New Books in Religion

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Interviews with Scholars of Religion about their New Books
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1565 episodes

Jordan Denari Duffner, "Islamophobia: What Christians Should Know (and Do) about Anti-Muslim Discrimination" (Orbis, 2021)

Jordan Denari Duffner is an author and scholar of Muslim-Christian relations, interreligious dialogue, and Islamophobia. Jordan is currently pursuing a PhD in Theological and Religious Studies at Georgetown University. A former Fulbright scholar, she is also an associate of the Bridge Initiative, where she previously worked from 2014 to 2017 as a research fellow. Jordan’s writing on Islam and Catholicism has appeared in numerous outlets including TIME, The Washington Post, and America. This episode discusses her newest book Islamophobia: What Christians Should Know (and do) about Anti-Muslim Discrimination (Orbis, 2021) You can find her at JordanDenari.com and on twitter @JordanDenari. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

54m
Aug 11
Marion (Mugs) McConnell, "Letters from the Yoga Masters" (North Atlantic Books, 2016)

This intimate and insightful account of the life of Dr. Harry (Hari) Dickman, referred to by Swami Sivananda as “the yogi of the West,” features more than fifty years of correspondence between Dickman and well-known yoga masters such as Swami Sivananda, Ramana Maharshi, Paramhansa Yogananda, and almost one hundred others. Marion (Mugs) McConnell, Dickman’s student, has created a brilliant and loving tribute to her teacher, who founded the Latvian Yoga Society in the early 1930s and later spread his knowledge in the U.S. with the blessings of Paramhansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi.  Offering a broad range of information on yoga history, theory, and techniques from a variety of different paths, Letters from the Yoga Masters (North Atlantic Books, 2016) contains a treasure trove of previously unavailable material and presents detailed teachings about pranayama, mudras, diet, and much more, all interwoven with stories and personal anecdotes. Taken together, the rare correspondence and personal chronicles provide an unparalleled glimpse into the life of a yogi, the development of yoga in the West, and the ways that spiritual wealth is disseminated across generations. Some resources:  -SOYA (South Okanagan Yoga Academy) -Letters from the Yoga Masters -Yoga Masters playlist Raj Balkaran is a scholar, online educator, and life coach. For information see rajbalkaran.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

49m
Aug 11
Koushiki Dasgupta, "Sadhus in Indian Politics: Dynamics of Hindutva" (Sage, 2021)

Koushiki Dasgupta's Sadhus in Indian Politics: Dynamics of Hindutva (Sage, 2021) maps the changing face of contemporary Hindu politics, evaluating the influence of sadhus (ascetics) on the course of politics in India. This book explores the anxieties around ascetic engagement with public affairs, understanding politics as janaseva and polities as rajniti, and the authority exercised by these sadhus. It investigates the spirit of ‘individualism’ reflected by the sadhus in the organized and unorganized domains of politics, and traces the dialectics of ‘Hindutva’ reflected through selected case studies, exposing the patterns of how the sadhus got involved in the muddled world of politics. This book also demonstrates the uneasy conflict between the modern Hindu right wing and Hindu traditionalists with their advocacy of Sanatan Dharma. It turns towards sadhus and gurus to explore the ‘Hindu-ness’ of the Hindus and confronts the metanarrative of Hindutva offered by various institutions. Raj Balkaran is a scholar, online educator, and life coach. For information see rajbalkaran.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

33m
Aug 11
Ari D. Kahn, "The Crowns on the Letters: Essays on the Aggada and the Lives of the Sages" (OU Press, 2020)

Rabbi Ari Kahn’s The Crowns on the Letters: Essays on the Aggada and the Lives of the Sages (OU Press, 2020) represents a major achievement in the study of the lives of our Sages, as well as in the study of rabbinic Aggada. This work is an immensely learned and deeply creative interpretation of many fundamental aggadot relating to the intellectual biographies of the Tannaim and Amoraim, including Hillel and Shammai, Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, Resh Lakish and Rabbi Yochanan, and many others. Additionally, it covers aggadot dealing with major themes in Jewish thought, including the nature of the Oral Law, mysticism and its perils, the messianic era, teshuvah and Eretz Yisrael. Rabbi Kahn presents close readings of Talmudic and Midrashic sources about events in the lives of the Sages, together with the gamut of interpretations, especially those of Kabbalistic and Hasidic commentators, to arrive at original and compelling conclusions. His insights shed light on the Talmudic narrative as well as on broader philosophical questions. Full Hebrew sources are included to enable readers to study the source material on their own. For all those interested in rabbinic lives and rabbinic Aggada, The Crowns on the Letters is essential reading. Matthew Miller is a graduate of Yeshivat Yesodei HaTorah. He studied Jewish Studies and Linguistics at McGill for his BA and completed an MA in Hebrew Linguistics at Queen Mary University of London. He works with Jewish organizations in media and content distribution, such as TheHabura.com and RabbiEfremGoldberg.org. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

