Tag Archives: Religion and Culture

Tradition’s Future

TP BannerAt the First Things site today, I have  post about why the future of tradition, and traditional institutions, may be brighter than we imagine. Notwithstanding the power of markets and technology to weaken tradition, I argue, the human need for stability and continuity with the past remain:

Moreover, traditions and traditional institutions have survived, and will continue to survive, because they speak to human nature. They fulfill basic human needs: family; community; a sense of belonging; an attachment to place; a link to the transcendent. Perhaps some people can do without these things, or can invent them for themselves. The Nones, I gather, think they can fashion their own religions. But most of us cannot. Most of us need the stability the past provides, the guidance of received wisdom. Some very smart people think technology is on the brink of altering human nature forever—that we are about to create a new sort of being, a transhuman hybrid of man and computer, that will inherit the future. Well, it hasn’t happened yet. For the moment, old-fashioned human nature endures; and tradition, however much we neglect or try to erase it, endures too.

Read the whole thing here.

Reynolds, “How Marriage Became One of the Sacraments”

In February, Cambridge University Press will release “How Marriage Became One of the Sacraments: The Sacramental Theology of Marriage from its Medieval Origins to the Council of Trent” by Philiip Reynolds (Emory University). The publisher’s description follows:

Among the contributions of the medieval church to western culture was the idea that marriage was one of the seven sacraments, which defined the role of married folk in the church. Although it had ancient roots, this new way of regarding marriage raised many problems, to which scholastic theologians applied all their ingenuity. By the late Middle Ages, the doctrine was fully established in Christian thought and practice but not yet as dogma. In the sixteenth century, with the entire Catholic teaching on marriage and celibacy and its associated law and jurisdiction under attack by the Protestant reformers, the Council of Trent defined the doctrine as a dogma of faith for the first time but made major changes to it. Rather than focusing on a particular aspect of intellectual and institutional developments, this book examines them in depth and in detail from their ancient precedents to the Council of Trent

Sayan-Cengiz, “Beyond Headscarf Culture in Turkey’s Retail Sector”

This month, Palgrave Macmillan is releasing “Beyond Headscarf Culture in Turkey’s Retail Sector” by Feyda Sayan-Cengiz (Istanbul Bilgi University). The publisher’s description follows:

The headscarf issue draws a great deal of public and academic attention in Turkey, yet the debate largely unfolds within the contours of the discussions over modernization, Westernization, and the Islamic / secular divide. Rarely is there a discussion about how the connotations of the headscarf shift across cleavages of class and status among women wearing it. Instead, the headscarf is typically portrayed as a symbol of Islamic identity, a ‘cover’ that brackets social inequalities other than those based on a supposed ‘clash of identities.’ This study looks beyond these contours by contextualizing the headscarf discussion in an insecure and low-status private sector labor market – namely, retail sales. Based on in-depth interviews, focus groups with lower-middle-class saleswomen with headscarves, and ethnographic study in five cities of Turkey, this book argues that the meanings of the headscarf are continuously negotiated within the quest for social and economic security.

“Religion, Politics, and Values in Poland” (eds. Borowik and Ramet)

This month, Springer Press releases “Religion, Politics, and Values in Poland: Community and Change Since 1989” edited by Irena Borowik (Jagiellonian University) and Sabrina P. Ramet (Norwegian University of Science and Technology).  The publisher’s description follows:

1989 brought a tectonic shift in Central and Southeastern Europe as Communism springer-logo-logotype-1024x768imploded and alternative political parties emerged. In Poland, religious institutions looked to take advantage of the new situation, as they were the countervailing force against Communist rule. This dynamic helped shape Polish culture for years and decades to come.

Shahpari & Hojjat, “Islamic Economy and Social Mobility: Cultural and Religious Considerations”

In February, IGI Global will release “Islamic Economy and Social Mobility: Cultural and Religious Considerations” by Hasan Shahpari (Community College of Philadelphia) and Tahereh Alavi Hojjat (DeSales University). The publisher’s description follows:

In an era of globalization and cross-cultural awareness, an interest in the relationship between economics and religion, politics, and social behavior is alive and well. In particular, the Islamic economy has become a focal point of interest for economists and government leaders around the world interested in understanding the relationship between religion and economics among primarily Islamic regions.

Islamic Economy and Social Mobility: Cultural and Religious Considerations analyzes the social, cultural, religious, and political implications of the Islamic economy at the global level. Highlighting the foundations upon which Islamic ideology is formed and how it impacts socio-cultural and economic systems both within and outside of primarily Islamic regions, this publication is an ideal reference source for economists, sociologists, international relations professionals, researchers, academics, and graduate-level students.

“Inside the Islamic Republic”(ed. Monshipouri)

In January, the Oxford University Press releases “Inside the Islamic Republic: Social Change in Post-Khomeini Iran,” edited by Mahmood Monshipouri (San Francisco State University).  The publisher’s description follows:

The post-Khomeini era has profoundly changed the socio-political landscape of Iran. Since 1989, the internal dynamics of change in Iran,9780190264840 rooted in a panoply of socioeconomic, cultural, institutional, demographic, and behavioural factors, have led to a noticeable transition in both societal and governmental structures of power, as well as the way in which many Iranians have come to deal with the changing conditions of their society. This is all exacerbated by the global trend of communication and information expansion, as Iran has increasingly become the site of the burgeoning demands for women’s rights, individual freedoms, and festering tensions and conflicts over cultural politics. These realities, among other things, have rendered Iran a country of unprecedented-and at time paradoxical-changes.

