Gatherings in Diaspora brings together the latest chapters in the long-running chronicle of religion and immigration in the American experience. Today, as in the past, people migrating to the United States bring their religions with them, and their religious identities often mean more to them away from home, in their diaspora, than they did before.
This book explores and analyzes the diverse religious communities of post-1965 diasporas: Christians, Hews, Muslims, Hindus, Rastafarians, and practitioners of Vodou, from countries such as China, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Iran, Jamaica, Korea, and Mexico. The contributors explore how, to a greater or lesser extent, immigrants and their offspring adapt their religious institutions to American conditions, often interacting with religious communities already established. The religious institutions they build, adapt, remodel, and adopt become worlds unto themselves, congregations, where new relations are forged within the community -- between men and women, parents and children, recent arrival and those longer settled.
What does it mean to be a religious conservative, particularly for women, in America today? While it appears that people are returning to conservative religion because they are fed up with the excesses of liberalism, including feminism, a closer look at the lives of religious conservatives reveals a more complex reality. Drawing on two years of ethnographic research in Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant communities, Christel Manning explores the diversity among women who have returned to tradition. Arguing that America has undergone profound cultural and economic changes in the last thirty years, which create tension between women's lives and traditional gender roles, she demonstrates that conservative Catholics, Orthodox Jews, and Evangelical Protestants negotiate those tensions in different ways. Manning also shows that women in conservative religious communities share many of the same concerns as secular women.
Manning looks at how the religious communities profiled have been influenced by feminist values and describes the ways in which these women negotiate gender roles at work, religious services, and at home. She explains how they deal with the inconsistencies created by their attempts to integrate feminist and traditionalist norms. In highly accessible prose, Manning examines their attitudes towards the feminist movement, its impact on American culture, and the extent to which the women seek to resist it. God Gave Us the Right explains how these different views of feminism reflect the diverse theologies and historical experiences of the three communities.
Why are young people dropping out of religious institutions? Can anything be done to reverse the trend? In Got Religion?, Naomi Schaefer Riley examines the reasons for the defection, why we should care, and how some communities are successfully addressing the problem.
The traditional markers of growing up are getting married and becoming financially independent. But young adults are delaying these milestones, sometimes for a full decade longer than their parents and grandparents. This new phase of “emerging adulthood” is diminishing the involvement of young people in religious institutions, sapping the strength and vitality of faith communities, and creating a more barren religious landscape for the young adults who do eventually decide to return to it. Yet, clearly there are some churches, synagogues, and mosques that are making strides in bringing young people back to religion.
Got Religion? offers in-depth, on-the-ground reporting about the most successful of these institutions and shows how many of the structural solutions for one religious group can be adapted to work for another.
The faith communities young people attach themselves to are not necessarily the biggest or the most flashy. They are not the wealthiest or the ones employing the latest technology. Rather, they are the ones that create stability for young people, that give them real responsibility in a community and that help them form the habits of believers that will last a lifetime.
Grace: A Play
Craig Wright Northwestern University Press, 2012 Library of Congress PS3573.R5322G73 2012 | Dewey Decimal 812.54
The difference between belief and knowledge and the consequences of mistaking one for the other are at the heart of Craig Wright’s play Grace. An evangelical Christian couple, Sara and Steve, leave a dreary life in Minnesota for sunny Florida and the hope of fast money from turning abandoned hotels into a chain of gospel-themed inns. Their new neighbor, Sam, is struggling to emerge from the trauma of a car accident that killed his fiancée and left him badly maimed. And the building’s pest exterminator, Karl, is still tormented by a dark childhood episode. As their stories converge, Wright’s characters find themselves face-to-face with the most eternally vexing questions—the nature of faith, the meaning of suffering, and the possibility of redemption. Acidly funny and relentlessly searching, Grace is a trenchant work from an immensely gifted playwright.
Home and family are key, yet relatively unexplored, dimensions of religion in the contemporary United States. American cultural lore is replete with images of saintly nineteenth-century American mothers and their children. During the twentieth century, however, the form and function of the American family have changed radically, and religious beliefs have evolved under the challenges of modernity. As these transformations took place, how did religion manage to “fit” into modern family life?
In this book, Margaret Lamberts Bendroth examines the lives and beliefs of white, middle-class mainline Protestants (principally northern Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, and Congregationalists) who are theologically moderate or liberal. Mainliners have pursued family issues for most of the twentieth century, churning out hundreds of works on Christian childrearing. Bendroth’s book explores the role of family within a religious tradition that sees itself as America’s cultural center. In this balanced analysis, the author traces the evolution of mainliners’ roles in middle-class American culture and sharpens our awareness of the ways in which the mainline Protestant experience has actually shaped and reflected the American sense of self.