By Leigh E. Schmidt, Sally M. Promey
Religious liberalism in the USA has usually been equated with an ecumenical Protestant institution. in contrast, American spiritual Liberalism attracts realization to the extensive variety of liberal cultures that shapes America’s spiritual routine. The essays amassed the following push past usual tropes and limits to interrogate non secular liberalism’s dense cultural leanings through taking a look at spirituality within the arts, the politics and piety of non secular cosmopolitanism, and the interplay among liberal faith and liberal secularism. Readers will discover a kaleidoscopic view of a number of the innovative strands of America’s spiritual prior and found in this richly provocative volume.
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There is no shortage of scholarly examinations of the first two of these, but Whitmanism, remarkably, has gone largely unstudied. In The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902), William James remarked with thinly disguised dismay on the religious appreciation of the recently deceased Walt Whitman. . 2 Whitmanism was, even at its height, a loosely organized religious movement, known largely through the writings of a small group of fervent adherents who had known the poet personally and were highly attuned to the prophetic 17 18 M ich a el Robertson dimensions of his poetry.
Ann Braude has powerfully demonstrated how Spiritualism served the same function during the mid-nineteenth century, but no one has yet studied the connections between Whitmanism and the women’s movement. 31 Here I can only sketch the outline of such a study. One might begin with Helena Born, who served as secretary and then president of the Boston Whitman Fellowship. Her essay “Whitman’s Ideal Democracy” demonstrates the connections between Whitmanesque spirituality and a wide variety of progressive causes.
21 Traubel’s insistent underlinings emphasize the tension he felt between Whitmanesque individualism and organizational cohesion. At the Whitman Fellowship’s founding, Traubel imagined that he could honor both individualism and cohesion, but the clash with Wallace shattered his global organ izational ambitions and caused him to rethink the Fellowship’s nature and purpose. ” He also began printing the above passage from “Myself and Mine” at the top of the Fellowship’s stationery—a clear announcement that the Fellowship prized individual freedom over institutional strength.