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Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith

Norris, Kathleen | Riverhead, 1998


p. 371

“While gurus might wish to appear infallible to their followers, all too often I suspect that they merely reveal the dangers of being, in the astute words of Alfred Kazin speaking of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘the only saint in the neighborhood.’ The ‘little people’ who have to deal with bestselling gurus on an earthly plane–booksellers, car service drivers, publicists, and the like–have often told me that they seldom encounter people who are so thoroughly self-absorbed and also so neglectful of the humanity of others. Speaking of one celebrity psychologist, a publicist told me, ‘Seconds after screaming at some underpaid bookstore worker for putting ice in his water glass, he was all smiles in front of an avid audience, telling them how to be happy and peaceful all the time.’ She added that in her experience, this sort of thing was a common occurrence on the self-help circuit.”