Wuthnow, Robert After Heaven: Spirituality in America Since the 1950’s
(Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1998), 290 pages, hardcover, $29.95. Obtain from University of California Press, 510-642-4999.
Wuthnow chronicles the changing pattern of spirituality in the U.S. that began in the 1950’s and was nurtured in the 1960’s. He sees two very different forms of spirituality at work in the U.S. as we approach the end of this century. On the one hand there is the traditional place oriented spirituality that finds security in the safe haven of the church. He refers to this as “dwelling spirituality” in which emphasizes place, church, and organized religion. On the other hand there is the less certain and less monopolized and more negotiated spirituality that is seeking a sea worthy vessel in which to navigate the turbulent, uncertain times in which we live. He calls this form “seeking spirituality” which is wider in its search than organized religion. Wuthnow offers an alternative approach called spiritual discipline. He argues that true spirituality is found only when one’s spirituality ends in practice. Church leaders wanting a good picture of some of the challenges they face today as well as understanding the weaknesses of both the dwelling and seeking forms of spirituality will find this book fascinating.