"An incisive study of the Western world’s shift from institutional religion to more personal beliefs in the second half of the 19th century . . . This is intellectual history at its most comprehensive and convincing." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
The late nineteenth century was an age of grand ideas and great expectations fueled by rapid scientific and technological innovation. In Europe, the ancient authority of church and crown was overthrown for the volatile gambles of democracy and the capitalist market. If it was an age that claimed to liberate women, slaves, and serfs, it also harnessed children to its factories and subjected entire peoples to its empires. Amid this tumult, another sea change was underway: the religious revolution.
In The Religious Revolution, Dominic Green charts this profound cultural and political shift, taking us on a whirlwind journey through the lives and ideas of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman; of Éliphas Lévi and Helena Blavatsky; of Wagner and Nietzsche; of Marx, Darwin, and Gandhi. Challenged by the industrialization, globalization, and political unrest of their times, these figures found themselves connecting with the religious
impulse in surprising new ways, inspiring others to move away from the strictures of religion and toward the thrill and intimacy of spirituality. The modern era is often characterized as a time of increasing secularism, but in this trenchant new work, Green demonstrates how the foundations of modern society were laid as much by spirituality as by science or reason.
The Religious Revolution is a narrative tour de force that sweeps across several continents and five of the most turbulent and formative decades in history. Threading together seemingly disparate intellectual trajectories, Green illuminates how philosophers, grifters, artists, scientists, and yogis shared in a global cultural moment, borrowing one another’s beliefs and making the world we know today.