Posted by Paul Putz
Religion in the American West AAR group will be meeting in a couple days. What better way to celebrate than by highlighting two interesting new books in the field?
The geographic area of focus for the first book would certainly meet with Paul Harvey's approval. In Capture These Indians for the Lord: Indians, Methodists, and Oklahomans, 1844-1939 (University of Arizona Press, 2014), Tash Smith centers his study on Indian Territory/Oklahoma, examining the "interaction and shared history of the Southern Methodist Church's white and Indian members" from 1844 until 1939. His is a book about the complexities and tensions of the missionization process, Missionaries thought of themselves as altruistic even as they sought to obliterate Indian culture; Indians adopted or affiliated with the Christianity of whites even as they used it to protect, preserve, and promote the religious traditions that the white missionaries were seeking to eradicate.
While Smith frames his book to fit in with prominent recent themes in the study of Christian missions and the encounter between Native Americans and European Christians, he also argues for the usefulness of a narrower denominational scope. Just as it is important to "avoid the monolithic or essentialized idea of 'Indians,'" Smith writes, "it is equally important to discern denominational differences...and avoid the larger monolithic terms of 'Christian' and 'Protestant.'" Thus Smith studies one specific denomination, the Southern Methodist Church, and its Indian mission efforts, which were concentrated in Indian Territory/Oklahoma. This specialized focus enables Smith to zero in on what, exactly, the "it" was that Cherokees, Choctaws, Creeks, Chickasaws, Kiowas, and Comanches in Oklahoma used to their own ends: the institutional structures created by the Southern Methodist Church.
Smith's narrative depicts the twists and turns of the Indian Mission Conference, created in 1844 (right before the North/South Methodist split), as it developed over the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. In Smith's telling, Methodist leaders created the IMC with assimilation in mind. They believed that by giving frontier, Indian-dominated territory the status of an official conference, it would encourage Indians (most of whom had been forcibly relocated in the previous couple decades) to live up to the behavioral expectations of white Methodists.
Posted by Elesha
I wrote this post early, because today I am at Johann Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, for a conference on Protestants and the religious press. Logical place for such a conference, don't you think?
I was thrilled to be invited to this conference, both because I've never been to Germany and because I thought the organizers were asking really great questions in their conference description:
"How do we best approach religious print matter, what questions can such studies answer, and which new perspectives might they open up? ... What roles play individuals like editors, writers, and financiers in religious print culture? What structures underlie and what networks facilitate the religious press? What can we learn about the internal workings of religious groups? How do religious identities emerge and how are they maintained? How is the religious described and communicated? What strategies are employed to draw boundaries or unite disparate movements? How do different genres function within the context of the religious press? By what strategies are events explained and defined and do they impact the larger culture? What is the interrelation and meaning-exchange between a society and a religious subculture?"
Posted by Karen Johnson
There's a fantastic body of literature on race and religion in American history for which many of our blog contributors are responsible. While Americans' faith has both reinforced and torn down racial hierarchies, when historians search for white heroes regarding race, we often cite the Quakers, especially their earlier opposition to slavery. But little has been written on Quaker efforts for civil rights in the 20th century. Allan Austin's Quaker Brotherhood: Interracial Activism and the American Friends Service Committee, 1917-1950 fills that void. Austin traces Quaker-led American Friends Service Committee's various efforts to promote greater equality in the United States. As I was reading, I became fascinated with the comparisons and contrasts between the AFSC's activism and that of the Catholic interracial activists I study. I've written more on that below, but first, a brief summary of the history of Quaker-led activism.
Posted by Sarah E. Dees
Sarah E. Dees
One of the classes I am teaching this semester focuses on problems in the study of Native American religions. We have examined ways in which colonialism, missionization, and restrictive federal Indian policies have impacted Indigenous religious practices. In guiding students through the process of crafting research papers, I have noticed, first, that many of my students (unsurprisingly) turn to the internet for research, and second, that they have trouble finding sources that reflect Native American perspectives. While I plan to draw on my university’s fantastic teaching museum for next semester’s iteration of the course, I am working to develop a list of online resources on Native American religion, history and culture. And, as November is Native American Heritage Month, I thought I would share a few resources today.
