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Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2008
With infectious energy and a genuine gift for storytelling, Raymond A. Schroth recounts the history of Jesuits in the United States. The American Jesuits isn't simply a book for Catholics; it's for anyone who loves a well-told historical tale. For more than 450 years, Jesuit priests have traveled the globe out of a religious commitment to serve others. Their order, the Society of Jesus, is the largest religious order of men in the Catholic Church, with more than 20,000 members around the world and almost 3,000 in the United States. It is one of the more liberal orders in the Church, taking very public stands in the U.S. on behalf of social justice causes such as the promotion of immigrants’ rights and humanitarian aid, including assistance to Africa's poor, and against American involvement in "unjust wars." Jesuits have played an important part in Americanizing the Catholic Church and in preparing Catholic immigrants for inclusion into American society.
Starting off with the first Jesuit to reach the New World—he was promptly murdered on the Florida coast—Schroth focuses on the key periods of the Jesuit experience in the Americas, beginning with the era of European explorers, many of whom were accompanied by Jesuits and some of whom were Jesuits themselves. Suppressed around the time of the American Revolution, the Society experienced resurgence in the nineteenth century, arriving in the U.S. along with waves of Catholic immigrants and establishing a network of high schools and universities. In the mid-twentieth century, the Society transformed itself to serve an urbanizing nation.
Schroth is not blind to the Society’s shortcomings and not all of his story reflects well on the Jesuits. However, as he reminds readers, Jesuits are not gods and they don't dwell in mountaintop monasteries. Rather, they are imperfect men who work in a messy world to “find God in all things” and to help their fellow men and women do the same.
A quintessential American tale of men willing to take risks — for Indians, blacks, immigrants, and the poor, and to promote a loving picture of God—The American Jesuits offers a broad and compelling look at the impact of this 400-year-old international order on American culture and the culture’s impact on the Jesuits.
Many of us belong to communities that have been scarred by terrible calamities. And many of us come from families that have suffered grievous losses. How we reflect on these legacies of loss and the ways they inform each other are the questions Laura Levitt takes up in this provocative and passionate book.
An American Jew whose family was not directly affected by the Holocaust, Levitt grapples with the challenges of contending with ordinary Jewish loss. She suggests that although the memory of the Holocaust may seem to overshadow all other kinds of loss for American Jews, it can also open up possibilities for engaging these more personal and everyday legacies.
Weaving in discussions of her own family stories and writing in a manner that is both deeply personal and erudite, Levitt shows what happens when public and private losses are seen next to each other, and what happens when difficult works of art or commemoration, such as museum exhibits or films, are seen alongside ordinary family stories about more intimate losses. In so doing she illuminates how through these “ordinary stories” we may create an alternative model for confronting Holocaust memory in Jewish culture.
Mordecai M. Kaplan, a pioneering figure in the reinterpretation and redefinition of Judaism in the 20th century, embraced religious liberalism, naturalism, and empiricism, and gave expression to a unique American attitude in philosophy and theology. This volume, the first comprehensive treatment of Kaplan since his death in 1983 . . . illustrates Kaplan's links to traditional Jewish roots and demonstrates his evolutionary philosophy of Jewish culture, his Zionist orientation, and the vast range of his thought and action. The volume also features a complete bibliography of Kaplan's writings.
A must for every serious thinker probing American Jewish culture, history and theology.
-- Alfred GottschalkPresident, Hebrew Union College--Jewish Institute of Religion
These highly knowledgeable essays provide us with a new and more complex image of a central personality in 20th century American Jewish life. They are indispensable for understanding the influences that helped shape Mordecai Kaplan's thought and personality, the nature of his relationships with significant contemporaries, and the various aspects of his ideology and practical program for American Jewry.
-- Professor Michael A. MeyerDepartment of Jewish HistoryHebrew Union College--Jewish Institute of Religion
This leading American Jewish thinker of the pre-war period is still the point of departure for any attempt to construct a Judaism for this new age in the history of the Jewish people. The volume brings them an and this thought to life.
