SACRED AMERICA by Roger Housden


The Emerging Spirit of the People
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British chronicler Housden (Sacred Journeys in a Modern World, 1998, not reviewed, etc.) makes a mixed contribution to that honored genre, the American travelogue, by traipsing across the country with his eyes on the spiritual. The US, he believes, —holds the seal of the sacred for the next millennium.— Housden’s cast of characters is an intriguing bunch: Jewish renewal devotees celebrating Rosh Hashana in the Catskills; green-conscious architects in Charlottesville, Virginia; leftist evangelicals in D.C. Housden introduces us to Doug Conwell, the leader of a program that takes people with AIDS walking in the wilderness; Millard Fuller, the founder of Habitat for Humanity; and Eddie Hauben, a Jewbue (—Jews who practice Buddhism and observe all the Jewish holy days—). Taken together, Housden’s assorted spiritual snapshots reveal a varied, vibrant, and idiosyncratic sacred America. Unfortunately, Housden overemphasizes the idiosyncratic. Where, one wonders, are the Episcopalians, the Southern Baptists, the Orthodox Jews? Where are the believers whose beliefs Housden, in his ecumenical indulgence of everything left-of-center, cannot embrace? And how can one offer a portrait of spiritual life in America without a trip to Salt Lake City? Housden imagines he is a latter-day Tocqueville, but he is deceived. Worth skimming, but don—t confuse Sacred America with the definitive portrait of spiritual life in the US.

Pub Date: Nov. 3rd, 1999
ISBN: 0-684-84838-4
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1999


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