Professor Leahy recounts the academic tensions between religious beliefs and intellectual inquiry, and explore the social changes that have affected higher education and American Catholicism throughout this century. He attempts to explain why the significant growth of Catholic colleges and universities was not always matched by concomitant academic esteem in the larger world of American higher education.
Winner of the John Gilmary Shea PrizeA groundbreaking history of how Africans in the French Empire embraced both African independence and their Catholic faith during the upheaval of decolonization, leading to a fundamental reorientation of the Catholic Church.African Catholic examines how French imperialists and the Africans they ruled imagined the religious future of French sub-Saharan Africa in the years just before and after decolonization. The story encompasses the political transition to independence, Catholic contributions to black intellectual currents, and efforts to alter the church hierarchy to create an authentically “African” church.Elizabeth Foster recreates a Franco-African world forged by conquest, colonization, missions, and conversions—one that still exists today. We meet missionaries in Africa and their superiors in France, African Catholic students abroad destined to become leaders in their home countries, African Catholic intellectuals and young clergymen, along with French and African lay activists. All of these men and women were preoccupied with the future of France’s colonies, the place of Catholicism in a postcolonial Africa, and the struggle over their personal loyalties to the Vatican, France, and the new African states.Having served as the nuncio to France and the Vatican’s liaison to UNESCO in the 1950s, Pope John XXIII understood as few others did the central questions that arose in the postwar Franco-African Catholic world. Was the church truly universal? Was Catholicism a conservative pillar of order or a force to liberate subjugated and exploited peoples? Could the church change with the times? He was thinking of Africa on the eve of Vatican II, declaring in a radio address shortly before the council opened, “Vis-à-vis the underdeveloped countries, the church presents itself as it is and as it wants to be: the church of all.”
A few years ago, a debate between atheists and religious believers spilled out from the halls of academia and the pews of America’s churches and into the public spotlight. A crop of atheist manifestos led the charge, surmounting and holding the tops of the nonfiction bestseller lists. This debate brought on an outpouring of religious rebuttals as both sides exchanged spirited volleys, accusations were leveled; myths, stereotypes, and strawmen arguments were perpetuated; and bitter hostility filled the air. Today many of these misconceptions and myths linger on, along with the generally acrimonious spirit of the debate.
In America’s Blessings, distinguished researcher Rodney Stark seeks to clear the air of this hostility and debunk many of the debate’s most widely perpetuated misconceptions by drawing from an expansive pool of sociological findings. Stark rises above the fray and focuses exclusively on facts by examining the measurable effects of religious faith and practice on American society. His results may surprise many atheists and believers alike.
Starting with a historical overview, Stark traces America’s religious roots from the country’s founding to the present day, showing that religiosity in America has never been consistent, static, or monolithic. Interestingly, he finds that religious practice is now more prevalent than ever in America, despite any claims to the contrary. From here, Stark devotes whole chapters to unpacking the latest research on how religion affects the different facets of modern American life, including crime, family life, sexuality, mental and physical health, sophistication, charity, and overall prosperity. The cumulative effect is that when translated into comparisons with western European nations, the United States comes out on top again and again. Thanks in no small part to America’s rich religious culture, the nation has far lower crime rates, much higher levels of charitable giving, better health, stronger marriages, and less suicide, to note only a few of the benefits.
In the final chapter, Stark assesses the financial impact of these religious realities. It turns out that belief benefits the American economy—and all 300 million citizens, believers, and nonbelievers alike—by a conservative estimate of $2.6 trillion a year. Despite the atheist outcry against religion, the remarkable conclusion is clear: all Americans, from the most religious among us to our secular neighbors, really ought to count our blessings.
