Shadow Culture: Psychology and Spirituality in America
America is witnessing a third Great Awakening, an explosion of interest in esoteric and mystical religious experience. Often referred to as New Age or pop psychology-especially by its detractors-this new awakening is a profoundly psychological one, stressing the alteration of consciousness, the integration of mind and body, and the connection between physical and mental health.
Shadow Culture finds the roots of the New Age in the sermons of Jonathan Edwards, the writings of Emerson and Thoreau, and the counterculture of the 1960s. It will appeal to anyone interested in the resurgence of spiritualism in America, from New Age seekers to Gnostics, from agnostics to Unitarians, from Swedenborgians to practicing Buddhists.
Although critics would have New Age spirituality deemed trendy and fleeting, author and religious scholar Eugene Taylor offers a convincing testament to the historical worthiness and longevity of the alternative spirituality movement. Taylor, who is a lecturer in psychology at Harvard Medical School, explains that the New Age movement is a historically rooted movement that blends psychology and spirit. In fact, he calls it the "Third Great Awakening" in American religious life--an awakening that always springs from a "shadow culture" (most recently, the counterculture rebellion of the '60s). What makes this a fascinating read is its extensive and smoothly presented research. Taylor documents the "First Great Awakening," which dates back to the puritans and mystics of the 1600s and 1700s. Stretching forward in time, he presents the "Second Great Awakening," with profiles of leaders such as Emerson and Thoreau. This fascinating discussion elevates the New Age movement to an evolutionary necessity, which will no doubt raise the ire or gratitude of American readers. --Gail Hudson