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Surprised by God: How I Learned to Stop…

Surprised by God: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Religion (2008)

by Danya Ruttenberg

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"Surprised by God" is an autobiography tracing Danya Ruttenberg's spiritual journey from rebellious atheistic young teenager to devout, observant, rabbinical student. The majority of the book is wonderful. Ruttenberg goes through things that anyone on a spiritual quest will go through, regardless of the religious path they are taking. Accordingly, she quotes spiritual masters from not only Judaism, but Christianiy, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and perhaps a few others as well. She offers beautiful insights into some pretty complex issues. Although a biography, it isn't a book for the average biography fan, as story line is distantly secondary to the religious thoughts and questions.

The one weakness in the book for me was several oddly incongruous episodes involving (to me) weird new age type experiences; seeing auras, feeling energy transfered through people's hands, etc. I suppose these things happened, and were a part of her journey. I suppose she felt obliged to include them. I suspect that for the average person on a journey into Judaism (or Christianity, or Islam, or Buddhism) that these experiences will seem just plain weird. ( )
  fingerpost | Mar 4, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0807010685, Hardcover)

At thirteen, Danya Ruttenberg decided that she was an atheist. Watching the sea of adults standing up and sitting down at Rosh Hashanah services, and apparently giving credence to the patently absurd truth-claims of the prayer book, she came to a conclusion: Marx was right.

As a young adult, Danya immersed herself in the rhinestone-bedazzled wonderland of late-1990s San Francisco-attending Halloweens on the Castro, drinking smuggled absinthe with wealthy geeks, and plotting the revolution with feminist zinemakers. But she found herself yearning for something she would eventually call God. As she began inhaling countless stories of spiritual awakenings of Catholic saints, Buddhist nuns, medieval mystics, and Hasidic masters, she learned that taking that yearning seriously would require much of her.

Surprised by God is a religious coming-of-age story, from the mosh pit to the Mission District and beyond. It's the memoir of a young woman who found, lost, and found again communities of like-minded seekers, all the while taking a winding, semi-reluctant path through traditional Jewish practice that eventually took her to the rabbinate. It's a post-dotcom, third-wave, punk-rock Seven Storey Mountain-the story of integrating life on the edge of the twenty-first century into the discipline of traditional Judaism without sacrificing either. It's also a map through the hostile territory of the inner life, an unflinchingly honest guide to the kind of work that goes into developing a spiritual practice in today's world-and why, perhaps, doing this in today's world requires more work than it ever has.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:29 -0400)

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Chronicles a young woman's spiritual awakening and eventual path to the rabbinate, discussing how she integrated modern life with the discipline of traditional Judaism.

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Beacon Press

2 editions of this book were published by Beacon Press.

Editions: 0807010685, 0807010693

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