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American Spiritualities


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Table of Contents

IntroductionPart One: Knowing through the Body: The Path of Ritual
1. Tamar Frankiel, "Ritual Sites in the Narrative of American Religion"
2. Charles E. Hambrick-Stowe, "The Ordinances of Public Worship"
3. Virgilio Elizondo, "Popular Religion as the Core of Cultural Identity Based on the Mexican American Experience in the United States"
4. Tamar Frankiel, "Thought, Speech, Action: Rhythms of Jewish Life"
5. Joseph Epes Brown, ed., "Wiwanyag Wachipi: The Sun Dance"
6. Starhawk, "The Coven"Part Two: Knowing through the Heart: The Path of Feeling and Emotion
7. Curtis D. Johnson, "The Second Birth"
8. Jarena Lee, "The Life and Religious Experience of Jarena Lee"
9. Aimee Semple McPherson, "Girlhood" and "Salvation and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit"
10. Charles W. Colson, "An Unforgettable Night"
11. Jerry Rubin, "est"
12. E. Burke Rochford, Jr., "Surrendering to Krishna: Devi's Story"Part Three: Knowing through the Will: The Path of Prophecy and Social Action
13. Joachim Wach, "The Reformer" and "The Prophet"
14. Henry David Thoreau, "Resistance to Civil Government"
15. Carry A. Nation, "The Divine Call"
16. Emma Goldman, [from] Living My Life
17. Martin Luther King, Jr., "Letter from Birmingham Jail"
18. Janet and Robert Aldridge, Molly Rush, and Daniel Berrigan, TestimoniesPart Four: Knowing through the Mind: The Path of Metaphysics
19. Catherine L. Albanese, "The Subtle Energies of Spirit: Explorations in Metaphysical and New Age Spirituality"
20. Ralph Waldo Trine, "Fullness of Life-Bodily Health and Vigor"
21. Thomas Merton, "The Gift of Understanding" and "The Night of the Senses"
22. Annie Dillard, "Seeing"
23. B. Alan Wallace with Steven Wilhelm, "Four Applications of Mindfulness"
24. Dhyani Ywahoo, "Renewing the Sacred Hoop"
25. Shirley MacLaine, "The New Age and Rational Thought" and "A Rainbow of Expression"
26. B.K.S. Iyengar, "The Tree and Its Parts"
27. Chen Kung, "Discourse on Mind-Intent and Ch'i"Suggestions for Further Reading

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Readings that explore approaches to American spirituality, past and present.

About the Author

Catherine L. Albanese is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is the author of the widely used textbook America: Religions and Religion (Wadsworth), now in its third edition (1999) and of numerous other articles and books, including Nature Religion in America: From the Algonkian Indians to the New Age (University of Chicago Press). Albanese is a former president of the American Academy of Religion.


When people today aver that they are "spiritual" but not "religious," they are invoking a distinction that is at once venerable and very modern. People of faith have long valued spirituality, which Albanese defines as "the personal, experiential element in religion... that, for those involved, signal[s] transcendence, sacrality, ultimacy, and/or a higher purposive wisdom that empowers by explaining and attesting life's meaning." The idea that such endeavors might be possible only outside of institutional contexts, however, is a relatively recent development. Albanese, a prolific scholar and past president of the American Academy of Religion, here presents representative selections from a wide range of texts and traditions, from the Puritans and Charles Colson to the Hare Krishnas and Shirley MacLaine. She imposes order on this dizzying pluralism by identifying four broad avenues along which individuals of different persuasions pursue their spiritual quests: the path of public and private ritual; the path of feeling and emotion; the path of prophecy and social action; and the path of metaphysics. Although essays introduce each of these sections, they do not engage either the analytical framework or the primary texts in sufficient depth and leave unanswered some fundamental questions. What, for example, makes American spirituality particularly American? The reader comes away with an increased appreciation for the variety of religious experience, but a still muddled understanding of what it all means. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"The origin of this superlative anthology was an undergraduate course on American spirituality first taught by the editor in 1998 at the University of California, Santa Barbara. With its economical but comprehensive general introduction, lapidary sectional introductions, and concise essay summaries, Albanese (former president of the American Academy of Religion and author of the widely used America, Religions and Religion, 1981, 3rd ed., 1999) has developed a text accessible to all readership levels. The essays extend chronologically from Thoreau's 1849 Civil Disobedience to the editor's 1999 The Subtle Energies of Spirit: Explorations in Metaphysical and New Age Spirituality, and represent the major contemporary Western, Eastern and New Age traditions. They are organized in four sections, focused successively on spiritual knowledge through the body, heart, will, and mind. Careful reading will result in a clear sense of the history and range of contemporary American spirituality. The suggestions for further reading are carefully chosen and up-to-date. Highly recommended; all readership groups.January 2002"

-- E. S. Steele * University of Scranton *

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