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In this engrossing, provocative, and intimate memoir, a young journalist reflects on her childhood in the heartland, growing up in an increasingly isolated meditation community in the 1980s and ’90s—a fascinating, disturbing look at a fringe culture and its true believers. When Claire Hoffman’s alcoholic father abandons his family, his desperate wife, Liz, tells five-year-old Claire and her seven-year-old brother, Stacey, that they are going to heaven—Iowa—to live in Maharishi’s national headquarters for Heaven on Earth. For Claire’s mother, Transcendental Meditation—the Maharishi’s method of meditation and his approach to living the fullest possible life—was a salvo that promised world peace and enlightenment just as their family fell apart. At first this secluded utopia offers warmth and support, and makes these outsiders feel calm, secure, and connected to the world. At the Maharishi School, Claire learns Maharishi’s philosophy for living and meditates with her class. With the promise of peace and enlightenment constantly on the horizon, every day is infused with magic and meaning. But as Claire and Stacey mature, their adolescent skepticism kicks in, drawing them away from the community and into delinquency and drugs. To save herself, Claire moves to California with her father and breaks from Maharishi completely. After a decade of working in journalism and academia, the challenges of adulthood propel her back to Iowa, where she reexamines her spiritual upbringing and tries to reconnect with the magic of her childhood. Greetings from Utopia Park takes us deep into this complex, unusual world, illuminating its joys and comforts, and its disturbing problems. While there is no utopia on earth, Hoffman reveals, there are noble goals worth striving for: believing in belief, inner peace, and a firm understanding that there is a larger fabric of the universe to which we all belong.

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Genre: Biography & Autobiography
Author: Claire Hoffman
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release: 2016-06-07
File: 288 Pages
ISBN-13: 9780062338860

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Susan Shumsky is a successful author in the human potential field. But in the 1970s, in India, the Swiss Alps, and elsewhere, she served on the personal staff of the most famous guru of the 20th century—Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Maharishi died in 2008 at age ninety, but his influence endures through the spiritual movement he founded: TM (Transcendental Meditation). Other books have been written about him, but this spellbinding page-turner offers a rare insider's view of life with the guru, including the time the Beatles studied at his feet in Rishikesh, India, and wrote dozens of songs under his influence. Both inspirational and disturbing, Maharishi and Me illuminates Susan's two decades living in Maharishi's ashrams, where she grew from a painfully shy teenage seeker into a spiritually aware teacher and author. It features behind-the-scenes, myth-busting stories, and over 100 photos of Maharishi and his celebrity disciples (the Beatles, Deepak Chopra, Mia Farrow, Beach Boys, and many more). Susan's candid, honest portrayal draws back the curtain on her shattering, extreme emotional seesaws of heaven and hell at her guru's hands. This compelling, haunting memoir will continue to challenge readers long after they turn its last page. It dismantles all previous beliefs about the spiritual path and how spiritual masters are supposed to behave. Susan shares: “Merely by being in his presence, we disciples entered an utterly timeless place and rapturous feeling, and, at the same time, realized the utter futility and insanity of the mundane world.” Susan's heartfelt masterwork blends her experiences, exacting research, artistically descriptive and humorous writing, emotional intelligence, and intensely personal inner exploration into a feast for thought and contemplation. Neither starry-eyed nor antagonistic, it captures, from a balanced viewpoint, the essence of life in an ashram.

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Genre: Body, Mind & Spirit
Author: Susan Shumsky
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release: 2018-02-13
File: 340 Pages
ISBN-13: 9781510722699

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation has had a long and tortuous relationship with religion over almost the entirety of its existence. As early as 1917, the Bureau began to target religious communities and groups it believed were hotbeds of anti-American politics. Whether these religious communities were pacifist groups that opposed American wars, or religious groups that advocated for white supremacy or direct conflict with the FBI, the Bureau has infiltrated and surveilled religious communities that run the gamut of American religious life. The FBI and Religion recounts this fraught and fascinating history, focusing on key moments in the Bureau’s history. Starting from the beginnings of the FBI before World War I, moving through the Civil Rights Movement and the Cold War, up to 9/11 and today, this book tackles questions essential to understanding not only the history of law enforcement and religion, but also the future of religious liberty in America.