“Race and Secularism in America” (eds. Kahn and Lloyd)

In March, the Columbia University Press will release “Race and Secularism in America,” edited by Jonathon S. Kahn (Vassar College) and Vincent W. Lloyd (Syracuse University).  The publisher’s description follows:

This anthology draws bold comparisons between secularist strategies 9780231174916to contain, privatize, and discipline religion and the treatment of racialized subjects by the American state. Specializing in history, literature, anthropology, theology, religious studies, and political theory, contributors expose secularism’s prohibitive practices in all facets of American society and suggest opportunities for change.

Kaveny, “A Culture of Engagement”

In March, the Georgetown University Press will release “A Culture of Engagement: Law, Religion, and Morality,” by Cathleen Kaveny (Boston College).  The publisher’s description follows:

Religious traditions in the United States are characterized by ongoing tension between assimilation to the broader culture, as typified by 51rjwd8azvl
mainline Protestant churches, and defiant rejection of cultural incursions, as witnessed by more sectarian movements such as Mormonism and Hassidism. However, legal theorist and Catholic theologian Cathleen Kaveny contends there is a third possibility—a culture of engagement—that accommodates and respects tradition. It also recognizes the need to interact with culture to remain relevant and to offer critiques of social, political, legal, and economic practices.

Kaveny suggests that rather than avoid the crisscross of the religious and secular spheres of life, we should use this conflict as an opportunity to come together and to encounter, challenge, contribute to, and correct one another. Focusing on five broad areas of interest—Law as a Teacher, Religious Liberty and Its Limits, Conversations about Culture, Conversations about Belief, and Cases and Controversies—Kaveny demonstrates how thoughtful and purposeful engagement can contribute to rich, constructive, and difficult discussions between moral and cultural traditions.

This provocative collection of Kaveny’s articles from Commonweal magazine, substantially revised and updated from their initial publication, provides astonishing insight into a range of hot-button issues like abortion, assisted suicide, government-sponsored torture, contraception, the Ashley Treatment, capital punishment, and the role of religious faith in a pluralistic society. At turns masterful, insightful, and inspirational, A Culture of Engagement is a welcome reminder of what can be gained when a diversity of experiences and beliefs is brought to bear on American public life.

O’Connor, “Mixtec Evangelicals”

In March, the University Press of Colorado will release “Mixtec Evangelicals: Globalization, Migration, and Religious Change in a Oaxacan Indigenous Group,” by Mary I. O’Connor (University of California, Santa Barbara).  The publisher’s description follows:

Mixtec Evangelicals is a comparative ethnography of four Mixtec communities in Oaxaca, detailing the process by which economic 4cd424ae582c0816d2a216de8e1edde7_smigration and religious conversion combine to change the social and cultural makeup of predominantly folk-Catholic communities. The book describes the effects on the home communities of the Mixtecs who travel to northern Mexico and the United States in search of wage labor and return having converted from their rural Catholic roots to Evangelical Protestant religions.

O’Connor identifies globalization as the root cause of this process. She demonstrates the ways that neoliberal policies have forced Mixtecs to migrate and how migration provides the contexts for conversion. Converts challenge the set of customs governing their Mixtec villages by refusing to participate in the Catholic ceremonies and social gatherings that are at the center of traditional village life. The home communities have responded in a number of ways—ranging from expulsion of converts to partial acceptance and adjustments within the village—depending on the circumstances of conversion and number of converts returning.

Presenting data and case studies resulting from O’Connor’s ethnographic field research in Oaxaca and various migrant settlements in Mexico and the United States, Mixtec Evangelicals explores this phenomenon of globalization and observes how ancient communities are changed by their own emissaries to the outside world. Students and scholars of anthropology, Latin American studies, and religion will find much in this book to inform their understanding of globalization, modernity, indigeneity, and religious change.

Adams, “Black Women’s Christian Activism”

In February, the New York University Press will release “Black Women’s Christian Activism: Seeking Social Justice in a Northern Suburb,” by Betty Livingston Adams (New York University).  The publisher’s description follows:

When a domestic servant named Violet Johnson moved to the affluent white suburb of Summit, New Jersey in 1897, she became one of just 9780814745465_fullbarely a hundred black residents in the town of six thousand. In this avowedly liberal Protestant community, the very definition of “the suburbs” depended on observance of unmarked and fluctuating race and class barriers. But Johnson did not intend to accept the status quo. Establishing a Baptist church a year later, a seemingly moderate act that would have implications far beyond weekly worship, Johnson challenged assumptions of gender and race, advocating for a politics of civic righteousness that would grant African Americans an equal place in a Christian nation. Johnson’s story is powerful, but she was just one among the many working-class activists integral to the budding days of the civil rights movement.

In Black Women’s Christian Activism, Betty Livingston Adams examines the oft overlooked role of non-elite black women in the growth of northern suburbs and American Protestantism in the first half of the twentieth century. Focusing on the strategies and organizational models church women employed in the fight for social justice, Adams tracks the intersections of politics and religion, race and gender, and place and space in a New York City suburb, a local example that offers new insights on northern racial oppression and civil rights protest. As this book makes clear, religion made a key difference in the lives and activism of ordinary black women who lived, worked, and worshiped on the margin during this tumultuous time.