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Binding Earth and Heaven

Patriarchal Blessings in the Prophetic Development of Early Mormonism

By Gary Shepherd and Gordon Shepherd

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Black Gods of the Metropolis

Negro Religious Cults of the Urban North

By Arthur Huff Fauset. Foreword by Barbara Dianne Savage. Introduction by John Szwed

Stemming from his anthropological field work among black religious groups in Philadelphia in the early 1940s, Arthur Huff Fauset believed it was possible to determine the likely direction that mainstream black religious leadership would take in the future, a direction that later indeed manifested itself in the civil rights movement. The American black church, according to Fauset and other contemporary researchers, provided the one place where blacks could experiment without hindrance in activities such as business, politics, social reform, and social expression. With detailed primary accounts of these early spiritual movements and their beliefs and practices, Black Gods of the Metropolis reveals the fascinating origins of such significant modern African American religious groups as the Nation of Islam as well as the role of lesser known and even forgotten churches in the history of the black community.

In her new foreword, historian Barbara Dianne Savage discusses the relationship between black intellectuals and black religion, in particular the relationship between black social scientists and black religious practices during Fauset's time. She then explores the complexities of that relationship and its impact on the intellectual and political history of African American religion in general.

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The Black Megachurch

Theology, Gender, and the Politics of Public Engagement

Tamelyn N. Tucker-Worgs

An explosion of flourishing black megachurches has changed the landscape of American religious life. Boasting memberships into the tens of thousands and meeting within both adorned walls and refurbished warehouse buildings, these contemporary fruits of the Civil Rights Movement hold many of the resources necessary to address America's contemporary social disparities. After studying nearly 150 black megachurches, Tamelyn N. Tucker-Worgs asks, How are these church communities engaging the public sphere? And, why are their approaches so varied?

The Black Megachurch sets aside the broad assumptions usually applied to the study of black churches and analyzes the three factors most necessary for social engagement—theological orientation, organization of community development initiatives, and gender-based spheres of labor and leadership. In doing so, Tucker-Worgs underscores the myriad ways in which black megachurches have responded to the changing social climate and concludes that while some have lived up to their potential, others have a long way to go.

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Bones of Contention

Animals and Religion in Contemporary Japan

Barbara R. Ambros

Since the 1990s the Japanese pet industry has grown to a trillion-yen business and estimates place the number of pets above the number of children under the age of fifteen. There are between 6,000 to 8,000 businesses in the Japanese pet funeral industry, including more than 900 pet cemeteries. Of these about 120 are operated by Buddhist temples, and Buddhist mortuary rites for pets have become an institutionalized practice. In Bones of Contention, Barbara Ambros investigates what religious and intellectual traditions constructed animals as subjects of religious rituals and how pets have been included or excluded in the necral landscapes of contemporary Japan.

Pet mortuary rites are emblems of the ongoing changes in contemporary Japanese religions. The increase in single and nuclear-family households, marriage delays for both males and females, the falling birthrate and graying of society, the occult boom of the 1980s, the pet boom of the 1990s, the anti-religious backlash in the wake of the 1995 Aum Shinrikyō incident—all of these and more have contributed to Japan’s contested history of pet mortuary rites. Ambros uses this history to shed light on important questions such as: Who (or what) counts as a family member? What kinds of practices should the state recognize as religious and thus protect financially and legally? Is it frivolous or selfish to keep, pamper, or love an animal? Should humans and pets be buried together? How do people reconcile the deeply personal grief that follows the loss of a pet and how do they imagine the afterlife of pets? And ultimately, what is the status of animals in Japan? Bones of Contention is a book about how Japanese people feel and think about pets and other kinds of animals and, in turn, what pets and their people have to tell us about life and death in Japan today.

25 illus.

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The Calls of Islam

Sufis, Islamists, and Mass Mediation in Urban Morocco

Emilio Spadola

The sacred calls that summon believers are the focus of this study of religion and power in Fez, Morocco. Focusing on how dissemination of the call through mass media has transformed understandings of piety and authority, Emilio Spadola details the new importance of once–marginal Sufi practices such as spirit trance and exorcism for ordinary believers, the state, and Islamist movements. The Calls of Islam offers new ethnographic perspectives on ritual, performance, and media in the Muslim world.

