Surprised by God
At thirteen, Danya Ruttenberg decided that she was an atheist. Watching the sea of adults standing up and sitting down at Rosh Hashanah services, and apparently giving credence to the patently absurd truth-claims of the prayer book, she came to a conclusion: Marx was right. As a young adult, Danya immersed herself in the rhinestone-bedazzled wonderland of late-1990s San Francisco-attending Halloweens on the Castro, drinking smuggled absinthe with wealthy geeks, and plotting the revolution with feminist zinemakers. But she found herself yearning for something she would eventually call God. As she began inhaling countless stories of spiritual awakenings of Catholic saints, Buddhist nuns, medieval mystics, and Hasidic masters, she learned that taking that yearning seriously would require much of her. Surprised by God is a religious coming-of-age story, from the mosh pit to the Mission District and beyond. It's the memoir of a young woman who found, lost, and found again communities of like-minded seekers, all the while taking a winding, semi-reluctant path through traditional Jewish practice that eventually took her to the rabbinate. It's a post-dotcom, third-wave, punk-rock Seven Storey Mountain-the story of integrating life on the edge of the twenty-first century into the discipline of traditional Judaism without sacrificing either. It's also a map through the hostile territory of the inner life, an unflinchingly honest guide to the kind of work that goes into developing a spiritual practice in today's world-and why, perhaps, doing this in today's world requires more work than it ever has.

Surprised by God Details

TitleSurprised by God
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 1st, 2008
PublisherBeacon Press
ISBN-139780807010686
Rating
GenreReligion, Autobiography, Memoir, Literature, Jewish, Nonfiction, Judaism, Spirituality, Judaica

Surprised by God Review

  • Michael Doyle
    January 1, 1970
    Ruttenberg's story helped me let my guard down and become more at ease with PDRs--public displays of religiosity (my term.) As a Jew-by-Choice, my early sense of simultaneous disorientation, fascination, and surprise at my journey were echoed in Ruttenberg's own journey from secular Jew to religious. I doubt the book will convince an atheist reader to the joy and benefits religious people find in their lives. But religious readers of any persuasion will understand where Ruttenberg is going here. Ruttenberg's story helped me let my guard down and become more at ease with PDRs--public displays of religiosity (my term.) As a Jew-by-Choice, my early sense of simultaneous disorientation, fascination, and surprise at my journey were echoed in Ruttenberg's own journey from secular Jew to religious. I doubt the book will convince an atheist reader to the joy and benefits religious people find in their lives. But religious readers of any persuasion will understand where Ruttenberg is going here. On any spiritual journey, at some point you just "get it." And it's as impossible to explain that to someone who doesn't believe in Deity as it would be to explain it to yourself the day before. It's a feeling, a sensing, and at some point you just go with it because you can't not. This is Ruttenberg's story of how she did that. (Just don't look for the story of how she became a rabbi--she left that out on purpose.)
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  • Jacob
    January 1, 1970
    I don't read spiritual awakening/religious journey memoirs, but I doubt I would ever find one that speaks to me like this one. From her modern, pluralistic-but-serious approach to Judaism, her struggles integrating her secular and religious lives, and coming to San Francisco (and Beth Sholom synagogue!) in her 20s, this memoir can be shockingly relatable to my own biography at times. (Sadly I was never a cool punk rocker in my adolescence.) As someone who is trying to put together a meaningful l I don't read spiritual awakening/religious journey memoirs, but I doubt I would ever find one that speaks to me like this one. From her modern, pluralistic-but-serious approach to Judaism, her struggles integrating her secular and religious lives, and coming to San Francisco (and Beth Sholom synagogue!) in her 20s, this memoir can be shockingly relatable to my own biography at times. (Sadly I was never a cool punk rocker in my adolescence.) As someone who is trying to put together a meaningful life in the context of a lot of upheaval in the last several years, this personal narrative is a powerful guiding example of one life path to learn from. Oh, yeah, she's also a very clear, incisive, intelligent, and powerful writer, which is very welcome when talking about spiritual experiences, which can be so obliquely conveyed by other writers that I get lost.
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  • Sue
    January 1, 1970
    What a pleasure, to read a "ba'al teshuvah" kind of story that is not Orthodox! Well written & compelling.
