Living with a wild god A nonbeliever's search for the truth about everything

Barbara Ehrenreich

Book - 2014

"In middle age, Ehrenreich came across the journal she had kept during her tumultuous adolescence and set out to reconstruct that quest, which had taken her to the study of science and through a cataclysmic series of uncanny-or as she later learned to call them, "mystical"-experiences. A staunch atheist and rationalist, she is profoundly shaken by the implications of her life-long search. Part memoir, part philosophical and spiritual inquiry, LIVING WITH A WILD GOD brings an older... woman's wry and erudite perspective to a young girl's uninhibited musings on the questions that, at one point or another, torment us all. Ehrenreich's most personal book ever will spark a lively and heated conversation about religion and spirituality, science and morality, and the "meaning of life." Certain to be a classic, LIVING WITH A WILD GOD combines intellectual rigor with a frank account of the inexplicable, in Ehrenreich's singular voice, to produce a true literary achievement"--

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Subjects
Published
New York : Twelve 2014.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
xiv, 237 pages ; 24 cm
ISBN
9781455501762
145550176X
Main Author
Barbara Ehrenreich (-)
Review by Library Journal Reviews

The New York Times best-selling author of Nickeled and Dimed, Ehrenreich set out to reconstruct an adolescent quest detailed in an old journal she discovered. Her youthful goal of understanding the truth of the universe—ambitious plan—took her through the study of science and several heightened experiences that now seem mystical. There's much for the adult Ehrenreich, an atheist and rationalist, to ponder. With a 50,000-copy first printing. [Page 64]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Ehrenreich (Nickel and Dimed) offers a deeply personal look at her search for the truth about life and spirituality. Occasionally brutal in its introspective honesty, this book reveals the alcoholic dysfunction of her parents' relationship and how it affected her growth and beliefs. The author's family's staunch atheism often made Ehrenreich the outsider as a child, but also gave her the tools and freedom to question everything around her, including religion. She dabbled in multiple faiths before settling into atheism herself, but throughout her teen years, she had dissociative "mystical experiences" that she eventually self-diagnosed as a psychological disorder. It wasn't until midlife that she returned to her quest for meaning and attempted to describe her experiences as something more than lapses into mental illness. VERDICT Emotionally evocative, at times disturbing, Ehrenreich's work is engaging and invites—no, demands that its readers question the world around them and everything they believe about it. The author's rational approach to researching "religious experiences" similar to her own, her mission to find an answer to: "Why are we here?" is profoundly relatable to those who have asked similar questions, who have wondered at humanity's purpose, and who have probed at the presence of the Other. Part memoir, part mystical journey, this is essential for anyone with an interest in religious studies, contemporary history, or memoir and biography.—Crystal Goldman, San Jose State Univ. Lib., CA [Page 91]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Based on a notebook she started when she was 14 after a series of puzzling "dissociative" episodes that verged on the mystical, Ehrenreich, best-known for her polemics on issues of social justice (Bright-Eyed; Bait and Switch), fashions an intensely engrossing study of her early quest for "cosmic knowledge." As a child of an upwardly mobile scientist father who had started as a copper miner in Butte, Mont., and a resentful mother of thwarted ambitions, both of whom were fierce atheists sliding into alcoholism by the mid-1950s, Ehrenreich moved constantly, eventually landing briefly in Lowell, Mass., where her first mystical experience occurred, then to Los Angeles. Smart in math and science, non-believing and obedient to her father's instruction to ask always why, Ehrenreich was resolved not to turn out like her mother, yet she could not quite be the scientist of her father's dreams because she was a girl; the out-of-body incidences when "the trees step out of the forest" were more exhausting than frightening, but kept goading her to delve deeper into mortality and meaning as she gained maturity as a scientist and a creature of value separate from her parents. Using her journal extracts as a point of departure, Ehrenreich returns with vigor to her youthful quest, enlisting all of her subsequent scientific training to find an explanation for what had occurred to her as a girl, yet offering only a glimmer in her wise and tolerant later years of a possibility of a "living, breathing Other." (Apr.) [Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Part memoir, part spiritual inquiry, an atheist and rationalist, after coming across the journal she kept during her adolescence, sets out to answer her younger self's uninhibited musings on questions of spirituality, science, and morality.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Part memoir, part philosophical and spiritual inquiry, a staunch atheist and rationalist, after coming across the journal she kept during her tumultuous adolescence, sets out to answer a young girl's uninhibited musings on the questions that, at one point or another, torment us all. 50,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

"In middle age, Ehrenreich came across the journal she had kept during her tumultuous adolescence and set out to reconstruct that quest, which had taken her to the study of science and through a cataclysmic series of uncanny-or as she later learned to call them, "mystical"-experiences. A staunch atheist and rationalist, she is profoundly shaken by the implications of her life-long search. Part memoir, part philosophical and spiritual inquiry, LIVING WITH A WILD GOD brings an older woman's wry and erudite perspective to a young girl's uninhibited musings on the questions that, at one point or another, torment us all. Ehrenreich's most personal book ever will spark a lively and heated conversation about religion and spirituality, science and morality, andthe "meaning of life." Certain to be a classic, LIVING WITH A WILD GOD combines intellectual rigor with a frank account of the inexplicable, in Ehrenreich's singular voice, to produce a true literary achievement"--

Review by Publisher Summary 4

From the New York Times bestselling author of Nickel and Dimed comes a brave, frank, and exquisitely written memoir that will change the way you see the world. Barbara Ehrenreich is one of the most important thinkers of our time. Educated as a scientist, she is an author, journalist, activist, and advocate for social justice. In Living With a Wild God, she recounts her quest-beginning in childhood-to find ""the Truth"" about the universe and everything else: What's really going on? Why are we here? In middle age, she rediscovered the journal she had kept during her tumultuous adolescence, which records an event so strange, so cataclysmic, that she had never, in all the intervening years, written or spoken about it to anyone. It was the kind of event that people call a ""mystical experience""-and, to a steadfast atheist and rationalist, nothing less than shattering. In Living With a Wild God, Ehrenreich reconstructs her childhood mission, bringing an older woman's wry and erudite perspective to a young girl's impassioned obsession with the questions that, at one point or another, torment us all. The result is both deeply personal and cosmically sweeping-a searing memoir and a profound reflection on science, religion, and the human condition. With her signature combination of intellectual rigor and uninhibited imagination, Ehrenreich offers a true literary achievement-a work that has the power not only to entertain but amaze.