Category Archives: Daniel R. Strecker

Kadri on the Many Facets of Shari’a

This month, Farrar, Straus & Giroux publishes Heaven on Earth: A Journey Through Shari’a Law From the Deserts of Ancient Arabia to the Streets of the Modern Muslim World, by Sadakat Kadri, a lawyer and journalist.  Kadri attempts to clarify prevailing misunderstandings over Shari’a and its application both in the ancient and modern worlds.  Above all, Kadri illustrates that Shari’a is far from monolithic; rather, its application today and throughout time has been varied and a matter of debate.  While Shari’a has occasionally been considered synonymous with harshness, Kadri reveals its essential ethic of compassion and equity—one not reducible to simplistic generalization.

Please read the New York Times review of Heaven on Earth here.  Please listen to the author’s interview on NPR’s Fresh Air here.  The publisher’s description follows the jump. Continue reading

Religion and State in Neoliberal Africa

This month, University of Notre Dame Press publishes Displacing the State: Religion and Conflict in Neoliberal Africa.  Edited by James Howard Smith of U.C. Davis and Rosalind I.J. Hackett, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Displacing the State collects essays exploring religion’s role in African colonialism.  It also collects essays exploring the ways in which religion shaped post-colonial African politics and continues to shape politics in present-day Africa.

For the publisher’s description, please follow the jump.  Notre Dame Press excerpts James Howard Smith’s introduction to the volume here. Continue reading

Oakley on the Reshaping of Ancient Political Inheritance

This month, Yale University Press publishes The Mortgage of the Past: Reshaping the Ancient Political Inheritance (1o50–1300), by Francis Oakley, President Emeritus of Williams College.  The volume is part of a three part series on the emergence of a secular from a religious socio-political worldview during the Middle Ages.   In this book, Oakley explores the confluence of secular and religious forces in the Middle Ages that shaped the transformation from a political conception of (1) a divine procession from king to heir to (2) a more secular understanding of the procession from ruler to ruler.

Please follow the jump for the publisher’s description. Continue reading

Ashe on Women, Religion, & American Law

Marie Ashe, Professor of Law at Suffolk University Law School, will publish Women’s Wrongs, Religions’ Rights: Women, Free Exercise, and Establishment in American Law.  Please see the abstract below:

 This article provides an historical examination of American Constitutional law concerning religion as it has evolved through three periods: the Mormon period of the late nineteenth century; the religious pluralism period of post-WW2 decades; and the multiculturalism period that began around 1990 and that remains underway. It examines Supreme Court interpretations of First Amendment provisions pertaining to religion, and it contextualizes those interpretations to explore their implications for women’s liberty and equality at each of the three periods. Its argument is that Constitutional doctrine relating to religion – through its multiple doctrinal reversals – has consistently entailed and depended upon negative constructions of women, sacrificing women’s liberty and equality interests in order to prefer and to cultivate the liberty and equality interests of churches.

Silvestri on the Identities of Europe’s Muslim Women

In June, Columbia University Press will publish Europe’s Muslim Women: Beyond the Burqa Controversy, by  Dr. Sara Silvestri, Senior Lecturer in International Politics at City University London.  Silvestri’s text attempts to transcend the international debates—e.g., about the burqa, the niqab, and subjection to men—surrounding Muslim women in Europe that inadvertently have the effect of obscuring who these women actually are.  Through the content of interviews and surveys, Silvestri hopes to paint a truer portrait of the domestic, religious, and socio-political identities of Europe’s Muslim women.

Please see the publisher’s description after the jump. Continue reading

Marietta on the Politics of Sacred Rhetoric

In March, Baylor University Press published, The Politics of Sacred Rhetoric: Absolutist Appeals and Political Persuasion, by Morgan Marietta, who teaches American politics and political psychology at the University of Georgia.  The volume explores the uses and effects of American politicians’ reliance on religious tropes in expressing their political positions, even where the connection between their language and the sacred is not overt.  The first part of the volume discusses this trend and its effect in general.  The second part delves into how such rhetoric has been used in specific social movements; by specific presidents, such as George W. Bush; and in specific political undertakings, like the 2008 Democratic  campaign.

For the publisher’s description, please follow the jump. Continue reading

Cohen on Conservative Judaism and American Religious Diversity

In May, Columbia University Press will publish The Birth of Conservative Judaism: Solomon Schechter’s Disciples and the Creation of an American Religious Movement, by Michael R. Cohen, Director of Jewish Studies at Tulane University.  Professor Cohen regards Conservative Judaism, which Schechter founded after he emigrated to the United States in 1902, as a characteristically American religion.  He identifies in Conservative Judaism a feature he believes common to American religions: diversity.  This diversity, says Professor Cohen, makes Conservative Judaism a microcosm of American religion’s triumphs as well as its failings:  For diversity fosters unity by encouraging different religious communities to live in mutual harmony; yet this same embrace of diversity may also contribute to a lack of ideological clarity that undermines our building religious communities in the first place.

Please see the publisher’s description after the jump.

Continue reading

The USCCB Urges Nuclear Disarmament Policy

This month, the USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace, and Human Development (the “JPHD”) released a statement urging the Obama Administration to move decisively toward nuclear disarmament.  The JPHD referenced both the massive expense of maintaining the United States’ nuclear arsenal—money better spent aiding the poor—and Catholic just war principles, which would forbid the use of such disproportionately destructive weaponry.  On these bases, the JPHD went so far as to urge not just reduction in nuclear capability to a level of bare deterrence, but actual, complete nuclear disarmament

Please follow the jump to read a copy of the form letter the JPHD urged Americans to e-sign before March 31, 2012, when Obama will be making once-per-decade decisions about whether and how much to cut the United States’ nuclear arsenal. Continue reading

Fitzpatrick-Behrens: Socio-Theological Transformation in Peru

This year, the University of Notre Dame Press will publish, The Maryknoll Catholic Mission in Peru: 1943–1989, by Susan Fitzpatrick-Behrens, associate professor in history at California State University, Northridge.  Fitzpatrick-Behrens’ text explores Maryknoll Catholic missionaries’ combined religious and political efforts in Peru—particularly, efforts guided by the Vatican’s  preferential option for the poor.  This same movement gave rise to the incomparable and seminal work, A Theology of Liberation, by Peruvian priest and theologian Gustavo Gutiérrez—the foundational text of Catholic liberation theology and its non-Catholic offshoots (for example, the work of Rev. Dr. James H. Cone in the United States).  Please see the publisher’s description after the jump. Continue reading

The Muslim Brotherhood in Europe

In May, Columbia University Press will publish The Muslim Brotherhood in Europe, edited by Edwin Bakker, Professor of Terrorism and Counterterrorism at Leiden University in Holland, and Roel Meijer of the Netherlands Institute of International Relations.  The volume collects articles presenting different views on the Muslim Brotherhood‘s activities in Europe.  The articles explore the extent to which these activities mirror the Brotherhood’s activities in the Middle East and whether their presence in Europe promotes a positive rallying force for Europe’s Muslim communities or the dangerous potential of national and international destabilization by fomenting inter-communal and inter-religious conflict.

Please see the publisher’s description after the jump. Continue reading