In March, Oxford University Press will release “The Nonreligious: Understanding Secular People and Societies” by Phil Zuckerman (Pitzer College), Luke W. Galen (Grand Valley State University), and Frank L. Pasquale (cultural anthropologist). The publisher’s description follows:
The number of nonreligious people has increased dramatically over the past several decades, yet scholarship on the nonreligious is severely lacking. In response to this critical gap in knowledge, The Nonreligious provides a comprehensive summation and analysis of existing social scientific research on secular people and societies. The authors present a thorough overview of existing knowledge while also drawing upon ongoing research and suggesting ways to improve our understanding of this growing population. Offering a research- and data-based examination of the nonreligious, this book will be an invaluable source of information and a foundation for further scholarship. Written in clear, accessible language that will appeal to students and the increasingly interested general reader, The Nonreligiousprovides an unbiased and thorough account of relevant existing scholarship within the social sciences that bears on lived experiences of the nonreligious.
Professor Scharffs at the Law and Religion Colloquium
This week, the Center hosted BYU Law School Professor Brett Scharffs in our biannual Colloquium on Law and Religion (above). Brett, who is BYU’s associate dean and the associate director of its magnificent International Center for Law and Religion Studies, presented his draft, “Four Models of Public Discourse and their Implications for the Public Sphere.” Brett has been a great friend of the Center for several years and we were delighted to have him with us. Next up: the University of Illinois’s Robin Fretwell Wilson (February 16).
In January, Routledge released “Religions in the Modern World: Traditions and Transformations, 3rd Edition” edited by Linda Woodhead (Lancaster University, UK), Christopher Partridge (Lancaster University, UK), and Hiroko Kawanami (Lancaster University, UK). The publisher’s description follows:
Religions in the Modern World: Traditions and Transformations, Third Edition is the ideal textbook for those coming to the study of religion for the first time, as well as for those who wish to keep up-to-date with the latest perspectives in the field. This third edition contains new and upgraded pedagogic features, including chapter summaries, key terms and definitions, and questions for reflection and discussion. The first part of the book considers the history and modern practices of the main religious traditions of the world, while the second analyzes trends from secularization to the rise of new spiritualities. Comprehensive and fully international in coverage, it is accessibly written by practicing and specialist teachers.
This month, Ashgate releases “The European Wars of Religion: An Interdisciplinary Reassessment of Sources, Interpretations, and Myths,” edited by Wolfgang Palaver (University of Innsbruck), Dieter Regensburger (University of Innsbruck), and Harriet Rudolph (University of Regensburg). The publisher’s description follows:
In recent years religion has resurfaced amongst academics, in many ways replacing class as the key to understanding Europe’s historical development. This
has resulted in an explosion of studies revisiting issues of religious change, confessional violence and holy war during the early modern period. But the interpretation of the European wars of religion still remains largely defined by national boundaries, tied to specific processes of state building as well as nation building. In order to more thoroughly interrogate these concepts and assumptions, this volume focusses on terms repeatedly used and misused in public debates such as ‘religious violence’ and ‘holy warfare’ within the context of military conflicts commonly labelled ‘religious wars’. The chapters not only focus on the role of religion, but also on the emerging state as a driver of the escalation of violence in the so-called age of religious war. By using different methodological and theoretical approaches historians, philosophers, and theologians engage in an interdisciplinary debate that contributes to a better understanding of the religio-political situation of early modern Europe and the interpretation of violent conflicts interpreted as religious conflicts today. By adopting a multi-disciplinary approach, new and innovative perspectives are opened up that question if in fact religion was a primary driving force behind these conflicts.
