Rabbi Niles Elliot Goldstein, the award-winning author or editor of nine books, including Gonzo Judaism, found himself in the midst of a midlife crisis. Questioning his marriage, suffering from burnout in his work as a rabbi, and disillusioned with New York City after nearly twenty years of living and working there, Goldstein sought refuge in a cabin near Hood River, Oregon. There, he personally engaged the life questions that have been asked throughout history: How do we live when we know we are going to die? Why is humility so important? Are we responsible for other people? What is the purpose of human life? Is some knowledge too dangerous to possess? Has God abandoned us? How do we return when we have lost our way? What happens to us after we die? Goldstein’s intimate struggle with these questions forms the basis of his newest book, Eight Questions of Faith: Biblical Challenges that Guide and Ground Our Lives.
Currently the director of development at the Center for Interfaith Engagement and a lecturer at Loyola University, Goldstein calls the Bible “a complex, existential expression of uncertainty and confusion, of yearning and hope, of wonderment, suffering, and joy.” It is, he writes, a “portrait of the valleys and peaks of the human condition” that doesn’t offer rigid answers, but rather graces us with fellowship.
More than a study, Goldstein’s book is a midlife meditation on the imperfections and ambiguities of human life, and the chronicle of a very personal and often painful struggle to attain authenticity and wholeness.
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