During a career spanning sixty years, the Reverend Billy Graham’s resonant voice and chiseled profile entered the living rooms of millions of Americans with a message that called for personal transformation through God’s grace. How did a lanky farm kid from North Carolina become an evangelist hailed by the media as “America’s pastor”? Why did listeners young and old pour out their grief and loneliness in letters to a man they knew only through televised “Crusades” in faraway places like Madison Square Garden? More than a conventional biography, Grant Wacker’s interpretive study deepens our understanding of why Billy Graham has mattered so much to so many.Beginning with tent revivals in the 1940s, Graham transformed his born-again theology into a moral vocabulary capturing the fears and aspirations of average Americans. He possessed an uncanny ability to appropriate trends in the wider culture and engaged boldly with the most significant developments of his time, from communism and nuclear threat to poverty and civil rights. The enduring meaning of his career, in Wacker’s analysis, lies at the intersection of Graham’s own creative agency and the forces shaping modern America.Wacker paints a richly textured portrait: a self-deprecating servant of God and self-promoting media mogul, a simple family man and confidant of presidents, a plainspoken preacher and the “Protestant pope.” America’s Pastor reveals how this Southern fundamentalist grew, fitfully, into a capacious figure at the center of spiritual life for millions of Christians around the world.
American evangelicalism often appears as a politically monolithic, textbook red-state fundamentalism that elected George W. Bush, opposes gay marriage, abortion, and evolution, and promotes apathy about global warming. Prominent public figures hold forth on these topics, speaking with great authority for millions of followers. Authors Stephens and Giberson, with roots in the evangelical tradition, argue that this popular impression understates the diversity within evangelicalism—an often insular world where serious disagreements are invisible to secular and religiously liberal media consumers. Yet, in the face of this diversity, why do so many people follow leaders with dubious credentials when they have other options? Why do tens of millions of Americans prefer to get their science from Ken Ham, founder of the creationist Answers in Genesis, who has no scientific expertise, rather than from his fellow evangelical Francis Collins, current Director of the National Institutes of Health?Exploring intellectual authority within evangelicalism, the authors reveal how America’s populist ideals, anti-intellectualism, and religious free market, along with the concept of anointing—being chosen by God to speak for him like the biblical prophets—established a conservative evangelical leadership isolated from the world of secular arts and sciences.Today, charismatic and media-savvy creationists, historians, psychologists, and biblical exegetes continue to receive more funding and airtime than their more qualified counterparts. Though a growing minority of evangelicals engage with contemporary scholarship, the community’s authority structure still encourages the “anointed” to assume positions of leadership.
The contributors examine the contours of Christianity among diverse groups: Catholics in India, the Philippines, and Bolivia, and Seventh-Day Adventists in Madagascar; the Swedish branch of Word of Life, a charismatic church based in the United States; and Protestants in Amazonia, Melanesia, and Indonesia. Highlighting the wide variation in what it means to be Christian, the contributors reveal vastly different understandings and valuations of conversion, orthodoxy, Scripture, the inspired word, ritual, gifts, and the concept of heaven. In the process they bring to light how local Christian practices and beliefs are affected by encounters with colonialism and modernity, by the opposition between Catholicism and Protestantism, and by the proximity of other religions and belief systems. Together the contributors show that it not sufficient for anthropologists to assume that they know in advance what the Christian experience is; each local variation must be encountered on its own terms.
Contributors. Cecilia Busby, Fenella Cannell, Simon Coleman, Peter Gow, Olivia Harris, Webb Keane, Eva Keller, David Mosse, Danilyn Rutherford, Christina Toren, Harvey Whitehouse
The relationship between religion and modern culture remains a controversial issue within Christian theology. This book focuses on Paul Tillich's interpretation of modern culture and the influence of capitalism, highlighting the context of his work in relation to Karl Marx and the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School. When Tillich moved to the United States he sharpened his focus on the cultural dimensions of capitalism. Using the concept of "cultural modernity," Francis Ching-Wah Yip reconstructs Tillich's interpretation of modernity with the key categories of autonomy, self-sufficient finitude, technical reason, objectification, and dehumanization, and shows that Tillich's notion of theonomy served to underscore the problems of modernity and to develop a response.The final section of the book relates Tillich's theology to contemporary theological interpretations of global capitalism and modernity. Yip appeals to the work of Jürgen Moltmann to argue that one should go beyond Tillich's analysis by placing much more emphasis on the material-economic basis of culture and by moving away from the Eurocentric viewpoint to a more global perspective. Finally, he draws on Émile Durkheim to show the quasi-religious dimension of capitalism as a global civil religion and as the culture of modern society.