-- Dr. Arthur GreenPresident, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Race, Culture, and Identity in the Indian Diaspora
The Indian American community is one of the fastest growing immigrant communities in the U.S. Unlike previous generations, they are marked by a high degree of training as medical doctors, engineers, scientists, and university professors.
American Karma draws on participant observation and in-depth interviews to explore how these highly skilled professionals have been inserted into the racial dynamics of American society and transformed into “people of color.” Focusing on first-generation, middle-class Indians in American suburbia, it also sheds light on how these transnational immigrants themselves come to understand and negotiate their identities.
Bhatia forcefully contends that to fully understand migrant identity and cultural formation it is essential that psychologists and others think of selfhood as firmly intertwined with sociocultural factors such as colonialism, gender, language, immigration, and race-based immigration laws.
American Karma offers a new framework for thinking about the construction of selfhood and identity in the context of immigration. This innovative approach advances the field of psychology by incorporating critical issues related to the concept of culture, including race, power, and conflict, and will also provide key insights to those in anthropology, sociology, human development, and migrant studies.
The Worker, the Family, and the State
Since the fall of communism, laissez-faire capitalism has experienced renewed popularity. Flush with victory, the United States has embraced a particularly narrow and single-minded definition of capitalism and aggressively exported it worldwide. The defining trait of this brand of capitalism is an unwavering reverence for the icons of the market. Although promoted as a laissez-faire form of capitalism, it actually reflects the very evils of selfishness and greed by entrepreneurs that concerned Adam Smith.
Capitalism, however, can thrive without an extreme emphasis on efficiency and personal autonomy. Americans often forget that theirs is a rather peculiar form of capitalism, that other Western nations successfully maintain capitalistic systems that are fundamentally more balanced and nuanced in their effect on society. The unnecessarily inhumane aspects of American capitalism become apparent when compared to Canadian and Western European societies, with their more generous policies regarding affirmative action, accommodation for disabled persons, and family and medical leave for pregnant woman and their partners.
In American Law in the Age of Hypercapitalism, Ruth Colker examines how American law purports to reflect--and actively promotes--a laissez-faire capitalism that disproportionately benefits the entrepreneurial class. Colker proposes that the quality of American life depends also on fairness and equality rather than simply the single-minded and formulaic pursuit of efficiency and utility.
Negotiating Race, Class, and Gender within the Ummah
African American Muslims and South Asian Muslim immigrants are two of the largest ethnic Muslim groups in the U.S. Yet there are few sites in which African Americans and South Asian immigrants come together, and South Asians are often held up as a "model minority" against African Americans. However, the American ummah, or American Muslim community, stands as a unique site for interethnic solidarity in a time of increased tensions between native-born Americans and immigrants.
This ethnographic study of African American and South Asian immigrant Muslims in Chicago and Atlanta explores how Islamic ideals of racial harmony and equality create hopeful possibilities in an American society that remains challenged by race and class inequalities. The volume focuses on women who, due to gender inequalities, are sometimes more likely to move outside of their ethnic Muslim spaces and interact with other Muslim ethnic groups in search of gender justice.
American Muslim Women explores the relationships and sometimes alliances between African Americans and South Asian immigrants, drawing on interviews with a diverse group of women from these two communities. Karim investigates what it means to negotiate religious sisterhood against America's race and class hierarchies, and how those in the American Muslim community both construct and cross ethnic boundaries.
American Muslim Women reveals the ways in which multiple forms of identity frame the American Muslim experience, in some moments reinforcing ethnic boundaries, and at other times, resisting them.
The Life and Thought of Jacob B. Agus
American Rabbi provides a comprehensive and insightful assessment of Rabbi Jacob Agus' standing as a notable Jewish thinker. The volume brings together original writings by a range of distinguished contributors to consider the main aspects of Agus' life and work in detail and to flesh out the broad and repercussive themes of his corpus. Taken as a whole, they present a broad and substantial picture of a remarkable American Rabbi and scholar, illuminating Agus' committment to Jewish people everywhere, his profound and unwavering spirituality, his continual reminders of the very real dangers of pseudo-messianism and misplaced romantic zeal, and his willingness to take politically and religiously unpopular stands.
