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A Republic of Mind and Spirit: A Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religion Paperback – April 29, 2008
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Albanese's masterpiece, A Republic of the Mind and Spirit, offers a binoculars' view of American religious history. She situates her narrative in the historical landscape of McLoughlin's evangelical thesis and Butler's catholic reading. But rather than focusing on one exclusive angle, she highlights the complexity of the historical landscape by maintaining the viability of both aforementioned vantage points, while all along zeroing in on her allusive target, metaphysical religion (3-4). It should come as no surprise that a book of this length would set out to accomplish many objectives, but all of these objectives work underneath the auspices of this thesis: "Hence, in what follows I argue a metaphysical thesis about American religious history, understanding metaphysical religion, both in Christian and non-Christina forms, as key to making sense of the nation's religiosity" (4). Albanese employs a cultural-historical approach to understand the contact that occurred (and continues to occur) between metaphysics and American religious thought and practice (18). She draws from a wide range of primary and secondary sources to supplement her argument. Her primary sources include books, tracts, treatises, poems, pamphlets, hymns, sermons, and academic journals of the nineteenth century. Albanese should be commended for this most impressive work, but the copious amount of detail gives way to another thought: Is all this truly necessary in order to affirm your thesis? From the perspective of this reviewer, the old adage is true: less is in fact more.Read more ›