  • Elevate Difference
    January 1, 1970
    As a self-identified atheist, I found it odd that I was so compelled to read Danya Ruttenberg’s memoir about her life-long journey to Judaism, Surprised by God: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Religion. I had read Ruttenberg’s first book, Yentl's Revenge: The Next Wave of Jewish Feminism—a collection of young Jewish feminists discussing how to negotiate their faith and their feminism—a few years ago and fell in love with the complexity of the topics that Ruttenberg encouraged each contri As a self-identified atheist, I found it odd that I was so compelled to read Danya Ruttenberg’s memoir about her life-long journey to Judaism, Surprised by God: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Religion. I had read Ruttenberg’s first book, Yentl's Revenge: The Next Wave of Jewish Feminism—a collection of young Jewish feminists discussing how to negotiate their faith and their feminism—a few years ago and fell in love with the complexity of the topics that Ruttenberg encouraged each contributor to write about. Those same elements that I loved about Yentl's Revenge are present on every page of Ruttenberg’s memoir.In Surprised by God, Ruttenberg depicts how, through all of her life’s transformations, she has still remained grounded and centered in herself as a person. From her punk-goth-athiest days as a teenager and her yoga-hippie days during her twenties, to the impassioned feminist and Rabbi that Ruttenberg is today, her life is presented as a series of constant transformations and a continuous journey through which each identity informs and influences the next. Furthermore, Ruttenberg doesn’t reject her punk beginnings in order to claim her deep connection with religion and God now. Instead, she understands how to bring all of the pieces from her past and her identity into her current relationship with spirituality. From the death of her mother while she was in college to traveling to Jerusalem later in life, Ruttenberg discusses the major events that might have lead her down this spiritual path. At the same time, however, she also credits smaller life events—such as taking joy in dressing in costumes or learning how to question the world as a feminist—as being a fundamental part of her spiritual growth.What I found most enjoyable about this book is that at times, it’s more about finding community and spirituality than God and religion. Talking about community, Ruttenberg states, “It’s about matching trust with trust, about creating spaces in which people can let down their guard and reveal what’s hidden, about encouraging others to grow in new and challenging ways. And it’s also very much about creating the conditions in which this might be able to happen.” Reading this, you might not be able to guess that the larger framework in which Ruttenberg is speaking is about how she learned to feel comfortable with visibly and publicly practicing her religion. But you don’t have to be religious to enjoy Ruttenberg’s thoughts and words. Her discussions about feminism, community, spirituality, identity, and family are thoughts that can inspire and attract anyone. Ruttenberg never comes off as preachy or in hopes of converting the masses. Instead, Surprised by God is an honest memoir about a beautifully complex woman finding her own way through spiritual practice.Review by Chelsey Clammer
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  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    I've read a lot of Jewish memoirs, but Danya Ruttenberg's journey is the closest, so far, to my own. At least generally.What I mean is that she grew up in a largely assimilated family, flipped the bird to religion at 13 (around the same time that I did) and ultimately returned in young adulthood. (I "returned" slightly earlier, and strangely, had more of a singular "call from God" experience than she did, even though she's far more comfortable with the idea of God than I am.) Then we gravitated I've read a lot of Jewish memoirs, but Danya Ruttenberg's journey is the closest, so far, to my own. At least generally.What I mean is that she grew up in a largely assimilated family, flipped the bird to religion at 13 (around the same time that I did) and ultimately returned in young adulthood. (I "returned" slightly earlier, and strangely, had more of a singular "call from God" experience than she did, even though she's far more comfortable with the idea of God than I am.) Then we gravitated towards progressive Judaism, not Orthodoxy.Beyond that, though, Ruttenberg was much more extroverted and much braver about putting herself into the thick of new situations. Perhaps related, she's also better at walking the walk and embracing much of traditional Jewish practice. Her memoir is direct but not dogmatic about what it means to live an authentic, Jewish life, and how that connects you to communal concerns and a healthy personal spirituality. She came to Judaism in part from philosophy and academic religious studies, but the religion provided more of a sense of meaning. She talked a little bit about the slow ways in which she re-embraced her heritage, from a Holocaust pilgrimage with her dad to what it was like to lose her mother to cancer. There was a really moving passage about what she learned, in retrospect, while working as a chaplain in a hospital--to accept death as a natural part of life. Judaism isn't the only pathway to realizing that, of course, but it's her path.Like Ruttenberg, I appreciate the complexity of interpretation that Judaism offers, the call to study texts and debate them with others. And no, I don't know if I would have chosen Judaism if it wasn't my heritage. I also want to espouse empathy and inclusion, even if it goes against ingrained forms of Judaism, but I want to be careful to not attack the religion out of spite but to challenge it out of devotion. But mostly, after reading Ruttenberg's words, I need to challenge myself.I'm giving this book four stars, because beyond my own myopic reaction, I think Ruttenberg's narrative fizzled out sometimes. As much as I appreciate the idea of her religious quotes--from Jews and non-Jews--sometimes the philosophizing got a little unwieldy. And I wanted more of a connection to characters and story narrative.I'm expecting this work to stick with me. But I'm hoping that it leads to personal avodah as well.
