The new religion is the Buddhism of the SGI, or Soka Gakkai International. In the past fifty years or so, the Soka Gakkai has grown from less than a million adherents centered exclusively in Japan, to a dynamic worldwide lay organization of roughly 12,000,000 members around the globe.
Central to the book is Hilgendorf's personal journey. The book begins with the author struggling to find meaning in his life after suffering a divorce and a string of other failures.
"It was a time of going to seed. Everything in the past was shedding away, making way for new lives and rhythms. I was thirty years old. I had taken a room in a boarding house."
Here he meets his future wife, Elizabeth, who is also struggling with direction in her life. The evolution of their relationship becomes one of the core themes of the book.
In Los Angeles, Hilgendorf encounters Buddhism, and begins practicing with the Soka Gakkai.
The book is much more than just a story of the author's personal journey into a new religion. It takes a hard look at some of the fundamentals of our current religions in general. It is also a call for a new dream of America, and for an awakening of the boundless potential that lies within each of our lives.
"We need a new, fresh way of looking at ourselves. Too often, we have given away our power, and our religions have helped us do so. It is time to bring forth our real selves, and the real America."
This is Hilgendorf's ninth book of non-fiction. The titles include "A New Myth for America"; "The New Superpower"; "The Buddha and the Dream of America"; "Handbook for Youth in a Muddied Age"; "Life & Death: A Buddhist Perspective";
The books of James Hilgendorf are available in paperback or e-book format through bookstores, and through Amazon.com, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and other online booksellers.
The author's website is at http://www.jameshilgendorf.org