The American Spiritual Culture

The American Spiritual Culture
And the Invention of Jazz, Football, and the Movies
by William Dean
Continuum, $24.95, 240 pp.

The study of the nation’s character is a genre of American writing older than the nation itself, tracing its origins as least as far back as Crèvecoeur’s Letters from an American Farmer (1782). In the latest renewal of this tradition, theologian William Dean argues that Americans share a common spiritual culture "that is sometimes more vividly expressed through secular activities such as jazz, football, and the movies than through the...

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