American Gurus: Seven Questions for Arthur Versluis

What sparked the idea for writing this book? Why write it now?  American Gurus was a long time in the making. I first had the ideas for some of the book when I was working on American Transcendentalism and Asian Religions (1993). In particular, I wanted to look at how Platonism influenced American Transcendentalism. 

Religion and DragonCon

Eric Reinders Every Labor Day weekend, more than fifty thousand people gather in Atlanta to talk about, and dress up as, their favorite fantasies. Naturally, there is religion in all this. It’s mostly Christianity, although not always.

Seven Questions for LeRhonda S. Manigault-Bryant

In our new interview series, we ask cultural theorists about what inspires them and how their latest work challenges our understanding of the sacred in American cultural life. For this segment, we chatted with LeRhonda S. Manigault-Bryant about her latest book, Talking to the Dead: Religion, Music, and Lived Memory among Gullah/Geechee Women. 1.     What sparked the idea for writing this book? Talking to the Dead was sparked by my desire to reconcile my earliest encounters with the literature on the Gullah/Geechee people. I’m from the South Carolina Lowcountry and when I first began reading about the Gullah/Geechee as an undergraduate, […]

LSD and the Rabbis: Part II

This article is Part II in a three part series. Click here for Part I and Part III. By Shalom Goldman In utilizing intoxicants to heighten individual religious experience, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi was influenced by the emerging zeitgeist of the early 1960s, a zeitgeist that the Esalen Institute of Big Sur, California, did much to develop and promote. In seminars led by luminaries like Aldous Huxley, Timothy Leary, and Humphrey Osmond, Esalen taught a generation of seekers about the theory and practice of “drug-induced mysticism.” In these seminars (though that may be too formal a word for the early Esalen classes) the teachers […]

The New God of Football

By Saadia Faruqi The NFL made headlines yet again earlier this week for imposing a penalty on Muslim football player Hussain Abdullah and then promptly retracting the penalty and issuing an apology. Most people like myself heard of the apology before the penalty and had to backtrack to find out exactly what occurred on Monday night. I think Abdullah was confused by all the attention as well. His offense: prostrating in prayer after a touchdown in a game against the New England Patriots. So what? you may ask. Football players and their fans have been praying for their teams and thanking […]

Debatable Origins

By Gary Laderman The presence and awareness of religion in the United States is overwhelming. We see so many different forms and variations; it plays a role in so many areas of social life. Religion is, indeed, an inescapable fact of our lives even though we can’t agree on what the hell it is; but it is not likely to disappear in the near or long-term future, and will certainly remain a constant force to be reckoned with as a critical factor in shaping future events. For obvious reasons, many in the media, universities, political think tanks, corporate worlds, polling […]

The Weight of the Guru: A Review of Kumaré

By Anandi Leela Salinas In Sanskrit, the term guru is defined as: “important,” “valuable,” “respectable,” and “heavy,” in addition to the definition that finds more currency in 21st century America: spiritual teacher in a general “Eastern” tradition. There have been a number of recently published works analyzing the role of the transnational spiritual guru in modern day America (Gurus in America, Transcendent in America, and Homegrown Gurus to name a few), but ethnographies of transnational South Asian religious movements in the United States have yet to explore the experience of joining, belonging, and reflecting within these communities from the perspective of the devotees. The 2012 film […]

Daily Sacred

Tourism and the sacred. The National Cathedral in Washington, DC by Kelly Gannon, Associate Editor for Sacred Matters Magazine. Show us your sacred! Share your images with us by tagging your photos with #sacredmatters on Twitter, Flickr, Instagram, Tumblr or email us at sacredmatters@emory.edu. Please include where and when your photo was taken. We will publish your images here on sacredmattersmagazine.com and through our social media outlets.

The Christian cross, Texan identity, and “Tex-ianity”

  By Ken Chitwood Crosses come in various shapes, sizes, and colors. They are ubiquitous in homes across the United States and pepper the abodes of people throughout the world. Odds are, you have one hanging in your home whether you are religious or not. The art of the cross is a wide and diverse stream with the cross being transformed and translated throughout the ages to speak in new ways to new people in many contexts. Crosses are both religious and civil symbols, co-opted by various cultures and movements as articles expressing deeper realities and worldviews. In Peru, Jesus is […]

LSD and the Rabbis

This article is Part I in a three part series. Click here for Part II and Part III. By Shalom Goldman The reactions to the death last month of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi may be a sign that the conversation about psychedelic drugs and American religion is moving into a new stage. On July 8th that “Old Grey Lady,” the New York Times, published a long and very respectful obituary of Schachter. For this Times reader of the Sixties generation, it was quite surprising that the Times, with its long-history of disdain for the counterculture in general and counterculture religion in particular, would honor a religious innovator whose inspiration was so clearly psychedelic. The Times […]