Imhoff, “Masculinity and the Making of American Judaism”

This month, Indiana University Press releases Masculinity and the Making of American Judaism by Sarah Imhoff (Indiana University). The publisher’s description follows:

MasculinityHow did American Jewish men experience manhood, and how did they present their masculinity to others? In this distinctive book, Sarah Imhoff shows that the project of shaping American Jewish manhood was not just one of assimilation or exclusion. Jewish manhood was neither a mirror of normative American manhood nor its negative, effeminate opposite. Imhoff demonstrates how early 20th-century Jews constructed a gentler, less aggressive manhood, drawn partly from the American pioneer spirit and immigration experience, but also from Hollywood and the YMCA, which required intense cultivation of a muscled male physique. She contends that these models helped Jews articulate the value of an acculturated American Judaism. Tapping into a rich historical literature to reveal how Jews looked at masculinity differently than Protestants or other religious groups, Imhoff illuminates the particular experience of American Jewish men.

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.

Lehmann, “The Money Cult”

In May, Melville House will release the paperback edition of The Money Cult: Capitalism, Christianity, and the Unmaking of the American Dream by Chris Lehmann (Bookforum). The publisher’s description follows:

the-money-cultWe think we know the story of American religion: the Puritans were cold, austere, and pious, and Christianity continued pure and uncorrupted until the industrial revolution got in the way. In The Money Cult, Chris Lehmann argues that we have it backwards: capitalism has always been entangled with religion, and so today’s megapastors aren’t an aberration — they’re as American as Benjamin Franklin. The long-awaited first book by a hugely admired journalist, The Money Cult is a sweeping and accessible history that traces American Christianity from John Winthrop to the rise of the Mormon Church to the triumph of Joel Osteen.

Spickard, “Alternative Sociologies of Religion”

This month, New York University Press releases Alternative Sociologies of Religion:
Through Non-Western Eyes by James V. Spickard (University of Redlands). The publisher’s description follows:

Alternative Sociologies of Religion.jpgAlternative Sociologies of Religion explores what the sociology of religion would look like had it emerged in a Confucian, Muslim, or Native American culture rather than in a Christian one.

Sociology has long used Western Christianity as a model for all religious life. As a result, the field has tended to highlight aspects of religion that Christians find important, such as religious beliefs and formal organizations, while paying less attention to other elements.   Rather than simply criticizing such limitations, James V. Spickard imagines what the sociology of religion would look like had it arisen in three non-Western societies.  What aspects of religion would scholars see more clearly if they had been raised in Confucian China?  What could they learn about religion from Ibn Khaldun, the famed 14th century Arab scholar?  What would they better understand, had they been born Navajo, whose traditional religion certainly does not revolve around beliefs and organizations?
Through these thought experiments, Spickard shows how non-Western ideas understand some aspects of religions–even of Western religions–better than does standard sociology.  The volume shows how non-Western frameworks can shed new light on several different dimensions of religious life, including the question of who maintains religious communities, the relationships between religion and ethnicity as sources of social ties, and the role of embodied experience in religious rituals. These approaches reveal central aspects of contemporary religions that the dominant way of doing sociology fails to notice.  Each approach also provides investigators with new theoretical resources to guide them deeper into their subjects.  The volume makes a compelling case for adopting a global perspective in the social sciences.

“Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa” (Ross et al., eds.)

In April, Edinburgh University Press will release Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa edited by Kenneth Ross (University of Malawi), J. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu (Trinity Theological Seminary), and Todd M. Johnson (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary). The publisher’s description follows:

christianity-in-sub-saharan-africaCombines empirical data and original analysis in a uniquely detailed account of Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa

This comprehensive reference volume covers every country in Sub-Saharan Africa, offering reliable demographic information and original interpretative essays by indigenous scholars and practitioners. It maps patterns of growth and decline, assesses major traditions and movements, analyses key themes and examines current trends.

