American Religious Liberalism by Leigh E. Schmidt, Sally M. Promey

By Leigh E. Schmidt, Sally M. Promey

Religious liberalism in the US has usually been equated with an ecumenical Protestant institution. against this, American spiritual Liberalism attracts realization to the extensive range of liberal cultures that shapes America’s non secular routine. The essays accrued right here push past wide-spread tropes and limits to interrogate non secular liberalism’s dense cultural leanings by way of spirituality within the arts, the politics and piety of spiritual cosmopolitanism, and the interplay among liberal faith and liberal secularism. Readers will discover a kaleidoscopic view of the various revolutionary strands of America’s non secular prior and found in this richly provocative volume.

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50 Wiksell’s invocation of a vaguely defined but assuredly mystical “yoga” reflects the intersections between Whitmanism and Theosophy in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. During the first year of the Whitman Fellowship’s existence, for example, Bucke delivered a speech on cosmic consciousness to the Philadelphia Theosophical Society that was subsequently published in the Conservator. 51 Joy Dixon has analyzed in detail the ways in which Theosophical doctrines provided men in the United States and the United Kingdom with an alternative, non-­pathological means for understanding same-­sex desires;52 I would argue that Whitmanism offered an even richer discursive field for the spiritualized expression of homosexual passion.

55 The institutionalization of literary studies succeeded in marginalizing amateur enthusiasm for Leaves of Grass, but it did not entirely extinguish the interest in Whitman among spiritual seekers. In the course of researching my book on Whitman’s nineteenth-­century disciples, I encountered numerous individuals in the United States and England who consider Whitman to be an important religious figure. , that used Whitman’s words as a guide to higher states of consciousness; and I met with the New Jersey secretary of commerce in his office to talk about how, as a teenager living in Camden, he felt a mystical connection to Whitman as he jogged past the poet’s tomb in Harleigh Cemetery.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. William H. , vol. : Harvard University Press, 1965), 186. 10. Walt Whitman, “Democratic Vistas,” in Complete Poetry and Collected Prose, ed. Justin Kaplan (New York: Library of America, 1982)—all subsequent quotations from Whitman are taken from this volume, which is cited as CPCP; and Alfred Kazin, God and the Ameri­can Writer (New York: Knopf, 1997), 118. 11. Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself,” CPCP, 244–45.

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