Sutton, “American Apocalypse”

This December, Harvard University Press will release “American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism” by Matthew Avery Sutton (Washington State University).  The publisher’s description follows:

American ApocalypseThe first comprehensive history of modern American evangelicalism to appear in a generation, American Apocalypse shows how a group of radical Protestants, anticipating the end of the world, paradoxically transformed it.

Matthew Avery Sutton draws on extensive archival research to document the ways an initially obscure network of charismatic preachers and their followers reshaped American religion, at home and abroad, for over a century. Perceiving the United States as besieged by Satanic forces—communism and secularism, family breakdown and government encroachment—Billy Sunday, Charles Fuller, Billy Graham, and others took to the pulpit and airwaves to explain how Biblical end-times prophecy made sense of a world ravaged by global wars, genocide, and the threat of nuclear extinction. Believing Armageddon was nigh, these preachers used what little time was left to warn of the coming Antichrist, save souls, and prepare the nation for God’s final judgment.

By the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan and conservative Republicans appropriated evangelical ideas to create a morally infused political agenda that challenged the pragmatic tradition of governance through compromise and consensus. Following 9/11, the politics of apocalypse continued to resonate with an anxious populace seeking a roadmap through a world spinning out of control. Premillennialist evangelicals have erected mega-churches, shaped the culture wars, made and destroyed presidential hopefuls, and brought meaning to millions of believers. Narrating the story of modern evangelicalism from the perspective of the faithful, Sutton demonstrates how apocalyptic thinking continues to exert enormous influence over the American mainstream today.

Conference: “Muslim Minorities and Religious Freedom”

On December 15, 2014, the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University, in cooperation with Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion, will host a conference entitled “Muslim Minorities and Religious Freedom:  A Public Dialogue.”

Muslim MinoritiesHow has the persecution of Muslim minorities affected their well-being in Europe and North America, the overall health of Muslim-majority nations, and the growth of violent Islamist extremism? Are Muslim minorities developing theologies that can bolster religious freedom, stable democracy, and economic growth, as well as undermine violent Islamist extremism? Join us as we explore these questions at a day-long conference featuring four panels of experts as well as a lunchtime keynote conversation between Professor Robert George of Princeton, Professor John Esposito of Georgetown, and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf of Zaytuna College.

Details can be found here.

Mouline, “The Clerics of Islam”

This November, Yale University Press will release “The Clerics of Islam: Religious Authority and Political Power in Saudi Arabia” by Nabil Mouline (French National Center for Scientific Research).  The publisher’s description follows:

The Clerics of IslamFollowers of Muhammad b. ’Abd al-Wahhab, often considered to be Islam’s Martin Luther, shaped the political and religious identity of the Saudi state while also enabling the significant worldwide expansion of Salafist Islam. Studies of the movement he inspired, however, have often been limited by scholars’ insufficient access to key sources within Saudi Arabia. Nabil Mouline was granted rare interviews and admittance to important Saudi archives in preparation for this groundbreaking book, the first in-depth study of the Wahhabi religious movement from its founding to the modern day. Gleaning information from both written and oral sources and employing a multidisciplinary approach that combines history, sociology, and Islamic studies, Mouline presents a new reading of this movement that transcends the usual resort to polemics.

2014 AALS Law & Religion Newsletter

I am delighted to present the 2014 AALS Law & Religion Newsletter. The Newsletter contains several conferences of interest in 2015 as well as a few relevant panels at the 2015 AALS conference. It also offers an extensive bibliography of books and articles in the area published over the last year. Thanks to the Center for Law and Religion’s excellent fellows, John Boersma and Stephanie Cipolla, for assistance in assembling it.

O’Malley, “The Jesuits: A History from Ignatius to the Present”

In October, Rowman & Littlefield released “The Jesuits: A History from Ignatius to the Present” by John W. O’Malley, S.J. (Georgetown University).  The publisher’s description follows:

As Pope Francis continues to make his mark on the church, there is increased interest in his Jesuit background—what is the Society of Jesus, how is it different from other religious orders, and how has it shaped the world? In “The Jesuits,” acclaimed historian John W. O’Malley, SJ, provides essential historical background from the founder Ignatius of Loyola through the present.

The book tells the story of the Jesuits’ great successes as missionaries, educators, scientists, cartographers, polemicists, theologians, poets, patrons of the arts, and confessors to kings. It tells the story of their failures and of the calamity that struck them in 1773 when Pope Clement XIV suppressed them worldwide. It tells how a subsequent pope restored them to life and how they have fared to this day in virtually every country in the world. Along the way it introduces readers to key figures in Jesuit history, such as Matteo Ricci and Pedro Arrupe, and important Jesuit writings, such as the Spiritual Exercises.

“Sensible Religion” (Lewis & Cohn-Sherbok, eds.)

