Get to Know the Nones

Elizabeth Drescher has a list of five books that we should read if we want to understand the (non-)religion of the nones. Here’s one:

Courtney Bender, The New Metaphysicals: Spirituality and the American Religious Imagination (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010).

Bender extends the work of Albanese, offering an ethnographic exploration of self-identified metaphysical practitioners as their apparently eclectic, unique, and personal spiritualities resist, engage, resource, and in many ways re-present the historical, scientific, philosophical, and theological narratives that have swirled about what is arguably the geographical and historical center of the American metaphysical tradition: Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In the process, she offers a richly contextualized network map of local religious history and contemporary practice that shows how deeply entangled “new,” “idiosyncratic” spiritualities are with the traditions of religious, scientific, and other cultural institutions. Bender also powerfully challenges common popular and scholarly distinctions between religion as institutionalized practice and spirituality as individualized practice. Bender’s recent SSRC Working Paper with Omar Roberts, Mapping the Field: Why and How to Study Spirituality, productively continues this conversation in the light of contemporary secularism and its political implications.

See the rest of the list: Five Must-Reads on the “Nones”: A Tipping Point in American Religion and Spirituality | (A)theologies | Religion Dispatches.

  • Mary

    interesting….. many of the writers here are women {along (of course) with Phyllis Tickle, D Butler-Bass, RH Evans}…. a pattern??

  • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

    I would change the title to “Get to Know Some No Longer Relevant Fringe Groups”. Getting to know someone who has gone to the Esalen Institute is not going to tell you much about the 30% of young people who identify themselves’ as Nones. These are not people who, on average, are concerned with which type of crystal will stimulate their blue chakra.

    This is an interesting list of history books on cultural shifts, but they are focusing on things that are no longer in the forefront, or never were.

  • http://skepticallyemerging.tumblr.com Rob Davis

    I want to somewhat echo Lausten’s comment… I definitely think it is helpful to look at things like this – sociological/anthropological kinda stuff. But, in another sense, if you want to “get to know the nones,” we’re all over the place.

    Hi, I’m Rob, and I’m a none. Nice to meet you. Let’s grab coffee.

  • http://www.vickiarkens.com Vicki A

    When I was in college, long ago, I remember standing alone in my dorm room saying, “God, why can’t you just give us a new book! Why does everything have to be such a mystery!” I think that some Nones are just plain weary of parsing through the same old books and doctrines.

  • T.S.Gay

    Long ago, my son and I were sitting in a living room of a house because we were asked to help in a domestic dispute. We were just sitting there, as all the drama was being acted out. We were willing and able and knew we could help in some small ways. Their was a stereo radio on with what was pretty good quality sound, but in the situation it was just white noise. The disc jockey played a song I’d never heard before. It was “Pillows” by the band King’s X:
    I walked through the door and took a seat
    Listening to words that seemed to bounce right off my chest
    Like I’d heard it all before
    Teach an old dog the same old tricks

    I knew I was so synched in at that moment…….it applied to that present moment ……and so much to my experience of going to church and school and life……I was just plain weary of the same old same old. But underneath it all I knew there was the thundering of new awakening.


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