Joselit, “Set in Stone”

In May, Oxford University Press will release Set in Stone: America’s Embrace of the Ten Commandments by Jenna Weissman Joselit (George Washington University). The publisher’s description follows:

set-in-stoneWhen Cecil B. DeMille’s epic, The Ten Commandments, came out in 1956, lines of people crowded into theaters across America to admire the movie’s spectacular special effects. Thanks to DeMille, the commandments now had fans as well as adherents. But the country’s fascination with the Ten Commandments goes well beyond the colossal scenes of this Hollywood classic.

In this vividly rendered narrative, Jenna Weissman Joselit situates the Ten Commandments within the fabric of American history. Her subjects range from the 1860 tale of the amateur who claimed to have discovered ancient holy stones inside a burial mound in Ohio to the San Francisco congregation of Sherith Israel, which commissioned aluminous piece of stained glass depicting Moses in Yosemite for its sanctuary; from the Kansas politician Charles Walter, who in the late nineteenth century proposed codifying each commandment into state law, to the radio commentator Laura Schlessinger, who popularized the Ten Commandments as a psychotherapeutic tool in the 1990s.

At once text and object, celestial and earthbound, Judaic and Christian, the Ten Commandments were not just a theological imperative in the New World; they also provoked heated discussions around key issues such as national identity, inclusion, and pluralism. In a country as diverse and heterogeneous as the United States, the Ten Commandments offered common ground and held out the promise of order and stability, becoming the lodestar of American identity. While archaeologists, theologians, and devotees across the world still wonder what became of the tablets that Moses received on Mount Sinai, Weissman Joselit offers a surprising answer: they landed in the United States.

Ryrie, “Protestants”

In April, Penguin Random House will release Protestants: The Faith That Made The Modern World by Alec Ryrie (Durham University). The publisher’s description follows:

Braunstein, “Prophets and Patriots”

In April, the University of California Press will release Prophets and Patriots: Faith in Democracy Across the Political Divide by Ruth Braunstein (University of Connecticut). The publisher’s description follows:

prophets-and-patriotsProphets and Patriots takes readers inside two of the most active populist movements of the Obama era and highlights cultural convergences and contradictions at the heart of American political life. In the wake of the Great Recession and amidst rising discontent with government responsiveness to ordinary citizens, the book follows participants in two very different groups—a progressive faith-based community organization and a conservative Tea Party group—as they set out to become active and informed citizens, put their faith into action, and hold government accountable. They viewed themselves as the latest in a long line of prophetic voices and patriotic heroes who were carrying forward the promise of the American democratic project. Yet the practical ways in which they each pursued this common vision reflected subtly different understandings of American democracy and citizenship.

Call for Papers on Eastern Christianity – American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting

aar_logoFordham University’s Orthodox Christian Studies Center has passed along a call for papers from the American Academy of Religion. The Academy seeks papers on the topic of Eastern Orthodox Studies, and the deadline for submissions is March 1. Three primary subtopics have been identified: “Evangelicals, Eastern Orthodox Christians, and ‘Traditional Values’: A Global Alliance?”; “Sergii Bulgakov and Modern Western Theology”; and “Peacemaking and Hospitality in Middle Eastern Christianity: Accommodating Difference in the Eastern Christian Traditions.” More information is available here. Those interested in submitting proposals can do so here.

 

Lewis, “City of Refuge”

In December, Princeton University Press will release City of Refuge: Separatists and Utopian Town Planning by Michael J. Lewis (Williams College). The publisher’s description follows:

city-of-refugeThe vision of Utopia obsessed the nineteenth-century mind, shaping art, literature, and especially town planning. In City of Refuge, Michael Lewis takes readers across centuries and continents to show how Utopian town planning produced a distinctive type of settlement characterized by its square plan, collective ownership of properties, and communal dormitories. Some of these settlements were sanctuaries from religious persecution, like those of the German Rappites, French Huguenots, and American Shakers, while others were sanctuaries from the Industrial Revolution, like those imagined by Charles Fourier, Robert Owen, and other Utopian visionaries.

Because of their differences in ideology and theology, these settlements have traditionally been viewed separately, but Lewis shows how they are part of a continuous intellectual tradition that stretches from the early Protestant Reformation into modern times. Through close readings of architectural plans and archival documents, many previously unpublished, he shows the network of connections between these seemingly disparate Utopian settlements—including even such well-known town plans as those of New Haven and Philadelphia.

The most remarkable aspect of the city of refuge is the inventive way it fused its eclectic sources, ranging from the encampments of the ancient Israelites as described in the Bible to the detailed social program of Thomas More’s Utopia to modern thought about education, science, and technology. Delving into the historical evolution and antecedents of Utopian towns and cities, City of Refuge alters notions of what a Utopian community can and should be.

