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Evangelicals and Sexual Pleasure on the Internet
Christians under Covers shifts how scholars and popular media talk about religious conservatives and sex. Moving away from debates over homosexuality, premarital sex, and other perceived sexual sins, Kelsy Burke examines Christian sexuality websites to show how some evangelical Christians use digital media to promote the idea that God wants married, heterosexual couples to have satisfying sex lives. These evangelicals maintain their religious beliefs while incorporating feminist and queer language into their talk of sexuality—encouraging sexual knowledge, emphasizing women’s pleasure, and justifying marginal sexual practices within Christian marriages. This illuminating ethnography complicates the boundaries between normal and subversive, empowered and oppressed, and sacred and profane.
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 Freedom, Immigration, and Pluralism in Flushing, Queens
Known locally as the birthplace of American religious freedom, Flushing, Queens, in New York City is now so diverse and densely populated that it has become a microcosm of world religions. City of Gods explores the history of Flushing from the colonial period to the aftermath of September 11, 2001, spanning the origins of Vlissingen and early struggles between Quakers, Dutch authorities, Anglicans, African Americans, Catholics, and Jews to the consolidation of New York City in 1898, two World's Fairs and postwar commemorations of Flushing's heritage, and, finally, the Immigration Act of 1965 and the arrival of Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Buddhists, and Asian and Latino Christians. A synthesis of archival sources, oral history, and ethnography, City of Gods is a thought-provoking study of religious pluralism. Using Flushing as the backdrop to examine America's contemporary religious diversity and what it means for the future of the United States, R. Scott Hanson explores both the possibilities and limits of pluralism. Hanson argues that the absence of widespread religious violence in a neighborhood with such densely concentrated religious diversity suggests that there is no limit to how much pluralism a pluralist society can stand. Seeking to gauge interaction and different responses to religious and ethnic diversity, the book is set against two interrelated questions: how and where have the different religious and ethnic groups in Flushing associated with others across boundaries over time; and when has conflict or cooperation arisen? By exploring pluralism from a historical and ethnographic context, City of Gods takes a micro approach to help bring an understanding of pluralism from a sometimes abstract realm into the real world of everyday lives in which people and groups are dynamic and integrating agents in a complex and constantly changing world of local, national, and transnational dimensions. Perhaps the most extreme example of religious and ethnic pluralism in the world, Flushing is an ideal place to explore how America's long experiment with religious freedom and religious pluralism began and continues. City of Gods reaches far beyond Flushing to all communities coming to terms with immigration, religion, and ethnic relations, raising the question as to whether Flushing will come together in new and lasting ways to build bridges of dialogue or will it further fragment into a Tower of Babel.
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.
Bar and Bat Mitzvah Reinterpreted
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.
Explaining the "Conservative Turn"
"Once celebrated in the Western media as a shining example of a 'liberal' and 'tolerant' Islam, Indonesia since the end of the Soeharto regime (May 1998) has witnessed a variety of developments that bespeak a conservative turn in the country’s Muslim politics. In this timely collection of original essays, Martin van Bruinessen, our most distinguished senior Western scholar of Indonesian Islam, and four leading Indonesian Muslim scholars explore and explain these developments. Each chapter examines recent trends from a strategic institutional perch: the Council of Indonesian Muslim scholars, the reformist Muhammadiyah, South Sulawesi's Committee for the Implementation of Islamic Shari'a, and radical Islamism in Solo. With van Bruinessen's brilliantly synthetic introduction and conclusion, these essays shed a bright light on what Indonesian Muslim politics was and where it seems to be going. The analysis is complex and by no means uniformly dire. For readers interested in Indonesian Muslim politics, and for analysts interested in the dialectical interplay of progressive and conservative Islam, this book is fascinating and essential reading."—Robert Hefner, Director, Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs, Boston University
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.