by Robert S. Ellwood and Harry B. Partin
Prentice Hall, 1988
his book, regarded as a "classic" since the publication of the first edition by Robert Ellwood in 1973, surveys the world of "alternative" religions in the United States. There is a discussion of the controversial word "cult," and a history of alternative religion in Europe and America from ancient times on. Then chapters follow on Theosophical and Rosicrucian groups, on Spiritualism and UFO religions, on initiatory religions such as Scientology and Gurdjieff groups, on Neo-Paganism, and on Eastern religions in America, including yoga groups, Krishna Consciousness, Zen, and Baha'i. Final chapters treat of sociological and psychological approaches to new religions, and of the Black Muslims and the People's Temple. The tone throughout is respectful and empathetic toward the religions under discussion, yet also academic. If you have ever wanted to know about religions like these from a neutral and informed perspective, give this book a try. Let me know what you think about it.