Next month, Stanford University Press will release “Shattered Dreams of Revolution: From Liberty to Violence in the Late Ottoman Empire” by Bedross Der Matossian (University of Nebraska-Lincoln). The publisher’s description follows:
The Ottoman revolution of 1908 is a study in contradictions—a positive manifestation of modernity intended to reinstate constitutional rule, yet ultimately a negative event that shook the fundamental structures of the empire, opening up ethnic, religious, and political conflicts. Shattered Dreams of Revolution considers this revolutionary event to tell the stories of three important groups: Arabs, Armenians, and Jews. The revolution raised these groups’ expectations for new opportunities of inclusion and citizenship. But as post-revolutionary festivities ended, these euphoric feelings soon turned to pessimism and a dramatic rise in ethnic tensions.
The undoing of the revolutionary dreams could be found in the very foundations of the revolution itself. Inherent ambiguities and contradictions in the revolution’s goals and the reluctance of both the authors of the revolution and the empire’s ethnic groups to come to a compromise regarding the new political framework of the empire ultimately proved untenable. The revolutionaries had never been wholeheartedly committed to constitutionalism, thus constitutionalism failed to create a new understanding of Ottoman citizenship, grant equal rights to all citizens, and bring them under one roof in a legislative assembly. Today as the Middle East experiences another set of revolutions, these early lessons of the Ottoman Empire, of unfulfilled expectations and ensuing discontent, still provide important insights into the contradictions of hope and disillusion seemingly inherent in revolution.
This October, University of North Carolina Press will release “Progressive Evangelicals and the Pursuit of Social Justice” by Brantley W. Gasaway (Bucknell University). The publisher’s description follows:
In this compelling history of progressive evangelicalism, Brantley Gasaway examines a dynamic though often overlooked movement within American Christianity today. Gasaway focuses on left-leaning groups, such as Sojourners and Evangelicals for Social Action, that emerged in the early 1970s, prior to the rise of the more visible Religious Right. He identifies the distinctive “public theology”–a set of biblical interpretations regarding the responsibility of Christians to promote social justice–that has animated progressive evangelicals’ activism and bound together their unusual combination of political positions.
The book analyzes how prominent leaders, including Jim Wallis, Ron Sider, and Tony Campolo, responded to key political and social issues over the past four decades. Progressive evangelicals combated racial inequalities, endorsed feminism, promoted economic justice, and denounced American nationalism and militarism. At the same time, most leaders opposed abortion and refused to affirm homosexual behavior, even as they defended gay civil rights. Gasaway demonstrates that, while progressive evangelicals have been caught in the crossfire of partisan conflicts and public debates over the role of religion in politics, they have offered a significant alternative to both the Religious Right and the political left.
A little end-of-summer humor for our academic readers.
In July, Roman & Littlefield Publishers released “Catholicism and the American Experience” edited by James P. MacGuire (Portsmouth Institute). The publisher’s description follows:
What does it mean to be Catholic in America? Catholicism and the American Experience features essays from Robert George, Peter Steinfels, George Weigel, E. J. Dionne, and many more, exploring the unique elements of American Catholicism. The volume highlights the proceedings of the fifth annual Portsmouth Institute conference.
This collection of essays addresses the topic of Catholicism and the American Experience from diverse points of view. They discuss thorny topics such as the relationship between the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and religious freedom, what it means to be Catholic in a secular age, and the current state of Catholic art. Essays also explore subjects ranging from New Evangelization in the church to Catholic leadership.
