Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Book Review: Stalking God

The Rational Heathen doing book reviews?  Why, yes!  I've decided to expand my blog to include book reviews because it seems like a good idea [Read: I'm out of fucking ideas, and I read a cool book] and you might find it worthwhile.  So, let me know what you think and whether I should do more book reviews. [OMFG -- Did I just ask people to request that I read their books?]

Anyway, the book today is Stalking God: My Unorthodox Search for Something to Believe In by Anjali Kumar.  I got an advanced review copy.  The book, itself, won't be released until January 2018, which means you should probably preorder it and make it a bestseller since it's been a long time since I had a bestseller. (While I'm not the author or publisher, it's nice to see when an author I like succeeds. Someone needs to make money somewhere, dammit.)  I don't know the author directly, but I will tell you upfront that if you like my review and the book sounds interesting, use the links I provide and The Rational Heathen won't have to live on ramen noodles for a day.  (Okay, I'm being somewhat generous as to what Amazon would pay me, but if you're going to buy the book anyway, you can throw a small amount of money my direction and support this blog.)  So, let's talk about the book.

What Stalking God is About

Stalking God is actually one woman's attempt to find god or gods in today's society. Anjali gave birth to a daughter and found that her whole outlook on religion changed.  She was raised as a Jain Hindi, which tells them each of them can be gods if they become enlightened.  That being said, she had become one of the "nones," that is, one of the unaffiliated.  When Anjali's daughter, Zia, came into the world, Anjali begins to worry about what to tell her daughter once her daughter asks about god, life's purpose, and the afterlife.  As a lawyer who worked for Google, she knew those answers couldn't be found via a search engine. So, she took a rather weird and esoteric path to find god.

Anjali's Journey

The first thing I thought when I picked up the book is that she'd go to the Christian churches and other orthodox religions to figure it out.  Nope.  Not for her.  She visits self-proclaimed prophets and holy men, sweats in a SoulCycle class and a Mexican sweat lodge, attends Burning Man, talks to a "dirty" medium, attends a Wiccan get together, and signs up for mindful meditation.  Her odd choices brings a piece of the puzzle together, a bit at a time.

Amusing Story; Nice Style 

Anjali considers herself a skeptic.  In this way, she and I have something in common. But I would probably say she is a bit more open-minded than I am when it comes to faith healers and self-proclaimed prophets. Despite being open-minded, even she was skeptical about certain practices. She was notably skeptical about John of God's "surgery" on surrogate patents, people who offered enlightenment for a high price and then charged for souvenirs, and other weird practices. As a side note, the Wiccans were probably the most conventional of the groups she visited.

Overall, I found her style easy to read and her journey fascinating, even if the ending was rather predictable for me.  Even so, her experiences brought some interesting insights into religion and spirituality.

But It's Not About Heathenry!

You may be saying that it's not an interesting book because it isn't about Heathenry.  There you are wrong.  It's about the struggle many of us face to find something that makes sense about this world. And whether you agree or disagree with her assessment of god, the gods, or religion, you'll still find the story entertaining enough to keep you reading until the end.  Check it out.

Stalking God: My Unorthodox Search for Something to Believe In
Anjali Kumar
Seal Press
ISBN: 978-1-58005-661-8
Hardcover $26.00 USD



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