51m
Aug 10
On Apocalypse Stories

Dr. Kelly J. Baker is the author of the award-winning Gospel According to the Klan: The KKK’s Appeal to Protestant America, 1915-1930 (University Press of Kansas, 2011); The Zombies Are Coming!: The Realities of the Zombie Apocalypse in American Culture (Bondfire Books, 2013); Grace Period: A Memoir in Pieces (Blue Crow Books, 2017); the award-winning Sexism Ed: Essays on Gender and Labor in Academia (Blue Crow Books, 2018); and Final Girl: And Other Essays on Grief, Trauma, and Mental Illness (Blue Crow Books, 2019).   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

1h 11m
Aug 09
David R. Stroup, "Pure and True: The Everyday Politics of Ethnicity for China's Hui Muslims" (U Washington Press, 2022)

Compared to their Uyghur and Kazakh co-religionists in Xinjiang, China’s largest single Muslim group – the Hui – has received less media and scholarly attention lately, perhaps understandably so since the former groups have borne the brunt of the campaigns of ethnic enclosure and erasure launched in recent years by the Chinese Communist Party. But as a near-ubiquitous presence across China and thus a community deeply involved in the waves of migration and urbanisation affecting many PRC citizens in recent decades, the Hui offer a compelling case through which to examine how religious, ethnic, class and other identities intersect with these processes. Focusing on communities in four diverse Chinese cities, David Stroup’s Pure and True: The Everyday Politics of Ethnicity for China's Hui Muslims (U Washington Press, 2022) provides a careful dissection of the complex negotiations of intersecting identities that face today’s Hui. Based on dozens of interviews and ethnographic observation, this clearly written and persuasive book has much to say about how people’s day-to-day understandings of ‘Huiness’ intersect with the categories put forward by the state, and how local debates unfolding internally within Hui communities may be reframed as they themselves fall under the gaze of the ‘people’s war on terror.’ Ed Pulford is an Anthropologist and Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Manchester. His research focuses on friendships and histories between the Chinese, Korean and Russian worlds, and indigeneity in northeast Asia. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

1h 7m
Aug 09
On Online Churches

Dr. Tim Hutchings is a sociologist of digital religion. His Ph.D. (Durham University, 2010) was an ethnographic study of five online Christian churches. Dr. Hutchings is interested in the relationship between religion, media and culture, with particular attention to digital forms of Christianity. His research has included studies of online worship; digital evangelism and formation; online community; digital publishing and e-reading; apps and games; and death and dying. His research led to the publication of his book Creating Church Online: Ritual, Community and New Media (Routledge, 2017). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

1h 6m
Aug 08
Kim Haines-Eitzen, "Sonorous Desert: What Deep Listening Taught Early Christian Monks—and What It Can Teach Us" (Princeton UP, 2022)

For the hermits and communal monks of antiquity, the desert was a place to flee the cacophony of ordinary life in order to hear and contemplate the voice of God. But these monks discovered something surprising in their harsh desert surroundings: far from empty and silent, the desert is richly reverberant. Sonorous Desert: What Deep Listening Taught Early Christian Monks—and What It Can Teach Us (Princeton UP, 2022) shares the stories and sayings of these ancient spiritual seekers, tracing how the ambient sounds of wind, thunder, water, and animals shaped the emergence and development of early Christian monasticism. Kim Haines-Eitzen draws on ancient monastic texts from Egypt, Sinai, and Palestine to explore how noise offered desert monks an opportunity to cultivate inner quietude, and shows how the desert quests of ancient monastics offer profound lessons for us about what it means to search for silence. Drawing on her own experiences making field recordings in the deserts of North America and Israel, she reveals how mountains, canyons, caves, rocky escarpments, and lush oases are deeply resonant places. Haines-Eitzen discusses how the desert is a place of paradoxes, both silent and noisy, pulling us toward contemplative isolation yet giving rise to vibrant collectives of fellow seekers. Accompanied by Haines-Eitzen’s evocative audio recordings of desert environments, Sonorous Desert reveals how desert sounds taught ancient monks about solitude, silence, and the life of community, and how they can help us understand ourselves if we slow down and listen. You can listen to a series of recordings that go with each chapter of the book here.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

