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Sacred Circles, Public Squares

The Multicentering of American Religion

Arthur E. Farnsley II, N. J. Demerath III, Etan Diamond, Mary L. Mapes, and Elfriede Wedam

Publication Year: 2004

This study of the religious landscape of Indianapolis -- the summative volume of the Lilly Endowment's Project on Religion and Urban Culture conducted by the Polis Center at IUPUI -- aims to understand religion's changing role in public life. The book examines the shaping of religious traditions by the changing city. It sheds light on issues such as social capital and faith-based welfare reform and explores the countervailing pressures of "decentering" -- the creation of multiple (sub)urban centers -- and civil religion's role in binding these centers into one metropolis.

Polis Center Series on Religion and Urban Culture -- David J. Bodenhamer and Arthur E. Farnsley II, editors

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: Polis Center Series on Religion and Urban Culture

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-x

"Sacred Circles, Public Squares is the capstone of the Project on Religionand Urban Culture (PRUC), which was housed at The Polis Center on the Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis campus. The PRUC was a multi year, multimillion-dollar attempt to engage the city of Indianapolis in a public conversation about religion’s role in the city. Along the way, the..."

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-14

"The plan was straight forward, both in symbolism and in substance. When Governor Jonathan Jennings and his fellow commissioners sought a location for the Indiana state capital in 1820, they selected an area along Fall Creek in the very center of the state. This was to be, quite literally, Indiana’s..."

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2. The Circle City on the Plains

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pp. 15-45

"I think that even in the city the definition of a neighborhood has changed, because at one point people lived in proximity while the kids all went to the same school. There were little markets all over the place.You saw each other at the market, the barber shop, the beauty shop. The church was just one entity where people crossed paths all the time...."

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3. Religious Civility, Civil Religion

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pp. 46-75

"As a community, Indianapolis has stood, and still stands, for the best things in life, for the broad culture that includes all the elements of good education, religion, law, patriotism, self-sacrifice, helpfulness for the poor and unfortunate, and the abiding idea of leaving the world better than they found it. This is the character of Indianapolis. Let our..."

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4. Religious Traditions Diversified and Domesticated

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pp. 76-112

"Everyone who knows anything about Italians knows they are Roman Catholics. . . . If the Methodists are going to spend $15,000 on a new mission, they might well spend it on the alleged Methodists who don’t go to church and who leave Protestant churches notoriously empty. . . .Let our Methodist friends take care of their own. Millions of them who don't go to church need care."

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5. Types and Tensions of Congregational Life

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pp. 113-149

"We are looking at two things: what is driving folks out and what is bringing them back and how do we put the two together. What drives folks out of the city is taxes, race, education, and crime. The one element bringing folks back into those neighborhoods is the church. . ."

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6. Back Home Again: Religion in the Neighborhoods

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pp. 150-187

"In the late 1990s, then Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros highlighted one Indianapolis neighborhood as a national model of successful urban ministry. 1 He used the Mid-North Church Council of the Mapleton Fall Creek neighborhood to show what urban congregations could accomplish. Three urban congregations had banded together to..."

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7. Conclusion: Religion and Urban Culture

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pp. 188-210

"The basic story of Indianapolis and its religion can be quickly recounted. Indiana needed a new capital, so it planted and platted that capital in its very center. The town around it expanded first into a city and then one hundred years later into a metropolitan area. Indianapolis was centered from the start, and not merely in its geography and political-economic structure."


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pp. 211-219


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pp. 221-226


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pp. 227-228


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pp. 229-239

E-ISBN-13: 9780253111296
E-ISBN-10: 0253111293
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253344724

Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 7 b&w photos, 10 maps, 1 bibliog., 1 index
Publication Year: 2004

Series Title: Polis Center Series on Religion and Urban Culture