Next month, NYU Press will publish The Divided Mind of the Black Church: Theology, Piety, and Public Witness by Raphael Warnock (Ebenezer Baptist Church). The publisher’s description follows.
What is the true nature and mission of the church? Is its proper Christian purpose to save souls, or to transform the social order? This question is especially fraught when the church is one built by an enslaved people and formed, from its beginning, at the center of an oppressed community’s fight for personhood and freedom. Such is the central tension in the identity and mission of the black church in the United States.
For decades the black church and black theology have held each other at arm’s length. Black theology has emphasized the role of Christian faith in addressing racism and other forms of oppression, arguing that Jesus urged his disciples to seek the freedom of all peoples. Meanwhile, the black church, even when focused on social concerns, has often emphasized personal piety rather than social protest. With the rising influence of white evangelicalism, biblical fundamentalism, and the prosperity gospel, the divide has become even more pronounced.
In Piety or Protest, Raphael G. Warnock, Senior Pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, the spiritual home of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,traces the historical significance of the rise and development of black theology as an important conversation partner for the black church. Calling for honest dialogue between black and womanist theologians and black pastors, this fresh theological treatment demands a new look at the church’s essential mission.
This December, Oxford University Press will publish Constitutional Secularism in an Age of Religious Revival edited by Susanna Mancini (University of Bologna Law) and Michel Rosenfeld (Yeshiva University). The publisher’s description follows.
The global movement of culture and religion has brought about a serious challenge to traditional constitutional secularism. This challenge comes in the form of a political and institutional struggle against secular constitutionalism, and a two pronged assault on the very legitimacy and viability of the concept. On the one hand, constitutional secularism has been attacked as inherently hostile rather than neutral toward religion; and, on the other hand, constitutional secularism has been criticized as inevitably favouring one religion (or set of religions) over others.
The contributors to this book come from a variety of different disciplines including law, anthropology, history, philosophy and political theory. They provide accounts of, and explanations for, present predicaments; critiques of contemporary institutional, political and cultural arrangements, justifications and practices; and suggestions with a view to overcoming or circumventing several of the seemingly intractable or insurmountable current controversies and deadlocks.
The book is separated in to five parts. Part I provides theoretical perspectives on the present day conflicts between secularism and religion. Part II focuses on the relationship between religion, secularism and the public sphere. Part III examines the nexus between religion, secularism and women’s equality. Part IV concentrates on religious perspectives on constraints on, and accommodations of, religion within the precincts of the liberal state. Finally, Part V zeroes in on conflicts between religion and secularism in specific contexts, namely education and freedom of speech.
Next month, the University Press of Colorado will publish The Neo-Indians: A Religion for the Third Millenium by Jacques Galinier (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense) and Antoinette Molinie (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense). The publisher’s description follows.
The Neo-Indians is a rich ethnographic study of the emergence of the neo-Indian movement—a new form of Indian identity based on largely reinvented pre-colonial cultures and comprising a diverse group of people attempting to re-create purified pre-colonial indigenous beliefs and ritual practices without the contaminating influences of modern society.
There is no full-time neo-Indian. Both indigenous and non-indigenous practitioners assume Indian identities only when deemed spiritually significant. In their daily lives, they are average members of modern society, dressing in Western clothing, working at middle-class jobs, and retaining their traditional religious identities. As a result of this part-time status the neo-Indians are often overlooked as a subject of study, making this book the first anthropological analysis of the movement.
Galinier and Molinié present and analyze four decades of ethnographic research focusing on Mexico and Peru, the two major areas of the movement’s genesis. They examine the use of public space, describe the neo-Indian ceremonies, provide analysis of the ceremonies’ symbolism, and explore the close relationship between the neo-Indian religion and tourism. The Neo-Indians will be of great interest to ethnographers, anthropologists, and scholars of Latin American history, religion, and cultural studies.
