to declare he just wasn't sure. Despite a lost connection with God, the young Krasny continued to seek a divine presence, even admitting to feelings of envy toward those possessing 'the consolation of faith.' In this book, agnosticism is a tool to philosophically engage with various manifestations of faith including organized religion, spiritual-but-not-religious sentiments, and even paranormal theories. Readers expecting a late chapter conversion will be disappointed; Krasny remains agnostic to the end, even while declaring his respect for the benefits religion can bring to believers. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"He explores agnosticism the way he explores topics on his daily NPR show — in a thoughtful, informed, and almost conversational tone.... The author's nondogmatic stance will please virtually all readers." Booklist
Michael Krasny is both the conscience and alpha brain of the Bay Area, and certainly one of the most thoughtful interviewers alive. That hes also fantastically open-minded and spiritually searching only increases his appeal and importance. Its hard to imagine radio, and the life of the mind, for that matter, without him.”
Dave Eggers, author of Zeitoun and What Is the What
Michael Krasnys Spiritual Envy is a memoir of seeking and questioning, of a battle between a mans deepest yearnings and formidable intellect, of the longing for belief in the face of the impossibility of belief. If doubt is an element of faith, then Krasnys grappling with doubt is a kind of act of faith itself. This is a beautifully written book, and reading it is a spiritual adventure.”
Dani Shapiro, author of Family History
Spiritual Envy is written with the same kind of self-reflection and open-mindedness that separates Krasny's radio show from the snarky ideological rantings of so many other radio and TV broadcasters, be they left-wing, right-wing, political or religious.”
San Francisco Chronicle
This is a personal and philosophic journey in search of God, spiritual meaning and why religion and faith matter a must-read for those who seek. This book touched me personally because, like Michael Krasny, I wish I had faith: life would be simpler.”
Isabel Allende, author of Island Beneath the Sea
If you felt a little bludgeoned by the Dawkins/Hitchens approach to God, this is the book for you, generous instead of pinched, and honestly engaged with actual religious people and ideas, not a series of straw men. Michael Krasny is every bit as open and curious in print as he is behind the mike.”
Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature
An agnostic describes his relentless struggle with spiritual beckoning in a thoughtful personal manner. Exceedingly well-informed, well-written, and edifying.”
Irvin D. Yalom, author of Staring at the Sun
According to the public-opinion polls, agnostics and atheists are the group Americans trust least even though nonbelievers conduct themselves more ethically than do the religious faithful. It helps in reducing such ignorance and fear for nonbelievers to come out of the closet and profess not only their opinions but the emotional and intellectual struggles behind them, as the always engaging Michael Krasny does in this probing examination of his spirituality and ours.”
Timothy Ferris, author of Coming of Age in the Milky Way
This is a beautiful, thoughtful book about the deepest issues of spirituality, told by Michael Krasny with remarkable openness about the subject and himself.”
Scott Turow, author of Presumed Innocent and Innocent
The vitality and integrity of this beautifully written book is bound to touch anyone who knows how to value a truly independent mind and spirit.”
Jacob Needleman, author of What Is God?
In this engrossing memoir, Michael Krasny searches for God and fails to find Him. Yet God finds Michael Krasny in the Negative Way known so well to so many who seek Him. God is not an entity to be accessed and understood. God is Love, infinite and eternal. To seek Him is to find Him, even as we envy those who have stumbled upon what they believe to be the Answer.”
Kevin Starr, University of Southern California
Unlike recent authors who emphatically say "No!" or "Yes!" to God, Michael Krasny is among the millions who know they don't know. As a radio host, college professor, and literary scholar, he has spent decades leading conversations on every imaginable topic. He's discussed life's most important questions with the foremost thinkers in virtually every discipline. And yet answers to some questions, the big, 3:00-in-the-morning questions, elude him. Pondering them in this book, Krasny is a pure seeker, one who doesn't discount belief systems or ridicule faith. His quest is informed by the full power of our cultural heritage: artists, scientists, world events, and even films. He takes readers on an exploration of morality, mortality, why we do good, and why evil sometimes triumphs. Personal and universal, timely and timeless, this is a deeply wise yet warmly welcoming conversation, an invitation to ask one's own questions — no matter how inconclusive the answers.
The award-winning host of NPR's Forum with Michael Krasny digs deep into faith's big questions and takes readers on an exploration of morality, mortality, why we do good, and why evil sometimes triumphs.
About the Author
Michael Krasny, PhD, hosts the nation’s most listened-to locally produced public radio talk show, Forum with Michael Krasny. A widely published scholar and literary critic, he is an English professor at San Francisco State University. He is also the author of Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life, coauthor of Sound Ideas, and creator of the DVD presentation Masterpieces of Short Fiction. His honors and awards include the S.Y. Agnon Gold Medal for Intellectual Distinction and the Eugene Block Award for Human Rights Journalism. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.