Ralph Waldo Emerson's work is often treated as either part of the ongoing secularization of American culture or marking the emergence of a distinct form of spirituality. In both cases, he is treated as presenting a newness which stands at some remove from religion. This article offers a different paradigm for reading Emerson's religion, one that accepts with Emerson that “religion” is a continually evolving concept that must bring together religious tradition with religious innovation. This article offers a reading of his religious thought by focusing on three themes: the moral sentiment, the Divine, and the religious life.

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