The New Metaphysicals offers a peek into a world that I found at once pedestrian and strange, and the information that it gives us about so-called “spiritual but not religious” people is invaluable. The new agers, mystics, yoga instructors, and other metaphysicals whose words animate The New Metaphysicals seem quite foreign at first blush, and it’s to Professor Bender’s enormous credit that she theorizes the milieu without undermining the authenticity claims and struggles in which her subjects engage. At the same time, I found myself wanting more of a critical stance, a more thoroughgoing interrogation of the epistemologies that these subjects espoused.Read the rest of Grasping for authenticity.
Andrew Perrin is Associate Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. His current research is on public opinion, letters to the editor, and democratic citizenship. Read Andrew Perrin's contribution to Surveying religious knowledge.