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  • Nance
    January 1, 1970
    Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg describes her coming to faith, religious practices, and the transformation that God has worked in her in such open language that, even for a non-Jew like myself, you can relate to so much of her story and find new ways to think about your own faith. I think this book and her experience of moving from atheism to Judaism make a powerful argument for the relevance and goodness of religion in an age when that's not always assumed. I also learned more about Jewish faith and pra Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg describes her coming to faith, religious practices, and the transformation that God has worked in her in such open language that, even for a non-Jew like myself, you can relate to so much of her story and find new ways to think about your own faith. I think this book and her experience of moving from atheism to Judaism make a powerful argument for the relevance and goodness of religion in an age when that's not always assumed. I also learned more about Jewish faith and practice (the reason I picked up the book, though not the biggest of my takeaways), and I think this would be a particularly fun book for all of my fellow religious studies-major peeps. I enjoyed this so much more than I expected.
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  • Arnie
    January 1, 1970
    Very cool book. The author relates, in a very honest way, her spiritual search as it takes her from a rather meaningless bat mitzva to college searching to the single life in San Francisco and ultimately to rabbinical school. Along the way, she wrestles with the conflict that is often inherent between contemporary values and the ancient values and practices of Judaism. She comes to grips with them in ways that are non-judgmental, and finds her own path. Gave me great insights into the "next gene Very cool book. The author relates, in a very honest way, her spiritual search as it takes her from a rather meaningless bat mitzva to college searching to the single life in San Francisco and ultimately to rabbinical school. Along the way, she wrestles with the conflict that is often inherent between contemporary values and the ancient values and practices of Judaism. She comes to grips with them in ways that are non-judgmental, and finds her own path. Gave me great insights into the "next generation" of rabbis that are a generation or two behind me.
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  • Rivqa
    January 1, 1970
    This lovely book is part memoir, part Jewish spiritual thesis. Although Rabbi Ruttenberg's experiences in Judaism and Jewishness are for the most part different from mine, I found much to relate to here. The way she learns from other faith traditions without appropriating them, and her fusion of religion and social justice, were of particular interest. It's an intense read (this should be obvious from the subject material; one does not move from being an atheist to being a rabbi by being blasé) This lovely book is part memoir, part Jewish spiritual thesis. Although Rabbi Ruttenberg's experiences in Judaism and Jewishness are for the most part different from mine, I found much to relate to here. The way she learns from other faith traditions without appropriating them, and her fusion of religion and social justice, were of particular interest. It's an intense read (this should be obvious from the subject material; one does not move from being an atheist to being a rabbi by being blasé) but also a very readable and enjoyable book.
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  • Laurel
    January 1, 1970
    Danya Ruttenberg’s "Surprised by God" caused me to sit up and take notice. Raised Jewish, Ruttenberg is proud as a teen of being a hip, feminist, intellectual atheist. After her mother dies, she finds her way back to increasingly observant Judaism. She struggles with keeping the Sabbath, keeping kosher – and keeping her nonobservant friends. Her commitment to deepening her receptivity to God by limiting her choices in some areas (not driving or carrying money on the Sabbath, becoming a vegetaria Danya Ruttenberg’s "Surprised by God" caused me to sit up and take notice. Raised Jewish, Ruttenberg is proud as a teen of being a hip, feminist, intellectual atheist. After her mother dies, she finds her way back to increasingly observant Judaism. She struggles with keeping the Sabbath, keeping kosher – and keeping her nonobservant friends. Her commitment to deepening her receptivity to God by limiting her choices in some areas (not driving or carrying money on the Sabbath, becoming a vegetarian) makes her much more aware of the spiritual barrier of craving that this consumer culture deliberately cultivates. Her awareness of this and other spiritual barriers intensifies when she joins a program at her synagogue whose goal is to use “basic awareness meditation [. . . as] a way to bring a practitioner to prayer and Torah study with a deeper level of attentiveness” (150). Even as Ruttenberg offers ways to discern when another religion’s practice (such as meditation) can be used with integrity, she reiterates the importance of following one religion in depth. For Ruttenberg, an absolutely essential component of religious faithfulness is deep involvement in her synagogue (in other words, community). She critiques an individualistic consumer spirituality that is focused only on the self. In contrast, her religious practice and community intensify her concern for those in pain or in need. Ruttenberg shows that it is possible to be an intellectual, a feminist, an activist, and a deeply religious person, all at the same time. As such, she is a woman whose book I’d like to share widely with others, particularly my “Women’s Spirituality” students.
