Review by Rod Berry
This short book of approximately 140 pages reads as a personal testimonial to the joy and therapeutic value of Naturism. Daniel Zeigler shares with us his personal journey into Naturism, and then goes on to pass on the stories of others who have, like him, found freedom and self-acceptance through social Naturism.
I had assumed from the title of this book, and its subtitle, “A Look at Healing, Self-Discovery, and Spiritual Growth Through Social Naturism” that Zeigler was coming from the perspective of Christian faith. However Zeigler’s religious leanings are far less defined – he talks of sensing destiny and “Divine Order” and the “Truth” without reference to any specific organized religion and he uses the honorific “All-That-Is” for God, and at one point he blames Western organized religion for many of our hang-ups about sexuality and our bodies.
The author’s perspective, then, is more New Age in approach, with an emphasis on what feels right, personal truth, and a journey to enlightenment. In this context, Zeigler argues that as we become comfortable with and accept our naked bodies, we learn a deeper Truth about ourselves and even about reality itself. We become more aware of our divine and perfect nature, and of our place in the universe.
Each chapter of this book is short, simple, and relatively self- contained, and provides a different angle on Zeigler’s journey into Naturism. What shines through the entire book is just how revolutionary Naturism has been for Zeigler’s personal life journey, as well as his evangelistic passion to see others experience that same revelation. He has absolute confidence that if a person simply gives Naturism a go, they will be converted the lifestyle. Zeigler intersperses short quotations about Naturism between chapters. These statements reflect the enormous hope and faith that the author has in the spiritually transforming effect of embracing our naked selves. Zeigler also includes the liturgy of a Naturist wedding ceremony towards the end of his book.
There is a proselytizing zeal and sentimentality to Zeigler’s style that I find a little off-putting. He speaks in a utopian way that does not quite ring true for me, without any acknowledgment that conflict arises in the Naturist community. He assumes that all people who attend Naturist venues will be converted to the lifestyle – something that sadly some of us know all too well is simply not true. He does not address the serious conflict between spouses where one is Naturist and the other is not, or the issue of single males in Naturism. Zeigler also fails to recognise that some people come to Naturist settings with less altruistic intentions.
The strength of this book is where specifics of different people’s journeys into Naturism are described. For Zeigler himself, we learn that Naturism has relieved his shy bladder syndrome and helped him to accept his oversized belly and small penis. For Cindy, Naturism gives her the strength to address her alcoholism. For Jerry, a clergyman, being a Naturist results in persecution by the Church, but he stands above this to remain true to himself. Crystal finds in Naturism salvation from anorexia and bulimia. These are simple and beautiful stories.
Some will find this book immensely encouraging, due to its very personal and direct appeal to embrace the joy and healing that comes through Naturism. It may even provide an easy primer to share with someone who may be open to considering Naturism. I share many of Zeigler’s feelings about how Naturism has improved my sense of self and of my Creator. I must confess however that ultimately I found this book rather too thick on sentimentality and somewhat two-dimensional.
Life is rarely as simple as Zeigler makes out, even, dare I say, in Naturist society.