Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Moving Forward

This blog was originally conceived to help document a book project in which I visited and studied a handful of alternative American religious traditions. If you scroll back to the earlier posts here, you'll find accounts of my visits with Quakers, Zen Buddhists, and Seventh-day Adventists.

As I am beginning to think about what shape that book project will ultimately take, and moving towards writing this summer, I am uncoupling the blog from that specific project and turning its focus towards more the more general topic of religious belief in America today. As I have participated in a variety of religious services, interviewed people about their beliefs, and read both historical and personal accounts of different faith traditions, I have found myself continually drawn back to some key questions about what separates beievers from non-believers, about what common ground we can find in different religious traditions, and about how faith lives itself out--or doesn't live itself out--in the lives of believers.

Any of these big questions could take a lifetime of research to answer, and I only have one lifetime (at least here on earth). So instead of trying to offer a comprehensive account of religious belief in America today, I will simply chronicle here my ongoing encounters with religion, religious belief, and religious people.

I hope to continue my visits to other worship services, as I have documented in the entries you can read below. But I will expand the content to include reviews of books, documentaries, blogs, and videos on religious belief. I also plan to include blogs on spiritual travel--either trips taken to sites of spiritual or religious significance, or stops I make along the way as I am traveling for other reasons (for example, the post below on my visit to the Marguerite Bourgeoys musuem in Montreal).

Finally, I hope to continue to hear from readers who have thoughts on these matters, and who want to comment on posts or offer suggestions for any materials I might review, any place I should visit, or anything at all I should think a little harder about!

Next Up: A review of Lisa Miller's Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination with the Afterlife.

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