Stairways to Heaven: Drugs in American Religious History

Stairways to Heaven: Drugs in American Religious History

by Robert W. Fuller
     
 

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From Native Americans’ use of tobacco for solemnizing oaths to the spread of New Age religious beliefs in Haight-Ashbury coffeehouses, drugs have been intimately associated with American spirituality. In Stairways to Heaven, Robert Fuller presents a rarely considered but very important dimension of American religious history—the use of

Overview


From Native Americans’ use of tobacco for solemnizing oaths to the spread of New Age religious beliefs in Haight-Ashbury coffeehouses, drugs have been intimately associated with American spirituality. In Stairways to Heaven, Robert Fuller presents a rarely considered but very important dimension of American religious history—the use of mind-altering substances as an aid to spirituality—in a clear, engaging style. Fuller’s entertaining narrative illustrates how such substances as peyote, jimson weed, hallucinogenic mushrooms, LSD, marijuana, wine, and coffee have stimulated ecstatic revelations of spiritual truth and strengthened the social bonds that sustain communities of faith.Stairways to Heaven is unique in the study of American religious history in two ways: first, it demonstrates that the ritual use of mind-altering substances has contributed to the innovation and diversity that characterize American religious life; second, it uses interdisciplinary research into the religious uses of drugs to shed light on the controversial legal, ethical, and spiritual controversies that surround drug use in the contemporary United States. The book’s final chapter assesses the usefulness of drugs in the quest for a mature, life-affirming, community-building, creative spirituality.

Editorial Reviews

Internet Book Watch
Stairways To Heaven: Drugs In American Religious History is a unique, seminal work spanning Native Americas' use of tobacco for solemnizing oaths to the spread of New Age religious beliefs in Haight-Ashbury coffeehouses. Robert Fuller presents an important, overlooked aspect of American religious history -- the use of mind-altering substances as an aid to spirituality ranging from peyote, jimson weed, and hallucinogenic mushrooms, to LSD, marijuana, wine, and coffee. Stairways To Heaven explores many of the questions surrounding the use of drugs in religious life including drugs use to induce "authentic" religious experience; religious experience as an aberration in brain chemistry; how much drug use can be tolerated under the auspices of religious freedom; the legitimate role of mind-altering substances in the development of mature spirituality. Stairways To Heaven is "must" reading for students of spirituality, American religious history, and the ritual use of mind-altering substances.
—Internet Book Watch
Internet Bookwatch
How have Americans used drugs to establish and forge religious foundations? Stairways to Heaven provides a survey and analysis of the use of mind-altering substances as an aid to spirituality, with chapters considering the foundations of religious experience, the role of drugs in creating or altering such experiences, and links between religious freedom and the nation's war on drugs. An intriguing history.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780813366128
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
04/28/2000
Pages:
248
Product dimensions:
6.28(w) x 9.32(h) x 0.84(d)
Lexile:
1470L (what's this?)

Meet the Author


Robert C. Fuller is a preeminent historian and interpreter of American religious life. He is professor of religious studies at Bradley University. His previous books include Mesmerism and the American Cure of Souls, Alternative Medicine and American Religious Life, Americans and the Unconscious, and Religion and Wine.

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