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Understanding Sacred Spaces
This volume examines a diverse set of spaces and buildings seen through the lens of popular practice and belief to shed light on the complexities of sacred space in America. Contributors explore how dedication sermons document shifting understandings of the meetinghouse in early 19th-century Connecticut; the changes in evangelical church architecture during the same century and what that tells us about evangelical religious life; the impact of contemporary issues on Catholic church architecture; the impact of globalization on the construction of traditional sacred spaces; the urban practice of Jewish space; nature worship and Central Park in New York; the mezuzah and domestic sacred space; and, finally, the spiritual aspects of African American yard art.
Esalen and the Rise of Spiritual Privilege
Yoga. Humanistic Psychology. Meditation. Holistic Healing. These practices are commonplace today. Yet before the early 1960s they were atypical options for most people outside of the upper class or small groups of educated spiritual seekers.
Esalen Institute, a retreat for spiritual and personal growth in Big Sur, California, played a pioneering role in popularizing quests for self-transformation and personalized spirituality. This “soul rush” spread quickly throughout the United States as the Institute made ordinary people aware of hundreds of ways to select, combine, and revise their beliefs about the sacred and to explore diverse mystical experiences. Millions of Americans now identify themselves as spiritual, not religious, because Esalen paved the way for them to explore spirituality without affiliating with established denominations
The American Soul Rush explores the concept of spiritual privilege and Esalen’s foundational influence on the growth and spread of diverse spiritual practices that affirm individuals’ self-worth and possibilities for positive personal change. The book also describes the people, narratives, and relationships at the Institute that produced persistent, almost accidental inequalities in order to illuminate the ways that gender is central to religion and spirituality in most contexts.
Between Past and Present
“If I were asked to recommend a single book that puts the vexed and emotionally charged question of the death penalty into an intelligible historical and contemporary political perspective it would be this one. The introduction sets the stage beautifully and the essays that follow allow readers to come at the problem from a variety of mutually reinforcing perspectives. It is a model for intellectually rigorous scholarship on a morally exigent matter.”
The attacks of September 11, 2001, facilitated by easy entry and lax immigration controls, cast into bold relief the importance and contradictions of U.S. immigration policy. Will we have to restrict immigration for fear of future terrorist attacks? On a broader scale, can the country's sense of national identity be maintained in the face of the cultural diversity that today's immigrants bring? How will the resulting demographic, social, and economic changes affect U.S. residents? As the debate about immigration policy heats up, it has become more critical than ever to examine immigration's role in our society. With a comprehensive social scientific assessment of immigration over the past thirty years, America's Newcomers and the Dynamics of Diversity provides the clearest picture to date of how immigration has actually affected the United States, while refuting common misconceptions and predicting how it might affect us in the future. Frank Bean and Gillian Stevens show how, on the whole, immigration has been beneficial for the United States. Although about one million immigrants arrive each year, the job market has expanded sufficiently to absorb them without driving down wages significantly or preventing the native-born population from finding jobs. Immigration has not led to welfare dependency among immigrants, nor does evidence indicate that welfare is a magnet for immigrants. With the exception of unauthorized Mexican and Central American immigrants, studies show that most other immigrant groups have attained sufficient earnings and job mobility to move into the economic mainstream. Many Asian and Latino immigrants have established ethnic networks while maintaining their native cultural practices in the pursuit of that goal. While this phenomenon has led many people to believe that today's immigrants are slow to enter mainstream society, Bean and Stevens show that intermarriage and English language proficiency among these groups are just as high—if not higher—as among prior waves of European immigrants. America's Newcomers and the Dynamics of Diversity concludes by showing that the increased racial and ethnic diversity caused by immigration may be helping to blur the racial divide in the United States, transforming the country from a biracial to multi-ethnic and multi-racial society. Replacing myth with fact, America's Newcomers and the Dynamics of Diversity contains a wealth of information and belongs on the bookshelves of policymakers, pundits, scholars, students, and anyone who is concerned about the changing face of the United States.
Millions have entered poverty as a result of the Great Recession's terrible toll of long-term unemployment. Kristin Seefeldt and John D. Graham examine recent trends in poverty and assess the performance of America’s "safety net" programs. They consider likely scenarios for future developments and conclude that the well-being of low-income Americans, particularly the working poor, the near poor, and the new poor, is at substantial risk despite economic recovery.
