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Excerpted from Hymns to an Unknown God: Awakening the Spirit in Everyday Life by Sam Keen, Ph.D. Copyright 1995 by Sam Keen, Ph.D. Excerpted by permission of Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.

"We are experiencing a rise of spiritual individualism and uncorseted religious experimentation. The new quest is for 'a road less traveled'"

Sam Keen, Hymns to an Unknown God, Part 4

Here are some of the features of the changing spiritual landscape, the renaissance of our time:

We are experiencing a rise of spiritual individualism and uncorseted religious experimentation. The new quest is for "a road less traveled" (five hundred weeks and counting on The New York Times bestseller list). Gallup reports that by the end of the 1970S, "a surprising number of Americans were developing an interest in the inner or spiritual life. A projected 6 million persons were involved in transcendental meditation, 5 million in Yoga, 3 million in the charismatic movement, and 2 million in Eastern religions.... Noncredal and non- authoritarian Religious Science, Unity, and New Thought churches are growing rapidly." The trends that are shaping religion as we move toward the turn of the century are "an intensive spiritual search and a continuing desire for inward and spiritual growth, coupled in some measure with a rejection of the authority of the churches."

Many people are exploring the relevance of American Indian religion and practices--vision quests, the ceremonial use of peyote, and the like.

There is a growing interest in myth and ritual. Carl Jung has been rediscovered. The books and PBS documentaries of Joseph Campbell have achieved unprecedented success. A dozen or more related magazines, such as Parabola and Gnosis, have sprouted up in the last decade.

East has met West. Zen, Tibetan Buddhism, and dozens of assorted Indian gurus have introduced many Westerners to meditation and spiritual disciplines--aikido, kung fu, and jujitsu academies teaching the martial arts are found in every major city.

Alcoholics Anonymous and similar twelve-step programs are replacing addiction with dependence on "a Higher Power."

Therapists are exploring the common boundary between spirituality and psychotherapy, and the American Psychiatric Association has included a new diagnostic category, "Religious or Spiritual Problem," in the fourth edition of its standard Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.

A feminist spirituality has rediscovered the Goddess and introduced feminine metaphors for the holy into the language and liturgies of every major denomination.

There is growing pressure to introduce "the fourth R," religion, into the public school curriculum.

Medical pioneers are showing that love and spirituality play an important role in healing.

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