Living religiously is living in harmony with the divine. We may see the divine as the highest good and the most important values; life’s central concerns. Each of the values in this model is a part of it.
A person who lives this way, armed with the foundations of dignity in respect to others and proficiency in respect to the material world, fortified by the creative forces and having developed a spirituality of vital integration, has developed the habits and practices conducive to a good, productive and creative life.
A mature religion will acknowledge that it is a product of the human mind, of human invention and born of human longings. We have not fully attained that stage. Following are some histories of where we have been, and are.
- Robert N. Bellah, Religion in Human Evolution: From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011).
- Peter B. Clarke, ed., The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Religion (Oxford University Press, 2009).
- Bryan S. Turner, Religion and Modern Society: Citizenship, Secularisation and the State (Cambridge University Press, 2011).
- Bryan S. Turner, ed., The New Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Religion (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010).
- John Hinnells, ed., The Routledge Companion to the Study of Religion (Routledge, 2010).
- Linda Woodhead, Religion in Modern Times: An Interpretive Anthology (Wiley-Blackwell, 2000).
- Michael Stausberg, ed., Contemporary Theories of Religion: A Critical Companion (Routledge, 2009).
- Mark Jurgensmeyer, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Global Religions (Oxford University Press, 2006).
- Mark Jurgensmeyer, ed., Global Religions: An Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2003).
- Paul Heelas, Religion, Modernity and Postmodernity (Wiley-Blackwell, 2003).
- Terqul Keskin, The Sociology of Islam: Secularism, Economy and Politics (Ithaca Press , 2011).
New Age spiritualities have striven toward a more peaceful and more enduring unity but have not been sufficiently informed by science. They have sought to depart from divisive dogma but have still made unfounded fact claims. Because every other path is unreliable in its approach to reality, a firm grounding in empiricism, informed by scientific naturalism, is an essential component of a spirituality that can unite people and endure. This is a more challenging path, superficially unsatisfying to many people, but those who master it cannot return to their former ways. The histories that follow reference the current intermediate step.
- Paul Heelas and Linda Woodhead, The Spiritual Revolution: Why Religion Is Giving Way to Spirituality (Wiley-Blackwell, 2005).
- Gordon Lynch, The New Spirituality: An Introduction to Progressive Belief in the Twenty-First Century (I. B. Taurus, 2007).
- David Tacey, The Spirituality Revolution: The Emergence of Contemporary Spirituality (Routledge, 2004).
- Wouter Hanegraaf, New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought (State University of New York Press, 1998).
- Paul Heelas, Spiritualities of Life: New Age Romanticism and Consumptive Capitalism (Wiley-Blackwell, 2008).
- Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, The Western Esoteric Traditions: A Historical Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2008).
- Kocku von Stuckrad, Western Esotericism: A Brief History of Secret Knowledge (Equinox Publishing Limited, 2005).
- Antoine Faivre, Western Esotericism: A Concise History (State University of New York Press, 2010).
Perhaps no subject draws more interest than religion, as attested by the scope and number of scholarly and other journals devoted to the subject of religion. The following list omits the many journals that promote parochial religious views.
- Journal of the American Academy of Religion
- The Journal of Religion
- Journal of Religion and Society
- Religious Studies
- Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture
- Culture and Religion: An Interdisciplinary Journal
- Journal of Contemporary Religion
- Politics and Religion
- Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion
- Religion and Society
- First Things
- History of Religions
- International Journal for the Philosophy of Religion
- Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
- Journal for the Study of Religion
- Journal of Psychology and Christianity
- Journal of Religion in Africa
- Journal of the American Oriental Society
- Reviews in Religion & Theology
- Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality
- Studies in Christian Ethics
- The Journal of Higher Criticism
- Theology and Science
- Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion
- Journal of Religion and Literature
- Internet Journal of Religion
- Directory of Open Access Journals
- Religion online website
Technical and Analytical Readings
You would think it would be obvious: spirituality, which is usually defined as a connectedness with something greater than the self, or as a unity, or oneness, with all things, must be in harmony with other living beings and the material universe. It must reflect, as nearly as we can, the true state of reality. To achieve this, it must follow the most reliable path for seeking truth. As it pertains to the material universe, demonstrably, that path is science and reason.
As interpreted and practiced within most cultures, religion may unite people within discrete religious groups but seen in broader perspective, it makes unfounded fact claims based on wishes and guesswork, not facts and reason. Because its methods of thought are arbitrary, not objectively grounded in reality, it also divides people. This is perhaps the surest sign that religion has not attained a state of maturity, at which it would live up to its ideals.
- Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell, American Grace: How Religion Divides and United Us (Simon & Schuster, 2010).
- James R. Lewis, Violence and New Religious Movements (Oxford University Press, 2011).
