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Shorter Book Reviews 135 such a short study. Nevertheless, Catkin's impressive research and refreshing interpretive approach make such criticisms minor indeed. GillisJ. Harp Department of History University of Prince Edward Island Catherine L. Albanese. Nature Religion in America from the Algonkian Indians to the Present. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990. xvi + 2157 pp. For many scholars, this will be a ground-breaking study of the complex ways in which so-called "nature religion" has impinged upon American religious life from pre-European days to the present. In this extremely ambitious yet opaque book, the reader confronts evolving "nature religion," a term created by Albanese. She reads the lines of literary evidence, she reads between the lines and then she also reads beyond the lines to see the relevance of nature, broadly defined, indeed, to the evolvingAmerican religious experience. Albanese places great emphasis on certain aspects of the Algonkian Indian religious experience, as well as on nature religion as seen in the work of such nineteenth-century figures as the Hutchinson Family singers, Davy Crockett, various Transcendalists, and a host of men and women who found themselves at the interface between popular science and popular religion. According to Albanese, there was never one nature religion before 1900,but rather a complex variety; what they all seemed to share, however, was a basic "double-vision," one that stressed the belief that nature was "real" and the other that emphasized that nature was illusion. Quantum studies in the early twentieth century, Albanese contends, provided for some advocates of nature religion the conceptual bridge between nature as reality and nature as illusion. She does not, however, convincingly show how the quantum bridge was used by the various twentieth-century American prophets of nature religion. Nor does she even attempt to assess the nature of the relationship between the leaders of the movement and the followers, whether in the nineteenth or the twentieth century. The twentieth-century section of the book tries, largely unsuccessfully, to throw light on how nature religion appears to permeate neo-Paganism, the Reiki gospel, the Green movement, as well as the writing of people such as Annie Dillard and the Bear Tribe founder Sun Bear. There is a disjointed 136 Shorter Book Reviews and hurried quality to this section. Although the fundamental weakness of Nature Religion in America is also its greatest strength, Albanese attempts far too much and makes far too much of her limited evidence. Her creative boldness is not constrained by the marginal importance of her carefully selected proponents of what she describes, very loosely, as American nature religion. GA.Rawlyk Department of History Queen's University ...


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pp. 135-136
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