Tag Archives: Religion and Culture

“Dissent on Core Beliefs” (Chambers & Nosco, eds.)

This May, Cambridge University Press will release “Dissent on Core Beliefs: Religious and Secular Perspectives” edited by Simone Chambers (University of Toronto) and Peter Nosco (University of British Columbia).  The publisher’s description follows:

Dissent on Core BeliefsDifference, diversity and disagreement are inevitable features of our ethical, social and political landscape. This collection of new essays investigates the ways that various ethical and religious traditions have dealt with intramural dissent; the volume covers nine separate traditions: Confucianism, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, liberalism, Marxism, South Asian religions and natural law. Each chapter lays out the distinctive features, history and challenges of intramural dissent within each tradition, enabling readers to identify similarities and differences between traditions. The book concludes with an Afterword by Michael Walzer, offering a synoptic overview of the challenge of intramural dissent and the responses to that challenge. Committed to dialogue across cultures and traditions, the collection begins that dialogue with the common challenges facing all traditions: how to maintain cohesion and core values in the face of pluralism, and how to do this in a way that is consistent with the internal ethical principles of the traditions.

Rahnema, “Shi’i Reformation in Iran”

This May, Ashgate Publishing will release “Shi’i Reformation in Iran: The Life and Theology of Shari’at Sangelaji” by Ali Rahnema (American University of Paris).  The publisher’s description follows:

Shi'i ReformationShi ‘ism caught the attention of the world as Iran experienced her revolution in 1979 and was subsequently cast in the mold of a monolithic discourse of radical political Islam. The spokespersons of Shi’i Islam, in or out of power, have not been the sole representatives of the faith. Nonconformist and uncompromising, the Shi‘i jurist and reformist Shari’at Sangelaji (1891–1944) challenged certain popular Shi‘i beliefs and the mainstream clerical establishment, guarding and propagating it. In Shi’i Reformation in Iran, Ali Rahnema offers a fresh understanding of Sangelaji’s reformist discourse from a theological standpoint, and takes readers into the heart of the key religious debates in Iran in the 1940s. Exploring Sangelaji’s life, theological position and disputations, Rahnema demonstrates that far from being change resistant, debates around why and how to reform the faith have long been at the heart of Shi’i Islam.

Drawing on the writings and sermons of Sangelaji, as well as interviews with his son, the book provides a detailed and comprehensive introduction to the reformist’s ideas. As such it offers scholars of religion and Middle Eastern politics alike a penetrating insight into the impact that these ideas have had on Shi’ism—an impact which is still felt today.

Baron, “Obligation in Exile: The Jewish Diaspora, Israel and Critique”

This month, Edinburgh University Press releases “Obligation in Exile: The Jewish Diaspora, Israel and Critique” by Ilan Zvi Baron (Durham University). The publisher’s description follows:

Combining political theory and sociological interviews spanning four countries, Ilan Zvi Baron explores the Jewish Diaspora/Israel relationship and suggests that instead of looking at Diaspora Jews’ relationship with Israel as a matter of loyalty, it is one of obligation.

Baron develops an outline for a theory of transnational political obligation and, in the process, provides an alternative way to understand and explore the Diaspora/Israel relationship than one mired in partisan debates about whether or not being a good Jew means supporting Israel. He concludes by arguing that critique of Israel is not just about Israeli policy, but about what it means to be a Diaspora Jew.

Reinders, “Buddhist and Christian Responses to the Kowtow Problem in China”

This May, Bloomsbury Publishing will release “Buddhist and Christian Responses to the Kowtow Problem in China” by Eric Reinders (Emory University).  The publisher’s description follows:

Buddhist and Christian ResponsesThe most common Buddhist practice in Asia is bowing, yet Buddhist and Christian Responses to the Kowtow Problem is the first study of Buddhist obeisance in China. In Confucian ritual, everyone is supposed to kowtow, or bow, to the Chinese emperor. But Buddhists claimed exemption from bowing to any layperson, even to their own parents or the emperor. This tension erupted in an imperial debate in 662.

