46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
A Map of the New American Spiritual World,
By A Customer
This review is from: The New American Spirituality: A Seeker's Guide (Hardcover)
Eliabeth Lesser's book, The New American Spirituality, is a highly readable, thoroughly informative, and deeply felt dispatch from the frontier of America's ever-evolving spiritual journey. As a cofounder of Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York, Lesser has been in the thick of it for almost 30 years, organizing workshops and conferences nationwide, meeting and nurturing extended relationships with the leaders in the field--from Maya Angelou to Ram Dass--and helping put together the nation's largest and most successful learning center that seeks to explore and weave together many of the emerging threads of a country in the throes of perhaps the most extraordinary spiritual rebirth since the nineteenth-century Great Awakening. So much more than an academic treatment of the subject, this book is also part memoir and part guidebook. It is perhaps no accident that Omega Institute began in a small, white clapboard settlement that had belonged to the Shakers, who even in their heyday were considered a fringe movement. But much of what was once marginal about Omega is now moving into the mainstream. After defining spirituality and its context in American life, a good part of the book is then devoted to grounding the often ethereal world of spirituality in four different "landscapes"--the landscape of the mind, the landscape of the heart, the landscape of the body, and the landscape of the soul--which provide a kind of map to guide us through this exciting, rich, though often strange new world. Although she's a member of the cast and applauds a world she helped create, she does not suffer fools or pander to the excesses that this so-called "new age" movement throws up and expects us to admire. She makes us laugh, and laughs with us. This is a big book and, if you like, can be read in sections that happen to appeal to you at a particular time. But you'll want to read the whole thing and come back to it like you would a spiritual practice. The repeated visits are sure to nourish you.