Around the Web this Week

Here is a look at some interesting law and religion items from around the web this week:

Rouse, Jackson, and Frederick, “Televised Redemption”

In November, New York University Press will release Televised Redemption: Black Religious Media and Racial Empowerment by Carolyn Moxley Rouse (Princeton), John L. Jackson, Jr. (University of Pennsylvania), and Marla F. Frederick (Harvard). The publisher’s description follows:

Televised Redemption.jpgThe institutional structures of white supremacy—slavery, Jim Crow laws, convict leasing, and mass incarceration—require a commonsense belief that black people lack the moral and intellectual capacities of white people. It is through this lens of belief that racial exclusions have been justified and reproduced in the United States. Televised Redemption argues that African American religious media has long played a key role in humanizing the race by unabashedly claiming that blacks are endowed by God with the same gifts of goodness and reason as whites—if not more, thereby legitimizing black Americans’ rights to citizenship.

If racism is a form of perception, then religious media has not only altered how others perceive blacks, but has also altered how blacks perceive themselves. Televised Redemption argues that black religious media has provided black Americans with new conceptual and practical tools for how to be in the world, and changed how black people are made intelligible and recognizable as moral citizens. In order to make these claims to black racial equality, this media has encouraged dispositional changes in adherents that were at times empowering and at other times repressive. From Christian televangelism to Muslim periodicals to Hebrew Israelite radio, Televised Redemption explores the complicated but critical redemptive history of African American religious media.

“The Atheist Bus Campaign” (Tomlins & Bullivant, eds.)

In October, Brill Publishers will release The Atheist Bus Campaign: Global Manifestations and Responses edited by Steven Tomlins (University of Ottawa) and Spencer Culham Bullivant (University of Ottawa). The publisher’s description follows:

the-atheist-bus-campaignThe international “Atheist Bus Campaign” generated news coverage and controversy, and this volume is the first to systematically and thoroughly explore and analyze each manifestation of that campaign. It includes a chapter for each of the countries which enacted – or attempted to enact – localized versions of the original United Kingdom campaign which ran the slogan, “There’s Probably No God. Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life,” prominently on public buses. Its novel focus, using a singular micro-level event as a prism for analysis, allows for cross-country comparison of legal and social reactions to each campaign, as well as an understanding of issues pertaining to the historical and contemporary status of religion and the regulation of nonreligion in various national settings.

Magocsi & Petrovsky-Shtern, “Jews and Ukrainians”

In November, the University of Toronto Press will release Jews and Ukrainians: A Millennium of Co-Existence by Paul Robert Magocsi (University of Toronto) and Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern (Northwestern University). The publisher’s description follows:

jews-and-ukraniansThere is much that ordinary Ukrainians do not know about Jews and that ordinary Jews do not know about Ukrainians. As a result, those Jews and Ukrainians who may care about their respective ancestral heritages usually view each other through distorted stereotypes, misperceptions, and biases. This book sheds new light on highly controversial moments of Ukrainian-Jewish relations and argues that the historical experience in Ukraine not only divided ethnic Ukrainians and Jews but also brought them together.

The story of Jews and Ukrainians is presented in an impartial manner through twelve thematic chapters. Among the themes discussed are geography, history, economic life, traditional culture, religion, language and publications, literature and theater, architecture and art, music, the diaspora, and contemporary Ukraine. The book’s easy-to-read narrative is enhanced by 335 full-color illustrations, 29 maps, and several text inserts that explain specific phenomena or address controversial issues. Jews and Ukrainians provides a wealth of information for anyone interested in learning more about the fascinating land of Ukraine and two of its most historically significant peoples.

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“Saving the People” (Marzouki et al, eds.)

In November, Oxford University Press will release “Saving the People: How Populists Hijack Religion,” edited by Nadia Marzouki (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), Duncan McDonnell (Griffith University), and Olivier Roy (European University Institute). The publisher’s description follows:

Western democracies are experiencing a new wave of right-wing populism that seeks to 9780190639020mobilize religion for its own ends. With chapters on the United States, Britain, France, Italy, Austria, the Netherlands, Poland and Israel, Saving the People asks how populist movements have used religion for their own ends and how church leaders react to them. The authors contend that religion is more about belonging than belief for populists, with religious identities and traditions being deployed to define who can and cannot be part of ‘the people’. This in turn helps many populists to claim that native Christian communities are being threatened by a creeping and highly aggressive process of Islamization, with Muslims becoming a key ‘enemy of the people’. While Church elites generally condemn this instrumental use of religions, populists take little heed, presenting themselves as the true saviours of the people. The policy implications of this phenomenon are significant, which makes this book all the more timely and relevant to current debate.

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