I am delighted to present the 2014 AALS Law & Religion Newsletter. The Newsletter contains several conferences of interest in 2015 as well as a few relevant panels at the 2015 AALS conference. It also offers an extensive bibliography of books and articles in the area published over the last year. Thanks to the Center for Law and Religion’s excellent fellows, John Boersma and Stephanie Cipolla, for assistance in assembling it.
In October, Rowman & Littlefield released “The Jesuits: A History from Ignatius to the Present” by John W. O’Malley, S.J. (Georgetown University). The publisher’s description follows:
As Pope Francis continues to make his mark on the church, there is increased interest in his Jesuit background—what is the Society of Jesus, how is it different from other religious orders, and how has it shaped the world? In “The Jesuits,” acclaimed historian John W. O’Malley, SJ, provides essential historical background from the founder Ignatius of Loyola through the present.
The book tells the story of the Jesuits’ great successes as missionaries, educators, scientists, cartographers, polemicists, theologians, poets, patrons of the arts, and confessors to kings. It tells the story of their failures and of the calamity that struck them in 1773 when Pope Clement XIV suppressed them worldwide. It tells how a subsequent pope restored them to life and how they have fared to this day in virtually every country in the world. Along the way it introduces readers to key figures in Jesuit history, such as Matteo Ricci and Pedro Arrupe, and important Jesuit writings, such as the Spiritual Exercises.
In September, Ashgate Publishing released “Sensible Religion” edited by Christopher Lewis (University of Oxford) and Dan Cohn-Sherbok (University of Wales). The publisher’s description follows:
Around the globe religion is under attack. Humanists, secularists and atheists depict believers as deluded and dangerous. The aim of this book is to challenge this perception. Sensible Religion defends the validity and emphasises the excitement of the religious quest across the faiths. It demonstrates that the practice of sensible religion is often a courageous path pitted against religious extremism and secularism. Written by committed believers from the major world’s faiths, the book endorses the term ‘sensible’ as expressing religious reasonableness as well as sensitivity to criticism and new insights. Followers of the different traditions live ordinary lives in the mainstream of the world. This volume therefore addresses beliefs and the manner in which these convictions relate to social, political and ethical action. Countering the argument that religion is at root extremist and irrational, “Sensible Religion” brings together thoughtful and critical reflections by leading thinkers about humanity’s spiritual quest.
On June 1-3, 2015, Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center will host an international conference entitled “Law and Society: The Jews of Shanghai” in Shanghai, China.
The history of the Jews of Shanghai is an intriguing story. But it is a story that is not well known in the United States. Baghdadi Jews came to Shanghai in the late 19th century and prospered, Russian Jews fleeing the Czar and then the Bolshevik Revolution emigrated in the early 20th century, and approximately 18,000 Jews from Europe sought refuge from Nazi Germany in the 1930’s and early 1940’s to the open port of Shanghai. The conference will closely examine this history from a number of perspectives, including, law, literature, and sociology.
For details please contact Linda Howard Weissman at email@example.com.
This January, Little, Brown and Company Publishing will release “One Nation, Under Gods: The Hidden History of the Religious United States” by Peter Manseau (Smithsonian Fellow). The publisher’s description follows:
At the heart of the nation’s spiritual history are audacious and often violent scenes. But the Puritans and the shining city on the hill give us just one way to understand the United States. Rather than recite American history from a Christian vantage point, Peter Manseau proves that what really happened is worth a close, fresh look.
Thomas Jefferson himself collected books on all religions and required that the brand new Library of Congress take his books, since Americans needed to consider the “twenty gods or no god” he famously noted were revered by his neighbors. Looking at the Americans who believed in these gods, Manseau fills in America’s story of itself, from the persecuted “witches” at Salem and who they really were, to the persecuted Buddhists in WWII California, from spirituality and cults in the ’60s to the recent presidential election where both candidates were for the first time non-traditional Christians.
One Nation, Under Gods shows how much more there is to the history we tell ourselves, right back to the country’s earliest days. Dazzling in its scope and sweep, it is an American history unlike any you’ve read.
This January, Fortress Publishing will release “Lutherans in America: A New History” by Mark Granquist (Luther Seminary). The publisher’s description follows:
The story of Lutherans in America is one of mutual influence. From the first small groups of Lutherans to arrive in the colonies, to the large immigrations to the rich heartland of a growing nation, Lutherans have influenced, and been influenced by, America.
In this lively and engaging new history, Granquist brings to light not only the varied and fascinating institutions that Lutherans founded and sustained but the people that lived within them. The result is a generous, human history that tells a complete story—not only about politics and policies but also the piety and the practical experiences of the Lutheran men and women who lived and worked in the American context.
