A crisis of faith can affect anyone at any time. How one deals with it is the subject of two extraordinary books by authors Jennifer Haigh (Faith) and Dani Shapiro (Devotion). The two authors explore this experience from different literary genres and from different religious perspectives: Shapiro from the Jewish point of view and Haigh from the Catholic standpoint.

In Faith, it is the spring of 2002 and a perfect storm has hit Boston. Across the city’s archdiocese, trusted priests have been accused of the worst possible betrayal of the souls in their care. In the book Jennifer Haigh explores the fallout for one devout family, the McGanns.

In Devotion, Dani Shapiro, in her midforties and settled into the responsibilities and routines of adulthood, found herself with more questions than answers. Was this all life was—a hodgepodge of errands, dinner dates, e-mails, meetings, to-do lists? What did it all mean?

Having grown up in a deeply religious and traditional family, Shapiro had no personal sense of faith, despite repeated attempts to create a connection to something greater. Feeling as if she was plunging headlong into what Carl Jung termed “the afternoon of life,” she wrestled with self-doubt and a searing disquietude that would awaken her in the middle of the night. Set adrift by loss—her father’s early death; the life-threatening illness of her infant son; her troubled relationship with her mother—she had become edgy and uncertain. At the heart of this anxiety, she realized, was a challenge: What did she believe? Spurred on by the big questions her young son began to raise, Shapiro embarked upon a surprisingly joyful quest to find meaning in a constantly changing world. The result is Devotion: a literary excavation to the core of a life.

Haigh and Shapiro will discuss their viewpoints on faith and devotion on Tuesday, April 17 at 7:30pm at the Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center (333 Nahanton Street) in Newton Author Tova Mirvis will moderate the discussion.

Faith and Devotion is part of the Ryna Greenbaum JCC Boston Jewish Book Fair. Ticket price is $8. Discount for JCC members, students and seniors. Purchase tickets online at www.bostonjcc.org/bookfair or contact boxoffice@jccgb.org, 617-965-5226 or 866-811-4111. 

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