Lifting our gaze

Why Religion Matters: The Fate of the Human Spirit in an Age of Disbelief. By Huston Smith. HarperSanFrancisco, 277 pp., $25.00.

Huston Smith's interests have always been eclectic. The child of Protestant missionaries to China, he grew up in Asia. During the 1960s he associated with Aldous Huxley and Timothy Leary, and was known for his defense of entheogenic (or hallucinogenic) plants and chemicals for religious purposes. (He recently published a collection of his writings on the subject, titled Cleansing the Doors of Perception: The Religious Significance of Entheogenic Plants and Chemicals.) Over the past 50 years Smith has held professorates at a host of distinguished institutions, including MIT, Syracuse and the University of California, Berkeley. His appearance on Bill Moyers's recent PBS series on religion has made his face familiar to many.


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