Dream Catchers

Dream Catchers : How Mainstream America Discovered Native Spirituality

3.56 (23 ratings by Goodreads)
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In books such as Mystics and Messiahs, Hidden Gospels, and The Next Christendom, Philip Jenkins has established himself as a leading commentator on religion and society. Now, in Dream Catchers, Jenkins offers a brilliant account of the changing mainstream attitudes towards Native American spirituality, once seen as degraded spectacle, now hailed as New Age salvation. While early Americans had nothing but contempt for Indian religions, deploring them as loathsome devil worship and snake dancing, white Americans today respect and admire Native spirituality. In this book, Jenkins charts this remarkable change, highlighting the complex history of white American attitudes towards Native religions from colonial times to the present. Jenkins ranges widely, considering everything from the 19th-century American obsession with "Hebrew Indians" and Lost Tribes, to the early 20th-century cult of the Maya as bearers of the wisdom of ancient Atlantis, to films like Pocahontas and Dances With Wolves. He looks at the popularity of the Carlos Castaneda books, the writings of Lynn Andrews, and the influential works of Frank Waters, and he explores the New Age paraphernalia found in places like Sedona, Arizona, including dream-catchers, crystals, medicine bags, and Native-themed Tarot cards. Jenkins examines the controversial New Age appropriation of Native sacred places; notes that many "white Indians" see mainstream society as religiously empty; and asks why a government founded on religious freedom tried to eradicate native religions in the last century-and what this says about how we define religion. An engrossing account of our changing attitudes towards Native spirituality, Dream Catchers offers a fascinating introduction to one of the more interesting aspects of contemporary American religion.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 149.9 x 223.5 x 22.9mm | 430.92g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195189108
  • 9780195189100
  • 1,674,397

Review quote

"Anyone wishing to understand the ongoing romanticization of Native American spirituality should read this book.... Although Jenkins is critical of whites' apropriations of Native American culture and belief, and particularly of their tendency to repackage New Age ideas with a veneer of indigenous authority, his tone is never unfair; he does a masterful job of setting such uses-cum-exploitations in historical context."-Publishers Weekly "With his characteristic eye for nuance and his uncanny ability to master an enormous range of evidence and present it in a clear, compelling, provocative form, Jenkins has written an indispensable book."-Books & Culture "Magnetically absorbing.... Jenkins fills in the major details of the last two centuries of deep white interest in Native religion with his customary thoroughness, and he scrupulously avoids judgments about the validity as well as the theological truth of the many practices and cults he sketches. He relays fascinating history with scholarly care and in prose as clear as it is precise."-Booklist (starred review) "Jenkins has acquainted himself with the relevant historical materials and also acquainted himself with more New Age manuals, mantras and sales pitches than any human being should have to endure. This allows him to trace a striking shift in white attitudes, an exchange of one kind of willful stupidity for another."-New York Times Book Review "This extremely readable and thought-provoking book is recommended for academic and large public libraries and where there is strong interest in contemporary religion and Native Americans."-Library Journalshow more

About Philip Jenkins

Philip Jenkins is Distinguished Professor of History and Religious Studies at Pennsylvania State University. He has published widely on contemporary religious themes, including New Age and esoteric movements, and is the author most recently of The New Anti-Catholicism: The Last Acceptable Prejudice and the highly acclaimed The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity.show more

Rating details

23 ratings
3.56 out of 5 stars
5 22% (5)
4 30% (7)
3 35% (8)
2 9% (2)
1 4% (1)
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