Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

Perin, “The Many Rooms of This House”

Next month, the University of Toronto Press will release The Many Rooms of This House: Diversity in Toronto’s Places of Worship Since 1840 by Roberto Perin (Glendon College, York University). The publisher’s description follows:

In the House.jpgPlaces of worship are the true building blocks of communities where people of various genders, age, and class interact with each other on a regular basis. These places are also rallying points for immigrants, helping them make the transition to a new, and often hostile environment.

The Many Rooms of this House is a story about the rise and decline of religion in Toronto over the past 160 years. Unlike other studies that concentrate on specific denominations, or ecclesiastical politics, Roberto Perin’s ecumenical approach focuses on the physical places of worship and the local clergy and congregants that gather there. Perin’s timely and nuanced analysis reveals how the growing wealth of the city stimulated congregations to compete with one another over the size, style, materials, and decoration of their places of worship. However, the rise of individualism has negatively affected these same congregations leading to multiple church closings, communal breakdown, and redevelopments. Perin’s fascinating work is a lens to understanding how this once overwhelmingly Protestant city became a symbol of diversity.

Saeed, “Politics of Desecularization”

In September, Cambridge University Press will release “Politics of Desecularization: Law and the Minority Question in Pakistan,” by Sadia Saeed (Boston University).  The publisher’s description follows: 

Over time the Pakistani state has moved from accommodating the Ahmadiyya community as full citizens of the state to forcibly declaring them non-Muslim and logoeventually criminalizing them for their religious beliefs. Politics of Desecularization deploys the ‘Ahmadi question’ to theorize a core feature of modern public Islam – its contested and unsettled relationship with the nation-state form. It posits that our current understandings of modern religious change have been shaped by a highly limited number of national cases in which states have been successful at arriving at stable ideologies about religion. Pakistan, however, epitomizes polities that are undergoing protracted political and cultural struggles over religion’s proper place in the state. The book’s gripping account shows that these struggles are carried out in social sites as diverse as courts, legislative assemblies, and newspapers. The result in Pakistan has been the emergence of a trajectory of desecularization characterized by official religious nationalism.

Eberstadt, “It’s Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies”

In June, Harper Collins will release “It’s Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies” by Mary Eberstadt. The publisher’s description follows:

Mary Eberstadt, “one of the most acute and creative social observers of our time,” (Francis Fukuyama) shines a much-needed spotlight on a disturbing trend in American society: discrimination against traditional religious belief and believers, who are being aggressively pushed out of public life by the concerted efforts of militant secularists.

In It’s Dangerous to Believe, Mary Eberstadt documents how people of faith—especially Christians who adhere to traditional religious beliefs—face widespread discrimination in today’s increasingly secular society. Eberstadt details how recent laws, court decisions, and intimidation on campuses and elsewhere threaten believers who fear losing their jobs, their communities, and their basic freedoms solely because of their convictions. They fear that their religious universities and colleges will capitulate to aggressive secularist demands. They fear that they and their families will be ostracized or will have to lose their religion because of mounting social and financial penalties for believing. They fear they won’t be able to maintain charitable operations that help the sick and feed the hungry.

Is this what we want for our country?

Religious freedom is a fundamental right, enshrined in the First Amendment. With It’s Dangerous to Believe, Eberstadt calls attention to this growing bigotry and seeks to open the minds of secular liberals whose otherwise good intentions are transforming them into modern inquisitors. Not until these progressives live up to their own standards of tolerance and diversity, she reminds us, can we build the inclusive society America was meant to be.

Elmore, “Becoming Religious in a Secular Age”

In June, the University of California Press will release “Becoming Religious in a Secular Age,” by Mark Elmore (University of California, Davis).  The publisher’s description follows:

Religion is commonly viewed as a timeless element of the human inheritance, but in the Western Himalayas the community of Himachal Pradesh discovered its religion 9780520290549only after India became an independent secular state. Based on extensive ethnographic and archival work, Becoming Religious in a Secular Age tells the story of this discovery and how it transformed a community’s relations to its past, to its members, and to those outside the community. And, as Mark Elmore demonstrates, Himachali religion offers a unique opportunity to reimagine relations between religion and secularity. Tracing the emergence of religion, Elmore shows that modern secularity is not so much the eradication of religion as the very condition for its development. Showing us that to become a modern, ethical subject is to become religious, this book creatively augments our understanding of both religion and modernity.

