A Spiritual Autobiography
Viking, $26.95, 256 pp.
“I really don’t know how to explain it,” Archbishop Anthony Bloom said, “but it seems to me that the word ‘belief’ is misleading. It gives the impression of something optional, which is within our powers to choose or not. What I feel very strongly about it is that I believe because I know that God exists, and I’m puzzled how you manage not to know.” This was forty-some years ago, and the Orthodox priest was a guest on a BBC television program, in respectful conversation with a similarly respectful atheist.
Richard Rodriguez doesn’t really know how to explain it either. “Our lives are so similar, my friends’ and mine,” he writes. “The difference between us briefly flares—like the lamp in my bedroom—only when I publish a religious opinion.” He refers to the flare that had awakened him one night, afflicting him with the certainty that his mother had died.
Rodriguez’s Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography is a collection of ten numinous essays, published in various publications over the years since that bright autumn morning when a band of airliner-hijacking jihadis afflicted our world with a related certainty. It is eclectic in a way with which all of us Rodriguez fans are familiar: there is superb travel writing here, some wry fun poked at the green movement, a profound reflection on how heterosexual women have...