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Genre: Religion
Author: Sylvester A. Johnson
Publisher: Univ of California Press
Release: 2017-02-07
File: 376 Pages
ISBN-13: 9780520962422

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Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Marijane was adopted by an American military family at four months old. She grew up in a middle-class neighborhood in the deep South where hers was the only Asian face among a majority of white. Raised to believe she was Vietnamese and Japanese, she never doubted her ethnicity, until one day, she found her lost adoption papers. This discovery unloosed secrets that had been buried for decades, causing her to question her identity. With brave determination, Marijane set out on a quest to reconstruct her past and resurrect a birth heritage that had long been forsaken. Her journey took her halfway across the world to reunite with her birth family and a culture she realized she had longed for her entire life. Beyond Two Worlds is a poignant telling of one womans search for identity and belonging despite insurmountable odds, and is an inspiring true story for those seeking to connect to their original families.

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Genre: Biography & Autobiography
Author: Marijane Huang
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Release: 2017-03-29
File: 186 Pages
ISBN-13: 9781524684099

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“The more you transform your life from the material to the spiritual domain, the less you become afraid of death.” Leo Tolstoy spoke these words, and they became Henry Stuart’s raison d’etre. The Poet of Tolstoy Park is the unforgettable novel based on the true story of Henry Stuart’s life, which was reclaimed from his doctor’s belief that he would not live another year. Henry responds to the news by slogging home barefoot in the rain. It’s 1925. The place: Canyon County, Idaho. Henry is sixty-seven, a retired professor and a widower who has been told a warmer climate would make the end more tolerable. San Diego would be a good choice. Instead, Henry chose Fairhope, Alabama, a town with utopian ideals and a haven for strong-minded individualists. Upton Sinclair, Sherwood Anderson, and Clarence Darrow were among its inhabitants. Henry bought his own ten acres of piney woods outside Fairhope. Before dying, underscored by the writings of his beloved Tolstoy, Henry could begin to “perfect the soul awarded him” and rest in the faith that he, and all people, would succeed, “even if it took eons.” Human existence, Henry believed, continues in a perfect circle unmarred by flaws of personality, irrespective of blood and possessions and rank, and separate from organized religion. In Alabama, until his final breath, he would chase these high ideas. But first, Henry had to answer up for leaving Idaho. Henry’s dearest friend and intellectual sparring partner, Pastor Will Webb, and Henry’s two adult sons, Thomas and Harvey, were baffled and angry that he would abandon them and move to the Deep South, living in a barn there while he built a round house of handmade concrete blocks. His new neighbors were perplexed by his eccentric behavior as well. On the coldest day of winter he was barefoot, a philosopher and poet with ideas and words to share with anyone who would listen. And, mysteriously, his “last few months” became years. He had gone looking for a place to learn lessons in dying, and, studiously advanced to claim a vigorous new life. The Poet of Tolstoy Park is a moving and irresistible story, a guidebook of the mind and spirit that lays hold of the heart. Henry Stuart points the way through life’s puzzles for all of us, becoming in this timeless tale a character of such dimension that he seems more alive now than ever.

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Genre: Fiction
Author: Sonny Brewer
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release: 2005-03-01
File: 272 Pages
ISBN-13: 0345481968

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Explore California’s most visited city park in this A-to-Z adventure! From A for Artist Ruth Asawa’s hanging wire creations in the de Young Museum to Z for the Zebra on the carousel in the Koret Children’s Quarter, this book leads you around San Francisco’s famous Golden Gate Park to reveal a range of fun and surprising facts for tourists and locals alike. Step into art, science, nature, and culture by visiting the park’s major attractions, like the serene Japanese Tea Garden; discovering secret destinations, like the magical fairy doors hidden in trees; or just relaxing on the green meadows where the bison roam. Included also at the back of the book is a colorfully illustrated map with extra trivia and details on the park’s favorite sights. The board book version of this is available as ABCs of Golden Gate Park.

