Alternative Altars

Unconventional and Eastern Spirituality in America

Review

Alternative Altars explores the impact and meaning of religious life in American history outside the Judeo-Christian mainstream. It is a fecund but disjointed panorama—a fascinating collage of essays, accounts, and affirmations in which Professor Robert Ellwood, director of the East Asian Studies Center at the University of Southern California, probably the leading American expert on emergent “cults,” examines closely three “moments” in his own career: Spiritualism and the Shakers, Theosophy (he is a member of the Theosophical Society of America), and Western Zen.

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