Key Features

  • Profiles of Christianity in every country in Sub-Saharan Africa including clearly presented statistical and demographic information
  • Analyses of leading features and current trends written by indigenous scholars
  • Essays examining each of the major Christian traditions (Anglicans, Independents, Orthodox, Protestants, Roman Catholics, Evangelicals, Pentecostals/ Charismatics)
  • Essays exploring key themes such as faith and culture, worship and spirituality, theology, social and political engagement, mission and evangelism, religious freedom, inter-faith relations, slavery, anthropology of evil, and migration

Watt, “Antifundamentalism in Modern America”

In May, Cornell University Press will release Antifundamentalism in Modern America by David Harrington Watt (Temple University). The publisher’s description follows:

antifundamentalism-in-modern-americaDavid Harrington Watt’s Antifundamentalism in Modern America gives us a pathbreaking account of the role that the fear of fundamentalism has played—and continues to play—in American culture. Fundamentalism has never been a neutral category of analysis, and Watt scrutinizes the various political purposes that the concept has been made to serve. In 1920, the conservative Baptist writer Curtis Lee Laws coined the word “fundamentalists.” Watt examines the antifundamentalist polemics of Harry Emerson Fosdick, Talcott Parsons, Stanley Kramer, and Richard Hofstadter, which convinced many Americans that religious fundamentalists were almost by definition backward, intolerant, and anti-intellectual and that fundamentalism was a dangerous form of religion that had no legitimate place in the modern world.

For almost fifty years, the concept of fundamentalism was linked almost exclusively to Protestant Christians. The overthrow of the Shah of Iran and the establishment of an Islamic republic led to a more elastic understanding of the nature of fundamentalism. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Americans became accustomed to using fundamentalism as a way of talking about Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists, as well as Christians. Many Americans came to see Protestant fundamentalism as an expression of a larger phenomenon that was wreaking havoc all over the world. Antifundamentalism in Modern America is the first book to provide an overview of the way that the fear of fundamentalism has shaped U.S. culture, and it will lead readers to rethink their understanding of what fundamentalism is and what it does.

“Religion, Migration, and Mobility” (de Castro & Dawson, eds.)

In February, Routledge will release Religion, Migration, and Mobility: The Brazilian Experience edited by Cristina Maria de Castro (Federal University of Minas Gerais) and Andrew Dawson (Lancaster University). The publisher’s description follows:

Religion, Migration, and Mobility.jpgFocusing on migration and mobility, this edited collection examines the religious landscape of Brazil as populated and shaped by transnational flows and domestic migratory movements. Bringing together interdisciplinary perspectives on migration and religion, this book argues that Brazil’s diverse religious landscape must be understood within a dynamic global context. From southern to northern Europe, through Africa, Japan and the Middle East, to a host of Latin American countries, Brazilian society has been influenced by immigrant communities accompanied by a range of beliefs and rituals drawn from established ‘world’ religions as well as alternative religio-spiritual movements. Consequently, the formation and profile of ‘homegrown’ religious communities such as Santo Daime, the Dawn Valley and Umbanda can only be fully understood against the broader backdrop of migration.

Contributors draw on the case of Brazil to develop frameworks for understanding the interface of religion and migration, asking questions that include: How do the processes and forces of re-territorialization play out among post-migratory communities? In what ways are the post-transitional dynamics of migration enacted and reframed by different generations of migrants? How are the religious symbols and ritual practices of particular worldviews and traditions appropriated and re-interpreted by migrant communities? What role does religion play in facilitating or impeding post-migratory settlement? Religion, Migration and Mobility engages these questions by drawing on a range of different traditions and research methods. As such, this book will be of keen interest to scholars working across the fields of religious studies, anthropology, cultural studies and sociology.

Christerson & Flory, “The Rise of Network Christianity”

In March, Oxford University Press will release The Rise of Network Christianity: How Independent Leaders Are Changing the Religious Landscape by Brad Christerson (Biola University) and Richard Flory (University of Southern California). The publisher’s description follows:

the-rise-of-network-christianityWhy, when traditionally organized religious groups are seeing declining membership and participation, are networks of independent churches growing so explosively? Drawing on in-depth interviews with leaders and participants, The Rise of Network Christianity explains the social forces behind the fastest-growing form of Christianity in the U.S., which Brad Christerson and Richard Flory have labeled “Independent Network Charismatic.” This form of Christianity emphasizes aggressive engagement with the supernatural-including healing, direct prophecies from God, engaging in “spiritual warfare” against demonic spirits–and social transformation. Christerson and Flory argue that macro-level social changes since the 1970s, including globalization and the digital revolution, have given competitive advantages to religious groups organized as networks rather than traditionally organized congregations and denominations.

