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What Would Jesus Read?Popular Religious Books and Everyday Life in Twentieth-Century America$
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Erin A. Smith

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469621326

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469621326.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 14 October 2019

Books for the Seeker

Books for the Seeker

Liberal Religion and the Literary Marketplace in the 1990s

Chapter:
(p.249) Nine Books for the Seeker
Source:
What Would Jesus Read?
Author(s):

Erin A. Smith

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469621326.003.0009

This chapter examines some of the best-selling mainstream religion/spirituality titles of the 1990s in light of increasing numbers of self-reported “spiritual seekers”—individuals with fluid, dynamic religious styles who move freely in and out of congregations across the life course, cobbling together a set of spiritual practices by combining elements of various traditions. In particular, it looks at Thomas Moore's Care of the Soul (1992), Karen Armstrong's A History of God (1993), Kathleen Norris's The Cloister Walk (1996), and Jack Miles's God: A Biography (1996), along with reviews by their readers on Amazon. These religious books have served as resources for spiritual seekers crafting their own religious identity narratives by modeling the formation of alternative spiritual faiths outside formal religious institutions, responding to the ills of consumer culture and consumer capitalism, and celebrating literary or poetic ways of being in the world.

Keywords:   religion, spirituality, spiritual seekers, Care of the Soul, A History of God, The Cloister Walk, religious books, religious identity, consumer culture, consumer capitalism

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