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  • Katie
    January 1, 1970
    I should have liked this more. Memoir? Yes. Judaism? Yes. Personal journey? Yes. Super-intelligent writer? Definitely. All things I'm here for. But after the first third, I just didn't care. The author's voice exhausted me - a friend used the word "strident" to describe her, and god, yes, everything was so serious and all-in. I've read another book by this author, and I adored it, so I'm going to put my dissatisfaction with this one on me. Maybe it was the wrong time.
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  • Floare Russell
    January 1, 1970
    I started this book with the idea that it would offer a biography of someone, as opposed to yet another book on how to be Jewish or what Judaism means. I wanted to put Judaism in context to a life. This book does that, and brilliantly, but it does a lot more than that too. Danya weaves philosophy from Talmud, Herschel, Catholic nuns, Christian theologians and even Zen masters into her narrative as you travel with her through her life until her return to religious Jew. Despite using philosophy li I started this book with the idea that it would offer a biography of someone, as opposed to yet another book on how to be Jewish or what Judaism means. I wanted to put Judaism in context to a life. This book does that, and brilliantly, but it does a lot more than that too. Danya weaves philosophy from Talmud, Herschel, Catholic nuns, Christian theologians and even Zen masters into her narrative as you travel with her through her life until her return to religious Jew. Despite using philosophy liberally, there is never any doubt that this book is utterly focused on Judaism and Danya's Jewishness. It is a great biography on a return to practice.Much to my surprise, however, I recognized a lot of myself in Danya. I was a little girl who asked too many questions, the rebellious teen who listened to punk and metal and desperately wanted purple hair, the college student fascinated by religion and culture and source texts and fragments, who was a bit too loud and all too willing to argue with people far older than me while listening to too much Ani DiFranco to be healthy. A lot of people who have known me since I was five and asking why we say A-men instead of a-women are baffled by my interest in Judaism, and this book gave me the knowledge that in some small way I'm not alone.
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  • Laurie
    January 1, 1970
    I keep picking up memoirs written by Jewish authors that detail how they fell away from their religion and either found God again and turned to Christianity or became more deeply immersed in the Jewish religion, as in the case of this book and in its author Danya Ruttenberg. I thought the book was very interesting and the methods she used to learn about her faith were really cool. But at times, I felt like I was back in my Non-Fiction Writing Class in college where we had to use sources to suppl I keep picking up memoirs written by Jewish authors that detail how they fell away from their religion and either found God again and turned to Christianity or became more deeply immersed in the Jewish religion, as in the case of this book and in its author Danya Ruttenberg. I thought the book was very interesting and the methods she used to learn about her faith were really cool. But at times, I felt like I was back in my Non-Fiction Writing Class in college where we had to use sources to supplement our material, as though we can always use other people's quotes to sum up our life experiences. There were many times that I didn't feel like Ruttenberg's outside sources made any sense, but that's okay. I thought the overall theme of the book is something that everyone, no matter what denomination can relate to. Even as Ruttenberg immerses herself in religion, it doesn't answer all of her questions. I've felt (and still) feel this. Like, "Great God, I'm close to you but I still don't know who I am. What do you want me to do?" You are changed but unsure of what to do with the change and there is a constant struggle to balance your secular life with your religious life without pushing away people who mean something to you.
