Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Too much praying?

So I am not going to lie, I was a little turned off at the beginning of this book. I consider myself to be a spiritual person, but I am not a huge fan of organized religion and even less of a fan of books by lay people sharing their "conversion" stories. I definitely thought that Gilbert's book, Eat, Pray, Love, was going to be one of those stereotypical books. This preconception was further reinforced by the fact that Loyola is a Jesuit institution and some classes tend to emphasize this aspect more heavily than others. What really made me think that this book was going to be about that was in chapter 5 when Liz is describing the scene of her laying on the floor in her bathroom praying. She went on to say at the end of this description/narrative that, "I would not say that this was a religious conversion for me, not in that traditional manner of being born again or saved. Instead, I would call what happened that night the beginning of a religious conversation." (p. 16)
Call it what you want to call it, this sounded like her trying to describe a religious conversion in any other words but that. The tone of the work thus far had been incredibly personal; as if she were writing her memoirs and they were going to be about religion and spirituality. In my experience these types of writings become rather banal, mundane, and pedantic. While the author may think that what they have to say is incredibly important, it usually tends to only be incredibly poignant to them and loses quite a bit in translation. Gilbert changed my mind against my will.
This may be because she truly is not talking about a conversion or anything of the sort, but instead giving a narrative of her life where she finds herself in her radical decision to just up and leave New york and travel. It is the traveling that made me really connect with the book. All of her experiences cross cultural lines and she is introduced to spirituality in a number of different ways. She is like something going to a buffet and sampling everything that there is to offer, and eventually making a plate for herself of the best morsels from the smorgasbord. He literary style makes connecting with her incredibly easy. She keeps it in the first person and even though her prose is educated and well written, it is easy to hear her voice. And it is neither a haughty nor arrogant voice, but instead a simple voice just trying to share here life-changing experiences with her audience in an attempt to share with them a different path to spirituality other than organized religion.

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