The beauty and complexity of religious beliefs as they are lived out around the world, from a superb scholar and storyteller
With the deft evocations of a master storyteller and the exhaustive knowledge of a scholar, LeVine takes us on a quest to understand the role of religious belief in everyday life around the globe. She writes of uneasy relations between Islam and spirit possession in a Nigerian town; of a Nepalese teenager’s flight from an arranged marriage to become a feminist Buddhist nun; of Mexican women taking the Virgin Mary as their role model; and of American Zen Buddhists struggling to maintain their community despite a deeply flawed teacher. These stories and more give a larger picture of religious faith, one that has little to do with doctrine or philosophical abstractions.
“Vivid descriptions and sympathetic portraits . . . [a] compelling ethnography.” —Publishers Weekly
“A compelling book, and it’s compassionate without condescension.” —Yasmin Nair, Windy City Times
“A major work, the beginning of ongoing discussions about the role and impact of religion in multiple societies around the world. It fascinates and prods and disturbs and enlightens. Best of all, it reads like a novel without losing a scintilla of academic credibility.” —Joan Chittister, author of Called to Question: A Spiritual Memoir
“What Sarah LeVine found as she traveled the world researching and becoming close to the people of four continents is that in facing the full range of human emotions, orthodoxy in belief and practice may not be a match for people’s traditions in bringing them hope and comfort.” —Kristine Morris, ForeWord
“In this remarkable book Sarah LeVine brings us into religious lives and cultural worlds portrayed with an immediacy, complexity, and intimacy so very different from ‘textbook religion.’“
—Diana Eck, author of A New Religious America and Encountering God