Bringing the story all the way to the present day and complemented with new charts, maps, images, and sidebars, Granquist ably covers the full range of Lutheran expressions, bringing order and clarity to a complex and vibrant tradition.
The CUNY Institute for Educational Policy is hosting a discussion entitled “American Education and the Separation of Church and State: Fact vs. Fiction,” on December 4th at Hunter College. The discussants include Philip Hamburger (Columbia), Ashley Berner (CUNY), and Matthew Yellin (Hillside Arts and Letters Academy):
Most Americans know the term “separation of church and state,” but few understand it. Howhas the phrase influenced education policy and practice? How has the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the First Amendment evolved? Are tax credits and vouchers that enable funding for religious schools Constitutional? Are public school teachers allowed to talk about religion in the classroom? If so, how can they do so without violating the Establishment clause of the Constitution?
These are timely questions for New Yorkers: Albany is considering a tax credit bill that would provide support for Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim, and other non-public schools; international leaders are calling for better religious literacy in K-12 classrooms, so that young citizens are prepared to negotiate our diverse and increasingly interconnected world. For many Americans, however, public funding for religious schools, and open discussions about religious beliefs in public school classrooms, raise important concerns.
On December 4, the nation’s leading scholar of First Amendment jurisprudence will set out the history and current interpretation of separation, and a master teacher will discuss some challenges and solutions to navigating religious literacy in New York’s public school system.
Get details and register here.
In December, Oxford University Press will release “‘Settling the Peace of the Church': 1662 Revisited” edited by N. H. Keeble (University of Stirling). The publisher’s description follows:
The 1662 Act of Uniformity and the consequent “ejections” on August 24 (St. Bartholomew’s Day) of those who refused to comply with its stringent conditions comprise perhaps the single most significant episode in post-Reformation English religious history. Intended, in its own words, “to settle the peace of the church” by banishing dissent and outlawing Puritan opinion it instead led to penal religious legislation and persecution, vituperative controversy, and repeated attempts to diversify the religious life of the nation until, with the Toleration Act of 1689, its aspiration was finally abandoned and the freedom of the individual conscience and the right to dissent were, within limits, legally recognised. Bartholomew Day was hence, unintentionally but momentously, the first step towards today’s pluralist and multicultural society.
This volume brings together nine original essays which on the basis of new research examine afresh the nature and occasion of the Act, its repercussions and consequences and the competing ways in which its effects were shaped in public memory. A substantial introduction sets out the historical context. The result is an interdisciplinary volume which avoids partisanship to engage with episcopalian, nonconformist, and separatist perspectives; it understands “English” history as part of “British” history, taking in the Scottish and Irish experience; it recognises the importance of European and transatlantic relations by including the Netherlands and New England in its scope; and it engages with literary history in its discussions of the memorialisation of these events in autobiography, memoirs, and historiography. This collection constitutes the most wide-ranging and sustained discussion of this episode for fifty years.
This month, Ashgate Publishing releases “Sociological Theory and the Question of Religion” edited by Andrew McKinnon and Marta Trzebiatowska (both at the University of Aberdeen, UK). The publisher’s description follows:
Religion lies near the heart of the classical sociological tradition, yet it no longer occupies the same place within the contemporary sociological enterprise. This relative absence has left sociology under-prepared for thinking about religion’s continuing importance in new issues, movements, and events in the twenty-first century. This book seeks to address this lacunae by offering a variety of theoretical perspectives on the study of religion that bridge the gap between mainstream concerns of sociologists and the sociology of religion.
Following an assessment of the current state of the field, the authors develop an emerging critical perspective within the sociology of religion with particular focus on the importance of historical background. Re-assessing the themes of aesthetics, listening and different degrees of spiritual self-discipline, the authors draw on ethnographic studies of religious involvement in Norway and the UK. They highlight the importance of power in the sociology of religion with help from Pierre Bourdieu, Marx and Critical Discourse Analysis. This book points to emerging currents in the field and offers a productive and lively way forward, not just for sociological theory of religion, but for the sociology of religion more generally.
This January, Wiley Publishing will release “Inspiration and Innovation: Religion in the American West” by Todd M. Kerstetter (Texas Christian University). The publisher’s description follows:
Covering more than 200 years of history from pre-contact to the present, this textbook places religion at the center of the history of the American West, examining the relationship between religion and the region and their influence on one another.
- A comprehensive examination of the relationship between religion and the American West and their influence on each other over the course of more than 200 years
- Discusses diverse groups of people, places, and events that played an important historical role, from organized religion and easily recognized denominations to unorganized religion and cults
- Provides straightforward explanations of key religious and theological terms and concepts
- Weaves discussion of American Indian religion throughout the text and presents it in dialogue with other groups
- Enriches our understanding of American history by examining key factors outside of traditional political, economic, social, and cultural domains