Results by Library of Congress Code
Books near "Aesthetics of Renewal: Martin Buber's Early Representation of Hasidism as Kulturkritik", Library of Congress BM198.2.U73
Results by Library of Congress Code
Books near "Aesthetics of Renewal: Martin Buber's Early Representation of Hasidism as Kulturkritik", Library of Congress BM198.2.U73
BiblioVault ® 2001 - 2023
The University of Chicago Press
Prominent observers complain that public discourse in America is shallow and unedifying. This debased condition is often attributed to, among other things, the resurgence of religion in public life. Steven Smith argues that this diagnosis has the matter backwards: it is not primarily religion but rather the strictures of secular rationalism that have drained our modern discourse of force and authenticity.
Thus, Rawlsian “public reason” filters appeals to religion or other “comprehensive doctrines” out of public deliberation. But these restrictions have the effect of excluding our deepest normative commitments, virtually assuring that the discourse will be shallow. Furthermore, because we cannot defend our normative positions without resorting to convictions that secular discourse deems inadmissible, we are frequently forced to smuggle in those convictions under the guise of benign notions such as freedom or equality.
Smith suggests that this sort of smuggling is pervasive in modern secular discourse. He shows this by considering a series of controversial, contemporary issues, including the Supreme Court’s assisted-suicide decisions, the “harm principle,” separation of church and state, and freedom of conscience. He concludes by suggesting that it is possible and desirable to free public discourse of the constraints associated with secularism and “public reason.”
An ethnographic exploration of technoscientific immortality
Immortality has long been considered the domain of religion. But immortality projects have gained increasing legitimacy and power in the world of science and technology. With recent rapid advances in biology, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence, secular immortalists hope for and work toward a future without death.
On Not Dying is an anthropological, historical, and philosophical exploration of immortality as a secular and scientific category. Based on an ethnography of immortalist communities—those who believe humans can extend their personal existence indefinitely through technological means—and an examination of other institutions involved at the end of life, Abou Farman argues that secular immortalism is an important site to explore the tensions inherent in secularism: how to accept death but extend life; knowing the future is open but your future is finite; that life has meaning but the universe is meaningless. As secularism denies a soul, an afterlife, and a cosmic purpose, conflicts arise around the relationship of mind and body, individual finitude and the infinity of time and the cosmos, and the purpose of life. Immortalism today, Farman argues, is shaped by these historical and culturally situated tensions. Immortalist projects go beyond extending life, confronting dualism and cosmic alienation by imagining (and producing) informatic selves separate from the biological body but connected to a cosmic unfolding.
On Not Dying interrogates the social implications of technoscientific immortalism and raises important political questions. Whose life will be extended? Will these technologies be available to all, or will they reproduce racial and geopolitical hierarchies? As human life on earth is threatened in the Anthropocene, why should life be extended, and what will that prolonged existence look like?
Bringing clarity to a subject clouded by polemic, Secularism, Identity, and Enchantment is a rigorous exploration of how secularism and identity emerged as concepts in different parts of the modern world. At a time when secularist and religious worldviews appear irreconcilable, Akeel Bilgrami strikes out on a path distinctly his own, criticizing secularist proponents and detractors, liberal universalists and multicultural relativists alike.
Those who ground secularism in arguments that aspire to universal reach, Bilgrami argues, fundamentally misunderstand the nature of politics. To those, by contrast, who regard secularism as a mere outgrowth of colonial domination, he offers the possibility of a more conceptually vernacular ground for political secularism. Focusing on the response to Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses, Bilgrami asks why Islamic identity has so often been a mobilizing force against liberalism, and he answers the question with diagnostic sympathy, providing a philosophical framework within which the Islamic tradition might overcome the resentments prompted by its colonized past and present.
Turning to Gandhi's political and religious thought, Bilgrami ponders whether the increasing appeal of religion in many parts of the world reflects a growing disillusionment not with science but with an outlook of detachment around the rise of modern science and capitalism. He elaborates a notion of enchantment along metaphysical, ethical, and political lines with a view to finding in secular modernity a locus of meaning and value, while addressing squarely the anxiety that all such notions hark back nostalgically to a time that has past.
“Brilliant . . . Should be required reading.” —Commentary
“As a critic of liberalism, George is devastating.” —National Review
“Puts George’s highly burnished philosophical and constitutional learning on full display . . . George speaks for a sizable number of conscientious objectors to America’s ruling liberal secularism.” —New York Times Book Review
“Could not be more timely. A treasure trove of thought-provoking reflections by one of the best minds of our time.” —Mary Ann Glendon, Harvard Law, from the foreword to the updated and expanded paperback edition of Conscience and Its Enemies
Assaults on religious liberty and traditional morality are growing fiercer. Here, at last, is the counterattack.
