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Gods Behaving Badly Cover

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Gods Behaving Badly

Media, Religion, and Celebrity Culture

By Pete Ward

From Britney and Brangelina to Tiger Woods and Michael Jackson, Western society is obsessed with its American idols and gods of the red carpet. We worship their triumphs, judge their sins, and maintain vigil at their deaths. Can our fixation on and devotion to celebrity culture itself be considered a religion? If not, why do we use religious terminology to describe these stars and our actions towards them? 

Gods Behaving Badly examines the blurred boundary between popular culture and religion—one that has given way to an often confounding fusion of the sacred and the profane. Flipping through pages of tabloid media and looking underneath the veil of Hollywood’s glamour, Pete Ward exposes how, in its consumer life, Western society elevates celebrity to the theological and, in so doing, creates a new para-religion. Inevitably, whether despised or extolled, individual celebrities evoke public moral judgment, creating fertile ground for theological innovation. 

Plucked straight from the headlines, the narratives in Gods Behaving Badly give concrete evidence of how the religious themes of incarnation, revelation, sin, judgment, and redemption are all woven into narratives we construct about our most cherished—and most villainized—personalities.

The Gospel of the Working Class Cover

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The Gospel of the Working Class

Labor's Southern Prophets in New Deal America

Erik S. Gellman

In this exceptional dual biography and cultural history, Erik S. Gellman and Jarod Roll trace the influence of two southern activist preachers, one black and one white, who used their ministry to organize the working class in the 1930s and 1940s across lines of gender, race, and geography. Owen Whitfield and Claude Williams, along with their wives, Zella Whitfield and Joyce Williams, drew on their bedrock religious beliefs to stir ordinary men and women to demand social and economic justice in the eras of the Great Depression, New Deal, and Second World War._x000B__x000B_In chronicling the shifting contexts of the actions of Whitfield and Williams, The Gospel of the Working Class situates Christian theology within the struggles of some of America's most downtrodden workers, transforming the dominant narratives of the era and offering a fresh view of the promise and instability of religion and civil rights unionism.

Guru English Cover

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Guru English

South Asian Religion in a Cosmopolitan Language

Srinivas Aravamudan

Guru English is a bold reconceptualization of the scope and meaning of cosmopolitanism, examining the language of South Asian religiosity as it has flourished both inside and outside of its original context for the past two hundred years. The book surveys a specific set of religious vocabularies from South Asia that, Aravamudan argues, launches a different kind of cosmopolitanism into global use.

Using "Guru English" as a tagline for the globalizing idiom that has grown up around these religions, Aravamudan traces the diffusion and transformation of South Asian religious discourses as they shuttled between East and West through English-language use. The book demonstrates that cosmopolitanism is not just a secular Western "discourse that results from a disenchantment with religion, but something that can also be refashioned from South Asian religion when these materials are put into dialogue with contemporary social move-ments and literary texts. Aravamudan looks at "religious forms of neoclassicism, nationalism, Romanticism, postmodernism, and nuclear millenarianism, bringing together figures such as Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Mahatma Gandhi, and Deepak Chopra with Rudyard Kipling, James Joyce, Robert Oppenheimer, and Salman Rushdie.

Guru English analyzes writers and gurus, literary texts and religious movements, and the political uses of religion alongside the literary expressions of religious teachers, showing the cosmopolitan interconnections between the Indian subcontinent, the British Empire, and the American New Age.

Heaven in Conflict Cover

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Heaven in Conflict

Franciscans and the Boxer Uprising in Shanxi

by Anthony E. Clark

Hollywood Faith Cover

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Hollywood Faith

Holiness, Prosperity, and Ambition in a Los Angeles Church

Gerardo Marti

In Christianity, as with most religions, attaining holiness and a higher spirituality while simultaneously pursuing worldly ideals such as fame and fortune is nearly impossible. So how do people pursuing careers in Hollywood's entertainment industry maintain their religious devotion without sacrificing their career goals? For some, the answer lies just two miles south of the historic center of Hollywood, California, at the Oasis Christian Center. In Hollywood Faith, Gerardo Marti shows how a multiracial evangelical congregation of 2,000 people accommodates itself to the entertainment industry and draws in many striving to succeed in this harsh and irreverent business. Oasis strategically sanctifies ambition and negotiates social change by promoting a new religious identity as "champion of life"-an identity that provides people who face difficult career choices and failed opportunities a sense of empowerment and endurance.The first book to provide an in-depth look at religion among the "creative class," Hollywood Faith will fascinate those interested in the modern evangelical movement and anyone who wants to understand how religion adapts to social change.

