This reader explores current interest in spirituality in the United States. It traces the concept and presence of spirituality in the nation’s past and explains the strong attraction to spiritual themes in the present, with attention to questions of definition, historical usage, and connection to religion. Twenty-seven selections pursue the difference and diversity among Americans in terms of their spiritual styles, here understood as modes of experiential knowledge. Catherine L. Albanese has organized these selections to reflect four approaches to spirituality: knowing through the body, or ritual-based spiritualities; knowing through the heart, or evangelical and emotionally toned spiritualities; knowing through the will, or prophetic and social-action spiritualities; and knowing through the mind, or metaphysically oriented spiritualities. Taken together, these essays make the argument that the spiritual is human-made, essentially religious, and surely not the same at all American times and places.
The anthology includes selections by Catherine L. Albanese, Janet and Robert Aldridge, Daniel Berrigan, Joseph Epes Brown, Charles W. Colson, Annie Dillard, Virgilio Elizondo, Tamar Frankiel, Emma Goldman, Charles E. Hambrick-Stowe, B. K. S. Iyengar, Curtis D. Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr., Chen Kung, Jerena Lee, Shirley MacLaine, Aimee Semple McPherson, Thomas Merton, Carry A. Nation, E. Burke Rochford, Jr., Jerry Rubin, Molly Rush, Starhawk, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Trine, Joachim Wach, B. Alan Wallace, Steven Wilhelm, and Dhyani Ywahoo.
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, now in its third edition, and of numerous other articles and books, including Nature Religion in America: From the Algonkian Indians to the New Age. Albanese is a former president of the American Academy of Religion.
“American Spiritualities is a reader designed to explore current interest in spirituality in the United States. It aims to trace the concept and presence of spirituality in the nation’s past and to explain the strong attraction to spiritual themes in the present, with attention to questions of definition, historical usage, and connection to religion. Twenty-seven selections pursue the difference and diversity among Americans in terms of their spiritual styles, here understood as modes of experiential knowledge. The book includes selections by Starhawk, Thomas Merton, Shirley MacLaine, B.K.S. Iyengas, Annie Dillard, and others. ”
“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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Table of Contents
Part 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, Testimonies
Part 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 Par