Editorial: "American Dream" Explores Spirituality and Commercialism

January 14, 2002

Source: The Boston Globe

On January 14, 2002, The Boston Globe featured "American Dream," an editorial about America's search for meaning. "Considered a sacred object in [Native American] culture, the web-like dream catcher - which is supposed to hang above a baby's cradle to trap nightmares and let good dreams into the soul - has become a staple in mall trinket stores... But while this popularization of the spiritual can be written off as the co-opting and secularizing of a belief system, it is, at its heart, a search for meaning... Our society is a cultural smorgasbord, and the seeker may want to try it all, but in doing so intends no disrespect - quite the opposite, for the exploration, while perhaps a bit frenetic, is usually sincere... The quest invariably involves commerce... Shoppers can find mall chapels next to department stores, and sidewalk preachers of all religious stripes on a city's busiest corners. A group of young Boston area Catholics, led by a priest and a nun, meets every other week at a bar in Dorchester to ask the great questions over beers... Americans often mix their metaphors, reaching out for what feels right even though it may be unconventional - or appalling to the conservatively devout. A person who purchases or receives a dream catcher delights in its history and magic. That doesn't come close to practicing ancient ritual, but it's a way to honor those who do."