Wednesday, February 01, 2012

"Man Seeks God" by Eric Weiner

Having previously enjoyed immensely The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner I looked forward for some time to his recently published Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine.

The book came out of a health scare that included him in the hospital being asked "have you found your God yet?" Weiner comes from a Jewish background, but his not terribly devout path led to the idea of him trying out various religions to see how they fit him and figure out what he truly believes.

It's obviously a very personal construct for a book and the best parts of it were those where Weiner gets colloquial and personal about his experiences and thoughts on them. To this end, he reveals in the book nagging bouts of depression and self-doubt. Particularly interesting was his self-description of the pain that comes from doing things "7/8 assed... neither all the way nor not caring."

For the purpose of the religious exploration (and book about it) Weiner chose eight different religions (or slivers of faith like Kabbalah as part of Judaism and Sufism as part of Islam) and went and lived with each. Some of the faiths didn't have much in their feature chapter that resonated as a reader (or appear to resonate for Weiner as the person experiencing it), but some did have very interesting nuggets related on them.

About Buddhism, Weiner wrote on the idea of the pause between a given experience and then how that experience affects us. It was a fascinating concept that actually made me think of the James Altucher book I Was Blind But Now I See and it's idea (or at least the idea I ascribe to Altucher) of not letting ones thoughts get dragged somewhere not beneficial to go.

About the Franciscans Weiner spent time with, he wrote of both the idea of actions not needing to wait for full belief if the action a positive one and the concept of good work for others. Specifically noted around this idea of giving was there not needing to be returned gratitude in exchange for good works done.

The book isn't written as a math problem that began with a question and finished with a solved proof, but rather an examination on a topic with entirely personal answers. At an overall level, Weiner writes of connection with something greater as well as the all important idea of how someones truth makes them feel (and that truth is what works for someone). Especially in conjunction with Weiner giving of himself to the reader and making the thing personal, it's a good read overall even if not on as entertaining a topic as The Geography of Bliss.