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Pilgrim: Risking the Life I Have to Find the Faith I Seek

Overview


Lee Kravitz is adrift.

Shaken deeply after 9/11 and the loss of his job, he begins to feel the pull toward rediscovering his spirituality—a yearning long-buried since young adulthood. But in this he’s alone—his wife doesn’t understand why their family life can’t provide what he needs, and his friends can’t 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 ...

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Pilgrim: Risking the Life I Have to Find the Faith I Seek

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Overview


Lee Kravitz is adrift.

Shaken deeply after 9/11 and the loss of his job, he begins to feel the pull toward rediscovering his spirituality—a yearning long-buried since young adulthood. But in this he’s alone—his wife doesn’t understand why their family life can’t provide what he needs, and his friends can’t 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, Lee’s journey takes him to many places—from the quiet reflection of Buddhist meditation groups and Quaker meetings to the joyous noise of Hindu ecstatic chanting sessions and a candlelit Christmas Eve mass—until he finds a place where he feels he’s 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
04/14/2014
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)
Kirkus Reviews
2014-04-08
A New Yorker's wandering spiritual memoir.In his late 50s, former Parade editor in chief Kravitz (Unfinished Business: One Man's Extraordinary Year of Trying to Do the Right Things, 2010) decided that he needed to find a spiritual dimension to his life. Raised as a Jew, he rejected the religion of his family out of hand due to a distaste for the services of his youth. As a young man, Kravitz dabbled in Christianity but then spent nearly four decades suppressing or ignoring any spiritual desires and instincts. This was largely due to the fact that his wife (also born Jewish) was steadfastly atheist. Though Kravitz paints his wife's atheism as a source of tension, readers find her to be a tolerant, even supportive, partner in the midst of his quest for meaning. Given the book's subtitle, readers await a climactic moment of conflict, yet nothing of the sort arises. Kravitz seems to be risking little for his faith, and his struggle seems especially insignificant in the shadow of his immigrant ancestors' memories. The author's two-year journey of faith traditions was one that could only exist in a place like New York. He sat in on Quaker meetings and was drawn into transcendental meditation. He explored chanting and Buddhism and even consulted with an astrologer. In the end, he settled on Jewish Renewal, in which mysticism and Eastern religions inform ancient Jewish ritual, and he joined a Renewal synagogue near his home. Readers may be convinced that this may simply be a pit stop, not an ending point, for the author. Kravitz is unclear on whether he believes in an actual, supernatural God, though he makes it clear that he is unconcerned what path his children take, "[a]s long as they lead empathic, meaning-filled lives."An unsatisfying memoir of the search for meaning.
Library Journal
05/15/2014
Kravitz (Unfinished Business) has an impressive professional résumé as former editor-in-chief of Parade magazine, editorial director of Scholastic, Inc., and founder of React magazine. However, he has attracted more public attention since being dismissed from Parade and becoming a memoirist. This book continues Kravitz's post-Parade ventures and focuses on the author's spiritual journey through Quaker meetings, classes in Buddhist meditation, Catholic masses, and more, only to end at peace in his own (Jewish) tradition. His simple, direct style effortlessly conveys his journey. VERDICT Kravitz's approach has an appealing transparency that should engage many seekers, Jewish and non-Jewish alike.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594631252
  • Publisher: Hudson Street Press
  • Publication date: 5/29/2014
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 273,211
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Lee Kravitz

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. A graduate of Yale and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, Lee lives with his wife and children in New York City and Clinton Corners, New York.
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Read an Excerpt


I would need to search for a spiritual home and God within the context of my life as a father, husband, and payer of bills. I couldn’t even think of traveling to an ashram in India or a monastery in Greece. Any dancing with dervishes I’d do would need to take place within 100 miles or so of New York City. Could I pull that off? And what if my spiritual quest was successful? Would I find myself being pulled in directions that would take me away from the people I loved?
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