An IKEA God: some assembly required

by Maureen Fiedler

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Eric Weiner is a "spiritual seeker," and he has quite a tale to tell on Interfaith Voices this week. And he laces his story with humor. He notes that he was born into the Jewish tradition, but he calls himself a "gastronomic Jew," i.e., someone more familiar with lox and bagels than with the Torah.

But thanks to an emergency room nurse who scared the living daylights out of him when she whispered in his ear about "finding his God," he began a process that he calls "flirting with the divine." He lived eight different religious traditions, with some emphasis on the mystical tradition in each. He tried out Sufi Islam, Nepalese Buddhism and Kabbalah in Judaism.

In the Christian tradition, he went for a Franciscan brand of Catholicism, living with friars in New York who ran a shelter for the homeless. I think they impressed him, except for this business of praying at 6.a.m. He says he continues to volunteer with them.

He also tried out the Wiccan tradition, and even the Raelians, a group that many people would not consider a religion. They believe we were created by aliens who will return in 2035, and they actively promote the pursuit of pleasure in life. He did not think a description of their pursuits was suitable for public radio.

Top all this off with a sampling of Taoism and Shamanism, and it's quite a spiritual journey.

When I asked where he wound up, he described his current God as an IKEA God: some assembly required. He's piecing it all together. And if you believe the polls, lots of people do the same thing.

Eric Weiner tells his story in a new book, Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine.

This interview is followed by a discussion of the ethics of drone warfare. And finally, there are some voices from the March for Life, followed by an invitation for listeners to comment.

You can hear it all at

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