Posted by esclark
Volume 16 of the Journal of Southern Religion. Volume 16 features two full-length articles. University of Mississippi Ph.D. student Kari Edwards examines Tennessee's 1973 "Genesis Bill" and creationism in "'Equal Space with Adam and Eve': Tennessee's 'Genesis Bill' of 1973 and the 50th Anniversary of the Scopes Trial." In this article Edwards adds a fascinating chapter to the story of antievolutionism in the South by focusing on the strategies used by creationists in Tennessee. Danforth Center Associate Director Rachel McBride Lindsey explores the activism of the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching in her article "'THIS BARBAROUS PRACTICE': Southern Churchwomen and Race in the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching, 1930-1942." Even though southern women did not advocate for anti-lynching legislation, Lindsey's article shows us how the ASWPL used education to rally women to the anti-lynching cause. Former JSR Book Review Editor Art Remilard reflects on how he arrived at the project that became Southern Civil Religions: Imaging the Good Society in the Post-Reconstruction Era. All of our research projects can have unexpected starts and take unexpected turns, and Remillard introduces us to how Southern Civil Religions developed. And fourteen book reviews on recent book in the field round out the issue.
The new volume of the JSR can be found at our new url: jsreligion.org. Editor Doug Thompson of Mercer University writes about the new url and other recent changes at the journal in his editor's note: Technology and the Journal of Southern Religion. This was Doug's first issue as JSR Editor, and clearly, he's off to a good start. With this issue and the move onto the new url and server, web editor Lincoln Mullen will be stepping down. We are grateful for all his work bringing the journal fully into the 21st century. This is the first issue with our new Book Review Editor Carolyn Dupont of Eastern Kentucky University. In addition to welcoming Carolyn to the team, this is also the first issue for the JSR's new copyeditors Charlie McCrary and Adam Brasich, both Ph.D. students in American religious history at Florida State University.
So click on over to jsreligion.org and read the new issue. Share your thoughts on twitter. Tweet us your thoughts on the issue at @JSReligion or use the hashtag #southernreligion
Posted by Cara L. Burnidge
The limits of time and space prohibit me from doing justice to every presentation from the day. You can view the complete lineup here, and soon, C-SPAN will be broadcasting the conference in its entirety. For now, allow me to highlight three themes that the stood out amongst the sixteen presentations.
Posted by Seth Dowland
Posted by Paul Harvey
Just a quick note to point you to this great interview on BBC Ulster with RiAH contributor and former blogmeister Randall Stephens about his forthcoming work The Devil's Music: Christianity and the Rock Since the 1950s (which Harvard U. Press will publish sometime down the road a bit). The book "will delve into the sometimes productive, sometimes tumultuous relationship between so-callsed sacred and profane music from the days when Elvis first made it bit to the modern era of the multi-million dollar Christian music industry. The interview nicely intersperses the music with the Randall interview segments.
The link takes you to a post from the American Studies program at Northumbria University (in Newcastle, England) about the work and the interview.
Posted by Paul Harvey
Here's a book to recommend to you all because it tells you about something you think you know about, but it turns out most likely you probably don't, really -- except for you, Carol Faulkner, since this hits your bailiwick.
The book in question here is Donald Williams, Prudence Crandall's Legacy: The Fight for Equality in the 1830s, Dred Scott, and Brown v. Board of Education.
Posted by Michael Hammond
Posted by Edward J. Blum
Below is part II of our fall round table on Randall Balmer’s Redeemer: The Life of Jimmy Carter. Although most of us know Balmer as a correspondent for The Christian Century's "Then and Now" blog, he also, on occasion, writes longer pieces. :) For the fascinating first RIAH review by Elesha Coffman, see here. There are a host of other great reviews, too. The Christian Century; Washington Post; Wall Street Journal; New York Times. The one below comes from James K.Wellman, Jr. Professor and Chair, Comparative Religion Program, Jackson School of International Affairs, University of Washington.
James K. Wellman, Jr.
Posted by Christopher Cantwell
Just a few brief announcements for those of you planning on attending the American Academy of Religion's annual meeting in sunny San Diego at the end of the month. There are a couple of fantastic panels, workshops, and sessions that focus on how technology is rapidly changing the study of religion. So if you're planning on attending, consider adding some digital humanities to your conference schedule.
