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How Intermarried Couples are Changing American Judaism
Over half of all American Jewish children are being raised by intermarried parents. This demographic group will have a tremendous impact on American Judaism as it is lived and practiced in the coming decades. To date, however, in both academic studies about Judaism and in the popular imagination, such children and their parents remain marginal.
Jennifer A. Thompson takes a different approach. In Jewish on Their Own Terms, she tells the stories of intermarried couples, the rabbis and other Jewish educators who work with them, and the conflicting public conversations about intermarriage among American Jews. Thompson notes that in the dominant Jewish cultural narrative, intermarriage symbolizes individualism and assimilation. Talking about intermarriage allows American Jews to discuss their anxieties about remaining distinctively Jewish despite their success in assimilating into American culture.
In contrast, Thompson uses ethnography to describe the compelling concerns of all of these parties and places their anxieties firmly within the context of American religious culture and morality. She explains how American and traditional Jewish gender roles converge to put non-Jewish women in charge of raising Jewish children. Interfaith couples are like other Americans in often harboring contradictory notions of individual autonomy, universal religious truths, and obligations to family and history.
Focusing on the lived experiences of these families, Jewish on Their Own Terms provides a complex and insightful portrait of intermarried couples and the new forms of American Judaism that they are constructing.
A Rhetorical Analysis of Personal Theologies
This study of battered women living in a shelter offers a rhetorical analysis of survivors’ personal theologies. Author Carol L. Winkelmann holds that while it is virtually ignored in the domestic violence literature, the Christian heritage of many battered women plays a significant, if complicated, role in their language, thoughts, and lives. The women’s religious faith serves not only to sustain them through periods of profound suffering, but also to develop solidarity with other culturally-different women in the shelter. Designed to assist women to greater independence, the shelter actually functions as a culture of surveillance where women turn to one another and to their faith to cope with the trauma of violence. To heal, the women engage in dialogue that is dense in religious imagery, talking about the relationship of God and the church to suffering and evil. At the same time, these women also acknowledge that organized religion is very much involved in the maintenance of patriarchal marriage and its attendant abuses in their own lives. Together, battered women are sometimes able to construct creative theological responses to the problem of suffering and evil. A mix of religious and secular languages compels them to devise new ways of thinking about their role in family, church, and society.
Mormonism and the Making of American Culture
From the politics of Glenn Beck to reality television's Big Love and the hit Broadway show The Book of Mormon, Mormons have become a recognizable staple of mainstream popular culture. And while most Americans are well aware of the existence of Mormonism—and some of the often exaggerated myths about Mormonism—the religion's public influence has been sorely understudied.
Lee Trepanier and Lynita K. Newswander move beyond clichéd and stereotypical portrayals of Mormonism to unpack the significant and sometimes surprising roles Mormons have played in the building of modern America. Moving from popular culture to politics to the Mormon influence in social controversies, LDS in the USA reveals Mormonism to be quintessentially American—both firmly rooted in American tradition and free to engage in the public square.
Trepanier and Newswander examine the intersection of the tension between the nation's sometimes bizarre understanding of Mormon belief and the suspicious acceptance of the most well known Mormons into the American public identity. Readers are consistently challenged to abandon popular perceptions in order to embrace more fully the fascinating importance of this American religion.
Navigating a Generation of Change in Family and Work
Drawing on fieldwork that spans nearly twenty years, Making Do in Damascus offers a rare portrayal of ordinary family life in Damascus, Syria. It explores how women draw on cultural ideals around gender, religion and family to negotiate a sense of collective and personal identity. Emphasizing the ability of women to creatively manage family relationships within mostly conservative Sunni Muslim households, Gallagher highlights how personal and material resources shape women's choices and constraints around education, choice of marriage partner, decisions about employment, childrearing, relationships with kin, and the uses and risks of new information technologies. Gallagher argues that taking a nuanced approach toward analyzing women’s identity and authority in society, allows us to think beyond dichotomies of Damascene women as either oppressed by class and patriarchy on one hand, or completely autonomous agents of their own lives on the other. Tracing ordinary women’s experiences and ideals across decades of social and economic change Making Do in Damascus highlights the salience of collective identity, place, and connection within families, as well as resources and regional politics, in shaping a generation of families in Damascus.
