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Religion, Immigration, and Civic Engagement in Miami
Churches and Charity in the Immigrant City focuses on the intersection of religion and civic engagement among Miami's immigrant and minority groups. The contributors examine the role of religious organizations in developing social relationships and how these relationships affect the broader civic world.
Religious Movements and Social Welfare
Claiming Society for God focuses on common strategies employed by religiously orthodox, fundamentalist movements around the world. Rather than employing terrorism, as much of post-9/11 thinking suggests, these movements use a patient, under-the-radar strategy of infiltrating and subtly transforming civil society. Nancy J. Davis and Robert V. Robinson tell the story of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Shas in Israel, Comunione e Liberazione in Italy, and the Salvation Army in the United States. They show how these movements build massive grassroots networks of religiously based social service agencies, hospitals, schools, and businesses to bring their own brand of faith to popular and political fronts.
In Comparative Perspectives on Judaisms and Jewish Identities author Stephen Sharot uses his work published in journals and collected volumes over the past thirty-five years to examine a range of Jewish communities across both time and geography. Sharot’s sociological analyses consider religious developments and identities in diverse Jewish communities from Imperial China and Renaissance Italy to contemporary Israel and the United States. As Sharot examines these groups, other religions enter into the discussion as well, not only as major elements in the environments of Jewish communities but also with respect to certain religious phenomena that too have been present in Judaism. The book is divided into four parts: the first compares religious developments in pre-modern and early modern Jewish communities; the second focuses on Jewish religious movements, especially messianic-millennial and antinomian, in the pre-modern and early modern period; the third examines Jewish religious and ethnic identities in the modern period; and the fourth relates developments in Judaism in the modern period to theoretical debates on secularization, fundamentalism, and public religion in the sociology of religion. The afterword sums up the findings of the previous sections and compares the boundaries and boundary shifts among Jewish communities. As the plural “Judaisms” in the title indicates, Sharot discusses extensive differences in the religious characteristics between Jewish communities. Scholars of religion and sociology will appreciate this informative and fascinating volume.
The Religious, Moral, and Rhetorical Roots of Modern Accounting
Double-entry bookkeeping (DEB), modern capitalism’s first and foremost calculative technology, was “invented” during the Middle Ages when profit making was morally stigmatized. James Aho examines the problematic of moneymaking and offers an explanatory understanding of the paradoxical coupling of profit seeking and morality by situating DEB in the religious circumstances from which it emerged, specifically the newly instituted sacrament of penance, that is, confession. Confession impacted the consciences of medieval businessmen both through its sacramental form and through its moral teachings. The form of confession produced widespread habits of moral scrupulosity (leading to compulsive record keeping); the content of confession taught that commerce itself was morally suspect. Scrupulous businessmen were thus driven to justify their affairs to church, commune, and themselves. With the aid of DEB, moneymaking was “Christianized” and Christianity was made more amenable to the pursuit of wealth. Although DEB is typically viewed exclusively as a scientifically neutral account of the flow of money through a firm, it remains as it was originally devised, a rhetorical argument.
Few issues besides evolution have so strained Americans' professed tradition of tolerance. Few historians besides Pulitzer Prize winner Edward J. Larson have so perceptively chronicled evolution's divisive presence on the American scene. This slim volume reviews the key aspects, current and historical, of the creation-evolution debate in the United States.
Larson discusses such topics as the transatlantic response to Darwinism, the American controversy over teaching evolution in public schools, and the religious views of American scientists. He recalls the theological qualms about evolution held by some leading scientists of Darwin's time. He looks at the 2006 Dover, Pennsylvania, court decision on teaching Intelligent Design and other cases leading back to the landmark 1925 Scopes trial. Drawing on surveys that Larson conducted, he discusses attitudes of American scientists toward the existence of God and the afterlife.
By looking at the changing motivations and backgrounds of the stakeholders in the creation-evolution debate—clergy, scientists, lawmakers, educators, and others—Larson promotes a more nuanced view of the question than most of us have. This is no incidental benefit for Larson's readers; it is one of the book's driving purposes. If we cede the debate to those who would frame it simplistically rather than embrace its complexity, warns Larson, we will not advance beyond the naive regard of organized religion as the enemy of intellectual freedom or the equally myopic myth of the scientist as courageous loner willing to die for the truth.
The Evolution of Religious Institutions
Ecologies of Faith in New York City examines patterns of interreligious cooperation and conflict in New York City. It explores how representative congregations in this religiously diverse city interact with their surroundings by competing for members, seeking out niches, or cooperating via coalitions and neighborhood organizations. Based on in-depth research in New York's ethnically mixed and rapidly changing neighborhoods, the essays in the volume describe how religious institutions shape and are shaped by their environments, what new roles they have assumed, and how they relate to other religious groups in the community.
Kathleen Flake, associate professor of American religious history at Vanderbilt University examines the logic of those women who thrived, rather than suffered, in early Mormon polygamy, and finds that the marriage covenant granted them priestly rights and independence through the powers of heaven.
Children of God
This groundbreaking analysis of the controversial religious group, The Family, or The Children of God, uses interviews, observational techniques, and a comprehensive questionnaire completed by more than a thousand Family members. William Sims Bainbridge explores how Family members infuse spirituality with sexuality, channel messages that they believe emanate from beyond life, and await the final Endtime. He also examines attempts by anti-cultists and the state to “deprogram” members of the group, including children, by forcibly seizing them. The book’s blending of theoretical analysis with vivid accounts of this remarkable counterculture poses a fascinating question for social scientists and society—how is it that The Children of God both differ from the general public and, in other ways, are so surprisingly similar to it?
Suffering and Divine Healing in American Culture, 1860–1900
Faith in the Great Physician tells the story of how participants in the evangelical divine healing movement of the late nineteenth century transformed the ways Americans coped with physical affliction and pursued bodily health. Examining the politics of sickness, health, and healing during this period, Heather D. Curtis encourages critical reflection on the theological, cultural, and social forces that come into play when one questions the purpose of suffering and the possibility of healing. Curtis finds that advocates of divine healing worked to revise a deep-seated Christian ethic that linked physical suffering with spiritual holiness. By engaging in devotional disciplines and participating in social reform efforts, proponents of faith cure embraced a model of spiritual experience that endorsed active service, rather than passive endurance, as the proper Christian response to illness and pain. Emphasizing the centrality of religious practices to the enterprise of divine healing, Curtis sheds light on the relationship among Christian faith, medical science, and the changing meanings of suffering and healing in American culture.
Second-Generation Spirituality in Korean American Churches
Second-generation Korean Americans, demonstrating an unparalleled entrepreneurial fervor, are establishing new churches with a goal of shaping the future of American Christianity. A Faith of Our Own investigates the development and growth of these houses of worship, a recent and rapidly increasing phenomenon in major cities throughout the United States. Including data gathered over ten years at twenty-two churches, it is the most comprehensive study of this topic that addresses generational, identity, political, racial, and empowerment issues.