West of Jesus: Surfing, Science, and the Origins of Belief

Overview

A spiritual and scientific surf quest, West of Jesus tracks a contemporary surfing myth and looks at the neuroscience that connects spirituality and high risk sport.

After spending two years in bed with Lyme disease, Steven Kotler had lost everything: his health, his job, his girl, and, he was beginning to suspect, his mind. Kotler, not a religious man, suddenly found himself drawn to the sport of surfing as if it were the cornerstone of a new faith. Why, he wondered, when there...

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West of Jesus: Surfing, Science, and the Origins of Belief

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Overview

A spiritual and scientific surf quest, West of Jesus tracks a contemporary surfing myth and looks at the neuroscience that connects spirituality and high risk sport.

After spending two years in bed with Lyme disease, Steven Kotler had lost everything: his health, his job, his girl, and, he was beginning to suspect, his mind. Kotler, not a religious man, suddenly found himself drawn to the sport of surfing as if it were the cornerstone of a new faith. Why, he wondered, when there was nothing left to believe in, could he begin to believe in something as unlikely as surfing. What was belief anyway? How did it work in the body, the brain, our culture, and human history?

Into this mix came a strange story. In 2003, on a surf trip through Mexico, Kotler heard of "the conductor," a mythical surfer who could control the weather. He'd heard this same tale eight years earlier, in Indonesia, but this time something clicked. With the help of everyone from rebel surfers to rocket scientists, Kotler undertakes a three year globetrotting quest for the origins of this legend. The results are a startling mix of big waves and bigger ideas: a surfer's journey into the biological underpinnings of belief itself.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596913448
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 5/28/2007
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 593,286
  • Product dimensions: 5.91 (w) x 8.22 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven Kotler's novel The Angle Quickest for Flight was a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller and won the William L. Crawford IAFA Fantasy Award. His nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, GQ, National Geographic, Details, Wired, Men's Journal, Maxim, Salon, and elsewhere. He has surfed all over the world and lives in Los Angeles, California.

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 15, 2009

    An amusing story of one man's spiritual quest and overcoming through the sport of surfing... Kotler is humerous and thoughtful.

    Steven Kotler spent two years of his life in bed and weak with Lyme disease. He lost so much his health, girlfriend,job, and possibly his sanity. He was suddenly drawn to the sport of surfing like a moth to a flame. He found his faith through surfing and it gave him something to believe in. This idea of belief made him search for answers, like what are the orgins of belief? How does it affect our culture, society, and history? This leads Kotler to a three year quest from his home in California to Mexico, New Zealand, and finally Hawaii. Major themes that are addressed are orgins of belief? Like where did the surfing legend of "The Conductor" who is a surfer who can control the weather with a human bone; come from and how it relates to his search for himself. Self discover is prelevent as well Kotler describes the waves and gives great insight into the mechanics of surfing. He describes how surfing helped cure him from lyme disease that consumed two years of his life. When in recovery he went surfing once or twice a week for an hour on baby waves and was satisfied and found a reason for living through the rushing water and power of the ocean. kotler does a great job of adding humor into his writing keeping the reader intrigued and attentive. While he enjoys surfing he often does not do well, he gets "worked". He incorperated surfing, science and the orgins of belief three themes very well through out. He was able to connect with the reader on a emotional and rational level. Dislikes were that his curiosity lead him in many directions and at times was confusing his intent or what he was trying to discover. The title seems to have no connection to his writing but the picture on the cover better depicts his writing. I would recommend this book to someone who appreciates the sport and art of surfing. If spiritual enlightenment can be found through surfing; Kotler explains this well. It is a unique nonfiction account of discovery, overcoming, and understanding ones self and how a thing like surfing can change a person for the better. Also leaving someone asking; why? The overall rating is inspirational Kotler is comedic and straight forward and blunt at times. Making his ordinary life and struggle with disease and being a travel writer something extrodinary and of discover of ones surfer's journey.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted December 29, 2010

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