Is it a tough time for formal religion in America? Perhaps. It depends what source you look to — and of course libraries are the best spot for finding the range of sources. Readers can look up the 2009 American Religious Identification Survey, or they can follow the articles that the survey has prompted, e.g., by John Meecham in Newsweek last month on "The End of Christian America," or in USA Today, reporting on religion’s decline, with younger Americans "vastly more secular" than their parents.
But libraries can make the fuller picture evident to readers. For example, as reviewed in LJ a month ago, in God Is Back: How the Global Rise of Faith Will Change the World, two editors at The Economist set out to demonstrate that religion is doing very well, thank you very much, including in the States.
But whether formal religion is on the rise or on the wane, it’s the spiritual frontiers beyond the old formal boundaries that many readers are now exploring. Yes, some of those explorations may take them away from anything like what we used to call "faith," ("falling off the faith map completely," as USA Today‘s Cathy Lynn Grossman put it) — but maybe not.
On May 21st at 2 p.m. Eastern Time, LJ is presenting a live webcast, "Mind, Body, Spirit," sponsored by Baker and Taylor as well as by some publishers notable for their explorations into new realms of faith: Inner Traditions, New World Library, and Beyond Words.
One of Inner Traditions’ recent titles, reviewed by LJ, is Sufi Rapper: The Spiritual Journey of Abd al Malik, written by the Congolese-French rapper himself, about his adopted religion of Sufism.
Beyond Words, based in the Pacific Northwest, defines itself as anticipating and articulating trends in the evolution of consciousness.
New World Library’s Jesus in the Lotus: The Mystic Doorway Between Christianity and Yogic Spirituality, by Russill Paul, publishes this month, and was reviewed by LJ‘s "Spiritual Living" columnist Graham Christian in March. It is Graham Christian, a man with both theological training and library experience, who will be moderating the webcast. So I know that there will be some good conversation generated.
As of just a few short months ago, I’m the LJ book review editor who assigns reviews in religion (in addition to my social sciences categories — plus gardening, sports, and professional reading), so I’m looking forward to expanding my own spiritual horizon next week. (I’m grateful to LJ‘s religion reviewer John Jaeger for keeping me posted on recent discussions of the status of religion in America.)
You can click here to register for the webcast, or do so from the webcast link above.