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The books below are new (or at least new to the Wiggin Library) and can be checked out by all library patrons. They are also on display and can be browsed in-person on the 6th floor at Meadville Lombard. For those interesting in getting a library account, go to Request an Account.
The forgotten story of the nineteenth-century freethinkers and twentieth-century humanists who tried to build their own secular religion In The Church of Saint Thomas Paine, Leigh Eric Schmidt tells the surprising story of how freethinking liberals in nineteenth-century America promoted a secular religion of humanity centered on the deistic revolutionary Thomas Paine (1737-1809) and how their descendants eventually became embroiled in the culture wars of the late twentieth century. After Paine's remains were stolen from his grave in New Rochelle, New York, and shipped to England in 1819, the reverence of his American disciples took a material turn in a long search for his relics. Paine's birthday was always a red-letter day for these believers in democratic cosmopolitanism and philanthropic benevolence, but they expanded their program to include a broader array of rites and ceremonies, particularly funerals free of Christian supervision. They also worked to establish their own churches and congregations in which to practice their religion of secularism. All of these activities raised serious questions about the very definition of religion and whether it included nontheistic fellowships and humanistic associations--a dispute that erupted again in the second half of the twentieth century. As right-wing Christians came to see secular humanism as the most dangerous religion imaginable, small communities of religious humanists, the heirs of Paine's followers, were swept up in new battles about religion's public contours and secularism's moral perils. An engrossing account of an important but little-known chapter in American history, The Church of Saint Thomas Paine reveals why the lines between religion and secularism are often much blurrier than we imagine.
The story of the creation of the Book of Mormon has been told many times, and often ridiculed. A Documentary History of the Book of Mormon presents and examines the primary sources surrounding the origin of the foundational text of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the mostsuccessful new religion of modern times.The scores of documents transcribed and annotated in this book include family histories, journal entries, letters, affidavits, reminiscences, interviews, newspaper articles, and book extracts, as well as revelations dictated in the name of God. From these texts emerges the captivating story of whathappened (and what was believed or rumored to have happened) between September 1823 - when the seventeen-year-old farm boy Joseph Smith announced that an angel of God had directed him to an ancient book inscribed on gold plates - and March 1830, when the Book of Mormon was first published. Bycompiling for the first time a substantial collection of both first- and secondhand accounts relevant to the inception of the divine revelation - or clever fraud - that launched a new world religion, A Documentary History makes a significant contribution to the rapidly growing field of MormonStudies.
In Ecowomanism at the Panamá Canal: Black Women, Labor, and Environmental Ethics, Sofia Betancourt constructs a transnational ecowomanist ethic that reclaims inherited environmental cultures across multiple sites of displacement. Betancourt argues that women in the African diaspora have a unique understanding of how a moral refusal to compromise their humanity provides the very understanding needed to survive what was once an inconceivable level of environmental devastation. This work is guided by the experiences of West Indian women, imported to Panamá by the United States from across the Caribbean, whose labor supported the building of the Panamá Canal--the so-called silver men and women who faced mud, mosquitoes, and malaria while building a literal pathway to the American empire.
Intersex bodies have been figured as troubling by doctors, parents, religious institutions and society at large. In this book, scholars draw on constructive and pastoral theologies, biblical studies, and sociology, suggesting intersex's capacity to 'trouble' is positive, challenging unquestioned norms and assumptions in religion and beyond.
Sensing Sacred is an edited volume that explores the critical intersection of "religion" and "body" through the religious lens of practical theology, with an emphasis on sensation as the embodied means in which human beings know themselves, others, and the divine in the world. The manuscript argues that all human interaction and practice, including religious praxis, engages "body" through at least one of the human senses (touch, smell, hearing, taste, sight, kinestics/proprioception). Unfortunately, body--and, more specifically and ironically, sensation--is eclipsed in contemporary academic scholarship that is inherently bent toward the realm of theory and ideas. This is unfortunate because it neglects bodies, physical or communal, as the repository and generator of culturally conditioned ideas and theory. It is ironic because all knowledge transmission minimally requires several senses including sight, touch, and hearing. Sensing Sacred is organized into two parts. The first section devotes a chapter to each human sense as an avenue of accessing religious experience; while the second section explores religious practices as they specifically focus on one or more senses. The overarching aim of the volume is to explicitly highlight each sense and utilize the theoretical lenses of practical theology to bring to vivid life the connections between essential sensation and religious thinking and practice.
Religious rituals are often seen as unchanging and ahistorical bearers of long-standing traditions. But as this book demonstrates, ritual is a lively platform for social change and innovation in the religions of South Asia. Drawing from Hindu and Jain examples in India, Nepal, and North America, the essays in this volume, written by renowned scholars of religion, explore how the intentional, conscious, and public invention or alteration of ritual can effect dramatic social transformation, whether in dethroning a Nepali king or sanctioning same-sex marriage. Ritual Innovation shows how the very idea of ritual as a conservative force misreads the history of religion by overlooking ritual's inherent creative potential and its adaptability to new contexts and circumstances.