More than fifty books debunking the religious claims of The Da Vinci Code have been published. Thisis the first book devoted to the fundamentally more interesting question: if those claims are so unfounded and erroneous, why have they resonated so strongly with millions of intelligent readers and filmgoers?
From the sexual abuse scandal that shook the foundations of the Catholic Church to the 9/11 terrorist attacks that cast a cloud over a troubled nation, Eric Plumer’s The Catholic Church and American Culture: Why the Claims of the DaVinci Code Struck a Chord investigates the contemporary events, ideas, and movements that fostered Dan Brown’s unprecedented dominance of best-seller lists and dinner-table conversation. This ambitious book considers the feminist movement, radical individualism, twelve-step programs, the authority of science and psychology, and other cultural developments that paved the way for The Da Vinci Code craze. It also reflects on the recent publication of the Gnostic Gospels, including the Gospel of Mary Magdalene. Plumer’s engaging book is sure to stimulate further discussion about the role of religion in contemporary life.
Christianity and Public Culture in Africa takes readers beyond familiar images of religious politicians and populations steeped in spirituality. It shows how critical reason and Christian convictions have combined in surprising ways as African Christians confront issues such as national constitutions, gender relations, and the continuing struggle with HIV/AIDS.
The wide-ranging essays included here explore rural Africa and the continent’s major cities, colonial and missionary legacies, and mass media images in the twenty-first century. They also reveal the diversity of Pentecostalism in Africa and highlight the region’s remarkable denominational diversity. Scholars and students alike will find these essays timely and impressive.
The contributors demonstrate how the public significance of Christianity varies across time and place. They explore rural Africa and the continent’s major cities, and colonial and missionary situations, as well as mass-mediated ideas and images in the twenty-first century. They also reveal the plurality of Pentecostalism in Africa and keep in view the continent’s continuing denominational diversity. Studentsand scholars will find these topical studies to be impressive in scope.
Contributors: Barbara M. Cooper, Harri Englund, Marja Hinfelaar, Nicholas Kamau-Goro, Birgit Meyer, Michael Perry Kweku Okyerefo, Damaris Parsitau, Ruth Prince, James A. Pritchett, Ilana van Wyk
Organized around three central themes-family, youth, and community; democratization, citizenship, and political participation; and immigration and transnationalism-the book argues that, at the local level, religion helps people, especially women and youths, solidify their identities and confront the challenges of the modern world. Religious communities are seen as both peaceful venues for people to articulate their needs, and forums for building participatory democracies in the Americas. Finally, the contributors examine how religion enfranchises poor women, youths, and people displaced by war or economic change and, at the same time, drives social movements that seek to strengthen family and community bonds disrupted by migration and political violence.
The Baniwa Indians of the Northwest Amazon have engaged in millenarian movements since at least the middle of the nineteenth century. The defining characteristic of these movements is usually a prophecy of the end of this present world and the restoration of the primordial, utopian world of creation. This prophetic message, delivered by powerful shamans, has its roots in Baniwa myths of origin and creation.
In this ethnography of Baniwa religion, Robin M. Wright explores the myths of creation and how they have been embodied in religious movements and social action—particularly in a widespread conversion to evangelical Christianity. He opens with a discussion of cosmogony, cosmology, and shamanism, and then goes on to explain how Baniwa origin myths have played an active role in shaping both personal and community identity and history. He also explores the concepts of death and eschatology and shows how the mythology of destruction and renewal in Baniwa religion has made the Baniwa people receptive to both Catholic and Protestant missionaries.
Mennonites have long referred to themselves as "The Quiet in the Land," but their actual historical experience has been marked by internal disquiet and contention over religious values and cultural practice. As Fred Kniss argues in his impressive study of Mennonite history, the story of this sectarian pacifist group is a story of conflict. How can we understand the ironic phenomenon of Mennonite conflict? How do ideas and symbols-both those of the American mainstream and those that are specifically Mennonite-influence the emergence and course of this conflict? What is the relationship betweenintra-Mennonite conflict and the changing historical context in which Mennonites are situated?
Through a rigorous analysis of a century of disputes over dress codes, congregational authority, and religious practice, Kniss offers the tools both to understand conflict within a specific religious group and to answer larger questions about culture, ideology, and social and historical change.
