In August 1986, Alice Auma, a young Acholi woman in northern Uganda, proclaiming herself under the orders of a Christian spirit named Lakwena, raised an army called the “Holy Spirit Mobile Forces.” With it she waged a war against perceived evil, not only an external enemy represented by the National Resistance Army of the government, but internal enemies in the form of “impure” soldiers, witches, and sorcerers. She came very close to her goal of overthrowing the government but was defeated and fled to Kenya.
This book provides a unique view of Alice’s movement, based on interviews with its members and including their own writings, examining their perceptions of the threat of external and internal evil. It concludes with an account of the successor movements into which Alice’s forces fragmented and which still are active in the civil wars of the Sudan and Uganda.
“Wall traces the nursing and management roles of nuns and brothers in church-related US health care institutions. This well-documented volume will be a useful addition for collections supporting academic programs in public health, hospital administration, bioethics, and divinity, and for comprehensive collections in the history of medicine. Recommended.” —Choice
“American Catholic Hospitals is fair, balanced, insightful, and intriguing. The story Wall tells—a story about a significant segment of the US health care system—is meticulously documented. Readers will find her study to be illuminating, even inspirational.” —Journal of the American Medical Association
“In American Catholic Hospitals, Barbra Mann Hall traces the ways Catholic hospitals have accommodated changes both within the church and in society over the last century. Her book is well researched and a fascinating read.” —Health Progress
“Wall presents a compelling and well-documented narrative of the dynamic transformation of Catholic hospitals in twentieth-century America. Drawing on records from Catholic congregations throughout the United States, she reveals an admirable perseverance of religious caregivers, demonstrated by their willingness to adapt to socioeconomic forces often inimical to charitable care.” —American Catholic Studies
“American Catholic Hospitals is meticulously researched and well written. Although it is certainly appropriate for both undergraduate and graduate students, general readers also will find it to be an excellent overview of the history of the changes that Catholic health-care institutions have undergone in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.” —Catholic Historical Review
“American Catholic Hospitals offers a tremendous amount of new material and refreshing perspectives on current health care system challenges in the United States.” —Sioban Nelson, Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto
“Wall provides solid scholarship and engaging insight into the historic and contemporary contributions of American Catholic hospitals and their ability to adapt and serve amid the changing landscapes of church and state, culture wars, and healthcare reforms of the 20th century.” —Carol K. Coburn, author of Spirited Lives: How Nuns Shaped Catholic Culture and American Life, 1836-1920
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.
Perceptive and broad in scope, America’s Religious Crossroads illuminates the integral relationship between communal and spiritual growth in early Midwestern history.
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
Denounced by some as a dangerous cult and lauded by others as a miraculous faith community, the International Churches of Christ was a conservative evangelical Christian movement that grew rapidly in the 1980s and 1990s.
Among its followers, promises to heal family relationships were central to the group's appeal. Members credit the church for helping them develop so-called "awesome families"-successful marriages and satisfying relationships with children, family of origin, and new church "brothers and sisters." The church engaged an elaborate array of services, including round-the-clock counseling, childcare, and Christian dating networks-all of which were said to lead to fulfilling relationships and exciting sex lives. Before the unified movement's demise in 2003-2004, the lure of blissful family-life led more than 100,000 individuals worldwide to be baptized into the church.
In Awesome Families, Kathleen Jenkins draws on four years of ethnographic research to explain how and why so many individuals-primarily from middle- to upper-middle-class backgrounds-were attracted to this religious group that was founded on principles of enforced community, explicit authoritative relationships, and therapeutic ideals. Weaving classical and contemporary social theory, she argues that members were commonly attracted to the structure and practice of family relationships advocated by the church, especially in the context of contemporary society where gender roles and family responsibilities are often ambiguous.
Tracing the rise and fall of this fast-growing religious movement, this timely study adds to our understanding of modern society and offers insight to the difficulties that revivalist movements have in sustaining growth.
The first classics in human history—the early works of literature, philosophy, and theology to which we have returned throughout the ages—appeared in the middle centuries of the first millennium bce. The canonical texts of the Hebrew scriptures, the philosophical writings of Plato and Aristotle, the Analects of Confucius and the Daodejing, the Bhagavad Gita and the teachings of the Buddha—all of these works came down to us from the compressed period of history that Karl Jaspers memorably named the Axial Age.
In The Axial Age and Its Consequences, Robert Bellah and Hans Joas make the bold claim that intellectual sophistication itself was born worldwide during this critical time. Across Eurasia, a new self-reflective attitude toward human existence emerged, and with it an awakening to the concept of transcendence. From Axial Age thinkers we inherited a sense of the world as a place not just to experience but to investigate, envision, and alter through human thought and action.
Bellah and Joas have assembled diverse scholars to guide us through this astonishing efflorescence of religious and philosophical creativity. As they explore the varieties of theorizing that arose during the period, they consider how these in turn led to utopian visions that brought with them the possibility of both societal reform and repression. The roots of our continuing discourse on religion, secularization, inequality, education, and the environment all lie in Axial Age developments. Understanding this transitional era, the authors contend, is not just an academic project but a humanistic endeavor.
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