Landscapes of the Secular

Law, Religion, and American Sacred Space

Reddit icon
e-mail icon
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
LinkedIn icon
Nicolas Howe
  • Chicago, IL: 
    University of Chicago Press
    , September
     2016.
     248 pages.
     $40.00.
     Hardcover.
    ISBN
    9780226376776.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Michael Bradley forthcoming.

Description

“What does it mean to see the American landscape in a secular way?” asks Nicolas Howe at the outset of this innovative, ambitious, and wide-ranging book. It’s a surprising question because of what it implies: we usually aren’t seeing American landscapes through a non-religious lens, but rather as inflected by complicated, little-examined concepts of the sacred.

Fusing geography, legal scholarship, and religion in a potent analysis, Howe shows how seemingly routine questions about how to look at a sunrise or a plateau or how to assess what a mountain is both physically and ideologically, lead to complex arguments about the nature of religious experience and its implications for our lives as citizens. In American society—nominally secular but committed to permitting a diversity of religious beliefs and expressions—such questions become all the more fraught and can lead to difficult, often unsatisfying compromises regarding how to interpret and inhabit our public lands and spaces. A serious commitment to secularism, Howe shows, forces us to confront the profound challenges of true religious diversity in ways that often will have their ultimate expression in our built environment. This provocative exploration of some of the fundamental aspects of American life will help us see the land, law, and society anew.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Nicolas Howe is Assistant Professor of environmental studies at Williams College. He is coauthor of Climate Change as Social Drama: Global Warming in the Public Sphere.

Add New Comment

Reading Religion welcomes comments from AAR members, and you may leave a comment below by logging in with your AAR Member ID and password. Please read our policy on commenting.

Log in to post comments