Truth Hunters Explorers in Spirituality Are Trekking Non-Traditional Paths That Include Tuning in to American Indian Beliefs, Talking with Dead Pets, Swimming with Dolphins and Wallowing in Chicken Soup

By Hyman, Ann | The Florida Times Union, April 30, 1998 | Go to article overview

Truth Hunters Explorers in Spirituality Are Trekking Non-Traditional Paths That Include Tuning in to American Indian Beliefs, Talking with Dead Pets, Swimming with Dolphins and Wallowing in Chicken Soup


Hyman, Ann, The Florida Times Union


In the twilight of America's 400 years shaped by the

Judeo-Christian way of looking at life, and in the shadow of the

coming millennium, spirituality for a post-modern, diverse age

is the prize.

Everybody seems to be hunting for the answer. Millions of folks

seek the golden egg of truth at book stores, on sacred

mountains, in discussion groups, at new moon ceremonies, in

meditation, in churches with, or without, a new age spin to

their doctrine.

Hundreds of titles at any large bookstore are devoted to the

soul and related matters: UFO visits, diets, conversations with

God, miracle working, witchcraft, American Indian spirituality.

The books are there because customers buy them. Obviously,

buyers buy because they are interested in the subjects.

For almost two years, Jacksonville women who want to explore

their spirituality in a day-to-day context, have been buying

Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. Abundance

includes an essay a day aimed at women looking for meaning in

life. It's almost a permanent fixture of the local best seller

list.

James Van Praagh's Talking to Heaven is carving its spot on the

list, nationally and in Jacksonville. Van Praagh is a medium who

talks with the spirits of dead people and pets.

Books help to define the search-for-spirituality movement

because they reveal its directions, and because books help

people of like minds to get together and share their quests.

Brisk book sales can also make writers and publishers very

happy and very rich.

Pete Reynolds, manager of information services at the American

Booksellers Association in Tarrytown, N.Y., said 22.8 million

self-help books were bought last year.

"It's one of the larger categories," he said. "It's 2.2 percent

of all adult book sales."

Plus, many books dealing with spiritual enlightenment and new

age thought fall into other categories with a larger share of

the market.

Psychology/recovery books command 6.2 percent of the market.

Religion, including sales of Bibles and inspirational work,

commands 7.4 percent of the market.

There is even a book club gearing up, One Spirit, that

concentrates exclusively on books and tapes to serve as guides

along the spiritual path, from The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana to a

vegetarian cookbook.

Celestial beings and Celestine insights

Books aren't the only indicator of other-worldly interest.

What's the audience share of Touched By an Angel? At least

that many people are intrigued, whether or not convinced, with

the notion of angels on missions to Earth, helping solve human

problems. Angel books, angel workshops, angel pins, angel

statuary, collectible angel knickknacks are everywhere.

There is a legion of decorative angels in the offices and

sanctuary of the Center Church of Spiritual Quest, on San Jose

Boulevard.

"I'm an angel person. I believe that we all have guardian

angels to guide us and protect us," said the Rev. Jean Branson,

an ordained spiritualist minister who is pastor of the center.

Dolphin imagery is also prominent.

Dolphins are spiritual beings, part of God and God is part of

them, Branson said. The swimming-with-dolphins recreational fad

often hints at the spirituality of the marine mammals.

People are believers by nature, Branson said.

So, was it irony, prophecy or a lucky guess that the first of

nine insights in The Celestine Prophesy predicts, or announces,

an awakening of spiritual hunger in the world? …

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