A New Religious America: How a ''Christian Country'' Has by Diana L. Eck

By Diana L. Eck

Why figuring out America's spiritual panorama Is crucial problem dealing with Us at the present time The Nineties observed the U.S. military fee its first Muslim chaplain and open its first mosque.There are shortly greater than 300 temples in l. a., domestic to the best number of Buddhists within the world.There are extra American Muslims than there are American Episcopalians, Jews, or Presbyterians.

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S. as a refugee. He kneeled, his head shaved, to receive his robes, amid a Cambodian community that by then had three temples in the northern outskirts of Boston. Some of us visited the Vietnamese temple in Roslindale, the 20 A NEW RELIGIOUS AMERICA Chinese Buddhist temple in Lexington, and the new Thousand Buddha Temple built by Chinese nuns in Quincy. The variety was breathtaking. While some, like the Insight Meditation Center, were exclusively devoted to meditation practice, others, like those in the Chinese communities, practiced the chanting and recitations of Pure Land Buddhism.

Anna Nordquist was no more than twenty when she and her mother, Louisa, and sister, Signe, sailed from Sweden on the Lusitania. They were the last in the chain migration of a large family of Nordquists from Sünne, Varmland, to the American West. Eventually, Anna settled in Anaconda, Montana, and married my grandfather, Theodore Eck, also a Swede. He had come in from Ontario via Sault Ste. Marie. That March morning, walking into the great hall at Ellis Island, moving from room to room as the guides directed, sitting on the benches where Anna might have sat, I glimpsed the slow progress Grandma would have made in her first hours in this new world—lines, desks, luggage, health examinations, more lines.

I had lived in the city for twenty-five years, and I was amazed. Yes, the imagined New England landscape of white steeples and colonial town greens was still here, almost picture perfect, but what a range of other communities had settled right next door! We visited the spectacular new Sri Lakshmi temple in Ashland, not far from the starting point of the Boston marathon, a temple designed by INTRODUCTION TO A NEW AMERICA 19 Hindu ritual architects, its ornate tall towers decorated with images of Hindu deities and consecrated with the waters of the Ganges mingled with the waters of the Mississippi, Colorado, and Merrimac Rivers.

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