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.
Invisible Agents shows how personal and deeply felt spiritual beliefs can inspire social movements and influence historical change. Conventional historiography concentrates on the secular, materialist, or moral sources of political agency. Instead, David M. Gordon argues, when people perceive spirits as exerting power in the visible world, these beliefs form the basis for individual and collective actions. Focusing on the history of the south-central African country of Zambia during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, his analysis invites reflection on political and religious realms of action in other parts of the world, and complicates the post-Enlightenment divide of sacred and profane.
The book combines theoretical insights with attention to local detail and remarkable historical sweep, from oral narratives communicated across slave-trading routes during the nineteenth century, through the violent conflicts inspired by Christian and nationalist prophets during colonial times, and ending with the spirits of Pentecostal rebirth during the neoliberal order of the late twentieth century. To gain access to the details of historical change and personal spiritual beliefs across this long historical period, Gordon employs all the tools of the African historian. His own interviews and extensive fieldwork experience in Zambia provide texture and understanding to the narrative. He also critically interprets a diverse range of other sources, including oral traditions, fieldnotes of anthropologists, missionary writings and correspondence, unpublished state records, vernacular publications, and Zambian newspapers.
Invisible Agents will challenge scholars and students alike to think in new ways about the political imagination and the invisible sources of human action and historical change.
In The Power of Mammon, Curtis D. Johnson describes how the market economy and market-related forces, such as the media, politics, individualism, and consumerism, radically changed the nature of Baptist congregational life in New York State during three centuries. Collectively, these forces emphasized the importance of material wealth over everything else, and these values penetrated the thinking of Baptist ministers and laypeople alike. Beginning in the 1820s, the pastorate turned into a profession, the laity’s influence diminished, closeknit religious fellowships evolved into voluntary associations, and evangelism became far less effective. Men, being the most engaged in the market, secularized the more quickly and became less involved in church affairs. By the 1870s, male disengagement opened the door to increased female participation in church governance. While scientific advances and religious pluralism also played a role, the market and its related distractions were the primary forces behind the secularization of Baptist life.
The Power of Mammon is history from the ground up. Unlike many denominational histories, this book emphasizes congregational life and the importance of the laity. This focus allows the reader to hear the voices of ordinary Baptists who argued over a host of issues. Johnson deftly connects large social trends with exhaustive attention to archival material, including numerous well-chosen records preserved by forty-two New York churches. These records include details related to membership, discipline, finance, and institutional history. Utilizing statistical analysis to achieve even greater clarity, Johnson effectively bridges the gap between the particularity of church records and the broader history of New York’s Baptist churches.
Johnson’s narrative of Baptist history in New York will serve as a model for other regional studies and adds to our understanding of secularization and its impact on American religion.
The Pyramid under the Cross looks at the epic project of Christianization as well as the limits of the Spanish spiritual colonizers' power to accomplish it. The book focuses on activities of Franciscan missionaries who, as the first religious order to arrive, occupied the most important political and social centers in the Valley of Mexico and set the strategies of evangelization that others would follow. One such activity, the Nahua theater of evangelization, is represented as an exemplary case of the inevitable cultural negotiation involved in the missionary process. The author explores not only the imposition of a Eurocentric worldview upon the Nahua but also the hybridization of this view as the spiritual colonizer attempted to encompass a new non-Western constituency and the latter interpreted Christianity according to its own cultural paradigms.
The book treats a wide range of texts—the Historia eclesiástica indiana, the Confessionario Mayor, the Coloquios de los Doce, and more—both by renowned Franciscan figures such as Gerónimo de Mendieta, Alonso de Molina, Bernardino de Sahagún, and by Nahua grammarians Antonio Valeriano de Azcapotzalco, Andrés Leonardo de Tlatelolco, and others. Díaz Balsera engages the cultural constraints of all the actors in the episodes she relates in order to show how the exchange between them resulted in the appropriation and/or alteration of the Spanish discourses of spiritual domination—sometimes even in their breakdown—and how it brought about the emergence of Nahua Christian subjects that would never fully leave behind their ancient ways of relating to the gods.