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The Hutterites in North America

Rod Janzen and Max Stanton

One of the longest-lived communal societies in North America, the Hutterites have developed multifaceted communitarian perspectives on everything from conflict resolution and decision-making practices to standards of living and care for the elderly. This compellingly written book offers a glimpse into the complex and varied lives of the nearly 500 North American Hutterite communities. North American Hutterites today number around 50,000 and have common roots with and beliefs akin to the Amish and other Old Order Christians. This historical analysis and anthropological investigation draws on existing research, primary sources, and over 25 years of the authors' interaction with Hutterite communities to recount the group's physical and spiritual journey from its 16th-century founding in Eastern Europe and its near disappearance in Transylvania in the 1760s to its late 19th-century transplantation to North America and into the modern era. It explains how the Hutterites found creative ways to manage social and economic changes over more than five centuries while holding to the principles and cultural values embedded in their faith. Religious scholars, anthropologists, and historians of America and the Anabaptist faiths will find this objective-yet-appreciative account of the Hutterites' distinct North American culture to be a valuable and fascinating study both of the religion and of a viable alternative to modern-day capitalism.

Intimating the Sacred Cover

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Intimating the Sacred

Religion in malaysian Fiction

Andrew Hock Soon Ng

Four main objectives underpin this study: to introduce Anglophone Malaysian literature to a wider, international readership; to identify the varied dimensions of religion and religiosity in Malaysian fiction in English, and what they reveal about identity and nationhood; to demonstrate the manner in which these narratives provide crucial insights into the “cultural memory” of a people, rather than as documents about “the nation”; and to reveal the intersections between religion and other facets of identity such as class, gender and sexuality. The book is aimed at postgraduate students and researchers interested in Malaysian literature and religion. Those interested in the intersections between (post)modernity and religion in the Southeast Asian region will also find this book useful. Also, students and researchers interested in the configurations of women and postcoloniality from a religious perspective may also find this book insightful.

Into Africa Cover

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Into Africa

A Transnational History of Catholic Medical Missions and Social Change

Barbra Mann Wall

The most dramatic growth of Christianity in the late twentieth century has occurred in Africa, where Catholic missions have played major roles. But these missions did more than simply convert Africans. Catholic sisters became heavily involved in the Church’s health services and eventually in relief and social justice efforts. In Into Africa, Barbra Mann Wall offers a transnational history that reveals how Catholic medical and nursing sisters established relationships between local and international groups, sparking an exchange of ideas that crossed national, religious, gender, and political boundaries.
Both a nurse and a historian, Wall explores this intersection of religion, medicine, gender, race, and politics in sub-Saharan Africa, focusing on the years following World War II, a period when European colonial rule was ending and Africans were building new governments, health care institutions, and education systems. She focuses specifically on hospitals, clinics, and schools of nursing in Ghana and Uganda run by the Medical Mission Sisters of Philadelphia; in Nigeria and Uganda by the Irish Medical Missionaries of Mary; in Tanzania by the Maryknoll Sisters of New York; and in Nigeria by a local Nigerian congregation. Wall shows how, although initially somewhat ethnocentric, the sisters gradually developed a deeper understanding of the diverse populations they served. In the process, their medical and nursing work intersected with critical social, political, and cultural debates that continue in Africa today: debates about the role of women in their local societies, the relationship of women to the nursing and medical professions and to the Catholic Church, the obligations countries have to provide care for their citizens, and the role of women in human rights.
A groundbreaking contribution to the study of globalization and medicine, Into Africa highlights the importance of transnational partnerships, using the stories of these nuns to enhance the understanding of medical mission work and global change.

An Irish-Speaking Island Cover

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An Irish-Speaking Island

State, Religion, Community, and the Linguistic Landscape in Ireland, 1770–1870

Islam and Politics in the Middle East Cover

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Islam and Politics in the Middle East

Explaining the Views of Ordinary Citizens

Mark Tessler

Some of the most pressing questions in the Middle East and North Africa today revolve around the proper place of Islamic institutions and authorities in governance and political affairs. Drawing on data from 42 surveys carried out in fifteen countries between 1988 and 2011, representing the opinions of more than 60,000 men and women, this study investigates the reasons that some individuals support a central role for Islam in government while others favor a separation of religion and politics. Utilizing his newly constructed Carnegie Middle East Governance and Islam Dataset, which has been placed in the public domain for use by other researchers, Mark Tessler formulates and tests hypotheses about the views held by ordinary citizens, offering insights into the individual and country-level factors that shape attitudes toward political Islam.

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