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Public Religion and Urban Transformation

Faith in the City

Lowell Livezey

Publication Year: 2000

American cities are in the midst of fundamental changes. De-industrialization of large, aging cities has been enormously disruptive for urban communities, which are being increasingly fragmented. Though often overlooked, religious organizations are important actors, both culturally and politically in the restructuring metropolis.

Public Religion and Urban Transformation provides a sweeping view of urban religion in response to these transformations. Drawing on a massive study of over seventy-five congregations in urban neighborhoods, this volume provides the most comprehensive picture available of urban places of worship-from mosques and gurdwaras to churches and synagogues-within one city.

Revisiting the primary site of research for the early members of the Chicago School of urban sociology, the volume focuses on Chicago, which provides an exceptionally clear lens on the ways in which religious organizations both reflect and contribute to changes in American pluralism.

From the churches of a Mexican American neighborhood and of the Black middle class to communities shared by Jews, Christians, Hindus, and Muslims and the rise of "megachurches," Public Religion and Urban Transformation illuminates the complex interactions among religion, urban structure, and social change at this extraordinary episode in the history of urban America.

Published by: NYU Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi

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Illustrations, Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-xiii

The Religion in Urban America Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago has been from the beginning a collective, collegial undertaking. The authors of this book were all members of the staff during the program's first three years, 1992 - 1995, when we conducted most of the field research, ...

Part I : Introduction

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Chapter 1 The New Context of Urban Religion

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pp. 2-26

"Viva Mexico!" calls the youthful nun, standing in full habit at the front of the large Gothic Catholic church. Viva Mexico! Viva Mexico!" respond a thousand voices from the crowded pews and aisles. The evening is in early December 1993, and like thousands of others in this large Midwestern American city, ...

Part II : Religion in a City of Neighborhoods

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Chapter 2 Hispanic Immigrant Churches and the Construction of Ethnicity

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pp. 28-55

Every Sunday morning Rosario and her family walk four blocks to Saint Pius V, their neighborhood parish. Saint Pius is a Roman Catholic church located in the heart of Pilsen - a poor, inner-city neighborhood that over the past forty years has come to form part of Chicago's densest and most populous Mexican ...

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Chapter 3 Place, Race, and History: The Social Mission of Downtown Churches

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pp. 56-81

The prestigious downtown churches of the Loop and greater Near North Side have a unique place in the religious landscape of Chicago. They serve their immediate neighborhoods, and their congregations reflect the increasingly affluent and predominantly white population of the area. They also serve the larger ...

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Chapter 4 The Churches and the Poor in a "Ghetto Underclass" Neighborhood

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pp. 82-105

It is 11:30 a.m., the appointed hour of Sunday worship at the Revival Center Church of God in Christ. Sunday school has just been dismissed by Brother Jerome Seavers, the secretary, after a brief report of the attendance and offering and reminders of upcoming Bible study and prayer meetings. Billy Williams is ...

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Chapter 5 "God Doesn't Ask What Language I Pray In": Community and Culture on Chicago's Southwest Side

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pp. 106-131

The blue-collar neighborhoods in Chicago were long known for the brightest Christmas lights in the area. Some houses had neat designs, others were gaudy. All were expressive and delightful to children's eyes, as reflected in the reactions of my siblings and me. Some blocks looked as though the neighbors had ...

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Chapter 6 Communities and Enclaves: Where Jews, Christians, Hindus, and Muslims Share the Neighborhoods

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pp. 132-161

An afternoon walk along Devon Avenue on Chicago's Far North Side gives one a tangible sense of that abstract concept "social diversity." Devon offers a glimpse of the neighborhoods that make up the community areas of Rogers Park and West Ridge (known locally as West Rogers Park), which we discuss here ...

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Chapter 7 "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me 'Round": The Politics of Race and the New Black Middle-Class Religion

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pp. 162-185

The brilliance of the new black middle-class religion is exemplified in its combination of various elements that have created a new religious moment in the Black Church. Annual concerts of Handel's Messiah and the choral performances of Bach anthems and Negro spirituals join an extensive repertoire in contemporary ...

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Chapter 8 Change, Stress, and Congregations in an Edge-City Technoburb

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pp. 186-210

Naperville has become a popular place. During its first summer of operation in 1996, the city's Internet web page received more than twenty-two thousand hits. Three hundred people move into Naperville every month, making it the tenth-fastest-growing municipality in the country. "Naperville has a good reputation," ...

Part III: Religion and the New Metropolitan Context

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Chapter 9 Catholic Spirituality in a New Urban Church

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pp. 212-237

"They welcomed a stranger . . . that's how Abraham and Sarah got started. . . . I think the church ought to model for the world that virtue of hospitality." So responds Father Jack Wall, the pastor of Old Saint Patrick's Church, to the question of how to meet the challenges of pairing old understandings with new times. ...

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Chapter 10 Recent Immigrant Religions and the Restructuring of Metropolitan Chicago

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pp. 238-267

America's most recent immigrant religions face many of the same dynamics of Americanization encountered by their classical counterparts. Confronted by the cultural travail that necessarily accompanies migration to another country, immigrant groups transplant familiar Old World religious practices and institutions ...

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Chapter 11 Catholic Planning for a Multicultural Metropolis, 1982 - 1996

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pp. 268-292

A sadness fell over Chicago with the death of Cardinal-Archbishop Joseph Bernardin (1982 - 1996). Although a principal architect of the postconciliar Catholic Church on the national level, Bernardin also oversaw a host of local (archdiocesan) reforms. These addressed familiar characteristics of late-twentieth-century America ...

Part IV: Epilogue

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Epilogue: Building Religious Communities at the Turn of the Century

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pp. 295-308

When I met Lowell Livezey late in 1991, he had received a planning grant for this project from the Lilly Endowment, and as I recall Lilly wanted him to investigate what "urban ministry"- an ideal that had flourished in Chicago from the 1920s through the 1950s - could mean in the context of radically changed American cities ...

Appendix: Religious Organizations Studied and Names of Principal Contact Persons

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pp. 309-318


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pp. 319-342


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pp. 343-344


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pp. 345-364

E-ISBN-13: 9780814765081
E-ISBN-10: 0814765084
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814751572
Print-ISBN-10: 0814751571

Page Count: 364
Publication Year: 2000

OCLC Number: 794701128
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Public Religion and Urban Transformation

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Subject Headings

  • Chicago (Ill.) -- Religion.
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