Formulated as a companion volume to The Essential Agus, which presents selections of Agus' own writings, the contributors' analyses are based on specific selections of Agus' work which appear in The Essential Agus. Though each volume stands on its own, they are closely interconnected and readers will benefit from consulting both works.
Esalen and the Rise of Spiritual Privilege
Yoga. Humanistic Psychology. Meditation. Holistic Healing. These practices are commonplace today. Yet before the early 1960s they were atypical options for most people outside of the upper class or small groups of educated spiritual seekers.
Esalen Institute, a retreat for spiritual and personal growth in Big Sur, California, played a pioneering role in popularizing quests for self-transformation and personalized spirituality. This “soul rush” spread quickly throughout the United States as the Institute made ordinary people aware of hundreds of ways to select, combine, and revise their beliefs about the sacred and to explore diverse mystical experiences. Millions of Americans now identify themselves as spiritual, not religious, because Esalen paved the way for them to explore spirituality without affiliating with established denominations
The American Soul Rush explores the concept of spiritual privilege and Esalen’s foundational influence on the growth and spread of diverse spiritual practices that affirm individuals’ self-worth and possibilities for positive personal change. The book also describes the people, narratives, and relationships at the Institute that produced persistent, almost accidental inequalities in order to illuminate the ways that gender is central to religion and spirituality in most contexts.
How a Cartel Fleeces the American Consumer
After World War II, banks and other mortgage lenders began requiring insurance to protect them against flawed or defective real estate titles. Over the past sixty years, the title insurance industry has grown steadily in size, power, and secrecy: policies are available for both lenders and property owners and many title insurers offer an array of other real estate services, such as escrow and appraisal. Yet details about the industry's operational procedures remain closely guarded from public exposure.
In The American Title Insurance Industry, Joseph and David Eaton present evidence that improvements in recordkeeping over the last sixty years—particularly the advent of computers—have reduced the likelihood of a defective title going unnoticed in a property transaction. But the industry's flaws run deeper than mere obsolescence: in most states, title insurers are allowed to engage in anticompetitive business practices, including price-fixing. Among the findings in this meticulously researched study are instances of insurers charging premiums well above the amount necessary to compensate them for assuming the risk of defect and identical policies with identical risk that vary in price by hundreds of percentage points for different geographic locations.The authors also examine the widely ignored role that the federal and most state governments play in perpetuating the title insurance industry's unfair practices. Whereas most private industries prefer as little government intervention as possible, title insurers welcome it. Federal statue exempts title insurers from anti-trust liability, opening the door for price-fixing and destroying any semblance of free-market competition or market power for consumers.A landmark study for elected officials, and all those involved in the insurance, real estate, and brokerage industries, The American Title Insurance Industry brings to light a long-neglected problem—and offers suggestions for how it might be remedied.
In 1933 Americans did something they had never done before: they voted to repeal an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Eighteenth Amendment, which for 13 years had prohibited the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages, was nullified by the passage of another amendment, the Twenty-First. Many factors helped create this remarkable turn of events. One factor that was essential, Kenneth D. Rose here argues, was the presence of a large number of well-organized women promoting repeal.
Even more remarkable than the appearance of these women on the political scene was the approach they took to the politics of repeal. Intriguingly, the arguments employed by repeal women and by prohibition women were often mirror images of each other, even though the women on the two sides of the issue pursued diametrically opposed political agendas. Rose contends that a distinguishing feature of the women's repeal movement was an argument for home protection, a social feminist ideology that women repealists shared with the prohibitionist women of the Women's Christian Temperance Union. The book surveys the women's movement to repeal national prohibition and places it within the contexts of women's temperance activity, women's political activity during the 1920s, and the campaign for repeal.
While recent years have seen much-needed attention devoted to the recovery of women's history, conservative women have too often been overlooked, deliberately ignored, or written off as unworthy of scrutiny. With American Women and the Repeal of Prohibition, Kenneth Rose fleshes out a crucial chapter in the history of American women and culture.