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Arthur Huff Fauset and the Study of African American Religions
Taking the influential work of Arthur Huff Fauset as a starting point to break down the false dichotomy that exists between mainstream and marginal, a new generation of scholars offers fresh ideas for understanding the religious expressions of African Americans in the United States. Fauset's 1944 classic, Black Gods of the Metropolis, launched original methods and theories for thinking about African American religions as modern, cosmopolitan, and democratic. The essays in this collection show the diversity of African American religion in the wake of the Great Migration and consider the full field of African American religion from Pentecostalism to Black Judaism, Black Islam, and Father Divine's Peace Mission Movement. As a whole, they create a dynamic, humanistic, and thoroughly interdisciplinary understanding of African American religious history and life. This book is essential reading for anyone who studies the African American experience.
Opening up the Intelligent Design Controversy
The debate over Intelligent Design seemingly represents an extension of the fundamental conflict between creationists and evolutionists. ID proponents, drawing on texts such as Darwin’s Black Box and Of Pandas and People, urge schools to “teach the controversy” in biology class alongside evolution. The scientific mainstream has reacted with fury, branding Intelligent Design as pseudoscience and its advocates as religious fanatics. But stridency misses the point, argues Nathaniel Comfort. In The Panda’s Black Box, Comfort joins five other leading public intellectuals—including Daniel Kevles and Pulitzer Prize winner Edward Larson—to explain the roots of the controversy and explore the intellectual, social, and cultural factors that continue to shape it. One of the few books on the ID issue that moves beyond mere name-calling and finger-pointing, The Panda’s Black Box challenges assumptions on each side of the debate and engages both the appeal and dangers of Intelligent Design. This lively collection will appeal to anyone seeking a deeper understanding of what’s really at stake in the debate over evolution.
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.
Progressive Religious Justice Movements in Contemporary America
While the links between conservative Christians and politics have been drawn strongly in recent years, coming to embody what many think of as religious activism, the profoundly religious nature of community organizing and other more left-leaning justice work has been largely overlooked. Prophetic Activism is the first broad comparative examination of progressive religious activism in the United States. Set up as a counter-narrative to religious conservatism, the book offers readers a deeper understanding of the richness and diversity of contemporary religious activism.
Helene Slessarev-Jamir offers five case studies of major progressive religious justice movements that have their roots in liberative interpretations of Scripture: congregational community organizing; worker justice; immigrant rights work; peace-making and reconciliation; and global anti-poverty and debt relief. Drawing on intensive interviews with activists at all levels of this work—from pastors and congregational leaders to local organizers and the executive directors of the national networks—she uncovers the ways in which they construct an ethical framework for their work. In addition to looking at predominantly Christian organizations, the book also highlights the growth of progressive activism among Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists who are engaged in reinterpreting their religious texts to support new forms of activism.
Religion and Social Transformation series
Essays in Judaism, Girardianism, Literary Studies, and the Ethical
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