When One Re­li­gion Isn’t Enough: The Lives of Spir­i­tu­ally Fluid Peo­ple

Duane R. Bid­well Bea­con Press (NOVEM­BER) Hard­cover $25.95 (200pp), 978-0-8070-9124-1

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews | Adult Nonfiction - JESSIE HORNESS

If you are this, you can’t be that: It’s a ubiq­ui­tous as­sump­tion in our over­sim­pli­fied, 140-char­ac­ter-driven world. In When One Re­li­gion Isn’t Enough, Duane R. Bid­well ex­plores spir­i­tual flu­id­ity, un­pack­ing our as­sump­tion that all iden­ti­ties are de­mar­cated by firm bound­aries and chal­leng­ing the rigid ways that we con­ceive of our­selves and oth­ers.

The book draws on Bid­well’s ex­pe­ri­ences as a Bud­dhist Chris­tian, the sto­ries of di­verse spir­i­tu­ally fluid in­di­vid­u­als, and so­cial, psy­cho­log­i­cal, and the­o­log­i­cal schol­ar­ship in or­der to open win­dows into the ex­pe­ri­ence of re­li­gious mul­ti­plic­ity. Its great­est strength is its sto­ry­telling, through which em­brac­ing mul­ti­ple re­li­gions be­comes a vivid lived ex­pe­ri­ence. Par­tic­u­larly poignant are two of Bid­well’s ex­pe­ri­ences of hon­or­ing a death as a re­li­giously mul­ti­ple in­di­vid­ual. These sto­ries and oth­ers po­si­tion spir­i­tual flu­id­ity as more prag­matic than rad­i­cal, de­spite the in­her­ently coun­ter­cul­tural im­pli­ca­tions of claim­ing a com­plex iden­tity.

Chap­ters read as if they were writ­ten to be pub­lished sep­a­rately, and the book be­comes repet­i­tive. “A Field Guide to Spir­i­tual Flu­id­ity” elu­ci­dates the con­cepts and ex­pe­ri­ences of re­li­gious mul­ti­plic­ity with re­mark­able clar­ity, but it is bogged down by the fact that much of its in­for­ma­tion has al­ready been shared in pre­vi­ous chap­ters. Still, the book op­er­ates with great sen­si­tiv­ity and aware­ness, ad­dress­ing the dif­fer­ence be­tween spir­i­tual flu­id­ity and spir­i­tual by­pass­ing or cul­tural ap­pro­pri­a­tion. The book in­sists on true en­gage­ment over ap­pro­pri­a­tion.

If hash­tags, sound bites, and on­line sound­ing boxes have you worn down, When One Re­li­gion Isn’t Enough is a wel­come an­ti­dote—in­spir­ing reading for any­one in­ter­ested in en­livened spir­i­tu­al­ity or seek­ing per­mis­sion to em­brace their com­plex­i­ties.

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