“Religion, NGOs, and the United Nations” (Carrette & Miall, eds.)

This month, Bloomsbury Publishing released Religion, NGOs, and the United Nations: Visible and Invisible Actors in Power edited by Jeremy Carrette (University of Kent) and Hugh Miall (University of Kent). The publisher’s description follows:

Religion NGosHow do religious groups, operating as NGOs, engage in the most important global institution for world peace? What processes do they adopt? Is there a “spiritual” UN today? This book is the first interdisciplinary study to present extensive fieldwork results from an examination of the activity of religious groups at the United Nations in New York and Geneva. Based on a three and half-year study of activities in the United Nations system, it seeks to show how “religion” operates in both visible and invisible ways.

Jeremy Carrette, Hugh Miall, Verena Beittinger-Lee, Evelyn Bush and Sophie-Hélène Trigeaud, explore the way “religion” becomes a “chameleon” idea, appearing and disappearing, according to the diplomatic aims and ambitions. Part 1 documents the challenges of examining religion inside the UN, Part 2 explores the processes and actions of religious NGOs – from diplomacy to prayer – and the specific platforms of intervention – from committees to networks – and Part 3 provides a series of case studies of religious NGOs, including discussion of Islam, Catholicism and Hindu and Buddhist NGOs. The study concludes by examining the place of diplomats and their views of religious NGOs and reflects on the place of “religion” in the UN today. The study shows the complexity of “religion” inside one of the most fascinating global institutions of the world today.

Ulrich, “A House Full of Females”

In January, Penguin Random House released A House Full of Females: Plural Marriage and Women’s Rights in Early Mormonism, 1835-1870 by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (Harvard University). The publisher’s description follows:

Mormon Book CoverFrom the author of A Midwife’s Tale, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Bancroft Prize for History, and The Age of Homespun–a revelatory, nuanced, and deeply intimate look at the world of early Mormon women whose seemingly ordinary lives belied an astonishingly revolutionary spirit, drive, and determination.

A stunning and sure-to-be controversial book that pieces together, through more than two dozen nineteenth-century diaries, letters, albums, minute-books, and quilts left by first-generation Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, the never-before-told story of the earliest days of the women of Mormon “plural marriage,” whose right to vote in the state of Utah was given to them by a Mormon-dominated legislature as an outgrowth of polygamy in 1870, fifty years ahead of the vote nationally ratified by Congress, and who became political actors in spite of, or because of, their marital arrangements. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, writing of this small group of Mormon women who’ve previously been seen as mere names and dates, has brilliantly reconstructed these textured, complex lives to give us a fulsome portrait of who these women were and of their “sex radicalism”–the idea that a woman should choose when and with whom to bear children.

“Religion, Culture, and the Public Sphere in China and Japan” (Welter & Newmark, eds.)

This month, Springer released Religion, Culture, and the Public Sphere in China and Japan edited by Albert Welter (University of Arizona) and Jeffrey Newmark (University of Winnipeg). The publisher’s description follows:

Religion Culture and the Public Sphere in China and JapanThis collection examines the impact of East Asian religion and culture on the public sphere, defined as an idealized discursive arena that mediates the official and private spheres. Contending that the actors and agents on the fringes of society were instrumental in shaping the public sphere in traditional and modern East Asia, it considers how these outliers contribute to religious, intellectual, and cultural dialog in the public sphere. Jürgen Habermas conceptualized the public sphere as the discursive arena which grew within Western European bourgeoisie society, arguably overlooking topics such as gender, minorities, and non-European civilizations, as well as the extent to which agency in the public sphere is effective in non-Western societies and how practitioners on the outskirts of mainstream society can participate. This volume responds to and builds upon this dialogue by addressing how religious, intellectual, and cultural agency in the public sphere shapes East Asian cultures, particularly the activities of those found on the peripheries of historic and modern societies.

