The New Metaphysicals: Spirituality and the American Religious Imagination

The New Metaphysicals: Spirituality and the American Religious Imagination

by Courtney Bender

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American spirituality—with its focus on individual meaning, experience, and exploration—is usually thought to be a product of the postmodern era. But, as The New Metaphysicals makes clear, contemporary American spirituality has historic roots in the nineteenth century and a great deal in common with traditional religious movements. To explore this world, Courtney Bender combines research into the history of the movement with fieldwork in Cambridge, Massachusetts—a key site of alternative religious inquiry from Emerson and William James to today. Through her ethnographic analysis, Bender discovers that a focus on the new, on progress, and on the way spiritual beliefs intersect with science obscures the historical roots of spirituality from its practitioners and those who study it alike—and shape an enduring set of modern religious possibilities in the process.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780226043173
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 07/15/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
File size: 399 KB

About the Author

Courtney Bender is associate professor of religion at Columbia University and author of Heaven’s Kitchen: Living with Religion at God’s Love We Deliver, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

Table of Contents



Introduction: Long Shadows

1 Shamans in the Meetinghouse: Locating Contemporary Spirituality

2 Becoming Mystics

3 Tuning the Body

4 Karmic Laundry: Imagining and Embodying Spiritual History

5 “Zooming Around”: Mystical Lands and Cosmopolitanisms





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