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  • Ginger
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed reading this book until about half way through, and then the narrator's attitude changes so much that I had a hard time identifying with her. It seemed that she began letting her pursuit of religion define her and a lot of what she believed in the beginning changed drastically. I know that everyone is allowed to change in their lives, but I don't think "finding religion" has to redefine who you are. I have been studying Judaism and would like to officially convert someday, but I I really enjoyed reading this book until about half way through, and then the narrator's attitude changes so much that I had a hard time identifying with her. It seemed that she began letting her pursuit of religion define her and a lot of what she believed in the beginning changed drastically. I know that everyone is allowed to change in their lives, but I don't think "finding religion" has to redefine who you are. I have been studying Judaism and would like to officially convert someday, but I can still be punk rock at the same time and keep all of my interests that I had before. If I knew that my quest for a spiritual life would slowly change who I am at my core and all of my interests would change I wouldn't be interested. The author starts out so very punk rock and ends up somewhat conservative.In summation: my spiritual life and my secular life are two pretty plants, and if one of them gets more water than the other it will wilt. This is what I learned from this book. So there.
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  • Beth
    January 1, 1970
    I really liked this book for several reasons. One, it really spoke to where I am at spiritually myself (growing up in a faith, rejecting it, then missing it and trying to reincorporate it into your life in a way that works and makes sense). She also brings up the tension, spoken or unspoken, that can crop up between your religion and your friends, which is also something I relate to. Two, it taught me a lot about modern Judaism that I wasn't necessarily aware of, and I always like learning more I really liked this book for several reasons. One, it really spoke to where I am at spiritually myself (growing up in a faith, rejecting it, then missing it and trying to reincorporate it into your life in a way that works and makes sense). She also brings up the tension, spoken or unspoken, that can crop up between your religion and your friends, which is also something I relate to. Two, it taught me a lot about modern Judaism that I wasn't necessarily aware of, and I always like learning more about more different topics. The fact that the author also used to hang out in the same SF neighborhoods where I hang out also lent a nice "hey, I know where that is!" element to the story. Overall, I found this book to be well-written and thought-provoking. I would recommend it to anyone who is at any sort of "crossroads of faith," which is probably most of us.
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  • Margaret Klein
    January 1, 1970
    This was a book that touched me personally. We seemed to be having parallel lives 20ish years apart. She wrestles with many of the same issues I have and comes away with answers that work for her. I recommend reading it to my book group at the shul to jump start their thinking about the high holidays. The book group did not love the book. While she presents some intriguing topics for discussion (what is the role of ritual, when have you been surprised by G-d), this group wanted her answers and l This was a book that touched me personally. We seemed to be having parallel lives 20ish years apart. She wrestles with many of the same issues I have and comes away with answers that work for her. I recommend reading it to my book group at the shul to jump start their thinking about the high holidays. The book group did not love the book. While she presents some intriguing topics for discussion (what is the role of ritual, when have you been surprised by G-d), this group wanted her answers and less her narrative. What was the surprise? We concluded that it was an adolescent, self-proclaimed avowed atheist that after some challenges winds up a believer in G-d, enriched enough by the study of religion (secular) that she enters the rabbinate. If she can do it, even after sex, drugs and rock and roll anyone can.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. I'm fine with books that straddle genres, but I don't like "seminary term paper" to be one of the genres -- and this book is both memoir and several seminary term papers blended awkwardly. So many quotations from so many spiritual traditions!I also couldn't shake the feeling that I might not like Ruttenberg if I met her. She seems kind of pretentious and kind of full of herself, even as she's writing about how she struggles to be a better person I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. I'm fine with books that straddle genres, but I don't like "seminary term paper" to be one of the genres -- and this book is both memoir and several seminary term papers blended awkwardly. So many quotations from so many spiritual traditions!I also couldn't shake the feeling that I might not like Ruttenberg if I met her. She seems kind of pretentious and kind of full of herself, even as she's writing about how she struggles to be a better person and a better Jew. You know how some people wear their pursuit of being better on their sleeve, so that we can all admire them? Yeah, she strikes me that way.At the same time, I was into the book enough that I read it several nights in a row at bedtime.Oh, and I hated the font it was in -- what was up with that, Beacon Press? And I'm not a font person, so you know it must have been bad.
