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A 2004 ECPA Gold Medallion Finalist!
One of Preaching magazine's 2004 "Top Ten Books Every Preacher Should Read"!
A massive shift in Western religious attitudes has taken place almost without our noticing it. The Judeo-Christian tradition of Western culture has slowly but steadily been eclipsed by a new way of viewing spirituality.
This shift has been in the making for some three hundred years. James A. Herrick tells the story of how the old view has been dismantled and a new one created not primarily through academic or institutional channels but by means of popular religious mediabooks, speeches, magazines and pamphlets, as well as movies, plays, music, radio interviews, television programs and websites.
Although the new spirituality is diffuse and eclectic in its sources and manifestations, Herrick demonstrates a significant convergence of ideas, beliefs, assumptions, convictions and images in the myriad ways this New Religious Synthesis makes its way into our culture. In fact, the new spirituality, says Herrick, directly calls into question each major tenet of Judeo-Christian tradition and so represents a radical alternative to it.
Interest in spirituality increases while participation in institutional religion wanes. Many welcome this evolution of religion. However, few are familiar with its roots, and fewer still have critically examined its prospects. As we stand at a spiritual crossroad, Herrick questions whether we are wise to discard the Western religious tradition and adopt the new spirituality.
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About the Author
James A. Herrick is Guy Vander Jagt Professor of Communication at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. He has also written The Radical Rhetoric of the English Deists (University of South Carolina Press), Argumentation (Strata), The History and Theory of Rhetoric (Allyn & Bacon) and The Making of the New Spirituality (IVP Books).
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments1. Introduction: A Changing View of the Spiritual World
Spiritual Changes: A New Age of Belief?
Bestsellers and Blockbusters: Spirituality Goes Public
Talking About Spirituality
The Revealed World and the New Religious Synthesis
Goals of the Study2. Antecedents of the New Religious Synthesis: A Brief History of Alternative Spirituality in the West
Spiritual Communities in the Middle Ages
Magic and the Hermetic Tradition
Kabbalah: Secrets in the Pentateuch
Neo-Platonism and Magical Science
Humanism and the Rise of Biblical Criticism
Conclusion3. The Rise of Biblical Criticism: Allegory, Myth, Codes and the End of History
Thomas Woolston and the English Deists
Lessing, Strauss and German Criticism
John Shelby Spong Rescues the Bible
Michael Drosnin's The Bible Code
Conclusion4. The Ascent of Reason: Birth of a Deity
Voltaire and Liberated Reason
Thomas De Quincey
American New Thought: Minds as Divine Healing Force
Ayn Rand's Argument for Reason
Conclusion5. Science and Shifting Paradigms: Salvation in a New Cosmos
Thomas Paine on the Hope of Science
Robert Green Ingersoll: Science and Deliverance
Carl Sagan: From The Demon-Haunted World to Alien Contact
The New Physics: Science and Ancient Wisdom
Conclusion6. Evolution and Advancement: The Darwins' Spiritual Legacy
Lamarck and Spencer
Charles Darwin: Naturalist Prophet
The Spiritual Vision of Darwin's Early Defenders
Julian Huxley: Transhumanism and the Moral Elite
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: Reaching the Omega Point
James H. Austin: Evolving Brain, Evolving Spirit
James Redfield: The Celestine Prophet
Science Fiction and Human Evolutionary Destiny
Conclusion7. Pantheism in the Modern World: Nature or God
Spinoza and Toland
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ernst Haeckel and The Riddle of the Universe
Bergson and Shaw
A New Pantheistic Physics
Conclusion8. The Rebirth of Gnosticism: The Secret Path to Self-Salvation
The Fundamentals of Gnosticism
Jacob Ilive: Enlightenment Gnosticism
Joseph Smith's Yankee Gnosticism
Carl Jung and the Gnostic Impulse
Jean Houston: Gnosticism and the New Age
Science Fiction: The Final Gnostic Frontier
Conclusion9. Modern Shamanism: Spirit Contact and Spiritual Progress
Victorian Shamans: Occultism, Theosophy and Spiritualism
John Mack and UFO Abduction
Paul Ferrini and the Jesus Phenomenon
Conclusion10. The Mystical Path to Pluralism: Discovering That All Is One in Religion
An Original Religion
R. M. Bucke
Frithjof Schuon and Transcendent Religious Unity
Joseph Campbell: The Perennial Philosophy as Pluralistic Hope
Marcus Borg and Jesus the Spirit Person
Conclusion11. Conclusion: A New Spirituality for a New Age
Taking Leave of History
The Advent of Reason
The New Gnosis
Shamans and the Spiritual Future
Final Considerations: A New and Better Way?
Index of Names
Index of Subjects