The Lives of Peter and Fanny Gulick, 1797-1883
Ever since Protestant missionaries from the United States first reached Hawai‘i in 1820, they have inspired conflicting passions. In evangelical circles, the missionaries are praised for christianizing Hawai‘i, transforming Hawaiian into a written language, and inoculating the islanders against smallpox. But this celebratory assessment is rejected by modern-day Hawaiian nationalists, who excoriate the missionaries as advance agents of U.S. imperialism. In this biography of pioneer missionaries Peter and Fanny Gulick, Clifford Putney offers a balanced view of their contributions. He says the nationalists are right to credit the missionaries with drawing Hawai‘i into America’s political orbit, but argues that the missionary enterprise helped in some ways to preserve key elements of Hawaiian culture. Based primarily on letters, journals, and other archival materials, Putney’s book provides readers with a detailed portrait of the lives of Peter and Fanny Gulick. Inspired by America’s Second Great Awakening to spread the Gospel overseas, the Gulicks voyaged to Hawai‘i in 1828 and lived there for the next forty-six years, actively proselytizing and working to change the islands. On Kaua‘i, they helped to ensure the success of Hawai‘i’s first sugar plantation and acquainted Hawaiians with inventions such as the wagon. On Moloka‘i (later the site of a leper colony) the couple struggled merely to survive. And on O‘ahu, they took up ranching and helped to found Punahou School, the alma mater of President Barack Obama. While laboring in Hawai‘i, the Gulicks interacted with kings, queens, and other historically important figures, and Putney chronicles those relationships. He also explores issues of race and gender, and sheds new light on the democratization of government, the spread of capitalism, and the privatization of land. From these last two developments, a number of missionaries grew immensely rich, but the Gulicks did not, and neither did their descendants. A group that includes influential missionaries, educators, and physical fitness experts, the descendants of Peter and Fanny have had numerous books written about them, but Putney is the first to write extensively about the progenitors of the Gulick clan.
The Old African American Hoodoo System
Katrina Hazzard-Donald explores African Americans' experience and practice of the herbal, healing folk belief tradition known as Hoodoo. Working against conventional scholarship, Hazzard-Donald argues that Hoodoo emerged first in three distinct regions she calls "regional Hoodoo clusters" and that after the turn of the nineteenth century, Hoodoo took on a national rather than regional profile. The first interdisciplinary examination to incorporate a full glossary of Hoodoo culture, Mojo Workin': The Old African American Hoodoo System lays out the movement of Hoodoo against a series of watershed changes in the American cultural landscape. Throughout, Hazzard-Donald distinguishes between "Old tradition Black Belt Hoodoo" and commercially marketed forms that have been controlled, modified, and often fabricated by outsiders; this study focuses on the hidden system operating almost exclusively among African Americans in the Black spiritual underground._x000B_
Paul Harvey uses four characters that are important symbols of religious expression in the American South to survey major themes of religion, race, and southern history.The figure of Moses helps us better understand how whites saw themselves as a chosen people in situations of suffering and war and how Africans and African Americans reworked certain stories in the Bible to suit their own purposes. By applying the figure of Jesus to the central concerns of life, Harvey argues, southern evangelicals were instrumental in turning him into an American figure. The ghostly presence of the Trickster, hovering at the edges of the sacred world, sheds light on the Euro-American and African American folk religions that existed alongside Christianity. Finally, Harvey explores twentieth-century renderings of the biblical story of Absalom in William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom and in works from Toni Morrison and Edward P. Jones.Harvey uses not only biblical and religious sources but also draws on literature, mythology, and art. He ponders the troubling meaning of “religious freedom” for slaves and later for blacks in the segregated South. Through his cast of four central characters, Harvey reveals diverse facets of the southern religious experience, including conceptions of ambiguity, darkness, evil, and death.
Islam and National Identity in the Bangladeshi Diaspora
Muslims in Motion provides a comparative look at Bangladeshi Muslims in different global contexts-including Britain, the U.S., the Middle East, and Malaysia. Nazli Kibria examines international migrant flows from Bangladesh, and considers how such migrations continue to shape Islamization in these areas. Having conducted more than 200 in-depth interviews, she explores how, in societies as different as these, migrant Muslims, in their everyday lives, strive to achieve economic gains, sustain community and family life, and realize a sense of dignity and honor.
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.
Religion and Cultural Poetics of Greater Mexico
In this ethnography of Catholic religious practice in Fresno, California, David P. Sandell unveils ritualized storytelling that Mexican and Mexican American people of faith use to cope with racism and poverty associated with colonial, capitalist, and modern social conditions. Based on in-depth interviews and extensive field research conducted in 2000 and 2001, Sandell's work shows how people use story and religious ritual (including the Matachines dance, the Mass, the rosary, pilgrimage, and processions) to create a space in their lives free from oppression. These people give meaning to the expression "open your heart," the book argues, through ritual and stories, enabling them to engage the mind and body in a movement toward, as one participant said, "the sacred center" of their lives. Sandell argues that the storytelling represents a tradition of poetics that provides an alternative, emancipatory epistemology. Américo Paredes, for example, defined this tradition in his scholarship of border balladry. According to Paredes, storytelling with ritual elements raises a feature of performance characterized as a convivial disposition and shared sense of identity among people who call themselves Mexican not for national identification but for a cultural one, understood as "Greater Mexico." Sandell contributes to this tradition and achieves an understanding of Greater Mexico characterized by people whose stories and rituals help them find common ground, unity, and wholeness through an open heart.