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Genre: Juvenile Nonfiction
Author: Marta Lindsey
Publisher: Graphic Arts Books
Release: 2020-05-05
File: 32 Pages
ISBN-13: 9781513263021

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Genre: Spiritual life
Author: Judith Bourque
Publisher:
Release: 2010
File: 221 Pages
ISBN-13: 9163362783

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From award-winning journalist David Kushner, a regular contributor to Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, and Vanity Fair, Alligator Candy is “a raw story about courage, survival, and most certainly about love” (Tampa Bay Times). David Kushner grew up in the suburbs of Florida in the early 1970s, running wild with his friends, exploring, riding bikes, and disappearing into the nearby woods for hours at a time. One morning in 1973, however, everything changed when David’s older brother Jon took a short bike trip to the local convenience store. He never returned. Alligator Candy is the story of Jon’s murder at the hands of two sadistic drifters, and everything that happened after. Jon’s death was one of the first in what turned out to be a rash of child abductions and murders that dominated headlines for much of the 1970s and 80s. It was around this the time that milk cartons began to feature the images of missing children, and newscasters began asking, “It’s 10:00, do you know where you children are?” Alligator Candy chronicles Jon’s story, but also tells how parenting in America has changed, casting light on the transition between two generations of children—one raised on freedom, the other on fear. “Parents today can understand the love, hope, and fear Kushner so eloquently describes in this account of one family’s transcendent courage in the face of crushing pain” (Bookpage, “Top Ten Book of the Month”). Alligator Candy is a disturbing, insightful, and inspiring meditation on grief, growth, and what childhood has become: “not only a memorial to a brother tragically deprived of his right to live; but also a meditation on the courage necessary to live freely in a world riven by pain, suffering, and evil” (Kirkus Reviews).

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Genre: Biography & Autobiography
Author: David Kushner
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release: 2016-03-15
File: 256 Pages
ISBN-13: 9781451682632

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Utopia City.Rebuilt from the ashes of America's most horrific terror attack and transformed into a paragon of technological advancement, this city stands as a beacon of possibility where almost anything can happen.Jericho Hansen certainly hopes so; as a gay superhero in the deep South, his ambition is to achieve lifelong recognition by joining Force Majeure, America's best-known superhero team. But to do that, he must first travel to Utopia and learn the hard way if he's got what it takes. The events that transpire when he gets there will turn his entire world upside down. He will experience love and loss, triumph and tragedy. Mysteries will be solved and fresh inquiries opened.Welcome to Utopia, where the most important lesson is that nothing is truly as it seems.

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Genre: Fiction
Author: Alan Atkinson
Publisher: Utopian Dreams
Release: 2020-01-28
File: 488 Pages
ISBN-13: 0648729621

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“An Earth-man’s journey to the planet Mars, where he is treated to a wondrous vision of a communist future, complete with flying cars and 3D color movies.” —Wonders & Marvels A communist society on Mars, the Russian revolution, and class struggle on two planets is the subject of this arresting science fiction novel by Alexander Bogdanov (1873–1928), one of the early organizers and prophets of the Russian Bolshevik party. The red star is Mars, but it is also the dream set to paper of the society that could emerge on earth after the dual victory of the socialist and scientific-technical revolutions. While portraying a harmonious and rational socialist society, Bogdanov sketches out the problems that will face industrialized nations, whether socialist or capitalist. “[A] surprisingly moving story.” —The New Yorker “The contemporary reader will marvel at [Bogdanov’s] foresight: nuclear fusion and propulsion, atomic weaponry and fallout, computers, blood transfusions, and (almost) unisexuality.” —Choice “Bogdanov’s novels reveal a great deal about their fascinating author, about his time and, ironically, ours, and about the genre of utopia as well as his contribution to it.” —Slavic Review

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Genre: History
Author: Alexander Bogdanov
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Release: 1984-06-22
File: 272 Pages
ISBN-13: 9780253013507

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