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'Pilgrim' allows that if you look sincerely for something to believe in, you may well find it.

Book Review: ‘Pilgrim’ by Lee Kravitz

After 9/11, at the age of 57, Lee Kravitz, unsatisfied with the lack of a significant spiritual component in his life, began a religious quest. Born and raised a Jew, he identified with Judaism ethnically but not religiously. He was married with three children, but no other members of the family seemed to have the same spiritual need. So his quest was complicated by the fear that what he discovered might well alienate his nearest and dearest. After all, he muses, hadn’t their religious pilgrimages led some of the most significant of religious figures to leave their families to pursue their destinies?Pilgrim: Risking the Life I Have to Find the Faith I Seek is the story of the Kravitz journey.Pilgrim

Unlike the typical spiritual quest narrative which takes the pilgrim dramatically from the “dark night of the soul” into the light of revelation, Kravitz’s quest takes the form of books and classes, lectures and workshops. There is no emotional breakdown. There is no period of paralyzing depression — nothing like Thomas Carlyle’s “Everlasting No.” There is no destruction and recreation. Kravitz’s quest is much calmer, more cerebral.

Working from a test he takes on the internet which aims to match his spiritual beliefs with compatible religious movements, he begins his search. He attends Quaker meetings. He practices meditation. He tries chanting. He consults an astrologist. He attends a Christmas Eve mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. And though he finds each and every experience valuable and even spiritually useful, none seems fully satisfying.

Quakerism and meditation offer the enlightenment that comes from silence. Chanting offers a spiritual awareness inherent in musical repetition. But none of these faith systems provides the sense of community he discovers he is looking for.

In the end, he finds the end of his journey in the last place he likely expected at its beginning. Like many another pilgrim, his progress doesn’t take him that far from home.

Readers open to the varieties of religious experience will find Kravitz’s search illuminating. Readers more religiously doctrinaire will likely be less impressed. Nonetheless, as an account of one man’s spiritual journey, Pilgrim allows that if you look sincerely for something to believe in, you may well find it.

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