It's a tough subject to tackle, let alone define. Nevertheless, James Herrick embarks on an historical journey through spirituality in the last three hundred years, surveying an array of religious ideas -- once considered both exotic and heretical -- which now hold powerful sway in the Western religious mind. This shift away from what he terms the Revealed Word (the Judeo-Christian tradition rooted in an entirely other, yet living and personal God) and toward what he calls the New Religious Synthesis (a set of beliefs dominated by reason, the spiritualization of science and personal mystical experience) corresponds roughly with the Reformation and the ascent of reason in scientific, mystical and intellectual circles. Herrick doesn't demonize these developments but rather points out how our religious culture has been shaped in response to them, resulting in a spirituality less contained by formal religious structures and more embodied in the self and its personal evolution. By examining a range of influential works, he discusses (to name a few) the effects of biblical criticism, the spiritual legacy of Darwin, the pantheism of Emerson and Shaw, the ''gnostic impulse'' of Carl Jung and the pluralistic hope of Joseph Campbell. Herrick's scholarship is extensive but focused. Borrowing Richard Weaver's phrase, he reminds us that ''ideas have consequences.'' By turning our spirituality inward, we dispense with tradition and its living history of redemption. In short, we succumb to the original, and perhaps most seductive of lies -- that we might be ''like God'' without God.
An Eighth Day View:
A 2004 ECPA Gold Medallion Finalist One of Preaching magazine's 2004 "Top Ten Books Every Preacher Should Read" Neo-paganism. The paranormal. Astrology. Nature religion. Holistic thinking. Healing. New Age. New spirituality. 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 media--books, 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.