Mediating Black religious studies, spirituality studies, and liberation theology, Philip Butler explores what might happen if Black people in the United States merged technology and spirituality in their fight towards materializing liberating realities. The discussions shaping what it means for humans to exist with technology and as part of technology are already underway: transhumanism suggests that any use of technology to augment intellectual, psychological, or physical capability makes one transhuman. In an attempt to encourage Black people in the United States to become technological progenitors as a spiritual act, Butler asks whether anyone has ever been 'just' human? Butler then explores the implications of this question and its link to viewing the body as technology. Re-imagining incarnation as a relationship between vitality, biochemistry, and genetics, the book also takes a critical scientific approach to understanding the biological embodiment of Black spiritual practices. It shows how current and emerging technologies might align with the generative biological states of Black spiritualities in order to concretely disrupt and dismantle oppressive societal structures.
Santería is an African-inspired, Cuban diaspora religion long stigmatized as witchcraft and often dismissed as superstition, yet its spirit- and possession-based practices are rapidly winning adherents across the world. Aisha M. Beliso-De Jesús introduces the term "copresence" to capture the current transnational experience of Santería, in which racialized and gendered spirits, deities, priests, and religious travelers remake local, national, and political boundaries and reconfigure notions of technology and transnationalism. Drawing on eight years of ethnographic research in Havana and Matanzas, Cuba, and in New York City, Miami, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay area, Beliso-De Jesús traces the phenomenon of copresence in the lives of Santería practitioners, mapping its emergence in transnational places and historical moments and its ritual negotiation of race, imperialism, gender, sexuality, and religious travel. Santería's spirits, deities, and practitioners allow digital technologies to be used in new ways, inciting unique encounters through video and other media. Doing away with traditional perceptions of Santería as a static, localized practice or as part of a mythologized "past," this book emphasizes the religion's dynamic circulations and calls for nontranscendental understandings of religious transnationalisms.
Drawing on history, public opinion surveys, and personal experience, Robert P. Jones delivers a provocative examination of the unholy relationship between American Christianity and white supremacy, and issues an urgent call for white Christians to reckon with this legacy for the sake of themselves and the nation. As the nation grapples with demographic changes and the legacy of racism in America, Christianity's role as a cornerstone of white supremacy has been largely overlooked. But white Christians--from evangelicals in the South to mainline Protestants in the Midwest and Catholics in the Northeast--have not just been complacent or complicit; rather, as the dominant cultural power, they have constructed and sustained a project of protecting white supremacy and opposing black equality that has framed the entire American story. With his family's 1815 Bible in one hand and contemporary public opinion surveys by Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) in the other, Robert P. Jones delivers a groundbreaking analysis of the repressed history of the symbiotic relationship between Christianity and white supremacy. White Too Long demonstrates how deeply racist attitudes have become embedded in the DNA of white Christian identity over time and calls for an honest reckoning with a complicated, painful, and even shameful past. Jones challenges white Christians to acknowledge that public apologies are not enough--accepting responsibility for the past requires work toward repair in the present. White Too Long is not an appeal to altruism. Drawing on lessons gleaned from case studies of communities beginning to face these challenges, Jones argues that contemporary white Christians must confront these unsettling truths because this is the only way to salvage the integrity of their faith and their own identities. More broadly, it is no exaggeration to say that not just the future of white Christianity but the outcome of the American experiment is at stake.
Borderland Religion narrates, presents and interprets the fascinating and significant practices when borders, migrants and religion intersect. This collection of original essays combines theology, philosophy and sociology to examine diverse religious issues surrounding external national borders and internal domestic borders as these are challenged by the unstoppable flow of documented and undocumented migrants. While many studies of migration have examined how religion plays a major role in the assimilation and integration of waves of migration, this volume looks at a number of empirical studies of how emergent religious practices arise around border crossings. The volume begins with a detailed analysis of the borderland religion context and research. The aim is to bring an eschatological interpretation of the borderland religion, its impact and significance for migrants. Themes include a critical analysis of how religion has formatted Europe; empirical studies from the US/Mexican border and Southern Africa; an overview of the European refugee crisis in 2015; editors¿ account of borderland religion from the perspective of citizenship studies. Contributions of scholars from a broad range of disciplines ensure a careful analysis of this highly topical situation. The volume¿s interdisciplinary profile will appeal to scholars and students in religious studies, migration studies, theology and citizenship studies.
In You Must Be Born Again: Phillis Wheatley as Prophetic Poet, the author argues that Phillis Wheatley is the mother of liberation theology. The author uses Wheatley's poetry and life experiences to create a portrait of Wheatley beyond that of a poet. Wheatley is described as both poet and visionary who wrestles with God during the creative process. The lyrical expressions of Wheatley's poetry unlock the spiritual impressions on her heart. The author sets up the racial dynamics of Wheatley's time and her engagement with those politics. As a preacher, Wheatley combats the immoral undercurrent that erodes the community's social, economic, and spiritual foundation as well as its political systems. The author positions Wheatley as one uniquely qualified to address the hypocrisy within her world and, by implication, present-day society by calling for immersion into a radical understanding of love and justice, resulting in a renewed hope for equality and a pathway toward equity.