First, I wanted to let everyone know about a late addition to the AAR program that may be of interest to many of our readers. On Saturday, November 22 at 12:30pm the Social Science Research Council is sponsoring a roundtable I am leading titled "New Media, New Audiences: Making the Study of Religion Online." The roundtable is a part of a report Hussein Rashid and I are writing for the SSRC on the study of religion's new digital landscape and will feature the directors and curators of some of the most innovative born-digital projects out there. Our stellar line up includes:
- Sally Promey presenting on Yale's ambitious Material and Visual Cultures of Religion Site,
- R. Marie Griffith talking about the Danforth Center's award-winning Religion & Politics journal,
- Kyle Roberts of Loyola University Chicago discussing his Jesuit Libraries Project,
- and Nausheen Husain talking about her born-digital graduate thesis Islam for Reporters.
THATCamp--or The Humanities and Technology Camp--on Friday, November 21 from 9am to 5pm. I'll save you my usual spiel that unlike regular conference meetings THATCamps focus on practical, hands-on discussions of technology's role in the study of religion over individual presentations of research. I'll also save you the pitch I typically make on the way campers have significant impact on a camp's program by proposing--beginning next week!--what sessions will run at THATCamp.
But I did want to let everyone know that just a few slots remain, so if you're interested in attending head over to the THATCamp AAR 2014 blog and register now. It's free, and you're by no means obligated to stay the whole day. But you may want to because I can also now confirm the workshops featured at this year's camp. A number of sharp scholars have generously donated their time to come lead campers in how to use a variety of tools. You can get the full abstract for these workshops over at the blog, but as a teaser I can tell you that:
- Podcasters S. Brent Plate and Kristian Petersen will be leading a workshop devoted to podcasting the study of religion with an emphasis on how podcasting can advance both teaching and research.
- Scholar of Buddhism Marcus Bingenheimer, whose personal website maintains a robust list of tools for Buddhist studies, will be leading a workshop on the suite of textmining tools offered by Voyant. He's even bringing sample texts and corpus to analyze, so every technical skill level will benefit.
- Finally, I will be leading a workshop on how to use Omeka, an open-source content management system and exhibit software that can be used for building digital archives and classroom projects.
Posted by Jonathan
In the spirit of Cara's recent post, I'm happy to point out that the American Society of Church History's Spring 2015 meeting is coming to Minnesota. I copy the full CFP below.
Let me preface it with 3 thoughts.
|The Cathedral of St. Paul|
2. I heartily concur with Paul that this conference is a great time to expand our consideration of religion in the Midwest. Midwestern history generally is ready for expansion, and Midwestern religious history is a wide-open field (to use an apt metaphor). Perhaps we can generate a "Minnesota Moment" in scholarship.
3. I'll be at the conference, so if anyone is looking for a chair or commentator for a panel, especially for early American topics, please let me know!
Call for Papers
ASCH 2015 Spring Conference
The Spring Meeting of the American Society for Church History will be held April 16-19, 2015, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The Program Committee invites ASCH members and others to submit paper and session proposals on any aspect of the history of Christianity and its interaction with culture.
The primary theme of the conference is Contact and Exchange among Religious Groups. We are interested in papers exploring interactions among groups brought on by processes such as migration, immigration, resettlement, exile, and diasporic dispersals across geographic areas and time periods. Papers that focus on religious groups in conversation with one another, examining influences, hybridity, missionization, conversion, reconversion, cooperation, or other themes or processes, are welcome.
Given the location of this meeting in Minneapolis, we also encourage papers addressing contact among religious groups in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest, including but not limited to immigrant groups arriving in the nineteenth-century, such as Eastern Christians and Copts; those arriving in the early twentieth-century groups, such as Latin Americans; and those arriving in the late twentieth-century immigrants such as Hmong, Somali, and other East Africans. Papers addressing contact and exchange between Native Americans and religious groups are also encouraged.
Posted by Michael Graziano
I've recently had a chance to start working my way through Winnifred Sullivan’s new book, Ministries of Presence: Chaplaincy, Spiritual Care, and the Law (Chicago, 2014). It’s a thought-provoking project, and I wanted to offer some early reflections.
Posted by Art Remillard
When I first arrived in North Philadelphia as a community volunteer in the mid-1990s, I was struck by how noisy the place seemed to me, in contrast to my upbringing in rural Minnesota. The windows of my brick row home rattled and buzzed with the passing of cars blasting the salsa rhythms of Me Tengo Que Ir and the pulsating bass of Notorious B.I.G.’s Hypnotize. During the warm summer months, outdoor worship services added to this acoustic cacophony. It was a common practice for area Pentecostal churches to set up amplifiers and speakers on street corners, particularly in locations known for the sale of heroin. The multi-hour services included dozens of coritos sung by exuberant vocalists (often singing significantly off-key) and accompanied by electric guitars and tambourines. Following the music, a flamboyant preacher called all of those under the spell of his microphone to repent of their sins and follow Jesus. The drug dealers on the corner did not welcome such sonic interruptions to their narcotics sales and they turned up their stereos even louder. As the worship service reached a fever pitch prior to the altar call, this aural contest would reach ear-splitting levels.
