Rasmussen, “Mormonism and the Making of a British Zion”

In May, the University of Utah Press will release “Mormonism and the Making of a British Zion” by Matthew Lyman Rasmussen (University of Lancaster). The publisher’s description follows:

Mormonism in Britain began in the late 1830s with the arrival of American missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Not long afterward, thousands of British converts emigrated to Utah and became a kind of lifeblood for the early Mormon Church. England’s North West, where Mormonism had its strongest presence, has become a place of profound significance to the church, yet its early importance to Mormonism has never been fully explored. Matthew Rasmussen’s detailed account examines how Mormonism has changed and endured in Britain.

After many British believers left for America, church membership in England fell so sharply that the movement in Britain seemed to be on the brink of collapse. Yet British Mormonism gradually rebuilt and continues today. How did this religious minority flourish when so many nineteenth-century revivalist movements did not? Rasmussen explains Mormonism’s inception, perpetuation, and maturation in Britain in a compelling case study of a “new religious movement” with staying power.

“The Bloomsbury Companion to New Religious Movements” (Chryssides & Zeller, eds.)

This month, Bloomsbury Publishing releases “The Bloomsbury Companion to New Religious Movements” edited by George D. Chryssides (York St John University, UK) and Benjamin E. Zeller (Lake Forest College, Chicago). The publisher’s description follows:

The Bloomsbury Companion to New Religious Movements covers key themes such as charismatic leadership, conversion and brainwashing, prophecy and millennialism, violence and suicide, gender and sexuality, legal issues, and the portrayal of New Religious Movements by the media and anti-cult organisations. Several categories of new religions receive special attention, including African new religions, Japanese new religions, Mormons, and UFO religions.

This guide to New Religious Movements and their critical study brings together 29 world-class international scholars, and serves as a resource to students and researchers. The volume highlights the current state of academic study in the field, and explores areas in which future research might develop.

Clearly and accessibly organised to help users quickly locate key information and analysis, the book includes an A to Z of key terms, extensive guides to further resources, a comprehensive bibliography, and a timeline of major developments in the field such as the emergence of new groups, publications, legal decisions, and historical events.

Koehrsen, “Middle Class Pentecostalism in Argentina”

In April, Brill Publishing will release “Middle Class Pentecostalism in Argentina: Inappropriate Spirits” by Jens Koehrsen (University of Basel). The publisher’s description follows:

In Middle-Class Pentecostalism in Argentina: Inappropriate Spirits Jens Koehrsen offers an intriguing account of how the middle class relates to Latin America´s most vibrant religious movement. Based on pervasive field research, this study suggests that Pentecostalism stands in tension with the social imaginary of the middle class and is perceived as an inappropriate lower class practice. As such, middle class Pentecostals negotiate the appropriateness of their religious belonging by demonstrating distinctive tastes and styles of Pentecostalism. Abstaining from the expressiveness, emotionality, and strong spiritual practice that have marked the movement, they create a milder and socially more acceptable form of Pentecostalism. Increasingly turning into a middle class movement, this style has the potential to embody the future shape of Pentecostalism.

 

Vance, “Women in New Religions”

In March, NYU Press released “Women in New Religions” by Laura Vance (Warren Wilson College). The publisher’s description follows:

Women in New Religions offers an engaging look at women’s evolving place in the birth and development of new religious movements. It focuses on four disparate new religions—Mormonism, Seventh-day Adventism, The Family International, and Wicca—to illuminate their implications for gender socialization, religious leadership and participation, sexuality, and family ideals.

Religious worldviews and gender roles interact with one another in complicated ways. This is especially true within new religions, which frequently set roles for women in ways that help the movements to define their boundaries in relation to the wider society. As new religious movements emerge, they often position themselves in opposition to dominant society and concomitantly assert alternative roles for women. But these religions are not monolithic: rather than defining gender in rigid and repressive terms, new religions sometimes offer possibilities to women that are not otherwise available. Vance traces expectations for women as the religions emerge, and transformation of possibilities and responsibilities for women as they mature.

Weaving theory with examination of each movement’s origins, history, and beliefs and practices, this text contextualizes and situates ideals for women in new religions. The book offers an accessible analysis of the complex factors that influence gender ideology and its evolution in new religious movements, including the movements’ origins, charismatic leadership and routinization, theology and doctrine, and socio-historical contexts. It shows how religions shape definitions of women’s place in a way that is informed by response to social context, group boundaries, and identity.

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