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Seeking the Sacred: Transformational Festivals and the Search for Spiritual Experience

Amanda J. Lucia Lecture

Thursday, January 30, 2014, 5:30pm

Persimmon Room, IMU

Seeking the Sacred: Transformational Festivals and the Search for Spiritual Experience

Amanda J. Lucia
Jan. 30th, 5:30 – 7:00 pm
Persimmon Room, IMU

Weekender transformational festivals proliferate in the ‘spiritual, but not religious’ landscape of American religiosity. American metaphysicals come together in these festivals to create sacred spaces that often include chanting, meditation, yoga, music, movement, and a wide variety of spiritual workshops. This lecture analyzes the various sources from which American metaphysicals draw their amalgamated creations of the sacred. It also suggests that these festivals provide a sustained religious engagement because many participants attend not as spiritual tourists, but routinely on a calendrical circuit. Thus, these American metaphysicals, who are gaining considerable demographic strength within the category of the ‘nones’ (or the non-religious), may be much more religious than is often imagined.

Amanda J. Lucia is an Assistant Professor of American Religions at the University of California, Riverside. Her ethnographic and historical research engages both immigrant Indian Hindus in the United States and American metaphysicals who seek out forms of Hindu spirituality. Lucia’s current book project considers how participants at American yoga festivals emulate and represent Hindu yogis of the past and present. She is also piloting a collaborative humanities studio to research religious festivals in immigrant communities in southern California. In addition to her published articles and reviews, her first book Reflections of Amma: Devotees in a Global Embrace will be published with University of California Press in March 2014.

Sponsored by the Department of Relgious Studies