Are religious rites of passage all they are cracked up to be? To answer that personal question, Magida sought the memories and wisdom of representatives of the five major world religions. He confesses that his own bar mitzvah was "a great disappointment" that left him with memories of "being yelled at a lot and wearing a suit that never stopped itching." Suspecting that his experience was exceptional rather than normal, he embarked upon a quest to learn whether other religions practice similar rites, how and when such rites are observed, and whether others' experiences of them mirrored or contradicted his own. What he gathered and presents here are insights into the effects of religious rites of passage from 20 high-profile persons, including Catholic comedian Julia Sweeney, Hindu self-help guru Deepak Chopra, Jewish Ms. magazine founder Letty Pogrebin, Buddhist monk Robert Thurman, and Muslim Yusuf Islam (singer-songwriter Cat Stevens). In the end, Magida's book amounts to a primer of world religions, including a brief history of each and its rites.


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