We are living in the midst of a spiritual renaissance that gives us unprecedented access to the lives, practices, and ethical activities of leaders and iconoclasts from all the wisdom traditions. The editors of this handy and highly informative resource canvassed contemporary religious leaders and experts and asked them to name the spiritual innovators of the twentieth century who brought the most excitement, creativity, and vitality to the religious lives of people throughout the world. Once a list of 75 was chosen, they commissioned religious journalists, authors, book editors, and other experts to write a profile of each innovator and to give a list of his or her writings, quotations, and any books written about this special individual.
The paperback is divided into eight sections which convey the many ways spirituality can have an impact on the world. In "They Shook Things Up," you'll find portraits of the Tibetan lama Chogyam Trungpa, the founder of Christian Science Mary Baker Eddy, the feminist theologian Mary Daly, the unclassifiable teacher G. I. Gurdjieff, the Reformed Jewish theologian Zalman Schacter-Shalomi, and the Christian leader Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Among those included in "They Bore Witness With Their Lives" are Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Hindu nonviolence advocate Mahatma Gandhi, the Catholic Archibishop Oscar Romero, and black Muslim leader Malcolm X. In "Their Presence Changed The World," you'll find three influential giants: the Dalai Lama, Protestant evangelist Billy Graham, and Pope John XXIII. "They Made Intellect a Spiritual Force" covers Catholic theologian Hans Kung, Protestant theologian Paul Tillich, and integral thinker Ken Wilber, among others. "They Changed the World by Writing" introduces Jewish author Martin Buber, mythologist Joseph Campbell, Christian fantasist C. S. Lewis, and world religion expert Huston Smith.
The three last sections are the most impressive. Some ethical activists saluted are Catholic Dorothy Day, Buddhist Maha Ghosananda, Catholic Mother Teresa, and Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh. A few of the pioneers of interfaith cooperation are Christian Bede Griffiths, Indian thinker J. Krishnamurti, contemporary author Deepak Chopra, and medical doctor Andrew Weil. Mystics saluted include two Christians (Thomas Merton and Thomas Keating), four Buddhists (Pema Chodron, Ajahn Chah, Seung Sahn, Shunryu Suzuki), and two Hindus (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Ramana Maharishi).
Two of the many admirable qualities of this resource are the presence of so many women and the balance between the traditions. Of course, there are many spiritual innovators not included in this volume due to space limitations. Perhaps another will follow. Meanwhile, we can rejoice that Skylight Paths has again done pioneering work in helping us map the cutting edge territories of spirituality in our times.