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Castle and cathedral

Longing for the Sacred in a Skeptical Age

Bruce R. Berglund

This book takes a new approach to interwar Prague by addressing religion as an integral part of the city’s cultural history. Berglund views Prague’s cultural history in the broader context of religious change and secularization in 20th-century Europe. Based on detailed knowledge of sources, the monograph explores the interdisciplinary linkages between politics, architecture and theology in the building of symbolism and a “new mythology” of the first Czechoslovak republic (1918-1938). Berglund´s text provides an important service for understanding both Czech history as well as current Czech political debate. The author’s method can be characterized as culture history, able to connect several disciplines, emphasizing common topic (religion, politics, symbolics). Modern Czech elites, superficially characterized as “ateistic”, appears in a new light to be deeply religious, a transition from more traditional, (mostly) Catholic religiosity, to a concept of a new, modern, ethical religion. The study incorporates biographical research, focusing on three principal characters: Tomás Garrigue Masaryk, Czechoslovakia’s first president; his daughter Alice Garrigue Masaryková, founding director of the Czechoslovak Red Cross; and Joze Plecnik, the Slovenian architect who directed the renovations of Prague Castle.

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Champions of Buddhism

Weikza Cults in Contemporary Burma

Bénédicte Brac de la Perrière, Guillaume Rozenberg, and Alicia Turner

Hidden at the margins of Burmese Buddhism and culture, the cults of the weikza shape Burmese culture by bringing together practices of supernatural power and a mission to protect Buddhism. This exciting new research on an often hidden aspect of Burmese religion places weikza in relation to the Vipassana insight meditation movement and conventional Buddhist practices, as well as the contemporary rise of Buddhist fundamentalism. Featuring research based on fieldwork only possible in recent years, paired with reflective essays by senior Buddhist studies scholars, this book situates the weikza cult in relation to broader Buddhist and Southeast Asian contexts, offering interpretations and investigations as rich and diverse as the Burmese expressions of the weikza cults themselves. Champions of Buddhism opens the field to new questions, new problems, and new connections with the study of religion and Southeast Asia in general.

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Changing Church and State Relations in Hong Kong, 1950-2000

Beatrice Leung ,Shun-hing Chan

The book gave detailed account of Hong Kong's church-state relationship in metamorphosis. It should be an important text for students in both political science and China studies, and especially in the history of Hong Kong.

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Children and Childhood in American Religions

Edited by Don S. Browning and Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore

Religious traditions play a central role in the lives of many American children. In this collection of essays, leading scholars reveal for the first time how various religions interpret, reconstruct, and mediate their traditions to help guide children and their parents in navigating the opportunities and challenges of American life. The book examines ten religions, among other topics. Only by discussing the unique challenges faced by all religions, and their followers, can we take the first step toward a greater understanding for all of us.

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Christian America and the Kingdom of God

Richard T. Hughes

The idea of the United States as a Christian nation is a powerful, seductive, and potentially destructive theme in American life, culture, and politics. Many fundamentalist and evangelical leaders routinely promote this notion, and millions of Americans simply assume the Christian character of the United States. And yet, as Richard T. Hughes reveals in this powerful book, the biblical vision of the "kingdom of God" stands at odds with the values and actions of an American empire that sanctions war instead of peace, promotes dominance and oppression instead of reconciliation, and exalts wealth and power instead of justice for the poor and needy._x000B__x000B_With conviction and careful consideration, Hughes reviews the myth of Christian America from its earliest history in the founding of the republic to the present day. With extensive analysis of both Christian scripture and American history, Hughes investigates the reasons why so many Americans think of the United States as a Christian nation. Timely and thought-provoking, Christian America and the Kingdom of God illuminates the devastating irony of a "Christian America" that so often behaves in unchristian ways.

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