This revised and updated paperback edition of the acclaimed Conscience and Its Enemies showcases the talents that have made Robert P. George one of America’s most influential thinkers. Here George explodes the myth that the secular elite represents the voice of reason. In fact, it is on the elite side of the cultural divide where the prevailing views are little more than articles of faith. Conscience and Its Enemies reveals the bankruptcy of these too often smugly held orthodoxies while presenting powerfully reasoned arguments for classical virtues.
In defending what James Madison called the “sacred rights of conscience”—rights for which government shows frightening contempt—George grapples with today’s most controversial issues: same-sex marriage, abortion, transgenderism, genetic manipulation, euthanasia and assisted suicide, religion in politics, judicial activism, and more. His brilliantly argued essays rely not on theological claims or religious authority but on established scientific facts and a philosophical tradition that extends back to Plato and Aristotle.
Conscience and Its Enemies sets forth powerful arguments that secular liberals are unaccustomed to hearing—and that embattled defenders of traditional morality so often fail to marshal.
In a work that is as much about the present as the past, Brad Gregory identifies the unintended consequences of the Protestant Reformation and traces the way it shaped the modern condition over the course of the following five centuries. A hyperpluralism of religious and secular beliefs, an absence of any substantive common good, the triumph of capitalism and its driver, consumerism—all these, Gregory argues, were long-term effects of a movement that marked the end of more than a millennium during which Christianity provided a framework for shared intellectual, social, and moral life in the West.
Before the Protestant Reformation, Western Christianity was an institutionalized worldview laden with expectations of security for earthly societies and hopes of eternal salvation for individuals. The Reformation’s protagonists sought to advance the realization of this vision, not disrupt it. But a complex web of rejections, retentions, and transformations of medieval Christianity gradually replaced the religious fabric that bound societies together in the West. Today, what we are left with are fragments: intellectual disagreements that splinter into ever finer fractals of specialized discourse; a notion that modern science—as the source of all truth—necessarily undermines religious belief; a pervasive resort to a therapeutic vision of religion; a set of smuggled moral values with which we try to fertilize a sterile liberalism; and the institutionalized assumption that only secular universities can pursue knowledge.
The Unintended Reformation asks what propelled the West into this trajectory of pluralism and polarization, and finds answers deep in our medieval Christian past.
Secularism: the definition of this word is as practical and urgent as income inequalities or the paths to sustainable development. In this wide-ranging analysis, Jocelyn Maclure and Charles Taylor provide a clearly reasoned, articulate account of the two main principles of secularism—equal respect, and freedom of conscience—and its two operative modes—separation of Church (or mosque or temple) and State, and State neutrality vis-à-vis religions. But more crucially, they make the powerful argument that in our ever more religiously diverse, politically interconnected world, secularism, properly understood, may offer the only path to religious and philosophical freedom.
Secularism and Freedom of Conscience grew out of a very real problem—Quebec’s need for guidelines to balance the equal respect due to all citizens with the right to religious freedom. But the authors go further, rethinking secularism in light of other critical issues of our time. The relationship between religious beliefs and deeply-held secular convictions, the scope of the free exercise of religion, and the place of religion in the public sphere are aspects of the larger challenge Maclure and Taylor address: how to manage moral and religious diversity in a free society. Secularism, they show, is essential to any liberal democracy in which citizens adhere to a plurality of conceptions of what gives meaning and direction to human life. The working model the authors construct in this nuanced account is capacious enough to accommodate difference and freedom of conscience, while holding out hope for a world in which diversity no longer divides us.
Religion is an undiscovered country for much of the secular academy, which remains deeply ambivalent about it as an object of study. On the one hand, secular scholars agree that it is time to take religion seriously. On the other, these same scholars persist in assuming that religion rests not on belief but on power and ideology. According to Vincent Pecora, the idea of the secular itself is the source of much of the contradiction and confusion in contemporary thought about religion. Pecora aims here to work through the paradoxes of secularization, which emerges in this book as an intractable problem for cultural criticism in the nation-states of the post-Enlightenment West.
