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Divine Hierarchies

Class in American Religion and Religious Studies

Sean McCloud

Publication Year: 2007

Placing the neglected issue of class back into the study and understanding of religion, Sean McCloud reconsiders the meaning of class in today's world. More than a status grounded in material conditions, says McCloud, class is also an identity rhetorically and symbolically made and unmade through representations. It entails relationships, identifications, boundaries, meanings, power, and our most ingrained habits of mind and body. He demonstrates that employing class as an analytical tool that cuts across variables such as creed, race, ethnicity, and gender can illuminate American religious life in unprecedented ways. Through social theory, historical analysis, and ethnography, McCloud makes an interdisciplinary argument for reinserting class into the study of religion. First, he offers a new three-part conception of class for use in studying religion. He then presents a focused cultural history of religious studies by examining how social class surfaced in twentieth-century theories of religious affiliation. He concludes with historical and ethnographic case studies of religion and class. ###Divine Hierarchies# makes a convincing case for the past and present importance of class in American religious thought, practice, and scholarship. Sean McCloud explores a long neglected subject, the importance of class to American religious practice and to twentieth-century scholarship on religion. Using social theory, historical analysis, and ethnography, this interdisciplinary study offers a new conception of class for use in the academy and examines how social class surfaced in twentieth-century scholars’ theories of religious affiliation. Defining class as both a combination of economic and social variables (income, occupation, education, wealth accumulation) and as a cultural expression that includes self-representation, identity, personal relationships, and power, McCloud argues that class cuts across more familiar variables like creed, race, ethnicity, and gender to illuminate American religious life in novel ways. McCould concludes with case studies that demonstrate the past and present importance of class in American religious thought and practice. Placing the neglected issue of class back into the study and understanding of religion, Sean McCloud reconsiders the meaning of class in today's world. More than a status grounded in material conditions, says McCloud, class also entails relationships, identifications, boundaries, meanings, power, and our most ingrained habits of mind and body. He demonstrates that employing class as an analytical tool that cuts across variables such as creed, race, ethnicity, and gender can illuminate American religious life in unprecedented ways. Placing the neglected issue of class back into the study and understanding of religion, Sean McCloud reconsiders the meaning of class in today's world. More than a status grounded in material conditions, says McCloud, class is also an identity rhetorically and symbolically made and unmade through representations. It entails relationships, identifications, boundaries, meanings, power, and our most ingrained habits of mind and body. He demonstrates that employing class as an analytical tool that cuts across variables such as creed, race, ethnicity, and gender can illuminate American religious life in unprecedented ways. Through social theory, historical analysis, and ethnography, McCloud makes an interdisciplinary argument for reinserting class into the study of religion. First, he offers a new three-part conception of class for use in studying religion. He then presents a focused cultural history of religious studies by examining how social class surfaced in twentieth-century theories of religious affiliation. He concludes with historical and ethnographic case studies of religion and class. ###Divine Hierarchies# makes a convincing case for the past and present importance of class in American religious thought, practice, and scholarship.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Cover

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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. vii-9

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-13

I am indebted to many and wish to thank them here. First, I thank Lynn Abbott-McCloud, to whom I have dedicated this book. We have been to many locations together, both physical and social. Some of our travels have been to familiar places, while others have tread territories previously uncharted in our lives. I thank Lynn for guiding me down many fortuitous paths. I also ap-...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-8

Following the 2004 American presidential election, print and televi-sion media touted the importance of “moral values” in giving George Bush a second term. Those religious conservatives known as Evangelicals, the much-repeated story went, overwhelmingly backed the Republican Bush over the Democrat John Kerry because they perceived Bush as sharing their conserva-...

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1. Class Matters: Resurrecting and Redescribing a Neglected Variable

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pp. 9-30

Class matters in the study of American religion, but not in the ways past scholars have asserted. In recent years, sociological debate has raged over whether class remains an important variable. Articles with titles such as “The Promising Future of Class Analysis” conflict with others such as “The Reshaping and Dissolution of Class.”¹ Andrew Milner, a defender of the concept, ...

Part I: From Inherent Tendencies to Social Sources in Religion Scholarship

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pp. 31-45

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2. The Depraved, the Unevolved, and the Degenerate: Explaining Religious Affiliations in the Age of Eugenics

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pp. 33-52

In 1908, Lester Ward published “Social Classes in the Light of Mod-ern Sociological Theory” in the American Journal of Sociology. The argument that the Civil War veteran and former lower-class Illinois son put forth was that social class differences were not the result of inherent biological inferior-ity. Rather, he asserted, “the existence of lower classes was the result of early ...

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3. The Peyote of the Masses: Cultural Crises and Acculturation between the World Wars

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pp. 53-74

In the early 1880s the founder of the Carlisle Indian School, Cap-tain Richard Henry Pratt, began using before and after photographs to show his success in assimilating Native Americans, a process he described as “kill-ing the Indian to save the man.”¹ The before pictures invariably portrayed an individual or group of long-haired Native Americans—frequently dusty and ...

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4. Visions of the Disinherited: The Origins of Religion, Deprivation, and the Usual Suspects after World War II

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pp. 75-102

The 1995 HarperCollins Dictionary of Religion, the American Acad-emy of Religion volume edited by Jonathan Z. Smith, contains entries on “nativistic movements” and “revitalization movements.” Of nativistic movements, the unnamed entry writer suggests that “the term has enjoyed ex-tended usage in ethnographies and theoretical sociological studies adopting ...

Part II: Putting Some Class in American Religion

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pp. 103-117

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5. Some Theologies of Class in American Religious History

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pp. 105-134

Throughout this work I have argued that class matters in the study of religion in general and American religions in particular. Such an assertion begs the question of how one goes about studying class and religion. In the first chapter I proposed a three-part conception of class that is potentially use-ful for the study of religion. In part 1 of the book, I suggested that a cultural ...

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6. In the Field: Deprivation, Class, and the Usual Suspects at Two Holiness Pentecostal Assemblies

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pp. 135-166

One chilly April day in 1973, Matt Wray woke to find himself alone in his rural New Hampshire house. His Pentecostal brothers and mother were gone and their beds left unmade. Though morning light filled the house, Wray’s alarm clock read 3:05 a.m.—it had stopped in the night. He fell to the floor, stricken by fear. “Jesus had taken my family away,” Wray writes in his ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 167-170

Whether or not we like the idea, all academic humanities research in some way relates to the author’s biography. The religion scholar Thomas Tweed has recently reminded us that “theories are positioned sightings.”² This is because academics—like all humans—are socially located. The spot where they “stand” and the places in which they have previously sat enable and con-...

Notes

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pp. 171-192

Bibliography

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pp. 193-216

Index

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pp. 217-224


E-ISBN-13: 9781469606156
E-ISBN-10: 1469606151
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807831601
Print-ISBN-10: 0807831603

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2007