Frankfort journalist Charles Pearl writes book on interfaith spirituality


IMG 3976Charlie Pearl and grandchildren: The author with grandchildren, from left, Kamdyn Johnson, Luke Pearl and Kalleigh Johnson. Charlie's Black Lab Lily is also pictured. (Photo courtesy of Hannah Brown)


            Frankfort Interfaith Council member Charles Pearl, a retired journalist, has written his first book at the age of 72. “Dancing at the Yurt: An Interfaith Spiritual Journey was released in November 2020.

            Pearl retired from The State Journal newspaper in Frankfort, Kentucky in 2011, and started writing a book in 2012 while on retreat at the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center in Bloomington, Indiana. He and his beloved Black Labrador, Lily, stayed in one of the small, circular wooden cottages – resembling a yurt – for a little more than a month on their first of four visits there that year.

            “I met fascinating people in Bloomington and started writing about their spiritual journeys. Later, I wanted to include many others of diverse faiths who have inspired me on a winding path of being Baptist, Catholic and Buddhist.”

            According to Pearl, the book boils down to a few simple themes: “unity, compassion, non-violence, and loving life, our neighbors, and our small, beautiful, ailing planet. There’s so much division and turmoil in our country and world. My highest hope is that the book, in some small way, can help in the healing process.”

            One chapter of Pearl’s book starts, “The more I study Buddhism and visit Buddhist friends, the closer I feel to Jesus.” When he took refuge vows as a Buddhist in 2013, Pearl said he didn’t drop his love of Jesus and Christianity. “But I had to widen my spiritual path and heart to include Buddhism and how it lovingly connects to Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sufism, Baha’i, Unitarian Universalist and other religions.”

            In Kentucky’s small capital city today, Pearl serves on the Frankfort Interfaith Council with Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Baha’is and Unitarian Universalists. The interfaith council is featured prominently in the book, as are Tibetan Buddhist monks from Tashi Kyil Monastery in India, who have created beautiful World Peace mandalas made of colored sand in Frankfort.

            Richard Taylor, professor of English and former Poet Laureate of Kentucky, says, “Journalist, shade-tree philosopher, and chronicler of the spirit, Charlie Pearl in these personal reflections wears a coat of many colors – part memoir, part spiritual odyssey, part travelogue, part inventory of the heart. With honesty, humility, and great zest he leads us on an interfaith journey from Baptist to Baha’i to Buddhist, demonstrating convincingly that all faiths share a circumference equidistant from God.

            “Along the way are engaging side trips that explore the stages of our celebrative dance through life. In sharing himself, he gives us a model of a life well and richly lived, one that each of us can profit from as we travel our own journeys.”

            Chuck Queen, senior pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Frankfort, says, “Charlie is so unassuming, kind, and good, that if one has a halfway open heart, one cannot help but be drawn to him. In these pages, he shares his quest for God and for truth, and the loving friendships that sustain and fuel it. If the reader doesn’t grow following Charlie on this journey, it’s the reader’s own fault.”

            Pearl has a yurt in Franklin County that sits on friend Angela Mitchell’s mother’s 30-acre farm. It’s a writing and art studio, and meditation center occasionally referred to as the “Pearl Center for World Peace.” He also is in a senior citizens dance group, “The Glitterbugs,” led by Sylvia Coffey.

            The new author has won numerous journalism awards for writing and photography. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Western Kentucky University. In Frankfort, the 370-page paperback book is available for purchase at Poor Richard’s Books on Broadway, or by emailing the author at . It’s also available at Amazon, and at Barnes and Noble.

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