Secularization and Cultural Criticism examines the responses of a wide range of thinkers—Edward Said, Talal Asad, Jürgen Habermas, Walter Benjamin, Emile Durkheim, Carl Schmitt, Matthew Arnold, and Virginia Woolf, among others—to illustrate exactly why the problem of secularization in the study of society and culture should matter once again. Exploring the endemic difficulty posed by religion for the modern academy, Pecora makes sense of the value and potential impasses of secular cultural criticism in a global age.
With essays addressing secularism in India, Iran, Turkey, Great Britain, China, and the United States, this collection crucially complicates the dominant narrative by showing that secularism is multifaceted. How secularism is lived and experienced varies with its national, regional, and religious context. The essays explore local secularisms in relation to religious traditions ranging from Islam to Judaism, Hinduism to Christianity. Several contributors explicitly take up the way feminism has been implicated in the dominant secularization story. Ultimately, by dislodging secularism’s connection to the single (and singular) progress narrative, this volume seeks to open spaces for other possible narratives about both secularism and religion—as well as for other possible ways of inhabiting the contemporary world.
Contributors: Robert J. Baird, Andrew Davison, Tracy Fessenden, Janet R. Jakobsen, Laura Levitt,
Molly McGarry, Afsaneh Najmabadi, Taha Parla, Geeta Patel, Ann Pellegrini, Tyler Roberts,
Ranu Samantrai, Banu Subramaniam, Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, Angela Zito
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
A Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year
A Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
A Tablet Best Book of the Year
Winner of a Christianity Today Book Award
“One finds big nuggets of insight, useful to almost anybody with an interest in the progress of human society.”
“Taylor takes on the broad phenomenon of secularization in its full complexity…[A] voluminous, impressively researched and often fascinating social and intellectual history.”
—Jack Miles, Los Angeles Times
“A Secular Age is a work of stupendous breadth and erudition.”
—John Patrick Diggins, New York Times Book Review
“A culminating dispatch from the philosophical frontlines. It is at once encyclopedic and incisive, a sweeping overview that is no less analytically rigorous for its breadth.”
—Steven Hayward, Cleveland Plain Dealer
“[A] thumping great volume.”
—Stuart Jeffries, The Guardian
“Very occasionally there appears a book destined to endure. A Secular Age is such a book.”
—Edward Skidelsky, Daily Telegraph
“It is refreshing to read an inquiry into the condition of religion that is exploratory in its approach.”
—John Gray, Harper’s
“A Secular Age represents a singular achievement.”
—Christopher J. Insole, Times Literary Supplement
“A determinedly brilliant new book.”
—London Review of Books
“What does it mean to say that we live in a secular age?” This apparently simple question opens into the massive, provocative, and complex A Secular Age, where Charles Taylor positions secularism as a defining feature of the modern world, not the mere absence of religion, and casts light on the experience of transcendence that scientistic explanations of the world tend to neglect.
In Varieties of Secularism in a Secular Age, a prominent and varied group of scholars chart the conversations in which A Secular Age intervenes and address wider questions of secularism and secularity. The distinguished contributors include Robert Bellah, José Casanova, Nilüfer Göle, William E. Connolly, Wendy Brown, Simon During, Colin Jager, Jon Butler, Jonathan Sheehan, Akeel Bilgrami, John Milbank, and Saba Mahmood.
Varieties of Secularism in a Secular Age succeeds in conveying to readers the complexity of secularism while serving as an invaluable guide to a landmark book.
Over the past two decades secular polities across the globe have witnessed an increasing turn to religion-based political movements, such as the rise of political Islam and Hindu nationalism, which have been fueling new and alternative notions of nationhood and national ideologies. The rise of such movements has initiated widespread debates over the meaning, efficacy, and normative worth of secularism. Visualizing Secularism and Religion examines the constitutive role of religion in the formation of secular-national public spheres in the Middle East and South Asia, arguing that in order to establish secularism as the dominant national ideology of countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, and India, the discourses, practices, and institutions of secular nation-building include rather than exclude religion as a presence within the public sphere. The contributors examine three fields---urban space and architecture, media, and public rituals such as parades, processions, and commemorative festivals---with a view to exploring how the relation between secularism, religion, and nationalism is displayed and performed. This approach demands a reconceptualization of secularism as an array of contextually specific practices, ideologies, subjectivities, and "performances" rather than as simply an abstract legal bundle of rights and policies.
How early American Catholics justified secularism and overcame suspicions of disloyalty, transforming ideas of religious liberty in the process.