As Isaac Weiner points out in Religion Out Loud, making noise is not merely a vehicle for religious groups to convey their messages. Rather, for some, it constitutes religious expression in and of itself. Civil authorities in the U.S., however, have not typically embraced this understanding of religion, especially when religious sounds made by some intrude on the preferences of others. Weiner describes the case of a Jehovah’s Witness named Samuel Saia, who in 1946, affixed a loudspeaker to the roof of his Studebaker and positioned it in a public park in Lockport, New York. He permitted preachers to amplify their sermons to a crowd of picnic-goers. Chagrined by this auditory intrusion, Lockport residents contacted the police, who arrested Saia for operating loudspeakers without a permit. Saia managed to get his case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court and claimed that the Constitution’s guarantees of religious freedom ensured his right to make noise. The Supreme Court sided in favor of Saia on the grounds that the city of Lockport did not have a consistent policy on issuing permits for public speeches. However, the decision said nothing about Saia’s claims about the free exercise of religion. The court understood the Witnesses’ sermons to be no different than any other form of public speech.
Posted by Cara L. Burnidge
Conference Announcement: Religion and Politics in 21st Century America, November 6, 2014 at Southern Methodist University (Sponsored by the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis and SMU Center for Presidential History)
CFP: "Religion and Politics: Governance, Power, and the Sacred," 8th Annual Religions in Conversation Conference at Claremont Graduate University, February 27-28, 2015 [Proposal deadline November 14, 2014] Full CFP after jump
CFP: Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations Annual Conference, June 25-27, 2015 at Renaissance Arlington Capitol View in Arlington, Virginia [Proposal deadeline December 1, 2014] Full CFP here.
CFP: "Resistance and Religion," Florida State University Department of Religion 14th Annual Graduate Student Symposium, February 20-22, 2015 [Proposal Deadline: December 15] Full CFP here.
CFP: Tanner Humanities Center, The Specter of Peace in Histories of Violence, August 14-15, 2015 [Proposal Deadline: December 15]. Full CFP after jump
CFP: California American Studies Association Annual Meeting, April 24-25, 2015 at Cal State Fullerton [Proposal deadline: January 15, 2015] Full CFP here.
Conference Announcement: How Do We Study Religion and Emotion?: A Conference at the National Humanities Center, February 19-20, 2015 [Sponsored by the American Academy of Religion and Florida State University] More details after the jump
Posted by Lincoln Mullen
This spring I’ll have a chance to teach a graduate readings seminar on the history of religion and American capitalism. This a course I’ve been thinking about for a long time, and for a number of reasons I think it is worth doing.
The first reason is that the field of American religious history is shot through with (mostly unexamined) economic metaphors. The most obvious of these metaphors is that there was a “marketplace” of denominations or religions in the United States. As a field I don’t think we’ve yet reckoned with theoretical work like Leigh Schmidt’s groundbreaking but infrequently cited essay, “Practices of Exchange: From Market Culture to Gift Economy in the Interpretation of American Religion.” Then too, too much thinking about religion and capitalism boils down the idea that religion supports (or should support) capitalism or opposes (or should oppose) capitalism. If the “line separating good and evil passes … right through every human heart,” it seems to me that promotion of and resistance to capitalism runs right through most religious groups. I hope this class will be a chance to examine, and perhaps discard, some of these ways of talking about the field.
Second, the class should be a way of integrating disparate streams of American religious history. As I’ve written elsewhere, what I think our field needs most is synthetic work that brings together the rich but fragmentary studies of different groups. There are many ways to attempt this, but to the extent that capitalism is the water in which all these denominational fishes swim, examining how various groups have interacted with capitalism seems like an obvious way to attempt integration.
