Santa Clara University


Spirituality and Ritual

Resources to think about Spirituality and Ritual:

Armstrong, Karen. The Case for God (New York: Knopf, 2009). See especially Chapter One ("Homo religiosus") for connection between mythos and ritual.

Bell, Catherine. Ritual: Perspectives and Dimensions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997). This is the classic work on ritual, especially from the Asian perspective.

Carmody, Denise Lardner, and Carmody, John Tully. In the Path of the Masters: Understanding the Spirituality of Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, and Muhammad (Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 1996). A fine treatment of the role of the founder in the formation of religious traditions.

Carmody, Denise Lardner, “Mysticism in World Religions,” The Santa Clara Lectures, Vol. 1, No. 2 (January 23, 1995). Should it be mysticism or mysticisms?

Cunningham, Lawrence, ed. Thomas Merton: Spiritual Master: The Essential Writings (Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1992). 

Kapleau, Philip. The Three Pillars of Zen: Teaching, Practice, and Enlightenment (New York: Harper & Row, 1966). This is a fine introduction to the practice, not the theory, of Zen.

Merton, Thomas. The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton (New York: New Directions, 1973).

Merton, Thomas. The Seven Storey Mountain (New York: Garden City Books, 1948). The story of Thomas Merton's conversion. Compare with Steigenga below.

Merton, Thomas. Zen and the Birds of Appetite  (New York: New Directions, 1968). 

Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. The Heart of Islam: Enduring Values for Humanity (San Francisco: Harper, 2002). My favorite spiritual work on Islam.

Nouwen, Henri J.M. The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life (New York: Crossroads, 1999).

Pinault, David. Horse of Karbala: Muslim Devotional Life in India (New York: PALGRAVE, 2001). The book to read on Shiite ritual.

Steigenga, Timothy J., and Cleary, Edward L. Conversion of a Continent: Contemporary Religious Change in Latin America (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2007). This book offers a fine description of the current states and interactions among Latin American religious traditions. Theoretically, it asks about the usefulness of the concept of "conversion," comparing North American, Brazilian, and Argentinian academic approaches.

Stortz, Marty ( Graduate Theological Union Lutheran theologican Stortz has an academic project and blog on pilgrimage. The site offers a selection of nine books on the spirituality of this ancient practice.

Zaleski, Philip, and Kaufman, Paul. Gifts of the Spirit: Living the Wisdom of the Great Religious Tradition. (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997). Selections from religious traditions organized around the themes and rhythms of Day and Life. 


November 2, 2009.