… the formal conventions of religion, and of social, economic, and
gender relations were deeply felt by the generation of New England
Transcendentalists as massive obstacles to the genuine human project.
They had become the problem: backward-looking, ossified religion,
mere rational calculation, male hierarchy and dominance, reductive materialism
—each and together, the Transcendentalists believed, obscured the essential
purpose of religion. The goal of religion is to promote human flourishing and
meaning by providing a vivid, all encompassing interpretation or vision of life:
what it is and ought to be. Instead of being essential, provident means for realizing
that vision, these conventions had dammed up the channels of its realization.