36m
Aug 08
John Callow, "The Last Witches of England: A Tragedy of Sorcery and Superstition" (Bloomsbury, 2021)

On the morning of Thursday 29 June 1682, a magpie came rasping, rapping and tapping at the window of a prosperous Devon merchant. Frightened by its appearance, his servants and members of his family had, within a matter of hours, convinced themselves that the bird was an emissary of the devil sent by witches to destroy the fabric of their lives. As the result of these allegations, three women of Bideford came to be forever defined as witches. A Secretary of State brushed aside their case and condemned them to the gallows; to hang as the last group of women to be executed in England for the crime. Yet, the hatred of their neighbours endured. For Bideford, it was said, was a place of witches. Though 'pretty much worn away' the belief in witchcraft still lingered on for more than a century after their deaths. In turn, ignored, reviled, and extinguished but never more than half-forgotten, it seems that the memory of these three women - and of their deeds and sufferings, both real and imagined – was transformed from canker to regret, and from regret into celebration in our own age. Indeed, their example was cited during the final Parliamentary debates, in 1951, that saw the last of the witchcraft acts repealed, and their names were chanted, as both inspiration and incantation, by the women beyond the wire at Greenham Common. In The Last Witches of England: A Tragedy of Sorcery and Superstition (Bloomsbury, 2021), Dr. John Callow explores this remarkable reversal of fate, and the remarkable tale of the Bideford Witches. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

56m
Aug 05
Kajri Jain, "Gods in the Time of Democracy" (Duke UP, 2021)

In 2018 India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, inaugurated the world's tallest statue: a 597-foot figure of nationalist leader Sardar Patel. Twice the height of the Statue of Liberty, it is but one of many massive statues built following India's economic reforms of the 1990s. In Gods in the Time of Democracy (Duke UP, 2021), Kajri Jain examines how monumental icons emerged as a religious and political form in contemporary India, mobilizing the concept of emergence toward a radical treatment of art historical objects as dynamic assemblages. Drawing on a decade of fieldwork at giant statue sites in India and its diaspora and interviews with sculptors, patrons, and visitors, Jain masterfully describes how public icons materialize the intersections between new image technologies, neospiritual religious movements, Hindu nationalist politics, globalization, and Dalit-Bahujan verifications of equality and presence. Centering the ex-colony in rethinking key concepts of the image, Jain demonstrates how these new aesthetic forms entail a simultaneously religious and political retooling of the "infrastructures of the sensible." Raj Balkaran is a scholar, online educator, and life coach. For information see rajbalkaran.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

53m
Aug 04
Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler, "The Bible with and Without Jesus: How Jews and Christians Read the Same Stories Differently" (HarperOne, 2020)

In The Bible With and Without Jesus: How Jews and Christians Read the Same Stories Differently (HarperOne, 2020), Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler take readers on a guided tour of the most popular Hebrew Bible passages quoted in the New Testament to show what the texts meant in their original contexts and then how Jews and Christians, over time, understood those same texts. Passages include the creation of the world, the role of Adam and Eve, the Suffering Servant of Isiah, the book of Jonah, and Psalm 22, whose words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” Jesus quotes as he dies on the cross. Comparing various interpretations – historical, literary, and theological - of each ancient text, Levine and Brettler offer deeper understandings of the original narratives and their many afterlives. They show how the text speaks to different generations under changed circumstances, and so illuminate the Bible’s ongoing significance. By understanding the depth and variety by which these passages have been, and can be, understood, The Bible With and Without Jesus does more than enhance our religious understandings, it helps us to see the Bible as a source of inspiration for any and all readers. Amy-Jill Levine is the Rabbi Stanley M. Kessler Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Hartford International University for Religion and Peace, University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies Emerita, Mary Jane Werthan Professor of Jewish Studies Emerita, and Professor of New Testament Studies Emerita at Vanderbilt University. Marc Zvi Brettler is the Bernice and Morton Lerner Distinguished Professor of Jewish Studies in the Department of Religious Studies at Duke University. Schneur Zalman Newfield is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York, and the author of Degrees of Separation: Identity Formation While Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Judaism (Temple University Press, 2020). Visit him online at ZalmanNewfield.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

