To be an American is to have buried, deep within our collective DNA, a profound sense of the lonesome.
At least that is what USC religious studies professor Kevin Lewis has speculated during a long - and perhaps lonesome - intellectual trek through the landscape of American music, fiction, art and religion.
For all the cultural reflection on the meaning of e pluribus unum, he believes Americans are a people who understand the solitary ache in the heart, the twist in the gut. After all, he noted, who among us has not walked through "that lonesome valley" or traveled down an open highway with the wail of Hank Williams in our ears?
That word lonesome seems to do so much more work in our vocabulary than in any other anglophone culture," he said. "Americans like lonesome."
His ruminations have borne fruit in a newly published book titled, simply, "Lonesome: The Spiritual Meanings of American Solitude." In this scholarly work, he explains how we are a people hard-wired to perceive and experience lonesomeness in a way that is far different from that of our counterparts on other continents.
Rooted in our spiritual and religious life, lonesomeness is a vessel in which we pour parts of ourselves.
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