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Abstract:
Draft of an article, later published, prepared for a conference on the history and theory of American Religious Liberalism. Juliet Thompson is used to provide an example of a cosmopolitan Christian American seeker who found the Bahá'í Faith.
Notes:
The draft article below was first prepared for the Cultures of American Religious Liberalism Symposium, Yale University (New Haven, CT), September 25 2009.

Discovering Imageless Truths:
The Bahá'í Pilgrimage of Juliet Thompson, Artist

by Christopher White

published in American Religious Liberalism, ed. Leigh E. Schmidt and Sally M. Promey
Indiana University Press, 2012
About the conference: Moving beyond familiar tropes of the social gospel and the modernist impulse, this conference explores the history and theory of American Religious Liberalism in its various social, material, political, and disciplinary contexts. In what ways, and to what effects, have the categories of “religion” and “liberalism” been conceived in the United States and over time? Through what material and artistic media were concepts and cultures of American religious liberalism developed? And why have such cultures received little recent analytical scholarly attention relative to other, often co- and counter-articulated, cultures of evangelicalism and conservatism?

Participating scholars will present papers on different aspects of religious liberalism’s history as a construct and a constructive force in the United States. Respondents will provide international and comparative considerations and evaluations. The conference concludes with capstone reflections. This conference is organized with support from the Edward J. and Dorothy Clarke Kempf Memorial Fund and is co-sponsored by the Institute of Sacred Music, the Department of Religious Studies, the Department of American Studies, and the Program in Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. (from yale.edu)

About the book: Religious liberalism in America has often been equated with an ecumenical Protestant establishment. By contrast, American Religious Liberalism draws attention to the broad diversity of liberal cultures that shapes America's religious movements. The essays gathered here push beyond familiar tropes and boundaries to interrogate religious liberalism's dense cultural leanings by looking at spirituality in the arts, the politics and piety of religious cosmopolitanism, and the interaction between liberal religion and liberal secularism. Readers will find a kaleidoscopic view of many of the progressive strands of America's religious past and present in this richly provocative volume.

The volume as a whole not only provides the reader with a variety of fascinating stories from the history of American religious liberalism, but also invites us to further reflect on what religious liberalism . . . is about. . . [ This] volume is a good specimen of an integral approach to religious liberalism, not primarily focusing on Protestantism but paying attention to Judaism, Catholicism, and a broad variety of free religious movements as well. (from kriso.ee)

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