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  • John Middleton
    January 1, 1970
    What can an old Catholic guy and a young female Rabbi possibly have in common? A lot, as it turns out. I’ll keep this book on my reading table and return to it often. I bought a copy for my daughter, who’s not religious at all, because I know she’ll enjoy Ruttenberg’s story and appreciate her voice. If I taught a class on “How To Write Memoir,” this would be the textbook.If I taught a class on “How Be A Good Writer,” this would be on the required reading list. If I taught a class on “Worthwhile What can an old Catholic guy and a young female Rabbi possibly have in common? A lot, as it turns out. I’ll keep this book on my reading table and return to it often. I bought a copy for my daughter, who’s not religious at all, because I know she’ll enjoy Ruttenberg’s story and appreciate her voice. If I taught a class on “How To Write Memoir,” this would be the textbook.If I taught a class on “How Be A Good Writer,” this would be on the required reading list. If I taught a class on “Worthwhile Things To Write About,” the citations in this book would be on the syllabus.Never mind that I’m not a teacher.
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  • Dennis Fischman
    January 1, 1970
    I used to be put off by discussions of spirituality. Too often (25 years ago), they seemed navel-gazing and unconnected to the struggles of other people. What's wonderful about this book is how Ruttenberg shows the ways that a desire for transcendence can lead us right down to earth, and the understanding that God is one can lead us to grasp that we are one, too. Her personal story is worth reading. The book is also a springboard for reflection and a sourcebook of great quotes about the search f I used to be put off by discussions of spirituality. Too often (25 years ago), they seemed navel-gazing and unconnected to the struggles of other people. What's wonderful about this book is how Ruttenberg shows the ways that a desire for transcendence can lead us right down to earth, and the understanding that God is one can lead us to grasp that we are one, too. Her personal story is worth reading. The book is also a springboard for reflection and a sourcebook of great quotes about the search for meaning in daily life.
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  • Andy Oram
    January 1, 1970
    I appreciate Ruttenberg's candor in sharing her personal story and the piercing insight with which she examines earlier phases of her life, and I celebrate that she integrated all the threads of her life and spirit into a path that's productive and vital. But it's just one person's story after all that, and doesn't sound much different from what I've heard from other people who come home religiously after much experimentation.
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  • Caroline
    January 1, 1970
    I adored this book. Rabbi Ruttenberg is frank, honest, and inspiring in her journey to religion. Despite coming from very different places (I was searching for G!d even as a child, she was a strong atheist until young adulthood), I could relate deeply to her journey. I also found places where this book inspired me in new directions on my own path, and challenged me in areas I have become complacent in. It was also an enjoyable read.
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  • Alex
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 starsDanya Ruttenberg's memoir of spiritual awakening is really refreshingly candid, and does not make light of the intense tension and personal difficulty involved in transitioning from a secular to religious worldview and personal life. I read this book in two long sittings on a single day; it was just compelling. I'm glad I finally got around to reading it.
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  • Ricky
    January 1, 1970
    Very honest book from Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg about her journey and her spiritualism. Intertwining her insights with those of authors, sages, rabbis, philosophers, and more, Danya Ruttenberg weaves a compelling and self-reflecting story.Surprised By God: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Religion spoke more to me than I anticipated.
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  • natalie
    January 1, 1970
    Sometimes reads like a dissertation but I appreciated the quotes by thinkers from varied religious backgrounds. Cheesy at times but sincere. Made me think about the life I want to live. Addressed how we often pick and choose aspects of the Church (or any religion) we want to follow based on our lifestyles - why the easy way may not be the best way. Thoughtful and will stick with me.
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  • Shayna
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed reading about Rabbi Ruttenberg's journey to Judaism. This book is thoughtful, and draws on ideas found in many religious traditions—in fact, it was quite enjoyable the way the author brought in texts and ideas from a variety of different religious traditions as well as scholars.
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  • Phoebe
    January 1, 1970
    Thought-provoking. "Surprised by God" was only partly a memoir -- much of the book reads more like a collection of sermons, tied together with a little autobiographical material. But they were pretty interesting sermons.
  • Miss Ginny Tea
    January 1, 1970
    I was slow starting it, but then I picked it up and didn't want to put it down. I was a bit expecting more of a Road to Damascus moment, but I'm actually glad that it's a slow burn romance (pardon my analogy).
  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book, and want to buy it for each and every person I know that struggles with the experience of their religious upbringing, their religious views, and their sense of self within their religion.
  • Mary
    January 1, 1970
    This book came at the right time for me-thus the high rating. I would recommend it to anyone.
  • Esther
    January 1, 1970
    Very interesting book about one woman's journey from declared atheism at 13 to a rich religious and spiritual discipline.
  • Diana
    January 1, 1970
    Even though I never quite finished this book, I did enjoy reading of the author's spiritual journey, especially since some of it occurred in the Bay Area, so I recognized the locales.
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