Posted by Matthew Cressler
My post today falls in the "shameless plug" category. I am due to lecture at the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana on Monday, November 10th. The title of my talk is "Black Catholics from the Great Migrations to Black Power," something I have thought quite a bit about for the past few years. Nevertheless (or, perhaps precisely for this reason), I've been struggling to capture the full significance of this story in just 45 minutes. So my post today offers some of the musings that have been running on repeat in the back of my mind as I prepare to share this story.
What has it meant to be both Black and Catholic in the United States? The tension between - or, better yet, the inseparability of racial and religious identities in the U.S. was felt acutely by Black Catholics in the middle years of the twentieth century. The period I have referenced in shorthand as "the Great Migrations to Black Power," roughly 1940 through 1970, was an era of unprecedented growth and transformation among Black Catholics across the United States - especially in the urban industrial centers in the North and West.
Posted by John L. Crow
Recently the social media sites have been abuzz with the debate about Islam, especially focusing on Bill Maher’s interlocutors taking center stage. It would be excessively repetitive to point out how both sides of the debate are simplistic and prone to generalizations. Instead, I would refer you to Steven Ramey’s post on the Culture on the Edge blog. For this blog post, I want to focus on a speech that took place over a century ago, one presented at the World Parliament of Religions in 1893. I want to focus on this speech because, by looking it, we can see how the conversation about the nature of Islam took place over a century ago mirrors the conversation about Islam today.
A Muslim in Victorian America: The Life of Alexander Russell Webb by Umar F. Abd-Allah (Oxford 2006). One significant influence on Webb was Theosophy, and it was through this influence he went searching for a new religion. He was appointed Consular Representative to the Philippines at the U.S. office at Manila and while in the Philippines in 1888 converted to Sunni Islam. From that time forward, he became an outspoken proponent for the tradition, establishing the American Muslim Propagation Movement in New York and an English based newspaper called Moslem World. It was in this context that he spoke at the World Parliament in Chicago.
Webb opens his speech pointing out the bias against Islam present in the West, especially America. He states, “There are several reasons why Islam and the character of its followers are so little understood in Europe and America, and one of these is that when a man adopts, or says he adopts, Islam, he becomes known as a Mussulman [i.e. Muslim] and his nationality becomes merged in his religion.” Webb continues, “If a Mohammedan, Turk, Egyptian, Syrian or African commits a crime the newspaper reports do not tell us that it was committed by a Turk, an Egyptian, a Syrian or an African, but by a Mohammedan. If an Irishman, an Italian, a Spaniard or a German commits a crime in the United States, we do not say that it was committed by a Catholic, a Methodist or a Baptist, nor even a Christian; we designate the man by his nationality. … But, just as soon as a membership of the East is arrested for a crime or misdemeanor, he is registered as a representative of the religion his parents followed or he adopted.”
In a recent debate between Reza Aslan and CNN reporters, referring back to what Aslan said to Bill Maher, Aslan argued that the monolithic representation of Islam loses its national and regional character. When Maher and reporters characterized Islam in different ways, Aslan responded “which Islam?” For instance, when asked about the treatment of women in Muslim countries, one reporter asked, “[in Muslim countries] for the most part, it is not a free and open society for women in those states.” Aslan replied, “It certainly is in Indonesia and Malaysia. It certainly is in Bangladesh. It certainly is in Turkey. I mean, again, this is the problem is that you're talking about a religion of 1.5 billion people and certainly it becomes very easy to just simply paint them all with a single brush by saying, well, in Saudi Arabia, they can't drive and so therefore that is somehow representative of Islam.”
Crossings and Dwellings: Mundelein College and the Legacy of Catholic Women's Higher Education in Chicago
Posted by Monica L. Mercado
|Mundelein, the "Skyscraper College" (undated).|
Women and Leadership Archives,
Loyola University Chicago.
I was especially excited to see one of the exhibition's galleries devoted to the history of Mundelein College, an unmistakable Art Deco landmark on Chicago's Sheridan Road. While conference co-organizer Kyle Roberts--who has written here about the Jesuit Libraries Project--will recap the "Crossings and Dwellings" weekend in future posts, I wanted to draw attention to an important theme of the weekend: recognizing the contributions of sister-builders. As I draft a syllabus for my Spring 2015 course on women's higher education history at Bryn Mawr College, I've been thinking about how my students should understand the world of women's education that extended beyond the so-called "Seven Sisters." Why might we still care about Mundelein, which opened in 1930 and merged with Loyola in 1991, or other now-defunct Catholic women's colleges whose missions have been folded into coeducational institutions?