In July, Brandeis University Press released “Becoming Israeli: National Ideals and Everyday Life in the 1950s” by Anat Helman (Hebrew University of Jerusalem). The publisher’s description follows:
With a light touch and many wonderful illustrations, historian Anat Helman investigates “life on the ground” in Israel during the first years of statehood. She looks at how citizens–natives of the land, longtime immigrants, and newcomers–coped with the state’s efforts to turn an incredibly diverse group of people into a homogenous whole. She investigates the efforts to make Hebrew the lingua franca of Israel, the uses of humor, and the effects of a constant military presence, along with such familiar aspects of daily life as communal dining on the kibbutz, the nightmare of trying to board a bus, and moviegoing as a form of escapism. In the process Helman shows how ordinary people adapted to the standards and rules of the political and cultural elites and negotiated the chaos of early statehood.
Some interesting law and religion news stories from around the web this week:
- Opinion: The president of the World Jewish Congress urges the world to “stand up for Christians” who are suffering what he calls a “campaign of death” which is being largely overlooked by world leaders, the United Nations, and social activists.
- The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City filed a law suit on Wednesday against the organizers of a “black mass” scheduled for next month, asserting that the consecrated Host that was to be desecrated is Church property and was obtained fraudulently. Although the organizers claim that the Host was obtained legally, they returned the Host to the Archdiocese on Thursday in exchange for the suit being dropped.
- Germany’s development aid minister, Gerd Mueller, accused Qatar of financing the militant group ISIS and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Germany is ready to send weapons to support Iraqi Kurds in their battle against ISIS.
- Saudi Arabia’s top cleric said Tuesday that extremism and the ideologies of groups like the Islamic State and Al Qaeda are Islam’s Number 1 enemy and that Muslims have been their first victims.
- Christian farm owners in Upstate New York were fined for refusing to let a lesbian couple hold a wedding ceremony on their property, which they regularly rent out for events. The farm owners agreed to host the reception but claimed that the ceremony violated their religious beliefs.
- President Obama commented on the brutal murder of Jim Foley, saying that the terrorist group ISIL ‘speaks for no religion’ as it murders Muslims and targets Christians and other religious minorities. He also opined that the victims of ISIL are “overwhelmingly Muslim” and that “people like [ISIL] ultimately fail.”
- Mayor Bill de Blasio met with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Rev. Al Sharpton, and Police Commissioner William Bratton on Wednesday to soothe tensions ahead of Saturday’s march to protest the death of a Staten Island man in police custody.
- Pope Francis delivered a mixed verdict on US airstrikes in Iraq, saying that while it is morally legitimate to stop an unjust aggressor, as America says it’s doing with regard to the radical Islamic State in northern Iraq, a single nation shouldn’t decide for itself when the use of force is warranted. For a discussion of the Pope’s response, see here.
- The full transcript of the Pope’s in-flight interview in which he discussed topics including peace efforts between Israel and Palestine, future papal visits, and his personal schedule, can be found here.
- A Tennessee high school student was reprimanded and sent to the principal’s office for saying “bless you”–one of the expressions banned in her classroom–to a classmate who had sneezed. The teacher claims that the student was disruptive.
- Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, and African Inlander church leaders from South Sudan gathered in London to campaign for peace and reconciliation in the war-torn country, which they fear is being overlooked.
- The wedding of a Muslim man to a Jewish woman, who converted to Islam prior to the wedding, drew protesters in Israel who oppose ‘inter-marriage.’ An Israeli court allowed the protesters to picket the wedding, but from no closer than 200m.
- Notre Dame law professors’ study finds that when a Catholic school closes its neighborhood suffers.
- Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh and Zoroastrian leaders have issued a joint call to David Cameron to use the UK’s seat on the UN Security Council to begin the process of bringing war crimes prosecutions against militants from ISIL.
- The acting leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox church under the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Onufry, was formally enthroned as Primate in one of Kiev’s holiest places.
- Australian Christian and Jewish leaders launched a campaign to support the Australian Muslim community which they say is being alienated.
- A Jewish student at Temple University was assaulted at a student activities fair during an apparent heated exchange with members of a pro-Palestine group.
