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The Peoples Temple movement ended on November 18, 1978, when more than 900 men, women, and children died in a ritual of murder and suicide in their utopianist community of Jonestown, Guyana. Only a handful lived to tell their story. As is well known, Jim Jones, the leader of Peoples Temple, was white, but most of his followers were black. Despite that, little has been written about Peoples Temple in the context of black religion in America. In 10 essays, writers from various disciplines address this gap in the scholarship. Twenty-five years after the tragedy at Jonestown, they assess the impact of the black religious experience on Peoples Temple.
Contesting Mulid Festivals in Contemporary Egypt
Mulids, festivals in honor of Muslim “friends of God,” have been part of Muslim religious and cultural life for close to a thousand years. While many Egyptians see mulids as an expression of joy and love for the Prophet Muhammad and his family, many others see them as opposed to Islam, an expression of a backward mentality, a piece of folklore at best. What is it about a mulid that makes it a threat to Islam and modernity in the eyes of some, and an expression of pious devotion in the eyes of others? What makes the celebration of a saint’s festival appear in such dramatically different contours? The Perils of Joy offers a rich investigation, both historical and ethnographic, of conflicting and transforming attitudes towards festivals in contemporary Egypt. Schielke argues that mulids are characterized by a utopian momentum of the extraordinary that troubles the grand schemes of order and perfection that have become hegemonic in Egypt since the twentiethcentury. Not an opposition between state and civil society, nor a division between Islamists and secularists, but rather the competition between different perceptions of what makes up a complete life, forms the central line of conflict in the contestation of festive culture.
Spiritual Practice and Nonviolent Protest at the Nevada Test Site
For two decades the Nevada Desert Experience has organized nonviolent action at the Nevada Test Site as part of the global movement to end nuclear testing. Pilgrimage through a Burning World illuminates how the Franciscan-based group has crafted a contemporary desert spirituality that integrates religious ritual and political action to grapple with the challenges of an institutionalized and internalized nuclear world. Ken Butigan shows how the annual pilgrimage to the test site has contributed to the personal transformation of people “on both sides of the fence” at the test site and to the worldwide emergence of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
For centuries, American Protestantism dominated in three main ways, says Marty: in the sheer numbers of its committed practitioners (spread across some two hundred denominations), in the Protestant leanings of nonadherents, and in the influence of the Protestant ethic in activities as diverse as business and art. To discover what is particularly American” about Protestantism in this country, Marty looks at Protestant creencias, or beliefs, that complement or supplement pure doctrine. These include the notion of God as an agent of America’s destiny and the impact of the biblical credos of mission, stewardship, and vocation on innumerable nonreligious matters of daily life. Marty also discusses the vigencias, or binding (though unwritten) customs, of Protestantism. They include the tendencies to interpret matters of faith in market terms and to conflate biblical and enlightenment ideology into civic faith.”
Challenges to Protestant hegemony came and went over the centuries, says Marty, but never in such force and to such effect as in the twentieth century. Among other factors contributing to the rise of pluralism and to schisms between mainstreamers and Fundamentalists, Marty lists changes in immigration laws, U.S. Supreme Court decisions on school prayer, the women's movement, and Vatican II.
Today, our Protean spirituality is the topic of everything from sermons to bumper stickers. All in all, this is good, reassures Marty, for to debate our spirituality is to sustain the life of a functioning, thinking, believing republic. Those who pine for some golden age of Protestantism are misled by nostalgia or resentment. The real work to be done by Protestants now is to serve, partner, and cooperate where they once managed, controlled, and directed.
Religion and Social Welfare in Indianapolis, 1929-2002
Using Indianapolis as its focus, this book explores the relationship between religion and social welfare. Arising out of the Indianapolis Polis Center's Lilly-sponsored study of religion and urban culture, the book looks at three issues: the role of religious social services within Indianapolis's larger social welfare support system, both public and private; the evolution of the relationship between public and private welfare sectors; and how ideas about citizenship mediated the delivery of social services. Noting that religious nonprofits do not figure prominently in most studies of welfare, Mapes explores the historical roots of the relationship between religiously affiliated social welfare and public agencies. Her approach recognizes that local variation has been a defining feature of American social welfare. A Public Charity aims to illuminate local trends and to relate the situation in Indianapolis to national trends and events.
Polis Center Series on Religion and Urban Culture -- David J. Bodenhamer and Arthur E. Farnsley II, editors
Challenging conventional assumptions, the contributors to this interdisciplinary volume argue that premodern Muslim societies had diverse and changing varieties of public spheres, constructed according to premises different from those of Western societies. The public sphere, conceptualized as a separate and autonomous sphere between the official and private, is used to shed new light on familiar topics in Islamic history, such as the role of the shari`a (Islamic religious law), the `ulama' (Islamic scholars), schools of law, Sufi brotherhoods, the Islamic endowment institution, and the relationship between power and culture, rulers and community, from the ninth to twentieth centuries.
Melissa M. Wilcox explores the complex spiritual lives of queer women in the Los Angeles area. She takes the reader on a tour of a colorful array of religious and secular groups that serve as spiritual resources for these women -- from the well-known Metropolitan Community Churches to Wiccan covens, from the Gay and Lesbian Sierrans to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Arguing that these women's stories are exemplary cases of postmodern patterns of religious identity, belief, and practice, Wilcox offers a nuanced analysis of contemporary Western spirituality and selfhood, and a detailed exploration of the history of queer religious organizing in Los Angeles. Queer Women and Religious Individualism is important reading for scholars in religious studies, sociology, women's studies, and LGBT studies.
In the wake of September 11, 2001 religion is often seen as the motivating force behind terrorism and other acts of violence. Religion and Peacebuilding looks beyond headlines concerning violence perpetrated in the name of religion to examine how world religions have also inspired social welfare and peacemaking activism. Leading scholars from the Aboriginal, Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, Jewish, Muslim, and Christian traditions provide detailed analyses of the spiritual resources for fostering peace within their respective religions. The contributors discuss the formidable obstacles to nonviolent conflict transformation found within sacred texts and living traditions. Case studies of Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Cambodia, and South Africa are also examined as practical applications of spiritual resources for peace.