Landscapes Of The Secular: Law, Religion, And American Sacred Space

Hardcover | September 5, 2016

byNicolas Howe

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“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.

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“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-examin...

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.

other books by Nicolas Howe

Climate Change as Social Drama: Global Warming in the Public Sphere
Climate Change as Social Drama: Global Warming in the P...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:248 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.7 inPublished:September 5, 2016Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022637677X

ISBN - 13:9780226376776

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“In this passionate book, Howe describes the agonistic traveling circus of litigation that is the effort of Americans to have their cake and eat it too when it comes to pluralism and religious freedom. Teaching us to look with greater care at the landscapes that are made and remade through law about religion, Howe makes an important contribution to our often lazy theorizing about why places matter, legally and religiously. With subtle erudition, Landscapes of the Secular argues for the multiple registers in which landscapes exert agency, inextricably linking religious subjectivities with geographic selves.”