Sexually Nonconforming Latinas Negotiate Family
Amigas y Amantes (Friends and Lovers) explores the experiences of sexually nonconforming Latinas in the creation and maintenance of families. It is based on forty-two in-depth ethnographic interviews with women who identify as lesbian, bisexual, or queer (LBQ). Additionally, it draws from fourteen months of participant observation at LBQ Latina events that Katie L. Acosta conducted in 2007 and 2008 in a major northeast city. With this data, Acosta examines how LBQ Latinas manage loving relationships with the families who raised them, and with their partners, their children, and their friends.
Acosta investigates how sexually nonconforming Latinas negotiate cultural expectations, combat compulsory heterosexuality, and reconcile tensions with their families. She offers a new way of thinking about the emotion work involved in everyday lives, which highlights the informal, sometimes invisible, labor required in preserving family ties. Acosta contends that the work LBQ Latinas take on to preserve connections with biological families, lovers, and children results in a unique way of doing family.
Paying particular attention to the negotiations that LBQ Latinas undertake in an effort to maintain familial order, Amigas y Amantes explores how they understand femininity, how they negotiate their religious faiths, how they face the unique challenges of being in interracial/interethnic relationships, and how they raise their children while integrating their families of origin.
Diversity and Change in the World's Largest Amish Community
Holmes County, Ohio, is home to the largest and most diverse Amish community in the world. Yet, surprisingly, it remains relatively unknown compared to its famous cousin in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Charles E. Hurst and David L. McConnell conducted seven years of fieldwork, including interviews with over 200 residents, to understand the dynamism that drives social change and schism within the settlement, where Amish enterprises and nonfarming employment have prospered. The authors contend that the Holmes County Amish are experiencing an unprecedented and complex process of change as their increasing entanglement with the non-Amish market causes them to rethink their religious convictions, family practices, educational choices, occupational shifts, and health care options. The authors challenge the popular image of the Amish as a homogeneous, static, insulated society, showing how the Amish balance tensions between individual needs and community values. They find that self-made millionaires work alongside struggling dairy farmers; successful female entrepreneurs live next door to stay-at-home mothers; and teenagers both embrace and reject the coming-of-age ritual, rumspringa. An Amish Paradox captures the complexity and creativity of the Holmes County Amish, dispelling the image of the Amish as a vestige of a bygone era and showing how they reinterpret tradition as modernity encroaches on their distinct way of life.
In this American Book Award-winning autobiography, Shirley Geok-lin Lim recalls her girlhood as part of a Chinese family in war-torn Malaysia, and her later life in the United States, where she moves from alienation as a dislocated Asian woman to a new sense of identity as an Asian-American woman. Lim's memoir explores colonialism, Chinese/Malaysian relations, and race relations in the US, as well as the intricacies of the academic life.
A Mother, Her Daughter, and their Stories
“Thirty-seven years ago, I vowed to write a truthful book about raising a deaf child.” Rebecca Willman Gernon followed through on her promise with her deaf daughter Amy Willman in this extraordinary new narrative. Many stories have been told about a parent’s struggle to help her deaf child succeed in a mostly hearing world. Amy Signs marks a signature departure in that both Rebecca and Amy relate their perspectives on their journey together. When she learns of 11-month-old Amy’s deafness in 1969, Rebecca fully expresses her anguish, and traces all of the difficulties she endured in trying to find the right educational environment for Amy. The sacrifices of the rest of her family weighed heavily on her, also. When she resolved to place four-year-old Amy in Nebraska’s residential school for deaf students, the emotional toll seemed too much to bear. Amy’s view acts as the perfect counterpoint. Interwoven with her mother’s story, Amy’s account confirms that signing served her best. She summarizes life in boarding school as “laughter and homesickness.” She laughed with all of her deaf friends, though felt homesick at times. Amy thanks her mother for the gift of sign, asserting that a mainstream education would never have led her to earn a master’s degree and later teach ASL at the University of Nebraska. Amy Signs is a positive albeit cautionary tale for parents of deaf children today whose only choice is a mainstreamed education.