This December, Harvard University Press will release “American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism” by Matthew Avery Sutton (Washington State University). The publisher’s description follows:
The first comprehensive history of modern American evangelicalism to appear in a generation, American Apocalypse shows how a group of radical Protestants, anticipating the end of the world, paradoxically transformed it.
Matthew Avery Sutton draws on extensive archival research to document the ways an initially obscure network of charismatic preachers and their followers reshaped American religion, at home and abroad, for over a century. Perceiving the United States as besieged by Satanic forces—communism and secularism, family breakdown and government encroachment—Billy Sunday, Charles Fuller, Billy Graham, and others took to the pulpit and airwaves to explain how Biblical end-times prophecy made sense of a world ravaged by global wars, genocide, and the threat of nuclear extinction. Believing Armageddon was nigh, these preachers used what little time was left to warn of the coming Antichrist, save souls, and prepare the nation for God’s final judgment.
By the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan and conservative Republicans appropriated evangelical ideas to create a morally infused political agenda that challenged the pragmatic tradition of governance through compromise and consensus. Following 9/11, the politics of apocalypse continued to resonate with an anxious populace seeking a roadmap through a world spinning out of control. Premillennialist evangelicals have erected mega-churches, shaped the culture wars, made and destroyed presidential hopefuls, and brought meaning to millions of believers. Narrating the story of modern evangelicalism from the perspective of the faithful, Sutton demonstrates how apocalyptic thinking continues to exert enormous influence over the American mainstream today.
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.
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, 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
In December, Routledge Press will release “Tibetan Buddhism in Diaspora: Cultural Re-signification in Practice and Institutions” by Ana Cristina O. Lopes (University of São Paulo). The publisher’s description follows:
The imperialist ambitions of China – which invaded Tibet in the late 1940s – have sparked the spectacular spread of Tibetan Buddhism worldwide, and especially in western countries. This work is a study on the malleability of a particular Buddhist tradition; on its adaptability in new contexts.
The book analyses the nature of the Tibetan Buddhism in the Diaspora. It examines how the re-signification of Tibetan Buddhist practices and organizational structures in the present refers back to the dismantlement of the Tibetan state headed by the Dalai Lama and the fragmentation of Tibetan Buddhist religious organizations in general. It includes extensive multi-sited fieldwork conducted in the United States, Brazil, Europe, and Asia and a detailed analysis of contemporary documents relating to the global spread of Tibetan Buddhism. The author demonstrates that there is a “de-institutionalized” and “de-territorialized” project of political power and religious organization, which, among several other consequences, engenders the gradual “autonomization” of lamas and lineages inside the religious field of Tibetan Buddhism. Thus, a spectre of these previous institutions continues to exist outside their original contexts, and they are continually activated in ever-new settings.
Using a combination of two different academic traditions – namely, the Brazilian anthropological tradition and the American Buddhist studies tradition – it investigates the “process of cultural re-signification” of Tibetan Buddhism in the context of its Diaspora. Thus, it will be a valuable resource to students and scholars of Asian Religion, Asian Studies and Buddhism.
Last month, Ashgate Publishing released Armenian Christianity Today: Identity Politics and Popular Practice, edited by Alexander Agadjanian (Russian State University for the Humanities). The publisher’s description follows:
Armenian Christianity Today examines contemporary religious life and the social, political, and cultural functions of religion in the post-Soviet Republic of Armenia and in the Armenian Diaspora worldwide. Scholars from a range of countries and disciplines explore current trends and everyday religiosity, particularly within the Armenian Apostolic Church (AAC), and amongst Armenian Catholics, Protestants and vernacular religions.
Themes examined include: Armenian grass-roots religiosity; the changing forms of regular worship and devotion; various types of congregational life; and the dynamics of social composition of both the clergy and lay believers. Exploring through the lens of Armenia, this book considers wider implications of ‘postsecular’ trends in the role of global religion.
In January, Bloomsbury Publishing will release “Hinduism and the 1960s: The Rise of a Counter-culture” by Paul Oliver (University of Huddersfield, UK). The publisher’s description follows:
The West has drawn upon Hinduism on a wide scale, from hatha yoga and meditation techniques, to popular culture in music and fashion, yet the contribution of Hinduism to the counter-culture of the 1960s has not been analysed in full.
