Seeking Enlightenment....Hat by Hat: A Skeptic's Path to Religion

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Overview

During her years as an actor, a writer, an adventuress, a nonbeliever, and a seeker of truth and amusement, Nevada Barr has been cursed and blessed with the question of "Why?" Although the things she wanted to know were mostly in the realm of the unknowable, she sought answers through reading, thinking, and talking -- looking outward for signs and truths. But she found that while her quest for meaning provided inspiration, it afforded little in the way of proof. Then she began to look inward for answers. In the ...
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Seeking Enlightenment....Hat by Hat: A Skeptic's Path to Religion

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Overview

During her years as an actor, a writer, an adventuress, a nonbeliever, and a seeker of truth and amusement, Nevada Barr has been cursed and blessed with the question of "Why?" Although the things she wanted to know were mostly in the realm of the unknowable, she sought answers through reading, thinking, and talking -- looking outward for signs and truths. But she found that while her quest for meaning provided inspiration, it afforded little in the way of proof. Then she began to look inward for answers. In the beguiling story of her journey from arrogance and atheism toward humility and a sense of being part of something greater than herself, Barr leads readers down her path to enlightenment.
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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
As Barr puts it, "I more or less ran into God at the bottom of a barrel." In this quirky memoir, we follow her into church, along the way learning her thoughts on younger men, Halloween and kittens, not to mention salvation and forgiveness and gratitude. — Lauren F. Winner
Plain Dealer
There is much to be considered in her observations, in an engaging style that is a joy to read.
Publishers Weekly
"A life ago," Barr writes, "I was depressed, broke, homeless, unemployed and divorced." One evening she wandered into an Episcopal church, primarily because it was unlocked. Desperation, not interest in religion, had brought her there, but warmly accepting parishioners kept her, and soon she wanted to be confirmed. "I went to the priest and asked him if it would be okay considering I didn't accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior, didn't believe the Bible was divinely inspired and wasn't entirely sure about the whole God thing. Fortunately Father Andrew had been tending his flock long enough to recognize a lost lamb when one came bleating into his office and put no obstacles in my way." It was a turning point for Barr, who here describes the resulting changes in her life and thinking over the last six years. Readers of Barr's bestselling mystery series featuring park ranger Anna Pigeon might have hoped for a whole book full of enlightenment about Anna's creator. However, apart from the introduction and occasional anecdotes throughout, her first nonfiction work is more a collection of personal essays than spiritual memoir. In more than 40 short chapters, she looks at topics as varied as forgiveness, girlfriends, being ordinary, Halloween and of course hats, usually saying more about how she thinks life should be lived than about how she actually lives hers. Nevertheless, Barr's sassy style, self-deprecating sense of humor and trenchant observations make for a good-and, yes, enlightening-read. (June) Forecast: Barr's 11th Anna Pigeon mystery was published earlier this year and has been a PW and New York Times bestseller. This memoirish spirituality title should ensure that the multi-talented writer Barr will never be, well, pigeonholed solely in the mystery category. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Reading the book jacket, one might well think, "Oh, great, another celebrity's version of a spiritual awakening where she discovered that we shouldn't cut down a tree because it might be the embodiment of dear, departed Aunt Martha." Read on. Barr, best known as the author of 11 mysteries (e.g., Deep South), has apparently experienced a true journey from atheism to faith. Barr grew up in a family with a disdain for organized religion that she carried into adulthood; subsequently, she survived a terrible marriage, an unpleasant divorce, and mental illness. Happily remarried, Barr now lives in Mississippi and attends an Episcopal Church simply because when she was at rock bottom she walked into one conveniently close by. "Had the Elks been meeting on the block that night and accidentally left their door unlocked, I expect my life would have taken a very different direction." This volume is a collection of more than 40 essays on a variety of topics that delineate Barr's still-ongoing faith journey. (One explains the "hat by hat" reference.) She now chooses to believe in God because it seems to make sense, and the ritual and traditions of the Episcopal Church provide a feeling of community. Recommended for all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/03.]-Mary Prokop, Savannah Country Day Sch., GA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786257690
  • Publisher: Gale Group
  • Publication date: 10/17/2003
  • Series: Basic Series
  • Pages: 251
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Nevada  Barr

Nevada Barr is a New York Times bestselling author as well as the winner of the Anthony and Agatha Awards.

Biography

Nevada Barr was born in the small western town of Yerington, Nevada and raised on a mountain airport in the Sierras. Both her parents were pilots and mechanics and her sister, Molly, continued the tradition by becoming a pilot for USAir.

Pushed out of the nest, Nevada fell into the theatre, receiving her BA in speech and drama and her MFA in acting before making the pilgrimage to New York City, then Minneapolis, MN. For 18 years she worked on stage, in commercials and industrial training films, and did voice-overs for radio. During this time she became interested in the environmental movement and began working in the National Parks during the summers -- Isle Royale in Michigan, Guadalupe Mountains in Texas, Mesa Verde in Colorado, and then on the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi.

Woven throughout these seemingly disparate careers was the written word. Nevada wrote and presented campfire stories, taught storytelling, and was a travel writer and restaurant critic. Her first novel, Bitterweet, was published in 1983. The Anna Pigeon series, featuring a female park ranger as the protagonist, started when she married her love of writing with her love of the wilderness, the summer she worked in west Texas. The first book, Track of the Cat, was brought to light in 1993 and won both the Agatha and Anthony awards for best first mystery. The series was well received, and A Superior Death, loosely based on Nevada's experiences as a boat patrol ranger on Isle Royale in Lake Superior, was published in 1994. In 1995, Ill Wind came out. It was set in Mesa Verde, Colorado, where Nevada worked as a law enforcement ranger for two seasons. The rest is, shall we say, history.
Biography from author website.

Good To Know

In our interview with Barr, she disclosed three interesting facts about herself:

"I will forget your face and name, but never your stories."

"I love to sing but can clear a concert hall at the drop of a note."

"I lie, but never about the important stuff -- and I get to decide what is the important stuff."

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    1. Hometown:
      Clinton, Mississippi
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 1, 1952
    2. Place of Birth:
      Yerington, Nevada
    1. Education:
      B.A., Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, 1974; M.A., University of California at Irvine, 1977
    2. Website:

Table of Contents

Introduction 9
On getting into heaven 26
Forgiveness 31
Gratitude 34
Sin 39
Addiction 44
Justification 49
Judgment 53
Turning the other cheek 59
Prayer 63
Fear 67
Stillness 73
Humility 79
Spiders and old men 84
Marriage 89
Lies 94
Religion 99
Vanity 104
Betrayal 112
An argument for life after death 120
Things 126
Sex 132
Guilt 144
The word 150
Things that go bump in the night 154
Children of god 160
Do animals have souls? 165
Darlin' 168
Faith 174
Flip-flops, girlfriends, and levi jackets 179
Salvation 187
An ordinary life 192
Pain 196
Taking shit 201
Service 206
Seeing 210
Church 215
Repentance 220
Bits of string 223
Evil 228
Commitment 232
Alternate lives 235
What if 238
Seeking enlightenment hat by hat 245
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