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Book Review: Spiritual Rebel

by Sarah BowenMonkfish
reviewed by A. Perkins
Spiritual Rebel cover

In Spiritual Rebel, Sarah Bowen encourages us to examine inherited beliefs surrounding spirituality and religion so that they may be updated, redefined, or completely replaced. It’s a lighthearted, upbeat take on questions that have churned within human minds for millennia, and one that’s particularly suitable for those starting out on a personal spiritual quest for the first time. Or anyone who loves Star Wars.

It isn’t news that people are moving away from conventional religious models. What we sometimes hear less about are all the startling new movements they’re instead embracing. Hundreds of thousands of people now identify religiously as Jedi (390,127 in the 2001 U.K. census alone) or are handling Harry Potter books like sacred texts or are joining institutions like the Church of the Latter-Day Dude. “The value of a myth is not in how true it is but in how deeply one connects with it. And how it affects our lives,” Bowen writes.  

While making spirituality seem fun and accessible, Bowen draws a helpful distinction between the wellness and spirituality movements (“Wellness means I am okay. Spirituality leads to We are okay.”) and encourages the reader to think creatively about God, who probably doesn’t look like “Santa’s long lost brother.” God might be a process, a verb, light, a symbol, or all of the above and more.

Bowen is adept at taking complex ideas from a variety of ancient and modern sources and boiling them down. By necessity, things get oversimplified in the process, but she offers plenty of resources for further study throughout the body of the book. These “ideas for cultivating spiritual moments” include an eclectic array of practices for each day of the week for a total of three weeks, with a natural deepening of the practices as the weeks progress.

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