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.