Gurock, “The Holocaust Averted”

This month, Rutgers University Press released the paperback edition of The Holocaust Averted: An Alternate History of American Jewry, 1938-1967 by Jeffrey S. Gurock (Yeshiva University). The publisher’s description follows:

The Holocaust AvertedThe increasingly popular genre of “alternative histories” has captivated audiences by asking questions like “what if the South had won the Civil War?” Such speculation can be instructive, heighten our interest in a topic, and shed light on accepted history. In The Holocaust Averted, Jeffrey Gurock imagines what might have happened to the Jewish community in the United States if the Holocaust had never occurred and forces readers to contemplate how the road to acceptance and empowerment for today’s American Jews could have been harder than it actually was.

 

Based on reasonable alternatives grounded in what is known of the time, places, and participants, Gurock presents a concise narrative of his imagined war-time saga and the events that followed Hitler’s military failures. While German Jews did suffer under Nazism, the millions of Jews in Eastern Europe survived and were able to maintain their communities. Since few people were concerned with the safety of European Jews, Zionism never became popular in the United States and social antisemitism kept Jews on the margins of society. By the late 1960s, American Jewish communities were far from vibrant.

This alternate history—where, among many scenarios, Hitler is assassinated, Japan does not bomb Pearl Harbor, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt is succeeded after two terms by Robert A. Taft—does cause us to review and better appreciate history. As Gurock tells his tale, he concludes every chapter with a short section that describes what actually happened and, thus, further educates the reader.

“Great Christian Jurists in English History” (Helmholz & Hill, eds.)

In May, Cambridge University Press will release Great Christian Jurists in English History edited by R.H. Helmholz (University of Chicago) and Mark Hill (FTB Chambers). The publisher’s description follows:

cambridge upThe Great Christian Jurists series comprises a library of national volumes of detailed biographies of leading jurists, judges and practitioners, assessing the impact of their Christian faith on the professional output of the individuals studied. Little has previously been written about the faith of the great judges who framed and developed the English common law over centuries, but this unique volume explores how their beliefs were reflected in their judicial functions. This comparative study, embracing ten centuries of English law, draws some remarkable conclusions as to how Christianity shaped the views of lawyers and judges. Adopting a long historical perspective, this volume also explores the lives of judges whose practice in or conception of law helped to shape the Church, its law or the articulation of its doctrine.

Around the Web This Week

Here are some interesting stories involving law and religion from this past week:

Graf, “The Sultan’s Renegades”

In May, Oxford University Press will release The Sultan’s Renegades: Christian-European Converts to Islam and the Making of the Ottoman Elite, 1575-1610 by Tobias P. Graf (Heidelberg University). The publisher’s description follows:

Sultan's renegadesThe figure of the renegade – a European Christian or Jew who had converted to Islam and was now serving the Ottoman sultan – is omnipresent in all genres produced by those early modern Christian Europeans who wrote about the Ottoman Empire. As few contemporaries failed to remark, converts were disproportionately represented among those who governed, administered, and fought for the sultan. Unsurprisingly, therefore, renegades have attracted considerable attention from historians of Europe as well as students of European literature. Until very recently, however, Ottomanists have been surprisingly silent on the presence of Christian-European converts in the Ottoman military-administrative elite.

The Sultan’s Renegades inserts these ‘foreign’ converts into the context of Ottoman elite life to reorient the discussion of these individuals away from the present focus on their exceptionality, towards a qualified appreciation of their place in the Ottoman imperial enterprise and the Empire’s relations with its neighbours in Christian Europe. Drawing heavily on Central European sources, this study highlights the deep political, religious, and cultural entanglements between the Ottoman Empire and Christian Europe beyond the Mediterranean Basin as the ‘shared world’ par excellence. The existence of such trans-imperial subjects is not only symptomatic of the Empire’s ability to attract and integrate people of a great diversity of backgrounds, it also illustrates the extent to which the Ottomans participated in processes of religious polarization usually considered typical of Christian Europe in this period. Nevertheless, Christian Europeans remained ambivalent about those they dismissed as apostates and traitors, frequently relying on them for support in the pursuit of familial and political interests.