Hinduism and the 1960s looks at the youth culture of the 1960s and early 1970s, and the way in which it was influenced by Hinduism and Indian culture. It examines the origins of the 1960s counter-culture in the Beat movement of the 1950s, and their interest in Eastern religion, notably Zen. When the Beatles visited India to study transcendental meditation, there was a rapid expansion in interest in Hinduism. Young people were already heading east on the so-called ‘Hippie Trail’, looking for spiritual enlightenment and an escape from the material lifestyle of the West. Paul Oliver examines the lifestyle which they adopted, from living in ashrams to experimenting with drugs, sexual liberation, ayurvedic medicine and yoga.
This engaging book analyses the interaction between Hinduism and the West, and the way in which each affected the other. It demonstrates the ways in which contemporary Western society has learned from the ancient religion of Hinduism, and incorporated such teachings as yoga, meditation and a natural holistic lifestyle, into daily life. Each chapter contains a summary and further reading guidance, and a glossary is included at the end of the book, making this ideal reading for courses on Hinduism, Indian religions, and religion and popular culture.
This past October, American Bar Association Book Publishing released “The Islamic Worldview: Islamic Jurisprudence – An American Muslim Perspective, Vol. 1” by Azizah Al-Hibri (University of Richmond). The publisher’s description follows:
The Islamic Worldview is the first volume of Islamic Jurisprudence: An American Muslim Perspective, a groundbreaking series that revisits traditional Islamic jurisprudence in order to develop a modern enlightened understanding of Islam with respect to gender, marriage, family, and democratic governance.
With Quranic textual analysis and commentary, it provides both the Muslim and non-Muslim reader with a basic understanding of the legal foundations of Islam. It introduces the sources of Islamic law and their significance in the hierarchy of Islamic jurisprudence while presenting Dr. al-Hibri’s articulation of the Islamic worldview, developed in light of modern day concerns, such as those relating to gender, race and class. The Islamic Worldview introduces the Qur’an as the supreme source of Islamic law and discusses basic rules and principles that have been noted by jurists over time in understanding and interpreting it, and how these rules can and have been applied toward the evolution of a uniquely Islamic global perspective.
Next month, Bloomsbury Publishing will release “Radical Secularization? An Inquiry into the Religious Roots of Secular Culture” edited by Stijn Latré, Walter Van Herck, and Guido Vanheeswijck (all of the University of Antwerp, Belgium). The publisher’s description follows:
What does it mean for a society to be secular? Answering this question from a philosophical angle, “Radical Secularization?” delves into the philosophical presuppositions of secularization. Which cultural evolutions made secularization possible? International scholars from different disciplines assess the answers given by many leading philosophers such as, among others, Löwith, Blumenberg and Habermas (Germany), Gauchet and Nancy (France), Taylor and Bellah (North America). They examine the theory that secularization cannot only be regarded as a cultural change that was forced upon religion from an external source (e.g. science), but should also be considered as a phenomenon triggered by motives internal to religion. If religions are indeed capable of inner transformations, the question arises whether religions can persist in the secular societies they inadvertently helped to bring about, and how secular societies may accommodate religion.
This month, Ashgate Publishing releases “Religion Italian Style: Continuities and Changes in a Catholic Country” by Franco Garelli (University of Turin, Italy). The publisher’s description follows:
Italy’s traditional subcultures – Communist, Socialist, Liberal, Republican, Right-wing – have largely dissolved and yet Catholics have retained their vitality and solidity. How can the vast majority of Italians continue to maintain some connection with Catholicism? How much is the Italian situation influenced by the closeness of the Vatican?
Examining the religious condition of contemporary Italy, Religion Italian Style argues that the relationship between religion and society in Italy has unique characteristics when compared with what is happening in other European Catholic Countries. Exploring key topics and religious trends which question how the population feel – from the laity and the role of religions in the public sphere, to moral debates, forms of religious pluralism, and new spiritualities – this book questions how these affect religious life, and how intricately religion is interwoven with the nation’s fabric and the dynamics of the whole society.