1h 6m
Aug 03
Wayne Allen, "Thinking about Good and Evil: Jewish Views from Antiquity to Modernity" (U Nebraska Press, 2021)

oday I talked to Rabbi Wayne Allen about his book Thinking about Good and Evil: Jewish Views from Antiquity to Modernity (U Nebraska Press, 2021). Starting with the Bible and Apocrypha, Rabbi Allen takes us through the Talmud; medieval Jewish philosophers and Jewish mystical sources; the Ba’al Shem Tov and his disciples; early modern thinkers such as Spinoza, Mendelssohn, and Luzzatto; and, finally, modern thinkers such as Cohen, Buber, Kaplan, and Plaskow. Each chapter analyzes individual thinkers’ arguments and synthesizes their collective ideas on the nature of good and evil and questions of justice. Allen also exposes vastly divergent Jewish thinking about the Holocaust: traditionalist (e.g., Ehrenreich), revisionist (e.g., Rubenstein, Jonas), and deflective (e.g., Soloveitchik, Wiesel). Rabbi Allen’s engaging, accessible volume illuminates well-known, obscure, and novel Jewish solutions to the problem of good and evil. Matthew Miller is a graduate of Yeshivat Yesodei HaTorah. He studied Jewish Studies and Linguistics at McGill for his BA and completed an MA in Hebrew Linguistics at Queen Mary University of London. He works with Jewish organizations in media and content distribution, such as TheHabura.com and RabbiEfremGoldberg.org. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

1h 3m
Aug 03
Kimberly Anne Coles, "Bad Humor: Race and Religious Essentialism in Early Modern England" (U Pennsylvania Press, 2022)

Kimberly Anne Coles is Professor of English at the University of Maryland; her first book, Religion, Reform and Women’s Writing in Early Modern England, was published with Cambridge University Press in 2008. Her work has been supported by the John W. Kluge Center, the Warburg Institute, and the Folger Shakespeare Library. Today, we are discussing Bad Humor: Race and Religious Essentialism in Early Modern England, which was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2022. In Bad Humor, Professor Coles charts how concerns around lineage, religion and nation converged around a pseudoscientific system that confirmed the absolute difference between Protestants and Catholics, guaranteed the noble quality of English blood, and justified English colonial domination. Professor Coles delineates the process whereby religious error, first resident in the body, becomes marked on the skin. Early modern medical theory bound together psyche and soma in mutual influence. By the end of the sixteenth century, there is a general acceptance that the soul's condition, as a consequence of religious belief or its absence, could be manifest in the humoral disposition of the physical body. The history that this book unfolds describes developments in natural philosophy in the early part of the sixteenth century that force a subsequent reconsideration of the interactions of body and soul and that bring medical theory and theological discourse into close, even inextricable, contact. With particular consideration to how these ideas are reflected in texts by Elizabeth Cary, John Donne, Ben Jonson, William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser, Mary Wroth, and others, Professor Coles reveals how science and religion meet nascent capitalism and colonial endeavor to create a taxonomy of Christians in Black and White. John Yargo recently received his PhD in English literature from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, specializing in the environmental humanities and early modern culture. His articles have been published or are forthcoming in the Journal for Early Modern Culture Studies, Early Theatre, Studies in Philology, and Shakespeare Studies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

1h 2m
Jul 29
David Konstan, "The Origin of Sin: Greece and Rome, Early Judaism and Christianity" (Bloomsbury, 2022)

Where did the idea of sin arise from? In The Origin of Sin: Greece and Rome, Early Judaism and Christianity (Bloomsbury, 2022), David Konstan takes a close look at classical Greek and Roman texts, as well as the Bible and early Judaic and Christian writings. He argues that the fundamental idea of “sin” arose in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, although this original meaning was obscured in later Jewish and Christian interpretations. Through close philological examination of the words for “sin,” in particular the Hebrew hata’ and the Greek hamartia, he traces their uses over the centuries in four chapters and concludes that the common modern definition of sin as a violation of divine law indeed has antecedents in classical Greco-Roman conceptions, but acquired a wholly different sense in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament. Tiatemsu Longkumer is a Ph.D. scholar working on ‘Anthropology of Religion’ at North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong: India Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

1h 1m
Jul 28
Thomas S. Kidd, "Benjamin Franklin: The Religious Life of a Founding Father" (Yale UP, 2017)