In September, Ashgate Publishing released “Sensible Religion” edited by Christopher Lewis (University of Oxford) and Dan Cohn-Sherbok (University of Wales). The publisher’s description follows:

Around the globe religion is under attack. Humanists, secularists and atheists depict believers as deluded and dangerous. The aim of this book is to challenge this perception. Sensible Religion defends the validity and emphasises the excitement of the religious quest across the faiths. It demonstrates that the practice of sensible religion is often a courageous path pitted against religious extremism and secularism. Written by committed believers from the major world’s faiths, the book endorses the term ‘sensible’ as expressing religious reasonableness as well as sensitivity to criticism and new insights. Followers of the different traditions live ordinary lives in the mainstream of the world. This volume therefore addresses beliefs and the manner in which these convictions relate to social, political and ethical action. Countering the argument that religion is at root extremist and irrational, “Sensible Religion” brings together thoughtful and critical reflections by leading thinkers about humanity’s spiritual quest.

Event: “The Race Against ISIS: Efforts to Preserve Ancient Christian Culture in the Middle East” (Dec. 2)

On Tuesday, December 2 at noon, Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom will host Dr. Amal Marogy, originally from the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, to discuss “The Race Against ISIS: Efforts to Preserve Ancient Christian Culture in the Middle East.”

As ISIS continues to wage a campaign to eradicate the entire Christian presence and every trace of that ancient community’s existence in northern Iraq, a treasure of Christian patrimony, consisting of relics and manuscripts testifying to nearly two millennia of Christianity, is being systematically destroyed. Dr. Amal Marogy, originally from the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, fears that the ongoing jihadist religious cleansing of this 1,600-year-old Christian community means that Iraq’s Aramaic language and culture is in danger of dying out. ISIS has already burned some 1,500 biblical manuscripts held at the fourth-century monastery of St. Behnam, which was seized last summer in Nineveh. While some manuscripts, including those of Mar Behnam, have been digitized, many others have not.

Dr. Marogy is on an urgent mission to record the social history of her region, Duhok, and its Aramaic songs, prayers, and poetry. In 2013, she founded the Aradin Charitable Trust to help preserve Aramaic and the Christian heritage throughout the Middle East. She is an Affiliated Researcher in Neo-Aramaic Studies at Cambridge University and was previously Director of Studies in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at King’s College.

Register for the event, which is in Washington, D.C., here.

You can also live stream the event on Hudson’s homepage.

Conference: “The Jews of Shanghai”

On June 1-3, 2015, Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center will host an international conference entitled “Law and Society:  The Jews of Shanghai” in Shanghai, China.

The history of the Jews of Shanghai is an intriguing story. But it is a story that is not well known in the United States. Baghdadi Jews came to Shanghai in the late 19th century and prospered, Russian Jews fleeing the Czar and then the Bolshevik Revolution emigrated in the early 20th century, and approximately 18,000 Jews from Europe sought refuge from Nazi Germany in the 1930’s and early 1940’s to the open port of Shanghai. The conference will closely examine this history from a number of perspectives, including, law, literature, and sociology.

For details please contact Linda Howard Weissman at lindah@tourolaw.edu.

Manseau, “One Nation, Under Gods”

This January, Little, Brown and Company Publishing will release “One Nation, Under Gods:  The Hidden History of the Religious United States” by Peter Manseau (Smithsonian Fellow).  The publisher’s description follows:

One Nation, Under GodsAt the heart of the nation’s spiritual history are audacious and often violent scenes. But the Puritans and the shining city on the hill give us just one way to understand the United States. Rather than recite American history from a Christian vantage point, Peter Manseau proves that what really happened is worth a close, fresh look.

Thomas Jefferson himself collected books on all religions and required that the brand new Library of Congress take his books, since Americans needed to consider the “twenty gods or no god” he famously noted were revered by his neighbors. Looking at the Americans who believed in these gods, Manseau fills in America’s story of itself, from the persecuted “witches” at Salem and who they really were, to the persecuted Buddhists in WWII California, from spirituality and cults in the ’60s to the recent presidential election where both candidates were for the first time non-traditional Christians.

One Nation, Under Gods shows how much more there is to the history we tell ourselves, right back to the country’s earliest days. Dazzling in its scope and sweep, it is an American history unlike any you’ve read.

Granquist, “Lutherans in America”

This January, Fortress Publishing will release “Lutherans in America: A New History” by Mark Granquist (Luther Seminary).  The publisher’s description follows:

Lutherans in AmericaThe story of Lutherans in America is one of mutual influence. From the first small groups of Lutherans to arrive in the colonies, to the large immigrations to the rich heartland of a growing nation, Lutherans have influenced, and been influenced by, America.

In this lively and engaging new history, Granquist brings to light not only the varied and fascinating institutions that Lutherans founded and sustained but the people that lived within them. The result is a generous, human history that tells a complete story—not only about politics and policies but also the piety and the practical experiences of the Lutheran men and women who lived and worked in the American context.

Bringing the story all the way to the present day and complemented with new charts, maps, images, and sidebars, Granquist ably covers the full range of Lutheran expressions, bringing order and clarity to a complex and vibrant tradition.