Ripples of the Universe: Spirituality in Sedona, Arizona (Class 200: New Studies in Religion) (Paperback)

Ripples of the Universe: Spirituality in Sedona, Arizona (Class 200: New Studies in Religion) By Susannah Crockford Cover Image

Ripples of the Universe: Spirituality in Sedona, Arizona (Class 200: New Studies in Religion) (Paperback)

Ask a random American what springs to mind about Sedona, Arizona, and they will almost certainly mention New Age spirituality. Nestled among stunning sandstone formations, Sedona has built an identity completely intertwined with that of the permanent residents and throngs of visitors who insist it is home to powerful vortexes—sites of spiraling energy where meditation, clairvoyance, and channeling are enhanced. It is in this uniquely American town that Susannah Crockford took up residence for two years to make sense of spirituality, religion, race, and class.

Many people move to Sedona because, they claim, they are called there by its special energy. But they are also often escaping job loss, family breakdown, or foreclosure. Spirituality, Crockford shows, offers a way for people to distance themselves from and critique current political and economic norms in America. Yet they still find themselves monetizing their spiritual practice as a way to both “raise their vibration” and meet their basic needs. Through an analysis of spirituality in Sedona, Crockford gives shape to the failures and frustrations of middle- and working-class people living in contemporary America, describing how spirituality infuses their everyday lives. Exploring millenarianism, conversion, nature, food, and conspiracy theories, Ripples of the Universe combines captivating vignettes with astute analysis to produce a unique take on the myriad ways class and spirituality are linked in contemporary America.
Susannah Crockford is a postdoctoral researcher in anthropology at the University of Ghent, Belgium.
Product Details ISBN: 9780226778075
ISBN-10: 022677807X
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication Date: June 3rd, 2021
Pages: 248
Series: Class 200: New Studies in Religion
"This elegantly written report from an ethnographic field study is a rich witness to a US landscape and the spiritual seekers who developed a visceral connection to the region’s 'energies'. . . . At once strikingly empathic and analytic, Crockford employs theories from religious studies, critical theory, and political science to explain behaviors of those who have little control over corporate or governmental policies that determine their existence."
— Choice

"Crockford’s Ripples of the Universe is an excellent introduction to New Age ‘spirituality’ as it is practiced ‘on the ground’ in 21st-century America. I predict the book will be widely read, especially by students of new religious movements, sociology of religion in the United States, and critical cultural studies. Engagingly written, methodologically clear, and well-illustrated, Ripples of the Universe will also be an ideal text for graduate seminars on these topics."
— Religion

"A valuable work . . . sensitive and multi-dimensional. The book illuminates how many people have given up the normal life of jobs and family to become, in effect, renunciates and even mendicants, struggling to survive in a society that grants them no recognition."
— Reading Religion

"Ripples of the Universe makes a solid contribution to the study of contemporary spiritualities and is highly recommended for scholars of religion, sociology, anthropology and American culture."
— Journal for the Academic Study of Religion

"This thought-provoking and profound study paints a fascinating picture of spirituality in Sedona. It explores a microcosm of larger US society, replicating the same issues, conflicts, and insecurities, and making spiritually framed attempts to address them. This book is extremely valuable for scholars interested in (alternative) spirituality and religion in the contemporary US."
— Religious Studies Review

“This emotionally sensitive, beautifully written book shows how ethnography can reshape our understanding of ourselves. Crockford describes how spirituality offers hope of new resources and a new way of life in the context of contemporary economic arrangements, and how precarious such hopes can be. She casts an original, clear light on the everyday experience of a remarkable cast of people, displaying both compassion and objectivity; this is a small masterpiece.”
— Timothy Jenkins, University of Cambridge

“In this lucid, engaging, and comprehensive analysis of Sedona’s metaphysical spiritualists, Crockford thoroughly unpacks the cosmology, millenarian beliefs, and cultural resonances of this key center of what used to be called ‘New Age spirituality.’ Crockford shows how Sedona’s metaphysicians rework race, class, kinship, health, neoliberal economics, and notions of purity, indigeneity, government corruption, and utopian aspiration in their efforts to create a value-driven spirituality that is as individual as it is emblematic of the ‘postsecular’ condition. A wonderful book!”
— Adrian J. Ivakhiv, University of Vermont

“Not only is this book a deep ethnographic dive into the metaphysical/theosophical/new thought/new age/extraterrestrial spirituality and conspiracy theory milieu of Sedona, it is also an astute critical description of major thought currents in America today and their histories. This book will be of interest to anyone seeking to learn more about American culture, spirituality, and even politics.”
— Catherine Wessinger, Loyola University New Orleans

"This is a fascinating interpretation of seekers and seekership at an iconic American site for post-New Age spirituality, focusing on key themes of nature, diet, identity, conspiracy and revelation. The author combines empathetic ethnography with shrewd analysis of the erosion of the middle ground between the local and the cosmic - society, in other words - that's inadvertently fostered in pursuit of the 'spiritual path'. This is an innovative and timely study which raises resonant questions about the impact of a hitherto minority worldview on mainstream American culture - and beyond."
— Steven J. Sutcliffe, University of Edinburgh

"Crockford is able to convince the reader that her participant–observer strategy works. There is an intimacy to her research that, not surprisingly, provides an added interpretive dimension not typically found in the social science literature on contemporary New Age and alternative spiritual movements."
— Nova Religio