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Okay, fair warning: this book is on the New Age end of things. The chapters skim the surface of different religions (or sets of religions), so don't expect an in-depth perspective. Rather, it's a collection of inspirations from different religious traditions, combined to create a multi-faith approach to spirituality.

The author has had extensive experience with comparative religion and related studies, and punctuates the work with anecdotes from her experiences with teaching. She presents a variety of practices that are accessible to anyone, though she does give background as to their initial context. For example, from Hinduism she takes the practice of creating a home altar to bring spirituality into the domain of one's personal space. Judaism teaches the sanctity of the Sabbath, and the value of taking time out. From Taoism, we learn how to flow, and to not let the little bumps throughout the day disrupt us so much. She manages to bring together a veritable buffet of spiritual practices in a clean, concise manner.

I do admit I had to bite back my reactions regarding cultural and religious appropriation, particularly with regards to "Native American spirituality" (though to be fair in that case she does make it clear that each tribe has its own culture and religion). Again, this should not be seen as an overview of any of the religions drawn from, and reading this book won't make you a Hindu-Jewish-Native-American-Taoist-Christian-etc. However, what it is wonderful for is showing that there is value in many religious paths (though it focuses primarily on more populous ones). It's a good choice if you want to bring spirituality into your personal life in small but meaningful ways, and if you're not adverse to some nice variety.

Four and a half pawprints out of five.

~review by Lupa

Author: Sage Bennett, Ph.D.

New World Library, 2007

$14.95

 

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