In November, the Cambridge University Press released “Pagans and Christians in Late Antique Rome: Conflict, Competition, and Coexistence in the Fourth Century,” edited by Michele Renee Salzman (University of California, Riverside), Marianne Sághy (Central European University), and Rita Lizzi Testa (Università degli Studi di Perugia). The publisher’s description follows:
This book sheds new light on the religious and consequently social changes taking place in late antique Rome. The essays in this volume argue that the once-dominant notion of pagan-Christian religious conflict cannot fully explain the texts and artifacts, as well as the social, religious, and political realities of late antique Rome. Together, the essays demonstrate that the fourth-century city was a more fluid, vibrant, and complex place than was previously thought. Competition between diverse groups in Roman society – be it pagans with Christians, Christians with Christians, or pagans with pagans – did create tensions and hostility, but it also allowed for coexistence and reduced the likelihood of overt violent, physical conflict. Competition and coexistence, along with conflict, emerge as still central paradigms for those who seek to understand the transformations of Rome from the age of Constantine through the early fifth century.
- The most up-to-date analysis of the texts and archaeological evidence from late antique Rome
- Written by an international team of scholars with diverse backgrounds and approaches
- Illuminates new approaches to ancient history by addressing the nature of religious change in the largest city in the Mediterranean world – Rome
In November, Ignatius Press released “The Lost Mandate of Heaven: The American Betrayal of Ngo Dinh Diem, President of Vietnam” by Dr. Geoffrey Shaw (Alexandrian Defense Group). The publisher’s description follows:
Ngo Dinh Diem, the first president of the Republic of Vietnam, possessed the Confucian “Mandate of Heaven”, a moral and political authority that was widely recognized by all Vietnamese. This devout Roman Catholic leader never lost this mandate in the eyes of his people; rather, he was taken down by a military coup sponsored by the U.S. government, which resulted in his brutal murder.
The commonly held view runs contrary to the above assertion by military historian Geoffrey Shaw. According to many American historians, President Diem was a corrupt leader whose tyrannical actions lost him the loyalty of his people and the possibility of a military victory over the North Vietnamese. The Kennedy Administration, they argue, had to withdraw its support of Diem.
Based on his research of original sources, including declassified documents of the U.S. government, Shaw chronicles the Kennedy administration’s betrayal of this ally, which proved to be not only a moral failure but also a political disaster that led America into a protracted and costly war. Along the way, Shaw reveals a President Diem very different from the despot portrayed by the press during its coverage of Vietnam. From eyewitness accounts of military, intelligence, and diplomatic sources, Shaw draws the portrait of a man with rare integrity, a patriot who strove to free his country from Western colonialism while protecting it from Communism.
This month, the Cambridge University Press releases “Islamic Populism in Indonesia and the Middle East,” by Vedi R. Hadiz (University of Melbourne). The publisher’s description follows:
In a novel approach to the field of Islamic politics, this provocative new study compares the evolution of Islamic populism in Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population in the world, to the Middle East. Utilising approaches from historical sociology and political economy, Vedi R. Hadiz argues that competing strands of Islamic politics can be understood as the product of contemporary struggles over power, material resources and the result of conflict across a variety of social and historical contexts. Drawing from detailed case studies across the Middle East and Southeast Asia, the book engages with broader theoretical questions about political change in the context of socio-economic transformations and presents an innovative, comparative framework to shed new light on the diverse trajectories of Islamic politics in the modern world.
- Charts the evolution of Islamic populism in Indonesia, comparing it to the Middle East
- Offers a novel framework to understand the diverse trajectories of Islamic politics in the modern world
- Engages with debates on religion, politics and social change
In March, Ashgate will release “Reconciliation and Religio-political Non-conformism in Zimbabwe” by Joram Tarusarira (University of Groningen, The Netherlands). The publisher’s description follows:
Religio-political organisations in Zimbabwe play an important role in advocating democratisation and reconciliation, against acquiescent, silenced or co-opted mainstream churches. Reconciliation and Religio-political Non-conformism in Zimbabwe analyses activities of religious organisations that deviate from the position of mainline churches and the political elites with regard to religious participation in political matters, against a background of political conflict and violence.
Drawing on detailed case studies of the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance (ZCA), Churches in Manicaland (CiM) and Grace to Heal (GtH), this book provocatively argues that in the face of an unsatisfactory religious and political culture, religio-political non-conformists emerge seeking to introduce a new ethos even in the face of negative sanctions from dominant religious and political systems.