Through the Labyrinth: Stories of the Search for Spiritual Transformation

By Peter Occhiogrosso

A reevaluation of their secular humanist stances drew many of those whose stories we hear in this collection to alternative approaches to spirituality. Occhiogrosso, author of Once a Catholic , in which prominent figures assessed the effects of their early religious training, interviewed a range of people whose lives continue to be transformed by spiritual experience. Among them are a Catholic couple who finds fulfillment within the context of their faith; a former Wall Streeter who founded Centurion Ministries, an apostolate to prisoners; a Christian who leads an Islamic mosque in New York City. Perhaps most vividly told is the journey of Barbara Grizzuti Harrison, author of Visions of Glory: A History and Memory of Jehovah's Witnesses, which brought her back to the church of her childhood. These tales indicate that there is widespread spiritual practice and awareness in America. Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

 

Occhiogrosso (Once a Catholic, 1987) offers profiles, based on in-depth interviews, of 14 men and women of every religious stripe who encountered a vital spiritual force that changed their lives. The author begins with Lex Hixon, a white-haired, pajama-clad scholar and religious man for all seasons. A sheik of a Sufi order, Hixon (born an Episcopalian) also claims to be an Eastern Orthodox Christian as well as a follower of Hindu Vedanta and a meditator in the Tibetan Buddhist mode. Despite the potential for spiritual confusion, Hixon finds a commonality among these faiths, cautioning against ``self-made'' religions: ``Those peripheral developments have always occurred, but the main forces within religion have been vibrant communities, rich in depth, and not simply circling around one charismatic individual.''  

 

More conservatively, a middle-class Boston couple whom Occhiogrosso profiles explains how, after a weekend retreat called ``Marriage Encounter,'' they discovered that Roman Catholicism could be experienced as a vibrant spiritual community.

 

Their faith inspired the couple to sacrifice their wealth and security in order to minister to the poor. Often Occhiogrosso zeroes in on practical applications of spirituality- -e.g., in the case of Bernard Glassman, a Zen master who is trying to develop an American Zen of business and social action by running a bakery and an agency to help the homeless in blighted Yonkers. Other notable profiles include those of Paul Lowe, a maverick guru who once served as a swami under the notorious Rajneesh, and Kathryn Quick, a Long Island housewife and mother who gave up her heritage of Conservative Judaism for the awakening of ``Kundalini'' power under the direction of famed Hindu Swami Muktananda. Enlivened by Occhiogrosso's account of his own wide-ranging religious quest, these stories illuminate and feed our near- boundless American need for some palpable proof of the power of the spirit. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Praise for Through the Labyrinth

"This book deserves superlatives and the widest possible readership. It is a potent, perfectly crafted, captivating and wide-ranging presentation of the varieties of spiritual disciplines in that broad terrain between the hard edge of Christian fundamentalism and the self-satisfaction of secular humanism. . . .[Peter Occhiogrosso] is the Studs Terkel of American spirituality."  -- Christian Century

 

"Fascinating accounts of 14 individuals who have experienced spiritual transformation. . . . This book is very much in the vein of the author's popular Once a Catholic, and it continues the search for the spiritual fulfillment that he lost when he left the Catholic church.. . . Highly recommended." -- Booklist

 

"The best balanced and most engrossing book I've seen about a concept or state that is unclear to, but fervently sought by, most people."  -- Minneapolis Star Tribune

 

"An engrossing overview of the diversity of spiritual transformation in America. Readers will come away from this book with a keen sense of the variety of views on God, sin, salvation, and the spiritual practices of prayer, meditation, and ritual." Values and Visions News Service "The tales are moving indeed." -- Business Ethics

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