This October, Indiana University Press will release “Kingdoms of God” by Kevin Hart (University of Virginia). The publisher’s description follows:
What did Jesus mean by the expression, the Kingdom of God? As an answer, Kevin Hart sketches a “phenomenology of the Christ” that explores the unique way Jesus performs phenomenology. According to Hart, philosophers and theologians continually reinterpret Jesus’s teaching of the Kingdom so that there are effectively many Kingdoms of God. Working in, while also displacing, a tradition inaugurated by Husserl and continued by philosophers such as Heidegger, Marion, and Lacoste, Hart puts forward a new phenomenology of religion that claims that ethics and religion are not always unified or continuous.
This October, University of Chicago Press will release “Neighboring Faiths: Christianity, Islam and Judaism in the Middle Ages and Today” by David Nirenberg (University of Chicago). The publisher’s description follows:
Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are usually treated as autonomous religions, but in fact across the long course of their histories the three religions have developed in interaction with one another. In Neighboring Faiths, David Nirenberg examines how Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived with and thought about each other during the Middle Ages and what the medieval past can tell us about how they do so today.
There have been countless scripture-based studies of the three “religions of the book,” but Nirenberg goes beyond those to pay close attention to how the three religious neighbors loved, tolerated, massacred, and expelled each other—all in the name of God—in periods and places both long ago and far away. Nirenberg argues that the three religions need to be studied in terms of how each affected the development of the others over time, their proximity of religious and philosophical thought as well as their overlapping geographies, and how the three “neighbors” define—and continue to define—themselves and their place in terms of one another. From dangerous attractions leading to interfaith marriage; to interreligious conflicts leading to segregation, violence, and sometimes extermination; to strategies for bridging the interfaith gap through language, vocabulary, and poetry, Nirenberg aims to understand the intertwined past of the three faiths as a way for their heirs to produce the future—together.
This month, Indiana University Press is releasing “Orthodox Christianity in Imperial Russia: A Source Book on Lived Religion” edited by Heather J. Coleman (University of Alberta). The publisher’s description follows:
From sermons and clerical reports to personal stories of faith, this book of translated primary documents reveals the lived experience of Orthodox Christianity in 19th- and early 20th-century Russia. These documents allow us to hear the voices of educated and uneducated writers, of clergy and laity, nobles and merchants, workers and peasants, men and women, Russians and Ukrainians. Orthodoxy emerges here as a multidimensional and dynamic faith. Beyond enhancing our understanding of Orthodox Christianity as practiced in Imperial Russia, this thoughtfully edited volume offers broad insights into the relationship between religious narrative and social experience and reveals religion’s central place in the formation of world views and narrative traditions.
In October, John Hopkins University Press will release “California Mennonites
” by Brian Froese (Canadian Mennonite University). The publisher’s description follows:
Books about Mennonites have centered primarily on the East Coast and the Midwest, where the majority of Mennonite communities in the United States are located. But these narratives neglect the unique history of the multitude of Mennonites living on the West Coast. In California Mennonites, Brian Froese relies on archival church records to examine the Mennonite experience in the Golden State, from the nineteenth-century migrants who came in search of sunshine and fertile soil to the traditionally agrarian community that struggled with issues of urbanization, race, gender, education, and labor in the twentieth century to the evangelically oriented, partially assimilated Mennonites of today.
Froese places Mennonite experiences against a backdrop of major historical events, including World War II and Vietnam, and social issues, from labor disputes to the evolution of mental health care. California Mennonites include people who embrace a range of ideologies: many are historically rooted in the sixteenth-century Reformation ideals of the early Anabaptists (pacifism, congregationalism, discipleship); some embrace twentieth-century American evangelicalism (missions, Billy Graham); and others are committed to a type of social justice that involves forging practical ties to secular government programs while maintaining a quiet connection to religion.
Through their experiences of religious diversity, changing demographics, and war, California Mennonites have wrestled with complicated questions of what it means to be American, Mennonite, and modern. This book—the first of its kind—will appeal to historians and religious studies scholars alike.