Landscapes of the Soul

Landscapes of the Soul : The Loss of Moral Meaning in American Life

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Almost all Americans believe in God. But, the author shows, this belief has little impact on their lives. Quoting extensively from in-depth interviews with a cross-section of Americans, he finds them unable to see any meaning in life, lacking any heroes, and without a compelling moral vision. In terms of emotion, he says, Americans are not as religious as they more

Product details

  • Hardback | 365 pages
  • 154.94 x 238.76 x 33.02mm | 657.71g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195134915
  • 9780195134919

Review quote

"A book whose conversational tone allows a variety of voices to address fundamental questions...Porpora demonstrates the meaningfulness of local narrative, a proliferation of constructed spaces in a postmodern discourse, and evidence that postmodern people aren't necessarily theorists of postmodernism."--Steven Schroeder, Booklist"This book provides a powerful shock of recognition, delivered in easy doses through conversations with real people. Porpora enables us to look inside the trends Robert Putnam has so convincingly documented from the outside: the puzzle of how so many Americans can be decent and tolerant in private life yet unmoved by larger claims of justice and environmental destruction. Porpora argues that this puzzle cannot be comprehended on the social level alone. What is missing is emotional connection with the moral, philosophical, and ultimately sacred demensions of life, an insidious spiritual entropy of a kind very different from that denounced by self-styled 'conservatives.' It will leave readers not just more knowledgeable about the society they share, but uncomfortable with a merely passive relation to the questions the book explores."--William M. Sullivan, co-author of Habits of the Heart"A fabulous, meticulously researched and scholarly account of the nature of religious beliefs and practice in America today. It is essential reading for all scholars and indeed all laypeople interested in the enduring phenomena of spirituality."--Roy Bhaskar, author of From East to West: Odyssey of a Soul"Landscapes of the Soul updates and extends the work of Habits of the Heart. With rare lucidity, Porpora deftly interweaves his subjects' narratives with a realist theoretical analysis in an exceptionally readable book. He reveals the lunar landscape of the American soul, detached from the sacred, and shows poignantly that the profane offers no substitute. It condemns us to meaninglessness, to lives without ultimate concerns, passionate commitments or defining trajectories, lacking in heores and heroics alike. At most there remains a nostalgia for transcendence lost, which is too enervated to transcend its condition. Without proselytizing, Porpora sensitively allows a diverse handful of souls to articulate pathways out of the profane."--Margaret S. Archer, author of Culture and Agency: The Place of Culture in Social Theoryshow more

About Douglas V. Porpora

Douglas V. Porpora is chair of the Department of Psychology, Sociology, and Anthropology at Drexel University. He is an active member of NETWORK, a national social justice lobby, and is the author of How Holocausts Happen: The United States in Central America. He lives with his wife in more

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9 ratings
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