- James R. Lewis, ed., The Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements (Oxford University Press, 2003).
- Mark Chaves, American Religion: Contemporary Trends (Princeton University Press, 2011).
- Titus Hjelm, ed., Religion and Social Problems (Routledge, 2010).
- Peter Beyer, Religions in Global Society (Routledge, 2006).
- Mark Jurgensmeyer, Religion in Global Civil Society (Oxford University Press, 2005).
- Mark Jurgensmeyer, Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence (University of California Press, 2000).
- Michael Barkun, Religion and the Racist Right: The Origins of the Christian Identity Movement (University Press, 1996).
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Gustav Mahler famously wrote, and passionately practiced, that a symphony “must embrace everything”. Nowhere did he express this better than in his Symphony No. 3 in D Minor (1896), with its successive movements about summer, flowers, animals, night, morning and love. The third movement, especially, with its exquisite posthorn solo, captures this idea, comprising a "hymn to life, love and nature." “Mahler’s gigantic third Symphony is his paean to pantheism, his great hymn to nature. According to the model’s program, its six movements are arranged in a progressive sequence from inanimate nature to the creator of the universe who Mahler equates with love.” A marvelous documentary film - “What the Universe Tells Me” – tells the story of this magisterial symphony movingly and brilliantly. Listen also to Benjamin Zander’s exposition on his recording of the work with the Philharmonia Orchestra. Link here to great performances conducted by Adler in 1952, Bernstein in 1961, Kubelik in 1967, Barbirolli in 1969, Horenstein in 1970, Tennstedt in 1986, Sinopoli in 1995, Rattle in 1998, Gielen in 1999, Tilson Thomas in 2002, Chailly in 2004 and Nott in 2018. Above all, listen to this symphony, in which Mahler takes us through the same sequence as I have tried to express in this website: everything from the origins of things to our innermost of experiences of love, joy and reverence.
- First movement (Kräftig Entschieden): Summer marches in
- Second movement (Tempo di menuetto): What the flowers in the meadow tell me
- Third movement (Comodo. Scherzando): What the animals in the forest tell me
- Fourth movement (Sehr langsam. Misterioso): What night tells me (man)
- Fifth movement (Lustig im Tempo und keck im Ausdruck): What the morning bells tell me
- Sixth movement (Langsam. Ruhevoll. Empfunden): What love tells me
George Crumb, Makrokosmos III: Music for a Summer Evening (1974) (approx. 35 minutes): “Bartók's Sonata for two pianos and percussion from 1937 partially inspired this work, and the pieces work well together on the same concert program. Thematically, Makrokosmos III is, like his earlier works in the series, concerned with the Babylonian zodiac and other pieces of his personal world view, drawing together many disparate elements to achieve a grander design. About 40 minutes long and divided into five specific sections, it is a work of art that brings to mind Mahler's claim that ‘a symphony is like the world; it must contain everything.’ The same can easily be said for this work. There are so many intertwined elements that one cannot hear the work upon repeated listenings without being rewarded by the further unveiling of additional interconnections and outside musical associations. A cosmology of benevolent spirituality is in operation in tandem with world history, different cultures, and music from throughout the ages.” The composer wrote: “As in several of my other works, the musical fabric of Summer Evening results largely from the elaboration of tiny cells into a sort of mosaic design. . . . I feel that Summer Evening projects a clearly articulated large expressive curve over its approximately 40-minute duration. The first, third, and fifth movements, which are scored for the full ensemble of instruments and laid out on a large scale, would seem to define the primary import of the work (which might be interpreted as a kind of 'cosmic drama').”
- Raag Kedar (Kedara), a serious and worshipful Hindustani classical raag for early evening, named after Lord Shiva and portrayed visually as a worshipful ascetic absorbed in music or meditation. “Its structure reveals a kaleidoscope of complex melodic gestures, conduct and richness of character. Seldom are the core values of Indian ragadari music united under one roof as they are in Kedar.” Here are links to performances by Dagar, Sharma, Dasgupta, Banerjee and Ali Akbar Khan.
- Richard Blackford, Mirror of Perfection (1996): “The words are settings of hitherto unknown poems by St Francis of Assisi and cover a wide expressive and emotional range: from hope to despair, longing to serene acceptance, love to bitterness delight in Creation to an impassioned plea for peace amongst mankind.”
- Jeff Lederer & Sunwatcher, “Eightfold Path” (2021): “Knowingly or unknowingly, we are all on the Dharma path. . . . During the height of the pandemic, saxophonist Jeff Lederer assembled his Sunwatcher quartet to explore this noble Eightfold Path.” “Lederer wrote all the compositions in this set, basing them on the writings of a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh.”