Three Case Studies of the Emergence of New Spiritual Paths
Princeton University Press 2016
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Christian StudiesNew Books in Drugs, Addiction and RecoveryNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books Network October 10, 2018 Marshall Poe
I’ve often asked myself this question: “How do religions begin?” I don’t know about you, but I think I would be very, very skeptical if someone told me that they’d had just received a revelation, communicated with some spiritual “higher power,” or had some sort of mystical-though-divinely-inspired experience. Ditto with miracles: I just don’t know if I’d believe someone who claimed to have witnesses a miracle. Perhaps it’s the age we live in: most of us just have a hard time swallowing encounters with the “supernatural.”
Yet “religions” (if that’s the right word, and I think it is) have appeared in modern times among people who (dare I say) think pretty much the way I do–and perhaps you do as well. How does this happen? Well, Ann Taves, has written a wonderful book that attempts to answer this question, and in a way that is very respectful of the new religions she studies. It’s called Revelatory Events: Three Case Studies of the Emergence of New Spiritual Paths (Princeton University Press, 2016) and I highly recommend it to you.
In the interview, we spend most of our time talking about Bill Wilson and the emergence of Alcoholics Anonymous, a “spiritual path” (to use her excellent phrase) that I myself have walked. Listen in.