‘It’s a really unusual and insightful essay, not asking the conventional questions, but probing to a far more serious level. I was genuinely
grateful to have it.’ Rowan Williams
‘I devoured this book in only a couple of sittings. It has a strangely
un-put-down-able quality normally attributed to fiction.’
Professor Gwen Griffith-Dickson
The Secret Life of God is a kind of spiritual investigation into twenty-first century Britain. It chronicles how, in an age when institutional religion is on the decline, people are finding new ways of believing and belonging, and puts the faces and places to the trend in which people are increasingly describing themselves as ‘spiritual but not religious’.
Part travelogue, part reportage, the book reveals the Benedictine nuns striving to establish a start-up community, the Sufis exploiting the spiritual possibilities of sound and the Druids forging a relationship with nature. Interwoven with a powerful narrative of loss and belonging, it is both a deeply personal book and one which tells a wider story about our evolving relationship with place and meaning.
Praise for The Secret Life of God:
‘Skillfully juggling revealing interviews with judicious comment, the book is a tour-de-force of journalistic discovery. Alex Klaushofer stands in the tradition of many Britons who want to take spiritual questions seriously without necessarily resorting to formalised worship. For her, a talented writer who unashamedly grapples with issues of loss and death, God is to be found in the country’s hidden contemplative communities, with modern Sufis and in the nature spirituality of the Druids. With its elegant meshing of personal engagement with wider questions of identity and its lyrical tone, this wonderful book is a rarity. It has passion; it has originality; it has a unique voice.’
Alex Wright, executive editor, IB Tauris
‘The writing has a perfect, elegant flow and, while reflecting a personal journey, rises above the risk of ‘oversharing’ to articulate something that speaks strongly to the spirit of the times. With a lightness of touch, it represents what is best about pluralism, and an openness and generosity of spirit is extended to everyone the author meets, while never losing her critical grasp or sense of humour. Encounters with people on different spiritual paths are reported with great sensitivity, and difficult questions about life, death and religion handled with depth and insight. What a wonderful book.’
Professor Gwen Griffith-Dickson, director, Lokahi Foundation and Visiting Professor, King’s College, London
‘This book is a delight – enchanting and inspiring, exciting as a novel, and beautifully written. I can’t remember when I’ve been so glued to a book. I downloaded the Amazon edition, and my wife shared it on her own Kindle – we were reading neck and neck, continually comparing notes as to where the author had reached on her journey, and our own reactions … Alex Klaushofer travels the less-known paths of Britain’s spiritual life, finding tentative, patient answers to those questions that never seem to be asked, but which one longs to inquire after. Driven by a restless faith and her own loving curiosity, she takes us on a path of wonder and illumination where her sense of the divine in everyone she meets is equalled by her courage in facing the questions their lives ask of hers.
‘Do read this unforgettable, endearing book. Klaushofer is the best kind of guide – a friend and companion for one’s own inward discoveries, as much as the chronicler of her own and those of the wise and fascinating people she encounters.’
Mike Farley, blogger
‘This book comes just at the right time. We live in an age in which people are unwilling to attach themselves to religious institutions and are increasingly seeking forms of faith outside traditional frameworks. Alex Klaushofer reveals the pioneers who are going beyond doctrine and denomination to find new ways of living the life of the soul. Combining evocative accounts with personal experience, this beautifully-written book really brings alive the spiritual questions of our time. It will appeal to believers of all kinds, as well as those who are just spiritually curious.’
David Moloney, editorial director, Darton, Longman & Todd
‘To open this book is to embark on a spiritual quest. Your guide is a warm and honest human being. Like the best tour guides, she will tell you about where you are headed and then point out the best features along the way. I won’t tell you where the journey ended up as you will have to find out for yourselves, but never has the phrase “and breathe” been truer at the end of a book. Loved. Every. Page.’
Richard Littledale, pastor at Teddington Baptist Church, writer and broadcaster
‘This is a gentle, funny and ultimately heart-lifting story of a very British kind of spirituality. Alex tracks the diversity of spiritual experiences that are alive in the UK today – with all the myriad influences you’d expect in a society that has received wave on wave of migration and integration. It’s one of the best non-fiction reads I’ve had for a long time, and asks some big questions, but gently!’
Steve Thorp, 21st Century Soul Community
‘At times philosophical, and undoubtedly well-informed, the writing ranges from wrestling with abstract knotty issues to moments of intense and vivid simplicity that lift the heart. I really felt that I was coming to know the author intimately as she shared the private reflections that probably all of us have from time to time, but rarely have the opportunity to pursue to their logical outcome. There have been many spiritual odysseys in the past, and this one set in the present day and asking questions relevant to how we live today is a first-rate addition to that list.’
Simon Martin, training and resources officer, the Arthur Rank Centre
‘The Secret Life of God is a fascinating excursion into the by-ways of religious life in contemporary Britain, viewed through the prism of a journalist’s search for where she belongs. Alex Klaushofer traces the interplay between solitude and community in such disparate traditions as the Anglican Church, Sufis, and druids. Particularly strong are the vividness and honesty of the author’s personal story and the eloquence of her nature writing. At the core of the book are the importance of pluralism, a sense of place, and the struggle to live a meaningful life.’
Jennifer Kavanagh, author of The World is our Cloister and A Little Book of Unknowing
‘I absolutely loved it, especially the evocation of places. It sings and resonates rather than following a logical path. It circles around the theme of belonging, both the author’s personal belonging to place, family and friends, as well as that of the subjects who are questioning their own place by living at the edges of powerful institutions. It’s also about transitions, bereavement and growing up. The writer is coming to terms with her place as an ‘orphan’, as well as talking to people who are finding an independent position in relation to the ‘family structure’ of organised faiths. And then there’s nature, nature, nature as a kind of healer, always beautifully, poetically working its magic.’
Sarah Chatwin, Alexander Teacher, London
Amazon reviews can be found here.