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American Gnosis: Political Religion and Transcendence

A new book by Arthur Versluis (Oxford University Press, 2023)

American Gnosis explores brand new territory in contemporary American spirituality. This startling tour du force will change how you see contemporary society—reading it is akin to putting on a pair of the revelatory eyeglasses in the cult film They Live.  In recent and contemporary American literature and films, as well as in political life, we find many elements taken from the early Christian heretical category of “Gnosticism.” In fact, new forms of Gnostic religion are found across the Americas, in all kinds of unexpected places. Thjs phenomenon calls for a new name, “neo-gnosticism.” In American Gnosis, Versluis surveys the prevalence of neo-gnostic metaphors in films and novels, as well as in contemporary politics, primarily on the right. He provides case studies of some major contemporary neo-gnostic figures, and demonstrates how neo-gnostic thought contributes to critiques of politico-technological dystopian contemporary American and global society. American Gnosis introduces and discusses, some for the first time in scholarship, major neo-gnostic figures, also exploring how neo-gnostic memes recur in social media and other sources. Versluis also explores the emergence of American gnosis as spiritually independent, reflecting the growing demographic category “spiritual but not religious.”  

American Gnosis

*Clearly explains the contemporary phenomena of neo-gnosticism and of gnosis in contemporary American society, inclusive of Latin America.

*Surveys major contemporary and recent neo-gnostic figures and their significances.

*Explores neo-gnosticism in recent film, literature, and social media.

*The first book to explore the prevalence of neo-gnostic memes on the right.

*Analyzes neo-gnostic metaphors on right-wing and patriotic social media fora.

*Predicts likely future developments of neo-gnosticism and gnosis.

A Neo-gnostic Meme Collection

The selection of memes below is supplementary to American Gnosis: Political Religion and Transcendence (New York: Oxford University Press, 2023).

A larger gallery of related memes can be found here

Before donning They Live sunglasses
After donning They Live sunglasses