De Roover, “Europe, India, and the Limits of Secularism”

Next month, Oxford University Press will release “Europe, India, and the Limits of Secularism,” by Jakob De Roover (Ghent University).  The publisher’s description follows:

For several decades now, commentators have sounded the alarm about the crisis of secularism. Saving the secular state from political religion, they suggest, is a question9780199460977 of survival for societies characterized by religious diversity. Yet it remains unclear what the crisis is all about. This book argues that its roots are internal to the liberal model of secularism and toleration. Rather than being neutral or non-religious, this is a secularized theological model with deep religious roots. The limits of liberal secularism go back to its emergence from the dynamics and tensions of the Protestant Reformation in Europe. From the very beginning, it went hand in hand with its own mode of intolerance: an anticlerical theology that rejected Catholicism and Judaism as evil forms of political religion. Later this framework produced the colonial descriptions of Hinduism (and its caste hierarchy) as a false and immoral religion. Thus, secularism was presented as the only route forward for India. Still, the secular state often harms local forms of living together and reinforces conflicts rather than resolving them. Todays advocacy of secularism is not the outcome of reasonable reflection on the problems of Indian society but a manifestation of colonial consciousness.

Fairey, “The Great Powers and Orthodox Christendom”

In March, Palgrave Macmillan will release “The Great Powers and Orthodox Christendom: The Crisis Over the Eastern Church in the Era of the Crimean War,” by Jack Fairey (National University of Singapore). The publisher’s description follows:

51uqofjoh4l-_sx317_bo1204203200_This new political history of the Orthodox Church in the Ottoman Empire explains why Orthodoxy became the subject of acute political competition between the Great Powers during the mid 19th century. It also explores how such rivalries led, paradoxically, both to secularizing reforms and to Europe’s last great war of religion – the Crimean War.

Mjaaland, “The Hidden God”

In November, Indiana University Press will release “The Hidden God: Luther, Philosophy, and Political Theology” by Marius Timmann Mjaaland (University of Oslo). The publisher’s description follows:

In this phenomenological reading of Luther, Marius Timmann Mjaaland shows that theological discourse is never philosophically neutral and always politically loaded. Raising questions concerning the conditions of modern philosophy, religion, and political ideas, Marius Timmann Mjaaland follows a dark thread of thought back to its origin in Martin Luther. Thorough analyses of the genealogy of secularization, the political role of the apocalypse, the topology of the self, and the destruction of metaphysics demonstrate the continuous relevance of this highly subtle thinker.

“Material Religion in Modern Britain: The Spirit of Things” (Jones & Matthews-Jones, eds.)

In August, Palgrave Macmillan will release “Material Religion in Modern Britain: The Spirit of Things”  edited by Timothy Willem Jones (La Trobe University, Australia) and Lucinda Matthews-Jones (Liverpool John Moores University, UK). The publisher’s description follows:

A growing awareness of religious plurality and religious conflict in 9781137540553
contemporary society has led to a search for new ways to understand religious change beyond traditional subjects of British ecclesiology. Narratives of the gradual decline of Christianity dominate this field; yet many scholars now concede that Britain’s religious landscape was more varied and rich than these narratives would suggest. Material Religion in Modern Britain responds to this challenge by bringing emerging scholarship on material culture to bear on studies of religion and spirituality. The collection is the first to apply this suite of analytical methods to the traditional subjects of British religious studies and the full spectrum of religious denominations, sects, and movements that constituted Britain’s multi-faith landscape in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The book reveals how, across this religious spectrum, objects were, and continue to be, used in the performance and production of religious faith and subjectivity. In doing so it expands our understanding of the persistence of religious belief and culture in a secularising, secularized, and post-secular society.

“Psychology of Religion in Turkey” (Ağılkaya-Şahin et al., eds.)

In May, Brill will release “Psychology of Religion in Turkey” edited by Zuhâl Ağılkaya-Şahin (Izmir Katip Çelebi University), Heinz Streib (University of Bielenfeld), Ali Ayten (Marmara University), and Ralph W. Hood, Jr. (University of Tennessee at Chattanooga). The publisher’s description follows:

In Psychology of Religion in Turkey, senior and emerging Turkish scholars present critical conceptual analyses and empirical studies devoted to the Psychology of Religion in Turkey. Parts 1 and 2 consist of articles placing the psychology of religion in historical context of an ancient culture undergoing modernization and secularization and articles devoted to the uniqueness of Islam among the great faith traditions. Part 3 is devoted to empirical studies of religion and positive outcomes related to health and virtues while part 4 is devoted to empirical studies on social outcomes of religious commitment in Turkey. Finally, part 5 is devoted to the issues of religiousness and spirituality, including two studies focused upon Turkish Sufism.

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