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God and Country

America in Red and Blue

Sheila Kennedy

Americans increasingly think in terms of red and blue. God and Country examines the religious roots of these cultural divisions in American political life. But instead of pitting a people of faith against a secular humanist elite, God and Country helps Americans understand the religious differences that divide, appreciate the public agreements that allow us to live with religious differences, evaluate how existing democratic processes alleviate divisions, and identify ways Americans can agree to disagree.

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God and the Green Divide

Religious Environmentalism in Black and White

Amanda J. Baugh

American environmentalism historically has been associated with the interests of white elites. Yet religious leaders in the twenty-first century have helped instill concern about the earth among groups diverse in religion, race, ethnicity, and class. How did that happen and what are the implications? Building on scholarship that provides theological and ethical resources to support the “greening” of religion, God and the Green Divide examines religious environmentalism as it actually happens in the daily lives of urban Americans. Baugh demonstrates how complex dynamics related to race, ethnicity, and class factor into decisions to “go green.” By carefully examining negotiations of racial and ethnic identities as central to the history of religious environmentalism, this work complicates assumptions that religious environmentalism is a direct expression of theology, ethics, or religious beliefs.

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God's New Whiz Kids?

Korean American Evangelicals on Campus

Rebecca Kim

In the past twenty years, many traditionally white campus religious groups have become Asian American. Today there are more than fifty evangelical Christian groups at UC Berkeley and UCLA alone, and 80% of their members are Asian American. At Harvard, Asian Americans constitute 70% of the Harvard Radcliffe Christian Fellowship, while at Yale, Campus Crusade for Christ is now 90% Asian. Stanford's Intervarsity Christian Fellowship has become almost entirely Asian.

There has been little research, or even acknowledgment, of this striking development.

God’s New Whiz Kids? focuses on second-generation Korean Americans, who make up the majority of Asian American evangelicals, and explores the factors that lead college-bound Korean American evangelicals—from integrated, mixed race neighborhoods—to create racially segregated religious communities on campus. Kim illuminates an emergent “made in the U.S.A.” ethnicity to help explain this trend, and to shed light on a group that may be changing the face of American evangelicalism.

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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.

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The Gospel of the Working Class

Labor's Southern Prophets in New Deal America

Erik S. Gellman and Jarod Roll

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.

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Growing God’s Family

The Global Orphan Care Movement and the Limits of Evangelical Activism

Samuel L. Perry

Illustrates the hidden challenges embedded within the evangelical adoption movement.  

For over a decade, prominent leaders and organizations among American Evangelicals have spent a substantial amount of time and money in an effort to address what they believe to be the “Orphan Crisis” of the United States. Yet, despite an expansive commitment of resources, there is no reliable evidence that these efforts have been successful. Adoptions are declining across the board, and both foster parenting and foster-adoptions remain steady. Why have evangelical mobilization efforts been so ineffective? 

To answer this question, Samuel L. Perry draws on interviews with over 220 movement leaders and grassroots families, as well as national data on adoption and fostering, to show that the problem goes beyond orphan care. Perry argues that evangelical social engagement is fundamentally self-limiting and difficult to sustain because their subcultural commitments lock them into an approach that does not work on a practical level.  

Growing God’s Family ultimately reveals this peculiar irony within American evangelicalism by exposing how certain aspects of the evangelical subculture may stimulate activism to address social problems, even while these same subcultural characteristics undermine their own strategic effectiveness.  It provides the most recent analysis of dominant elements within the evangelical subculture and how that subculture shapes the engagement strategies of evangelicals as a group. 

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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.

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Heaven in Conflict

Franciscans and the Boxer Uprising in Shanxi

by Anthony E. Clark

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Heavenly Merchandize

How Religion Shaped Commerce in Puritan America

Mark Valeri

Heavenly Merchandize offers a critical reexamination of religion's role in the creation of a market economy in early America. Focusing on the economic culture of New England, it views commerce through the eyes of four generations of Boston merchants, drawing upon their personal letters, diaries, business records, and sermon notes to reveal how merchants built a modern form of exchange out of profound transitions in the puritan understanding of discipline, providence, and the meaning of New England.

Mark Valeri traces the careers of men like Robert Keayne, a London immigrant punished by his church for aggressive business practices; John Hull, a silversmith-turned-trader who helped to establish commercial networks in the West Indies; and Hugh Hall, one of New England's first slave traders. He explores how Boston ministers reconstituted their moral languages over the course of a century, from a scriptural discourse against many market practices to a providential worldview that justified England's commercial hegemony and legitimated the market as a divine construct. Valeri moves beyond simplistic readings that reduce commercial activity to secular mind-sets, and refutes the popular notion of an inherent affinity between puritanism and capitalism. He shows how changing ideas about what it meant to be pious and puritan informed the business practices of Boston's merchants, who filled their private notebooks with meditations on scripture and the natural order, founded and led churches, and inscribed spiritual reflections in their letters and diaries.

Unprecedented in scope and rich with insights, Heavenly Merchandize illuminates the history behind the continuing American dilemma over morality and the marketplace.

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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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