Network forms of governance allow for experimentation with controversial supernatural practices, innovative finances and marketing, and a highly participatory, unorthodox, and experiential faith, which is attractive in today’s unstable religious marketplace. Christerson and Flory hypothesize that as more religious groups imitate this type of governance, religious belief and practice will become more experimental, more orientated around practice than theology, more shaped by the individual religious “consumer,” and authority will become more highly concentrated in the hands of individuals rather than institutions. Network Christianity, they argue, is the future of Christianity in America.

Moses, “An Unlikely Union”

In March, New York University Press will release An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York’s Irish and Italians by Paul Moses (Brooklyn College). The publisher’s description follows:

unlikely-unionThey came from the poorest parts of Ireland and Italy and met as rivals on the sidewalks of New York. Beginning in the nineteenth century, the Irish and Italians clashed in the Catholic Church, on the waterfront, at construction sites, and in the streets. Then they made peace through romance, marrying each other on a large scale in the years after World War II. An Unlikely Union tells the dramatic story of how two of America’s largest ethnic groups learned to love and laugh with each other after decades of animosity.

The vibrant cast of characters features saints such as Mother Frances X. Cabrini, who stood up to the Irish American archbishop of New York when he tried to send her back to Italy, and sinners like Al Capone, who left his Irish wife home the night he shot it out with Brooklyn’s Irish mob. The book also highlights the torrid love affair between radical labor organizers Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and Carlo Tresca; the alliance between Italian American gangster Paul Kelly and Tammany’s “Big Tim” Sullivan; heroic detective Joseph Petrosino’s struggle to be accepted in the Irish-run NYPD; and the competition between Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby to become the country’s top male vocalist.

In this engaging history of the Irish and Italians, veteran New York City journalist and professor Paul Moses offers a classic American story of competition, cooperation, and resilience. At a time of renewed fear of immigrants, An Unlikely Union reminds us that Americans are able to absorb tremendous social change and conflict—and come out the better for it.

“The Altars Where We Worship” (Floyd-Thomas et al.)

Defining “religion” presents an enduring problem in American law. One doesn’t want to define it so narrowly that it would fail to protect many bona fide believers, nor so broadly that it would become meaningless. At some basic level, the legal definition of religion should track the understanding of religion in the wider culture. But what happens when the culture changes rapidly, and new conceptions of religion appear?

Here is an interesting-looking new book from Westminster John Knox Press, The Altars Where We Worship: The Religious Significance of Popular CultureThe authors, scholars at Vanderbilt and the University of Toronto, argue that Americans now draw religious meaning from a variety of non-traditionally religious sources in contemporary culture. Whether that fact should change the legal definition of religion is a different question, of course. But it’s worth looking at the evidence of cultural change.

Here’s the publisher’s description:

the-altars-where-we-worshipWhile a large percentage of Americans claim religious identity, the number of Americans attending traditional worship services has significantly declined in recent decades. Where, then, are Americans finding meaning in their lives, if not in the context of traditional religion? In this provocative study, the authors argue that the objects of our attention have become our god and fulfilling our desires has become our religion. They examine the religious dimensions of six specific aspects of American culture—body and sex, big business, entertainment, politics, sports, and science and technology—that function as “altars” where Americans gather to worship and produce meaning for their lives. The Altars Where We Worship shows how these secular altars provide resources for understanding the self, others, and the world itself. “For better or worse,” the authors write, “we are faced with the reality that human experiences before these altars contain religious characteristics in common with experiences before more traditional altars.” Readers will come away with a clearer understanding of what religion is after exploring the thoroughly religious aspects of popular culture in the United States.

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