Book Review: Occupy Spirituality

Book Review: Occupy Spirituality

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Too often, our spiritual pursuits can be wrongly perceived as being eons away from the day-in, day-out business of making a living, and that of making a difference in the tangible, so-called “real world” that surrounds us.

Occupy Spirituality sets out to challenge such misconceptions, explaining that we really can simultaneously make progress on both political and spiritual levels. The authors would contend that each path enhances the other. Structured as a cross-generational dialogue, Occupy Spirituality is the work of homeless youth advocate 37-year-old Adam Bucko and 71-year-old Matthew Fox, the internationally renowned Christian theologian who has sought to challenge the top-down hierarchy of patriarchal religion in favor of a more compassionate, creation-centered spirituality. Together they set out to show that we don’t have to choose between political engagement and spiritual development—that the desire for social change at the heart of the Occupy movement can be effectively coupled with a powerful spirituality. It’s a rousing conversation that makes for a thought-provoking read—as much for those further along in their lives as for the Occupy generation who are currently charting a path for themselves in the world.

And, what is it that today’s youth are seeking? They certainly aren’t willing to accept the compartmentalized compromises of previous generations who sometimes embraced shady work practices from 9 to 5 and sought redemption on the Sabbath. In fact, they make a key distinction between work and job, the latter being what one does to pay the bills, and the former one’s purpose for being here on Earth. From Occupy Spirituality we learn that the secret lies in not splitting these purposes but intertwining them as completely as we can—a life lesson for all generations.

However, readers shouldn’t think that the principles set forth in Occupy Spirituality are all newly forged—far from it. The authors invoke, for example, George Fox, the founder of the Quakers, who, at the age of nineteen, not being able to find a “priest” who could speak to his spiritual alienation, turned inward to what he dubbed “the teacher within.” We all need to be reminded that nothing is predefined for any of us. As Joseph Campbell put it, “none of us live the life that we intended.” We usually discover our path through trial, error, and questioning—if, and only if—we allow ourselves to undertake such a quest. This inspirational yet pragmatic volume that combines stories, practices, and a multitude of spiritual traditions should offer all seekers food for thought on their journey.

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