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I bought my wife “Eat, Pray, Love” thinking the spiritual travelogue (and runaway bestseller) by Elizabeth Gilbert would match well with my beloved’s belief that travel to exotic climes is essentially a spiritual endeavor: hers is the Church of the Frequent Flier. Instead, my own bedtime reading was interrupted every night for days with her cry of “Who cares?”
As usual, honey, you were right.


USA Today devoted a whole article this week to the backlash against the Oprah-certified profundity of Gilbert’s book. “Is Elizabeth Gilbert self-absorbed or true seeker?” the piece asks, citing recent pieces in the New York Post and Entertainment Weekly, as well as blogger egg-tossing. The Post article criticizes the book’s “Western fetishization of Eastern thought and culture” and accused its readers of “using ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ as a shortcut to finding a spiritual ‘truth’.”
In fairness to Gilbert–and to anyone whose book or movie suddenly gets taken up as the definitive guide to the state of spirituality today–she can’t be responsible for the spiritual shallowness of its readers. “Mine is just a simple old human story–of one person trying, with great rigor and discipline, to comprehend her personal relationship with divinity,” she tells USA Today in an email.
You may not respect the rigor involved–my wife certainly didn’t. But it’s no surprise that one person’s narrative of spiritual blessing is not enough to sustain us for a lifetime.

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