The Pyramid under the Cross will be of interest to readers in the areas of Hispanic literatures, history, religion, anthropology, Latin American and cultural studies, and to those working in the field of colonial studies.
In Religion and the Struggle for European Union, Brent F. Nelsen and James L. Guth delve into the powerful role of religion in shaping European attitudes on politics, political integration, and the national and continental identities of its leaders and citizens.
Nelsen and Guth contend that for centuries Catholicism promoted the universality of the Church and the essential unity of Christendom. Protestantism, by contrast, esteemed particularity and feared Catholic dominance. These differing visions of Europe have influenced the process of postwar integration in profound ways. Nelsen and Guth compare the Catholic view of Europe as a single cultural entity best governed as a unified polity against traditional Protestant estrangement from continental culture and its preference for pragmatic cooperation over the sacrifice of sovereignty. As the authors show, this deep cultural divide, rooted in the struggles of the Reformation, resists the ongoing secularization of the continent. Unless addressed, it threatens decades of hard-won gains in security and prosperity.
Farsighted and rich with data, Religion and the Struggle for European Union offers a pragmatic way forward in the EU's attempts to solve its social, economic, and political crises.
The first English translation of Guy Stresser-Péan's tour-de-force presents two decades of fieldwork in the Sierra Norte de Puebla, Mexico, where native pre-Hispanic pagan beliefs blended with traditional Catholic evangelization from the sixteenth century and the more recent intrusion of modernism.
The Indians of the Sierra Norte de Puebla are deeply devoted to Christianity, but their devotion is seamlessly combined with pagan customs, resulting in a hybrid belief system that is not wholly indigenous, yet not wholly Christian. The syncretism practiced here has led the Totonac and Nahua people to identify Christ with the Sun God, a belief expressed symbolically in ritual practices such as the Dance of the Voladores.
Spanning the four centuries from the earliest systematic campaign against Nahua ritual practices - Zumárraga's idolatry trials of 1536-1540 - to the twentieth century, Stresser-Péan contextualizes Nahua and Totonac ritual practices as a series of responses to Christian evangelization and the social reproduction of traditional ritual practices. The Sun God and the Savior is a monumental work on the ethnographic and historical knowledge of the peoples of the Sierra Norte.
Winner, LASA Mexico Humanities Book Prize, 2017
Among the surviving documents from the colonial period in Mexico are rare Maya-authored manuscript compilations of Christian texts, translated and adapted into the Maya language and worldview, which were used to evangelize the local population. The Morely Manuscript is well known to scholars, and now The Teabo Manuscript introduces an additional example of what Mark Z. Christensen terms a Maya Christian copybook. Recently discovered in the archives of Brigham Young University, the Teabo Manuscript represents a Yucatecan Maya recounting of various aspects of Christian doctrine, including the creation of the world, the Fall of Adam and Eve, and the genealogy of Christ.
The Teabo Manuscript presents the first English translation and analysis of this late colonial Maya-language document, a facsimile and transcription of which are also included in the book. Working through the manuscript section by section, Christensen makes a strong case for its native authorship, as well as its connections with other European and Maya religious texts, including the Morely Manuscript and the Books of Chilam Balam. He uses the Teabo Manuscript as a platform to explore various topics, such as the evangelization of the Maya, their literary compositions, and the aspects of Christianity that they deemed important enough to write about and preserve. This pioneering research offers important new insights into how the Maya negotiated their precontact intellectual traditions within a Spanish and Catholic colonial world.
A comprehensive series of essays exploring Peter C. Phan’s groundbreaking work to widen Christian theology beyond the Western world
Peter C. Phan’s wide-ranging contributions to theology and his pioneering work on religious pluralism, migration, and Christian identity have made a global impact on the field.
The essays in Theology without Borders offer a variety of perspectives across Phan’s fundamental work in eschatology, world christianity, interreligious dialogue, and much more. Together, these essays offer a comprehensive assessment of Phan’s groundbreaking work across a range of theological fields. Included in the conversation are discussions of world Christianity and migration, Christian identity and religious pluralism, Christian theology in Asia, Asian American theology, eschatology, and Phan’s lasting legacy.
Theology without Borders provides a welcome overview for anyone interested in the career of Peter C. Phan, his body of work, and its influence.
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