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American Christianities

A History of Dominance and Diversity

Catherine A. Brekus

From the founding of the first colonies until the present, the influence of Christianity, as the dominant faith in American society, has extended far beyond church pews into the wider culture. Yet, at the same time, Christians in the United States have disagreed sharply about the meaning of their shared tradition, and, divided by denominational affiliation, race, and ethnicity, they have taken stances on every side of contested public issues from slavery to women's rights.

This volume of twenty-two original essays, contributed by a group of prominent thinkers in American religious studies, provides a sophisticated understanding of both the diversity and the alliances among Christianities in the United States and the influences that have shaped churches and the nation in reciprocal ways. American Christianities explores this paradoxical dynamic of dominance and diversity that are the true marks of a faith too often perceived as homogeneous and monolithic.

Contributors:
Catherine L. Albanese, University of California, Santa Barbara
James B. Bennett, Santa Clara University
Edith Blumhofer, Wheaton College
Ann Braude, Harvard Divinity School
Catherine A. Brekus, University of Chicago Divinity School
Kristina Bross, Purdue University
Rebecca L. Davis, University of Delaware
Curtis J. Evans, University of Chicago Divinity School
Tracy Fessenden, Arizona State University
Kathleen Flake, Vanderbilt University Divinity School
W. Clark Gilpin, University of Chicago Divinity School
Stewart M. Hoover, University of Colorado at Boulder
Jeanne Halgren Kilde, University of Minnesota
David W. Kling, University of Miami
Timothy S. Lee, Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University
Dan McKanan, Harvard Divinity School
Michael D. McNally, Carleton College
Mark A. Noll, University of Notre Dame
Jon Pahl, The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia
Sally M. Promey, Yale University
Jon H. Roberts, Boston University
Jonathan D. Sarna, Brandeis University

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American Denominational History

Perspectives on the Past, Prospects for the Future

Edited by Keith Harper, with contributions from Sean Michael Lucas, Paul William

This work brings various important topics and groups in American religious history the rigor of scholarly assessment of the current literature. The fruitful questions that are posed by the positions and experiences of the various groups are carefully examined. American Denominational History points the way for the next decade of scholarly effort.

 

Contents

Roman Catholics by Amy Koehlinger

Congregationalists by Margaret Bendroth

Presbyterians by Sean Michael Lucas

American Baptists by Keith Harper

Methodists by Jennifer L. Woodruff Tait

Black Protestants by Paul Harvey

Mormons by David J. Whittaker

Pentecostals by Randall J. Stephens

Evangelicals by Barry Hankins    

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American Evangelicals and the 1960s

Edited by Axel R. Schäfer

In the late 1970s, the New Christian Right emerged as a formidable political force, boldly announcing itself as a unified movement representing the views of a "moral majority." But that movement did not spring fully formed from its predecessors. American Evangelicals and the 1960s refutes the thesis that evangelical politics were a purely inflammatory backlash against the cultural and political upheaval of the decade.
            Bringing together fresh research and innovative interpretations, this book demonstrates that evangelicals actually participated in broader American developments during "the long 1960s," that the evangelical constituency was more diverse than often noted, and that the notion of right-wing evangelical politics as a backlash was a later creation serving the interests of both Republican-conservative alliances and their critics. Evangelicalism's involvement with—rather than its reaction against—the main social movements, public policy initiatives, and cultural transformations of the 1960s proved significant in its 1970s political ascendance. Twelve essays that range thematically from the oil industry to prison ministry and from American counterculture to the Second Vatican Council depict modern evangelicalism both as a religious movement with its own internal dynamics and as one fully integrated into general American history.

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American Evangelicals in Egypt

Missionary Encounters in an Age of Empire

Heather J. Sharkey

In 1854, American Presbyterian missionaries arrived in Egypt as part of a larger Anglo-American Protestant movement aiming for worldwide evangelization. Protected by British imperial power, and later by mounting American global influence, their enterprise flourished during the next century. American Evangelicals in Egypt follows the ongoing and often unexpected transformations initiated by missionary activities between the mid-nineteenth century and 1967--when the Six-Day Arab-Israeli War uprooted the Americans in Egypt.

Heather Sharkey uses Arabic and English sources to shed light on the many facets of missionary encounters with Egyptians. These occurred through institutions, such as schools and hospitals, and through literacy programs and rural development projects that anticipated later efforts of NGOs. To Egyptian Muslims and Coptic Christians, missionaries presented new models for civic participation and for women's roles in collective worship and community life. At the same time, missionary efforts to convert Muslims and reform Copts stimulated new forms of Egyptian social activism and prompted nationalists to enact laws restricting missionary activities. Faced by Islamic strictures and customs regarding apostasy and conversion, and by expectations regarding the proper structure of Christian-Muslim relations, missionaries in Egypt set off debates about religious liberty that reverberate even today. Ultimately, the missionary experience in Egypt led to reconsiderations of mission policy and evangelism in ways that had long-term repercussions for the culture of American Protestantism.

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The American Jesuits

A History

Raymond Schroth

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.

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American Jewish History

Vol. 84 (1996) through current issue

Bringing readers all the richness and complexity of Jewish life in America through carefully researched, thoroughly accessible articles, American Jewish History (AJH) is the most widely recognized journal in its field. Founded in 1892 as Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society, AJH is the official publication of the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS), the oldest national ethnic historical organization in the United States.

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American Jewish History

A JPS Guide

Authored by Norman H. Finkelstein

This JPS Guide chronicles the extraordinary history of American Jewry. Finkelstein tells the dramatic 350-year story of the people and events that shaped the lives of today's American Jews. Divided into six time periods, American Jewish History describes Jewish life from the time of the early settlers, to the period of massive immigration that flooded the cities, to the incredible growth of Jews in positions of influence in business, politics, and the arts. This is a story of a people who affected not only the lives of Jews in the U.S. today, but also the course of American history itself. There are over 70 black and white photographs, maps, and charts and more than 120 feature boxes and biographies throughout, as well as timelines, notes, a bibliography, and index. Finkelstein has made the saga of American Jewry much more than a compilation of historical facts. This is wonderfully stimulating journey--a worthwhile adventure for readers of all ages.

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American Jewish Identity Politics

Deborah Dash Moore, editor

Displays the full range of informed, thoughtful opinion on the place of Jews in the American politics of identity. ---David A. Hollinger, Preston Hotchkis Professor of American History, University of California, Berkeley "A fascinating anthology whose essays crystallize the most salient features of American Jewish life in the second half of the twentieth century." ---Beth S. Wenger, Katz Family Associate Professor of American Jewish History and Director of the Jewish Studies Program, University of Pennsylvania Written by scholars who grew up after World War II and the Holocaust who participated in political struggles in the 1960s and 1970s and who articulated many of the formative concepts of modern Jewish studies, this anthology provides a window into an era of social change. These men and women are among the leading scholars of Jewish history, society and culture. The volume is organized around contested themes in American Jewish life: the Holocaust and World War II, religious pluralism and authenticity, intermarriage and Jewish continuity. Thus, it offers one of the few opportunities for students to learn about these debates from participant scholars. Contributors: Hasia R. Diner Arnold M. Eisen Sylvia Barack Fishman Arthur Green Jeffrey Gurock Paula E. Hyman Egon Mayer Alvin H. Rosenfeld Jonathan D. Sarna Stephen J. Whitfield Deborah Dash Moore is Director of the Jean and Samuel Frankel Center for Judaic Studies and Frederick G. L. Huetwell Professor of History at the University of Michigan.

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American Jewish Loss after the Holocaust

Laura Levitt

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.

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