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A 'Do It Yourself' Quest for Spirituality

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THE THINKING PERSON'S GUIDE TO GOD: Overcoming the Obstacles to Belief

By Tom Harpur

Prima Publishing,

199 pp., $20

Canadian author Tom Harpur sees in today's flight from mainstream religions a spiritual quest on the part of many individuals that won't be satisfied by yesterday's answers.

"People want and need a faith that makes sense in the world of today," Harpur writes in his newest book, "The Thinking Person's Guide to God: Overcoming the Obstacles to Belief." "Above all they do not want to purchase faith at the expense of numbing, denying, or offending their intellect. They must either have a God whom they can love with all their mind and intelligence or they can have no God at all."

Ever larger numbers of spiritual seekers are rejecting "meaningless rituals and limiting, enslaving dogmas" as irrelevant to their lives, he writes. Even the conservative and fundamentalist Christian churches "are in just as much trouble as their more liberal counterparts."

Harpur characterizes himself as an "uncomfortable Christian" who sometimes finds it hard to sit through a sermon without interrupting. An Anglican priest and Rhodes scholar turned journalist, he puts his own lifelong convictions about God on the table first. Then, with input from readers of his religious column in the Toronto Sunday Star, he lists - and offers perspectives on - the major obstacles to religious belief today. (His previous book, "The Uncommon Touch: An Investigation of Spiritual Healing," was reviewed by the Monitor in 1994.)

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