Mulder, Ramos, & Marti, “Latino Protestants in America”

This month, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers released Latino Protestants in America: Growing and Diverse by Mark T. Mulder (Calvin College), Aida I. Ramos (George Fox University), and Gerard0 Marti (Davidson College). The publisher’s description follows:

Latino Protestants.jpgLatino Protestantism is growing rapidly in the United States. Researchers estimate that by 2030 half of all Latinos in America will be Protestant. This remarkable growth is not just about numbers. The rise of Latino Protestants will impact the changing nature of American politics, economics, and religion. Latino Protestants in America takes readers inside the numbers to highlight the many reasons Latino Protestants are growing as well as the diversity of this group.

The book brings together the best existing scholarship on this group with original research to offer a nuanced picture of Latino Protestants in America, from worship practices to political engagement. The narrative helps readers move beyond misconceptions about Latino religion and offers a window into the diverse ways that religion plays out in real life. Latino Protestants in America is an essential resource for anyone interested in the beliefs and practices of this group, as well as the implications for its growth and areas for further study.

Duffy, “Reformation Divided”

This month, Bloomsbury Publishing released Reformation Divided: Catholics, Protestants, and the Conversion of England by Eamon Duffy (Cambridge). The publisher’s description follows:

Reformation Divided.jpgPublished to mark the 500th anniversary of the events of 1517, Reformation Divided explores the impact in England of the cataclysmic transformations of European Christianity in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The religious revolution initiated by Martin Luther is usually referred to as ‘The Reformation’, a tendentious description implying that the shattering of the medieval religious foundations of Europe was a single process, in which a defective form of Christianity was replaced by one that was unequivocally benign, ‘the midwife of the modern world’. The book challenges these assumptions by tracing the ways in which the project of reforming Christendom from within, initiated by Christian ‘humanists’ like Erasmus and Thomas More, broke apart into conflicting and often murderous energies and ideologies, dividing not only Catholic from Protestant, but creating deep internal rifts within all the churches which emerged from Europe’s religious conflicts.

The book is in three parts: In ‘Thomas More and Heresy’, Duffy examines how and why England’s greatest humanist apparently abandoned the tolerant humanism of his youthful masterpiece Utopia, and became the bitterest opponent of the early Protestant movement. ‘Counter-Reformation England’ explores the ways in which post-Reformation English Catholics accommodated themselves to a complex new identity as persecuted religious dissidents within their own country, but in a European context, active participants in the global renewal of the Catholic Church. The book’s final section ‘The Godly and the Conversion of England’ considers the ideals and difficulties of radical reformers attempting to transform the conventional Protestantism of post-Reformation England into something more ardent and committed. In addressing these subjects, Duffy shines new light on the fratricidal ideological conflicts which lasted for more than a century, and whose legacy continues to shape the modern world.

Curran, “Intestine Enemies”

In May, the Catholic University of America Press will release Intestine Enemies: Catholics in Protestant America, 1605-1791 by Robert Emmett Curran (Georgetown University). The publisher’s description follows:

Intestine EnemiesIntestine Enemies: Catholics in Protestant America, 1605-1791, is a documentary survey of the experience of Roman Catholics in the British Atlantic world from Maryland to Barbados and Nova Scotia to Jamaica over the course of the two centuries that spanned colonization to independence. It covers the first faltering efforts of the British Catholic community to establish colonies in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries; to their presence in the proprietary and royal colonies of the seventeenth century where policies of formal or practical toleration allowed Catholics some freedom for civic or religious participation; to their marginalization throughout the British Empire by the political revolution of 1688; to their transformation from aliens to citizens through their disproportionate contribution to the wars in the latter half of that century as a consequence of which half of the colonies of Britain’s American Empire gained their independence.

The volume organizes representative documents from a wide array of public and private records—broadsides, newspapers, and legislative acts to correspondence, diaries, and reports—into topical chapters bridged by contextualized introductions. It affords students and readers in general the opportunity to have first-hand access to history. It serves also as a complement to Papist Devils: Catholics in British America, 1574-1783 (The Catholic University of America Press, 2014), a narrative history of the same topic.

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