This study first asks how and why Buddhists should bow (to the Buddha, and to monks), and then explores the arguments over their refusing to bow to the emperor. These arguments take us into the core ideas of Buddhism and imperial power: How can one achieve nirvana by bowing? What is a Buddha image? Who is it that bows? Is there any ritual that can exempt a subject of the emperor? What are the limits of the state’s power over human bodies? Centuries later, Christians had a new set of problems with bowing in China, to the emperor and to “idols.” Buddhist and Christian Responses to the Kowtow problem compares these cases of refusing to bow, discusses modern theories of obeisance, and finally moves to examine some contemporary analogies such as refusing to salute the American flag.

Contributing greatly to the study of the body and power, ritual, religion and material culture, this volume is of interest to scholars and students of religious studies, Buddhism, Chinese history and material culture.

“Varieties of Southern Religious History” (Sullivan & Hampton, eds.)

This May, the University of South Carolina Press will release “Varieties of Southern Religious History: Essays in Honor of David G. Mathews” edited by Regina D. Sullivan (Carson-Newman University) and Monte Harrell Hampton (North Carolina State University).  The publisher’s description follows:

VarietiesComprising essays written by former students of Donald G. Mathews, a distinguished historian of religion in the South, Varieties of Southern Religious History offers rich insight into the social and cultural history of the United States. Fifteen essays, edited by Regina D. Sullivan and Monte Harrell Hampton, offer fresh and insightful interpretations in the fields of U.S. religious history, women’s history, and African American history from the colonial era to the twentieth century. Emerging scholars as well as established authors examine a range of topics on the cultural and social history of the South and the religious history of the United States.

Essays on new topics include a consideration of Kentucky Presbyterians and their reaction to the rising pluralism of the early nineteenth century. Gerald Wilson offers an analysis of anti-Catholic bias in North Carolina during the twentieth century, and Mary Frederickson examines the rhetoric of death in contemporary correspondence. There are also reinterpretations of subjects such as late-eighteenth-century Ohio Valley missionaries Lorenzo and Peggy Dow, a recontextualization of Millerism, and new scholarship on the appeal of spiritualism in the South. This collection provides fresh insight into a variety of topics in honor of Donald G. Mathews and his legacy as a scholar of southern religion.

“Handbook of Global Contemporary Christianity: Themes and Developments in Culture, Politics, and Society” (Hunt, ed.)

This month, Brill releases “Handbook of Global Contemporary Christianity: Themes and Developments in Culture, Politics, and Society” edited by Stephen Hunt (University of the West of England, Bristol). The publisher’s description follows:

The Handbook of Global Contemporary Christianity: Themes and Developments in Culture, Politics, and Society maps the transformations, as well as the continuities, of the largest of the major religions – engaging with the critical global issues which relate to the faith in a fast changing world. International experts in the area offer contributions focusing on global movements; regional trends and developments; Christianity, the state, politics and polity; and Christianity and social diversity. Collectively the contributors provide a comprehensive treatment of health of the religion as Christianity enters its third millennium in existence and details the challenges and dilemmas facing its various expressions, both old and new. The volume is a companion to the Handbook of Contemporary Global Christianity: Movements, Institutions, and Allegiance.

“Rawls’s Political Liberalism” (Brooks & Nussbaum, eds.)

This May, Columbia University Press will release “Rawls’s Political Liberalism” edited by Thom Brooks (Durham University), and Martha Nussbaum (University of Chicago).  The publisher’s description follows:

Rawls's Political LiberalismWidely hailed as one of the most significant works in modern political philosophy, John Rawls’s Political Liberalism (1993) defended a powerful vision of society that respects reasonable ways of life, both religious and secular. These core values have never been more critical as anxiety grows over political and religious difference and new restrictions are placed on peaceful protest and individual expression.

