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Spiritualities of Life: New Age Romanticism and Consumptive Capitalism

ISBN: 978-1-4051-3937-3
296 pages
April 2008, Wiley-Blackwell
Spiritualities of Life: New Age Romanticism and Consumptive Capitalism (1405139374) cover image
This insightful and provocative journey through spiritual landscapes explores the ways in which spiritualities of life have been experienced and understood in Western society, and argues that today's myriad forms of holistic spirituality are helping us to find balance in face of the stifling demands of twenty-first century living.

* An enlightening book which explores the ways in which spirituality has been experienced and valued in Western society

* Traces the development of modern spirituality, from the origins of Romanticism in the eighteenth century, through to the counter-cultural sixties and on to the wellbeing culture of today

* Explores the belief that modern spirituality is merely an extension of capitalism in which people consume spirituality without giving anything back

* Contends that much of the wide range of popular mind-body-spirit practices are really an ethically charged force for the 'good life', helping us to find balance in the demands of twenty-first century living

* Written by an acknowledged world-leader working in the field

* Completes a trilogy of books including The Spiritual Revolution (2005, with Linda Woodhead) and The New Age Movement (1996), charting the rise and influence of spirituality today.
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Preface.

Introduction.

PART I: PORTRAYING SPIRITUALITIES OF LIFE.

1 From the Romantics: The Repertoire.

2 Wellbeing Spirituality Today.

PART II: THE 'CONSUMING GROWTH' DEBATE.

3 The Debate.

4 The Language of Consumption and Consumeristic Aspects of Mind-Body-Spiritualities of Life.

5 The Sacred and the Profane: Spiritual Direction or Consumer Preference?.

6 The Matter of Personal Significance: Profaned Superficiality?.

7 Work: Consumptive or Productive?.

PART III: TO WORK BEYOND THE CONSUMING SELF.

8 A 'Fag Ending' of the Sacred or Fit for the Future?.

9 Inside Out.

Epilogue: Birthright Spirituality Beyond the West.

Appendix: Evidence Indicative of Inner Life 'Beliefs'.

Notes.

References.

Name Index.

Subject Index: Some Main Themes and Arguments
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Paul Heelas is Professor in Religion and Modernity in the Department of Religious Studies at Lancaster University. For some thirty years he has published extensively, including The New Age Movement (Blackwell, 1996) and The Spiritual Revolution (Blackwell, 2005, with Linda Woodhead), and is one of the world's leading authorities on the study of contemporary spiritualities.
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  • An enlightening book which explores the ways in which spirituality has been experienced, understood and valued in Western society
  • Traces the development of modern spirituality, from the origins of Romanticism in the eighteenth century, through to the counter-cultural sixties and on to the wellbeing culture of today
  • Explores the belief that modern spirituality is merely an extension of capitalism in which people consume spirituality without giving anything back
  • Contends that much of the wide range of popular mind-body-spirit practices are really an ethically charged force for the ‘good life’, helping us to find balance in the demands of twenty-first century living
  • Written by an acknowledged world-leader in the field
  • Completes a trilogy of books including The Spiritual Revolution (2005, with Linda Woodhead) and The New Age Movement (1996), charting the rise and influence of spirituality today.
See More
"A welcome contribution to many areas in the study of religion and culture … .An alternative to the popular idea that everything within the New Age can be denounced as simple individualist consumerism." (Reviews in Religion and Theology, January 2010)

"[Heelas] convinced me, a skeptic when encountering his book, that new age philosophies are more complex than their American Journal of Sociology critics allow." (American Journal of Sociology, November 2009)

"Heelas' style is, as ever, measured, elegant and good-humored, and this book will undoubtedly appeal to, and be accessible to, those outside the academy who are interested in religion and culture, and who might wish to think through the changing spiritual landscape in Britain today." (Theology, November 2009)

"His emphasis is on inner-life spirituality or simply 'spiritualities of life,' rooted in a universal human potential and developed by a variety of effective practices. [He] makes plausible the importance of holistic forms of complementary and alternative medicine. Recommended." (CHOICE, November 2008)

"Well prepared after his path-breaking books The New Age Movement (1996) and The Spiritual Revolution (2005, with Linda Woodhead), Paul Heelas now bravely enters the minefield. Tracing the trajectory of spiritualities of life from the Romantics to contemporary wellbeing culture, he convincingly critiques the widespread tendency to depict them as 'mere consumption'. Well written, clearly argued, and richly documented, Spiritualities of Life sheds light on contemporary spirituality and consumer culture alike."
–Dick Houtman, Erasmus University, the Netherlands

"This is an engaging and lively discussion about the nature of spirituality in contemporary society. It shows Heelas at his best - original, creative, imaginative and searching intellectual questions."
Jeremy R. Carette, Kent University

"Paul Heelas' work in charting the subjective turn in contemporary spiritualities has been one of the most important contributions to the field of the sociology of religion in the past decade. In Spiritualities of Life, Heelas offers a passionate defence of this spiritual movement, and argues that it represents a viable moral and cultural resource for the modern world. By positioning himself as an advocate of the movement that he has traced so effectively, Heelas poses questions about the nature of the good life and contemporary forms of the sacred that no serious scholar of religion can afford to ignore."
Gordon Lynch, Birbeck College, London

"The quicksilver shape of popular spirituality today is hard to hold in focus… This sharp-eyed, sure-footed book is equal to the task, and unequaled in its revelations of a God within the unbounded self of an expressive humanism that embraces all of life."
Steven M. Tipton, Emory University

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