By Robert S. Ellwood
Filenote: PDF is searchable picture ocr, 212 pages with Front/Back cover.
The explosive occasions of Jonestown and Koreagate have riveted the eyes of the USA at the burgeoning and principally misunderstood flow of latest spiritual cults. Robert S. Elwood makes an attempt to extra our figuring out of those occult, mystical and japanese religious hobbies within the usa by way of putting them in a a distinctively American context, demonstrating that they're neither new or alien.
This compact quantity combines amazing volume of historic info with present interpretative theories approximately inner most pilgrimages and sectarian differentiation. the writer covers a variety of emergent, non-normative spiritual varieties and notes that they've omprised myriad members, every one following related styles of private excursus or quests for internal awareness. After discussing the typical positive factors of such non secular festiveness, Ellwood highlights Shaker Spiritualism, Theosophy, and as illustrative of a continuing and sundry culture of spiritual experimentation in America.... maybe this book's maximum contribution is to make it most unlikely from now on to disregard those religions as real expressions of non secular situation which mainline church buildings attempt vainly to demonize
-- Religion stories Review
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Extra info for Alternative Altars: Unconventional and Eastern Spirituality in America (Chicago History of American Religion)
Richardson has pointed out, a cult and one could add the emergent spiritual tradition as a whole has as its major criterion its "oppositional" character. ^^ Its beliefs and practices both are counter to those of the dominant culture, or when that culture is in a state of dissolution, to those of other subcultural groups. In fact, this opposition is not only in belief and practice, but in the entire "style" of being religious informed by a very different sociological experience We which nonetheless has its own main thrust of the "structuralist" argument of Roy Wallis, that "cults" are distinguished by certain continuities.
Let us to each of the four kinds of social organization the 23 Excursus Religion and through attitudes toward identity and the two and the powers of mind trance or meditation), finally reaches the interface of self and the transcendent in the category of sin. It projects the whole system in a cosmology and a cosmic view of suffering and misfortune. categories, — aspects of self-hood (body Strong Group and Grid Purity: strong concern for purity; well-defined purification uals; purity rules define and maintain rit- social structure Ritual: a ritualistic society; ritual expresses the internal classifi- cation system Magic: belief in the efficacy of symbolic behavior Personal Identity social roles; : a matter of internalizing clearly articulated individual subservient to but not in conflict with society Body: tightly controlled but a symbol of life Trance: dangerous; either not allowed or tightly controlled and limited to a group of experts Sin: the violation of formal rules; focus on behavior instead of internal state of being; ritual (magic) efficacious in counteracting sin Cosmology: anthropomorphic, nondualistic, the universe and noncapricious is just Suffering and Misfortune: the result of automatic punishment for the violation of formal rules; part of the divine Strong Group, Weak economy Grid Purity: strong concern for purity but the inside of the social physical bodies are under attack; pollution present and and purification ritual ineffective Ritual: ritualistic; ritual focused upon group boundaries, concerned with expelling pollutants (witches) from social body Magic: ineffective in protecting individual and social bodies; a source of danger and pollution Personal Identity: located in group membership, not in the internalization of roles, which appearance and internal state are confused; distinction between Chapter 24 Body: attack; social and physical bodies 2 but under tightly controlled invaders have broken through bodily boundaries; not a symbol of life Trance: dangerous; a matter of demonic possession; evil Sin: a matter of pollution; evil lodged within person sin much like a disease; internal state and society; of being more important than rules, but the latter still valued Cosmology, anthropomorphic; dualistic; warring forces of good and evil; universe is not just and may be whimsical Suffering and Misfortune: unjust; not automatic punishment; adherence to formal attributed to malevolent forces Weak Group, Strong Grid Purity: pragmatic attitude; pollution not automatic; bodily waste not threatening, may be recycled Ritual: will be used for private ends if present; ego remains superior; condensed symbols do not delimit Magic: private; may be reality a strategy for success Personal Identity: pragmatic and adaptable Body: instrumental; self-controlled; pragmatic attitude Trance: not dangerous Sin: failure; loss of face; stupidity Cosmology: geared to individual success and benignly amoral; Suffering to avoid God initiative; cosmos is as junior partner and Misfortune: an intelligent person ought to be able them Weak Group, Weak Grid Purity: rejected; anti-purity Ritual: rejected; anti-ritual; effervescent; spontaneity valued Magic: none; magic rejected Personal Identity: no antagonism between society and self but old society and may be social control Body: may be seen as oppressive; roles rejected, self-control low irrelevant; life rejected; is spiritual; purity concerns may be used freely or asceticism absent but body may prevail Excursus Religion 25 Trance: approved, even welcomed; no fear of loss of self-control Sin: a matter of ethics and interiority Cosmology: likely to be impersonal; individual direct; no mediation; benign Suffering and Misfortune: love conquers all I would to propose that American society in the young as a whole, one of weak group and grid.
More likely, the ceremonies are simply rites of identity, giving one status in the group and demarcating the group from outside society. They will define the set-apart order, as does Zen with its robes; or establish a group and place identity, as does pilgrimage to India or Japan; or create an assembly with a special state of consciousness, as does the long, rapid group chanting of Nichiren Shoshu of America. These practices, in contrast to those discussed in the preceding paragraph which are related to diffuse distribution, tend to form an intensive group or express the existence of one.
Alternative Altars: Unconventional and Eastern Spirituality in America (Chicago History of American Religion) by Robert S. Ellwood