Next month, Georgetown University Press will publish The Future of Ethics: Sustainability, Social Justice, and Religious Creativity by Willis Jenkins (University of Virginia). The publisher’s description follows.
The Future of Ethics interprets the big questions of sustainability and social justice through the practical problems arising from humanity’s increasing power over basic systems of life. What does climate change mean for our obligations to future generations? How can the sciences work with pluralist cultures in ways that will help societies learn from ecological change?
Traditional religious ethics examines texts and traditions and highlights principles and virtuous behaviors that can apply to particular issues. Willis Jenkins develops lines of practical inquiry through “prophetic pragmatism,” an approach to ethics that begins with concrete problems and adapts to changing circumstances. This brand of pragmatism takes its cues from liberationist theology, with its emphasis on how individuals and communities actually cope with overwhelming problems.
Can religious communities make a difference when dealing with these issues? By integrating environmental sciences and theological ethics into problem-based engagements with philosophy, economics, and other disciplines, Jenkins illustrates the wide understanding and moral creativity needed to live well in the new conditions of human power. He shows the significance of religious thought to the development of interdisciplinary responses to sustainability issues and how this calls for a new style of religious ethics.
Next month, Ashgate will publish Alternative Islamic Discourses and Religious Authority edited by Carool Kersten (King’s College London) and Susanne Olsson Södertörn University Sweden). The publisher’s description follows.
Like anywhere else, the present-day Islamic world too is grappling with modernity and postmodernity, secularisation and globalisation. Muslims are raising questions about religious representations and authority. This has given rise to the emergence of alternative Islamic discourses which challenge binary oppositions and dichotomies of orthodoxy and heterodoxy, continuity and change, state and civil society. It also leads to a dispersal of authority, a collapse of existing hierarchical structures and gender roles. This book further argues that the centre of gravity of many of these alternative Islamic discourses is shifting from the Arabic-speaking ‘heartland’ towards the geographical peripheries of the Muslim world and expatriate Muslims in North America and Europe. At the same time, in view of recent seismic shifts in the political constellation of the Middle East, the trends discussed in this book hold important clues for the possible direction of future developments in that volatile part of the Muslim world.
Next month, Oxford University Press will publish American Civil Religion: What Americans Hold Sacred by Peter Gardella (Manhattanville College). The publisher’s description follows.
The United States has never had an officially established national church. Since the time of the first British colonists, it has instead developed a strong civil religion that melds God and nation. In a deft exploration of American civil religious symbols-from the Liberty Bell to the Vietnam Memorial, from Mount Rushmore to Disney World-Peter Gardella explains how the places, objects, and words that Americans hold sacred came into being and how Americans’ feelings about them have changed over time. In addition to examining revered historical sites and structures, he analyzes such sacred texts as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Gettysburg Address, the Kennedy Inaugural, and the speeches of Martin Luther King, and shows how five patriotic songs-”The Star-Spangled Banner,” “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “America the Beautiful,” “God Bless America,” and “This Land Is Your Land”-have been elevated into hymns.
Arguing that certain values-personal freedom, political democracy, world peace, and cultural tolerance-have held American civil religion together, Gardella chronicles the numerous forms those values have taken, from Jamestown and Plymouth to the September 11, 2001 Memorial in New York.
Next month, Cambridge University Press will publish Europe’s Contending Identities: Supranationalism, Ethnoregionalism, Religion, and New Nationalism, edited by Andrew Gould (University of Notre Dame) and Anthony Messina (Trinity College). The publisher’s description follows.
How “European” are Europeans? Is it possible to balance national citizenship with belonging to the European Union overall? Do feelings of citizenship and belonging respond to affiliations to regions, religions, or reactionary politics? Unlike previous volumes about identity in Europe, this book offers a more comprehensive view of the range of identities and new arguments about the political processes that shape identity formation. The founders of European integration promised “an ever closer union.” Nationalists respond that a people should control their own destiny. This book investigates who is winning the debate. The chapters show that attitudes toward broader political communities are changing, that new ideas are gaining ground, and that long-standing trends are possibly reversing course.