In colonial America, Catholics were presumed dangerous until proven loyal. Yet Catholics went on to sign the Declaration of Independence and helped to finalize the First Amendment to the Constitution. What explains this remarkable transformation? Michael Breidenbach shows how Catholic leaders emphasized their church’s own traditions—rather than Enlightenment liberalism—to secure the religious liberty that enabled their incorporation in American life.
Catholics responded to charges of disloyalty by denying papal infallibility and the pope’s authority to intervene in civil affairs. Rome staunchly rejected such dissent, but reform-minded Catholics justified their stance by looking to conciliarism, an intellectual tradition rooted in medieval Catholic thought yet compatible with a republican view of temporal independence and church–state separation. Drawing on new archival material, Breidenbach finds that early American Catholic leaders, including Maryland founder Cecil Calvert and members of the prominent Carroll family, relied on the conciliarist tradition to help institute religious toleration, including the Maryland Toleration Act of 1649.
The critical role of Catholics in establishing American church–state separation enjoins us to revise not only our sense of who the American founders were, but also our understanding of the sources of secularism. Church–state separation in America, generally understood as the product of a Protestant-driven Enlightenment, was in key respects derived from Catholic thinking. Our Dear-Bought Liberty therefore offers a dramatic departure from received wisdom, suggesting that religious liberty in America was not bestowed by liberal consensus but partly defined through the ingenuity of a persecuted minority.
Ghosts. Railroads. Sing Sing. Sex machines. These are just a few of the phenomena that appear in John Lardas Modern’s pioneering account of religion and society in nineteenth-century America. This book uncovers surprising connections between secular ideology and the rise of technologies that opened up new ways of being religious. Exploring the eruptions of religion in New York’s penny presses, the budding fields of anthropology and phrenology, and Moby-Dick, Modern challenges the strict separation between the religious and the secular that remains integral to discussions about religion today.
Modern frames his study around the dread, wonder, paranoia, and manic confidence of being haunted, arguing that experiences and explanations of enchantment fueled secularism’s emergence. The awareness of spectral energies coincided with attempts to tame the unruly fruits of secularism—in the cultivation of a spiritual self among Unitarians, for instance, or in John Murray Spear’s erotic longings for a perpetual motion machine. Combining rigorous theoretical inquiry with beguiling historical arcana, Modern unsettles long-held views of religion and the methods of narrating its past.
Scholars of history, anthropology, religion, politics, law, philosophy, and media studies take on a broad range of concerns. Some consider the history of secularism in India; others explore theoretical issues such as the relationship between secularism and democracy or the shortcomings of the categories “majority” and “minority.” Contributors examine how the debates about secularism play out in schools, the media, and the popular cinema. And they address two of the most politically charged sites of crisis: personal law and the right to practice and encourage religious conversion. Together the essays inject insightful analysis into the fraught controversy about the shortcomings and uncertain future of secularism in the world today.
Contributors. Flavia Agnes, Upendra Baxi, Shyam Benegal, Akeel Bilgrami, Partha Chatterjee, V. Geetha, Sunil Khilnani, Nivedita Menon, Ashis Nandy, Anuradha Dingwaney Needham, Gyanendra Pandey, Gyan Prakash, Arvind Rajagopal, Paula Richman, Sumit Sarkar, Dwaipayan Sen, Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, Shabnum Tejani, Romila Thapar, Ravi S. Vasudevan, Gauri Viswanathan
The autocratic rule of both tsar and church in imperial Russia gave rise not only to a revolutionary movement in the nineteenth century but also to a crisis of meaning among members of the intelligentsia. Personal faith became the subject of intense scrutiny as individuals debated the existence of God and the immortality of the soul, debates reflected in the best-known novels of the day. Friendships were formed and broken in exchanges over the status of the eternal. The salvation of the entire country, not just of each individual, seemed to depend on the answers to questions about belief.
Victoria Frede looks at how and why atheism took on such importance among several generations of Russian intellectuals from the 1820s to the 1860s, drawing on meticulous and extensive research of both published and archival documents, including letters, poetry, philosophical tracts, police files, fiction, and literary criticism. She argues that young Russians were less concerned about theology and the Bible than they were about the moral, political, and social status of the individual person. They sought to maintain their integrity against the pressures exerted by an autocratic state and rigidly hierarchical society. As individuals sought to shape their own destinies and searched for truths that would give meaning to their lives, they came to question the legitimacy both of the tsar and of Russia’s highest authority, God.
A comprehensive biography of the Treatise of the Three Impostors, a controversial nonexistent medieval book.
