I was not aware of this book, now being published in its second edition: (first published in 2005) Restless Souls: The Making of American Spirituality (University of California Press 2d ed. 2012) by Leigh Eric Schmidt (Washington University in St. Louis). What looks interesting is its connection of the seemingly contemporary American attraction to “spirituality” with older veins of American religious sentiment like transcendentalism. The publisher’s description follows.
Yoga classes and Zen meditation, New-Age retreats and nature mysticism—all are part of an ongoing religious experimentation that has surprisingly deep roots in American history. Tracing out the country’s Transcendentalist and cosmopolitan religious impulses over the last two centuries, Restless Souls explores America’s abiding romance with spirituality as religion’s better half. Now in its second edition, including a new preface, Leigh Eric Schmidt’s fascinating book provides a rich account of how this open-road spirituality developed in American culture in the first place as well as a sweeping survey of the liberal religious movements that touted it and ensured its continued vitality.