Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Ernie Kurtz speaks about the new book Beyond Belief

Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life -  daily reflections for nonbelievers, freethinkers and EVERYONE

Over 700,000 daily devotionals are sold each year. Hazelden dominates the market with Twenty-four Hours a Day selling over 8 million copies, Languge of Letting Go, a 20 year book for codependents is still in Amazon's top 900 of all book sales, AA's own Daily Reflections sells over 150,000 each year. There are books for women, men, newcomers and young people. Finally, there is a secular offering that, while good for one and all, isn't something nonbelievers have to shoehorn their worldview into.

Ernie Kurtz received his Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization from Harvard University in 1978. Dr. Kurtz was the first researcher to be granted unrestricted access to the archives of Alcoholics Anonymous. Hazeleden had the wherewithal to publish Ernie’s Ph.D. dissertation—the book that resulted was, Not God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous. Along with Katherine Ketcham Ernie gave us, The Spirituality of Imperfection: Modern Wisdom from Classic Stores (1992), and a book that demonstrates Kurtz acute understanding of addiction, Shame and Guilt (revised and updated in 2007). For those in the know, catching an Ernie Kurtz lecture on his academic study of spirituality would be a life-altering experience. For those of us who missed that opportunity, there is more of Kurtz on addiction and spirituality in the 1999 The Collected Ernie Kurtz. There are been other books and other writings, both scholarly and popular but today, Rebellion Dogs are honored to share Dr. Kurtz’s experience with reading the musings of Beyond Belief.

            One meaning of reflection, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is “the action of turning (back) or fixing the thoughts on some subject; meditation, deep or serious consideration.”This treasure of a book offers spurs to reflection and more. Drawing on a rich variety of often surprising sources, each day's reading provides not a mere bite but a full meal of thoughts for the coming or just-past day. Since my mornings tend to be rushed, Beyond Belief soon moved itself into my mid-afternoon “break” period, where it could shed more leisurely light both backwards and forwards.

            Beyond Belief terms its offerings musings rather than “meditations.”The O.E.D. gives the first meaning of the verb muse as “to be absorbed in thought; to meditate continuously in silence; to ponder.”  Absorbed . . . ponder: this book is not light reading. I have not so far wanted to fight with it, but I do find Beyond Belief often challenging, sometimes provocative, unfailingly stimulating.

            The book is aimed at a general 12-Step readership, but it is mindful that there heretofore exist no such aids for unbelievers, freethinkers, and the unconventionally spiritual. Given that the latest Pew survey found that twenty percent of the American people list their religious affiliation as “None,” it is certainly time that the Recovery world took into consideration this population's needs. Beyond Belief addresses that need in a confident, non-aggressive way. I doubt that any believer will find anything objectionable in its pages. This believer, for one, finds much that is spiritually helpful.

            If I have one criticism of this book it is that its musings are too rich. On quite a few pages I wished to pause and think after virtually every sentence. For many, reading Beyond Belief will require a pen or pencil in hand and perhaps a notebook on the side.

            This is the first daily reflection book of which I know that offers a lengthy (17-page) “Notes” section as well as a full Bibliography. The Notes are far more than mere citations, often presenting brief additional discussion and even new material that more frequently than not is as rich as the text itself.  

            In addition to the Notes and Bibliography, the end-matter of Beyond Belief contains a full Index that allows searching out individual musings on just about any topic. Having problems with “ego”? Check out May 29, August 8, September 24 or seven other dates. Polishing your gratitude? Flip to March 2, June 16, November 12 or eleven other dates.

            Beyond Belief will enrich anyone interested in living a 12-Step life.

Ernest Kurtz, Ph.D. (author of The Spirituality of Imperfection and Not-God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous)
Released January 25th, 2013, in its first week on Amazon, Beyond Belief cracked the top 100 sales in the Recovery/12 Step category. Here's where more information can be found...

Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life is available on Amazon: https://www.createspace.com/4127122

Anyone can read 100 sample pages from Rebellion Dogs Publishing at: http://rebelliondogspublishing.com/samplebook.cfm

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