After fifteen years of full participation in a church that is open not only to skeptics but also to gay men and lesbians, blacks and Jews, where members are invited to critique Sunday sermons, and where hymns are rewritten to reflect feminist concerns, Kelley found that his agnosticism remained but his skepticism about church participation had disappeared. Modern urban life can be a sterile, isolating experience. Yet in St. Mark's Kelley discovered a place of vibrant community, honest inquiry, and support over the hard places in life.
The years following the Texas Revolution held even more turbulent events as diverse droves of pioneers crossed the Sabine and Red Rivers to start new lives in Texas. Early Texas society contended with religious issues, family life in a rugged environment, and the Civil War. This cultural history was clearly reflected in the life of frontier preacher Henry C. Renfro.
Migrating to Texas in 1851, Renfro enrolled in the fledgling Baylor University and became a Baptist preacher. Eventually disillusioned with Baptist orthodoxy, Renfro was disenfranchised on charges of infidelity as he embraced the ideals of the Free Thought Movement, inspired by the writings of men such as Thomas Paine, Spinoza, and Robert Ingersoll.
Renfro's Civil War experience was no less unusual. Serving as both soldier and chaplain, Renfro left a valuable legacy of insight into the conflict, captured in a wealth of correspondence that is in itself significant.
Drawing on a vast body of letters, speeches, sermons, and oral histories that had never before been available, this chronological narrative of "The Parson's" life describes significant changes in Texas from 1850 to 1900, especially the volatile formation and growth of Baptist churches in North Central Texas. William Griggs' study yields numerous new details about the Free Thought Movement and depicts public reaction to sectarian leaders in nineteenth-century Texas.
The author also describes the developing Central Texas region known as the Cross Timbers, including the personal dynamics between a frontier family and its patriarch and encompassing such issues as property conflicts, divorce, and family reconciliation. This work unlocks an enlightening, engaging scene from Texas history.
Jewish Studies, the first volume in a groundbreaking new series, Key Words in Jewish Studies, introduces the basic approach of the series by organizing discussion around key concepts in the field that have emerged over the last two centuries: history and science, race and religion, self and community, identity and memory. The book is oriented by contemporary critical theory, especially feminist and postcolonial studies, and the multidisciplinary approaches of cultural studies.
By looking backward and forward—and across continents and disciplines—to unearth the evolution of the scholarly study of Jews, Andrew Bush provides a comprehensive introduction to the development of Jewish studies from the turn of the nineteenth century to the present. In the course of engaging scholarship on periods from the classical to the contemporary and from the disciplines of history, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, psychology, and literary studies, Bush questions male-dominated and Ashkenazi-centric visions of the field. He concludes with an experimental exposition of a new Jewish studies for a time where attention to difference has overtaken the security of canons and commonalities.
Examines and explores divers topics of Jewish thought and history
A fascinating and eclectic collection of twenty-two essays, Essays in Jewish Thought examines and explores diverse topics of Jewish thought and history. From Judaism’s view of ancient Rome at its imperial apogee and the Dead Sea Scrolls to Jewish thought in Europe’s revolutions of 1848 and Franz Kafka, the collection offers a rich compendium of essays of interest to scholars, historians, philosophers, and students.
A scholar of law and religion uncovers a surprising origin story behind the idea of the separation of powers.
The separation of powers is a bedrock of modern constitutionalism, but striking antecedents were developed centuries earlier, by Jewish scholars and rabbis of antiquity. Attending carefully to their seminal works and the historical milieu, David Flatto shows how a foundation of democratic rule was contemplated and justified long before liberal democracy was born.
During the formative Second Temple and early rabbinic eras (the fourth century BCE to the third century CE), Jewish thinkers had to confront the nature of legal authority from the standpoint of the disempowered. Jews struggled against the idea that a legal authority stemming from God could reside in the hands of an imperious ruler (even a hypothetical Judaic monarch). Instead scholars and rabbis argued that such authority lay with independent courts and the law itself. Over time, they proposed various permutations of this ideal. Many of these envisioned distinct juridical and political powers, with a supreme law demarcating the respective jurisdictions of each sphere. Flatto explores key Second Temple and rabbinic writings—the Qumran scrolls; the philosophy and history of Philo and Josephus; the Mishnah, Tosefta, Midrash, and Talmud—to uncover these transformative notions of governance.
The Crown and the Courts argues that by proclaiming the supremacy of law in the absence of power, postbiblical thinkers emphasized the centrality of law in the people’s covenant with God, helping to revitalize Jewish life and establish allegiance to legal order. These scholars proved not only creative but also prescient. Their profound ideas about the autonomy of law reverberate to this day.
