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Project Conversion – Book Review

February 5th, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

(Note:  Project Conversion is available through Amazon.com in either print or Kindle format)

If you’re a regular follower of my posts, you’re already well acquainted with my deep concerns about religious/irreligious intolerance.  Through my blog posts and academic pursuits, I’ve tried to understand what causes such hatred to exist, and how we can move forward to collectively embrace a mindset that celebrates, rather than condemns, our differences of faith and philosophy.

It wasn’t always this way for me.  I’ve been both the condemner and the condemned; the believer and the non-believer.  I didn’t always walk the middle path that I find myself now embracing.   Like so many others, I’ve struggled to reconcile the conflict within me.  I’ve read untold numbers of psychological research studies and various other social scientific theories in an attempt to find those answers.   I could find no simple answers.  Then, on the 11th anniversary of a day burned into so many of our minds, I was introduced to Project Conversion.  The sheer simplicity of the concept, although certainly not its implementation, was brilliant.

I first encountered Andrew Bowen’s Project Conversion on a post he contributed to the State of Formation web site.  I was immediately drawn into his story.  It was compelling, brave, heart-breaking, and inspiring all at once.  Soon after, I joined the ranks of his Facebook page and began following his journey to publication.  I was not only intensely interested in his pursuit to create an atmosphere of interfaith dialogue and tolerance; I also wanted to help spread the gospel – so to speak.  If this man, who once had such intense hatred, could become a believer in the humanity that binds us all, couldn’t others experience this same awakening?  If all it took was simply getting to know those who we fear, hate, or condemn – wouldn’t it be worth it if we could stop the violence, turmoil, and sheer madness?  Yes, I believed it was, and is, worth it.  So, when Bowen put out a call to bloggers to read his memoir detailing his Project Conversion experience,  I gladly knocked on his door.

The Project Conversion memoir is not only a testament of one man’s journey of immersion into twelve faiths over the course of a year; it also bears witness to a remarkable group of people who guide, support, and provide unconditional love during the process of this spiritual metamorphosis.   There is no doubt that readers will find the brief historical and descriptive surveys of each of the traditions enlightening, but they will also be compelled by Bowen’s candid, and often very personal, glimpses into his personal life.

If you’re like me, you’ll fall in love with the women in his life who, for all intents, seem to embody the triple Goddess archetype.  The innocent wisdom and humour of his daughters are perhaps some of the most persuasive sections of his memoir.  There’s just something utterly compelling about the untainted perspectives of children who have yet to be exposed to the often harsh cruelties of the world.  I guarantee that the anecdotes and quips of these young ladies will make you laugh and reflect.  Not to be outdone, Bowen’s Grandmother lends an unmatched wit to his adventure as she steadfastly keeps him clothed in custom-made attire indicative of some of the traditions he embraces.  Of course, I would be doing a huge disservice if I didn’t acknowledge the fortitude, compassion and insight of his wife, who provides the solid foundation in this uncharted, and at times rocky, terrain.

Family, friends, and strangers embrace Bowen as he undertakes a voyage to discover the divine manifested through a variety of lenses.  Beginning with a foray into the celestial complexity of Hinduism, he travels through a mosaic of faiths.  He embarks on a journey to understand the world’s foremost traditions, but also those often viewed as fringe or downright strange.  Certainly, the various stops along his voyage reveal our common humanity, but it is the people along his travels that stand as the true testament to these blessings.

Andrew Bowen’s Project Conversion memoir is a literary tapestry woven together with stunning metaphors, engaging anecdotes, clever humour, and modest candour.  It’s a book that I hope you will all consider reading.  It’s a book that’s sure to impart insight into beliefs you may not have known about, but more importantly it’s a book that speaks to the collective consciousness that transcends faith.

In celebration, Project Conversion (Kindle version) will be available free to download for a very limited time.

M. xo


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