This month, New York University Press will publish Fire in the Canyon: Religion, Migration, and the Mexican Dream by Leah Sarat (Arizona State University). The publisher’s description follows.
The canyon in central Mexico was ablaze with torches as hundreds of people filed in. So palpable was their shared shock and grief, they later said, that neither pastor nor priest was needed. The event was a memorial service for one of their own who had died during an attempted border passage. Months later a survivor emerged from a coma to tell his story. The accident had provoked a near-death encounter with God that prompted his conversion to Pentecostalism.
Today, over half of the local residents of El Alberto, a town in central Mexico, are Pentecostal. Submitting themselves to the authority of a God for whom there are no borders, these Pentecostals today both embrace migration as their right while also praying that their “Mexican Dream”—the dream of a Mexican future with ample employment for all—will one day become a reality.
Fire in the Canyon provides one of the first in‑depth looks at the dynamic relationship between religion, migration, and ethnicity across the U.S.-Mexican border. Faced with the choice between life‑threatening danger at the border and life‑sapping poverty in Mexico, residents of El Alberto are drawing on both their religion and their indigenous heritage to demand not only the right to migrate, but also the right to stay home. If we wish to understand people’s migration decisions, Sarat argues, we must take religion seriously. It is through religion that people formulate their ideas about life, death, and the limits of government authority.
This November, Oxford University Press will publish Understanding Human Dignity edited by Christopher McCrudden (Queen’s University Belfast). The publisher’s description follows.
Understanding Human Dignity aims to help the reader make sense of current debates about the meaning and implications of the idea of human dignity. The concept of human dignity has probably never been so omnipresent in everyday speech, or so deeply embedded in political and legal discourse. In debates on torture, abortion, same-sex marriage, and welfare reform, appeals to dignity are seldom hard to find. The concept of dignity is not only a prominent feature of political debate, but also, and increasingly, of legal argument. Indeed, courts tell us that human dignity is the foundation of all human rights. But the more important it is, the more contested it seems to have become. There has, as a result, been an extraordinary explosion of scholarly writing about the concept of human dignity in law, political philosophy, and theology. This book aims to reflect on these intra-disciplinary debates about dignity in law, philosophy, history, politics, and theology, through a series of edited essays from specialists in these fields, explored the contested concept in its full richness and complexity.
Next month, Stanford University will publish Rhinestones, Religion, and the Republic: Fashioning Jewishness in France, by Kimberly A. Arkin (Boston University). The publisher’s description follows.
During the course of her fieldwork in Paris, anthropologist Kimberly Arkin heard what she thought was a surprising admission. A French-born, North African Jewish (Sephardi) teenage girl laughingly told Arkin she was a racist. When asked what she meant by that, the girl responded, “It means I hate Arabs.”
This girl was not unique. She and other Sephardi youth in Paris insisted, again and again, that they were not French, though born in France, and that they could not imagine their Jewish future in France. Fueled by her candid and compelling informants, Arkin’s analysis delves into the connections and disjunctures between Jews and Muslims, religion and secular Republicanism, race and national community, and identity and culture in post-colonial France. Rhinestones argues that Sephardi youth, as both “Arabs” and “Jews,” fall between categories of class, religion, and culture. Many reacted to this liminality by going beyond religion and culture to categorize their Jewishness as race, distinguishing Sephardi Jews from “Arab” Muslims, regardless of similarities they shared, while linking them to “European” Jews (Ashkenazim), regardless of their differences. But while racializing Jewishness might have made Sephardi Frenchness possible, it produced the opposite result: it re-grounded national community in religion-as-race, thereby making pluri-religious community appear threatening. Rhinestones thus sheds light on the production of race, alienation, and intolerance within marginalized French and European populations.