When Rick Nafzinger was 14, some Hare Krishnas in the Denver airport handed him a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, an essential book of the Hindu faith. During the next two weeks of family vacation, he read the book over and over.
That was the start of a lifelong spiritual quest for the 51-year-old Stockton man, who recently published a book of Hinduism-inspired daily meditations. He will read and discuss the philosophy and religion behind "Combating Inner Terrorism: Strategies of the Goddess from the 'Devi Mahatmyam' " next Saturday at Borders Books in Stockton.
The center of his religious outlook - which draws from Eastern and Western traditions, mainstream and alternative alike - is an emphasis on Goddess or "the other half of the divine."
Nafzinger leads the Circle of the Feminine Divine, a Stockton group that takes an interfaith approach to revering the feminine side of deities ranging from the Virgin Mary to the Hindu Goddess Radharani to the Wiccan Earth Goddess.
"Ninety-nine percent of the people who have spiritual inclinations are going to congregations with a male deity," Nafzinger said, adding that he wants to change that.
Circle member Jim Buik, 76, used to be one of those people. He had always been interested in religions that "see the Earth itself as a mother" though he was raised Catholic, the retired Stocktonian said. Buik spent a long time unaffiliated with any specific religion, and now attends Unitarian Universalist services in addition to Circle meetings, where Nafzinger's ideas for the new book began.