An essential resource for scholars and students
Since the publication of the first edition of Early Judaism and Its Modern Interpreters in 1986, the field of early Judaism has exploded with new data, the publication of additional texts, and the adoption of new methods. This new edition of the classic resource honors the spirit of the earlier volume and focuses on the scholarly advances in the past four decades that have led to the study of early Judaism becoming an academic discipline in its own right. Essays written by leading scholars in the study of early Judaism fall into four sections: historical and social settings; methods, manuscripts, and materials; early Jewish literatures; and the afterlife of early Judaism.
Celebrate a trailblazer in the areas of women and re
Celebrate a trailblazer in the areas of women and religion, Jews and Judaism, and earliest Christianity in the ancient MediterraneanRoss Kraemer is Professor Emerita in the Department of Religious Studies at Brown University. This volume of essays, conceived and produced by students, colleagues, and friends bears witness to the breadth of her own scholarly interests. Contributors include Theodore A. Bergren, Debra Bucher, Lynn Cohick, Mary Rose D’Angelo, Nathaniel P. DesRosiers, Robert Doran, Jennifer Eyl, Paula Fredriksen, John G. Gager, Maxine Grossman, Kim Haines-Eitzen, Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Jordan Kraemer, Robert A. Kraft, Shira L. Lander, Amy-Jill Levine, Susan Marks, E. Ann Matter, Renee Levine Melammed, Susan Niditch, Elaine Pagels, Adele Reinhartz, Jordan Rosenblum, Sarah Schwarz, Karen B. Stern, Stanley K. Stowers, Daniel Ullucci, Arthur Urbano, Heidi Wendt, and Benjamin G. Wright.
Commonly translated as the “Jewish Enlightenment,” the Haskalah propelled Jews into modern life. Olga Litvak argues that the idea of a Jewish modernity, championed by adherents of this movement, did not originate in Western Europe’s age of reason. Litvak contends that the Haskalah spearheaded a Jewish religious revival, better understood against the background of Eastern European Romanticism.
Based on imaginative and historically grounded readings of primary sources, Litvak presents a compelling case for rethinking the relationship between the Haskalah and the experience of political and social emancipation. Most importantly, she challenges the prevailing view that the Haskalah provided the philosophical mainspring for Jewish liberalism.
In Litvak’s ambitious interpretation, nineteenth-century Eastern European intellectuals emerge as the authors of a Jewish Romantic revolution. Fueled by contradictory longings both for community and for personal freedom, the poets and scholars associated with the Haskalah questioned the moral costs of civic equality and the achievement of middle-class status. In the nineteenth century, their conservative approach to culture as the cure for the spiritual ills of the modern individual provided a powerful argument for the development of Jewish nationalism. Today, their ideas are equally resonant in contemporary debates about the ramifications of secularization for the future of Judaism.
The only comprehensive and up-to-date look at Reform Judaism, this book analyzes the forces currently challenging the Reform movement, now the largest Jewish denomination in the United States.
To distinguish itself from Orthodox and Conservative Judaism, the Reform movement tries to be an egalitarian, open, and innovative version of the faith true to the spirit of the tradition but nonetheless fully compatible with modern secular life. Promoting itself in this way, Reform Judaism has been tremendously successful in recruiting a variety of people—intermarried families, feminists, gays and lesbians, and interracial families among others—who resist more traditional forms of worship.
As an unintended result of this success, the movement now struggles with an identity crisis brought on by its liberal theology, which teaches that each Jew is free to practice Judaism more or less as he or she pleases. In the absence of the authority that comes from a theology based on a commanding, all-powerful God, can Reform Judaism continue to thrive? Can it be broadly inclusive and still be uniquely and authentically Jewish?
Taking this question as his point of departure, Dana Evan Kaplan provides a broad overview of the American Reform movement and its history, theology, and politics. He then takes a hard look at the challenges the movement faces as it attempts to reinvent itself in the new millennium. In so doing, Kaplan gives the reader a sense of where Reform Judaism has come from, where it stands on the major issues, and where it may be going.
Addressing the issues that have confronted the movement—including the ordination of women, acceptance of homosexuality, the problem of assimilation, the question of rabbinic officiation at intermarriages, the struggle for acceptance in Israel, and Jewish education and others—Kaplan sheds light on the connection between Reform ideology and cultural realities. He unflinchingly, yet optimistically, assesses the movement’s future and cautions that stormy weather may be ahead.
BiblioVault ® 2001 - 2023
The University of Chicago Press