This anthology of original essays suggests new, groundbreaking applications of Rawls’s work in multiple disciplines and contexts. Thom Brooks, Martha Nussbaum, Onora O’Neill (University of Cambridge), Paul Weithman (University of Notre Dame), Jeremy Waldron (New York University), and Frank Michelman (Harvard University) explore political liberalism’s relevance to the challenges of multiculturalism, the relationship between the state and religion, the struggle for political legitimacy, and the capabilities approach. Extending Rawls’s progressive thought to the fields of law, economics, and public reason, this book helps advance the project of a free society that thrives despite disagreements over religious and moral views.

Jackson, “Political Agape”

This May, Eerdmans Publishing will release “Political Agape: Christian Love and Liberal Democracy” by Timothy P. Jackson (Emory University).  The publisher’s description follows:

Political AgapeWhat is the place of Christian love in a pluralistic society dedicated to “liberty and justice for all”? What would it mean to take both Jesus Christ and Abraham Lincoln seriously and attempt to translate love of God and neighbor into every quarter of life, including law and politics?

Timothy Jackson here argues that agapic love of God and neighbor is the perilously neglected civil virtue of our time — and that it must be considered even before justice and liberty in structuring political principles and policies. Jackson then explores what “political agape” might look like when applied to such issues as the death penalty, same-sex marriage, and adoption.

“Religion and National Identities in an Enlarged Europe” (Spohn et al., eds.)

This May, Palgrave Macmillan will release “Religion and National Identities in an Enlarged Europe” edited by Willfried Spohn (University of Wroclaw, Poland), Matthias Koenig, and Wolfgang Knöbl (Georg-August-University Göttingen, Germany).  The publisher’s description follows:

This volume analyzes the changing relationships between religion and national identity in the course of European integration. Presenting results from cross-national comparative research on elite discourse, media debates and public opinions in Germany, Poland, Greece and Turkey from 1990-2010, it examines how accelerated European integration and Eastern enlargement have affected religious markers of collective identity.

Critically engaging with secularist assumptions in the social scientific literatures on nationalism and European integration, the collection demonstrates that the Europeanization of collective identities does not necessarily imply reducing the salience of religion. Rather, the emergence of a European polity can prompt the reactive reaffirmation of religious nationalisms and lead to the re-embedding of religious components of collective identity within broader transnational frameworks. As the contributions in this book show, explaining such changing relationships between religion and national identity requires attention to long-standing civilizational traditions, short-term dynamics of symbolic boundary-making as well as institutional trajectories of state-church-relations.

Richey, “Daoism in Japan: Chinese traditions and their influence on Japanese religious culture”

In May, Routledge will publish “Daoism in Japan: Chinese traditions and their influence on Japanese religious culture” by Jeffrey L. Richey (Berea College). The publisher’s description follows:

Like an ancient river, Daoist traditions introduced from China once flowed powerfully through the Japanese religious landscape, forever altering its topography and ecology. Daoism’s presence in Japan still may be discerned in its abiding influence on astrology, divination, festivals, literature, politics, and popular culture, not to mention Buddhism and Shinto. Despite this legacy, few English-language studies of Daoism’s influence on Japanese religious culture have been published.

Daoism in Japan provides an exploration of the particular pathways by which Daoist traditions entered Japan from continental East Asia. After addressing basic issues in both Daoist Studies and the study of Japanese religions, including the problems of defining ‘Daoism’ and ‘Japanese,’ the book looks at the influence of Daoism on ancient, medieval and modern Japan in turn. To do so, the volume is arranged both chronologically and topically, according to the following three broad divisions: “Arrivals” (c. 5th-8th centuries CE), “Assimilations” (794-1868), and “Apparitions” (1600s-present). The book demonstrates how Chinese influence on Japanese religious culture ironically proved to be crucial in establishing traditions that usually are seen as authentically, even quintessentially, Japanese.

Touching on multiple facets of Japanese cultural history and religious traditions, this book is a fascinating contribution for students and scholars of Japanese Culture, History and Religions, as well as Daoist Studies.