Renowned as a printer, scientist, and diplomat, Benjamin Franklin also published more works on religious topics than any other eighteenth-century American layperson. Born to Boston Puritans, by his teenage years Franklin had abandoned the exclusive Christian faith of his family and embraced deism. But Franklin, as a man of faith, was far more complex than the “thorough deist” who emerges in his autobiography. As Thomas Kidd reveals in Benjamin Franklin: The Religious Life of a Founding Father (Yale University Press, 2018), deist writers influenced Franklin’s beliefs, to be sure, but devout Christians in his life kept him tethered to the Calvinist creed of his Puritan upbringing. Thomas Kidd is Research Professor of Church History at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., and a Senior Research Scholar at Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion. Schneur Zalman Newfield is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York, and the author of Degrees of Separation: Identity Formation While Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Judaism (Temple University Press, 2020). Visit him online at ZalmanNewfield.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

1h 3m
Jul 27
Kecia Ali, ed., "Tying the Knot: A Feminist/Womanist Guide to Muslim Marriage in America" (Open BU, 2021)

Are you a born, revert, or convert Muslim who is trying to navigate the puzzle that is Muslim marriage in America? Do you want an egalitarian and fair Muslim marriage? Have you ever wondered how you can institute equality, respect, and care in your marital relationship? Do you want an interfaith and/or a non-heteronormative marriage? Are you planning or drafting a marriage contract that is more suitable for you and your marital goals? How can you build an ethics of care that facilitates and accommodates you, your partner, and your broader community? If you are curious about these and other questions related to Muslim marriages, then Tying the Knot: A Feminist/Womanist Guide to Muslim Marriage in America (Open BU, 2021) is the book for you. This book is edited by Dr Kecia Ali and advances the conversation that Dr Ali, along with her contributors, initiated in a reader, Half of Faith: American Muslim Marriage and Divorce in the Twenty-First Century. Tying the Knot is a collection of reflections and guides to facilitate Muslim women on their path to marriage. It addresses curiosities, questions, controversies, and needs of women from diverse Muslim communities in America. It also provides the solutions, guides, and sample contract drafts to equip them with the tools that they need to make the best decision for themselves before, during, or after their marriages. The book contains chapters that address issues as diverse as Muslim women’s interfaith/interracial/interethnic marriages, Muslim LGBTQ+ marriages, Muta’h marriage, pre-marital counseling and contracts, officiating the diverse Muslim marriages, and Muslim widows and their challenges. This book is available open-access here.  Iqra Shagufta Cheema (@so_difoucault) is a researcher, writer, teacher, and a chronic procrastinator. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

59m
Jul 26
James P. Byrd and James Hudnut-Beumler, "The Story of Religion in America: An Introduction" (Westminster John Knox Press, 2021)

The Story of Religion in America: An Introduction (Westminster John Knox Press, 2021) presents the broad scope of the story of religion in the American colonies and the United States. While following certain central narratives, including the long shadow of Puritanism, the competition between revival and reason, and the defining role of racial and ethnic diversity, the book also tells the story of American religion in all its historical and moral complexity. To appeal to its broad range of readers, this text includes charts, timelines, and suggestions for primary source documents that will lead readers into a deeper engagement with the material. Unlike similar history books, The Story of Religion in America: An Introduction pays careful attention to balancing the story of Christianity with the central contributions of other religions. James P. Byrd is Professor of American Religious History, Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Research, and Chair of the Graduate Department of Religion at Vanderbilt University Divinity School. James Hudnut-Beumler is Anne Potter Wilson Distinguished Professor of American Religious History at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and Professor of History in the College of Arts and Science at Vanderbilt University. Jackson Reinhardt is a graduate of University of Southern California and Vanderbilt University. He is currently an independent scholar, freelance writer, and research assistant. You can reach Jackson at jtreinhardt1997@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @JTRhardt Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

1h 7m
Jul 25
Elliott Rabin, "The Biblical Hero: Portraits in Nobility and Fallibility" (Jewish Publication Society, 2020)

Today I talked to Elliott Rabin about his book The Biblical Hero: Portraits in Nobility and Fallibility (Jewish Publication Society, 2020). Approaching the Bible in an original way—comparing biblical heroes to heroes in world literature—Rabin addresses a core biblical question: What is the Bible telling us about what it means to be a hero? Focusing on the lives of six major biblical characters—Moses, Samson, David, Esther, Abraham, and Jacob—Rabin examines their resemblance to hero types found in (and perhaps drawn from) other literatures and analyzes why the Bible depicts its heroes less gloriously than do the texts of other cultures. Matthew Miller is a graduate of Yeshivat Yesodei HaTorah. He studied Jewish Studies and Linguistics at McGill for his BA and completed an MA in Hebrew Linguistics at Queen Mary University of London. He works with Jewish organizations in media and content distribution, such as TheHabura.com and RabbiEfremGoldberg.org. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

59m
Jul 22
Chrysovalantis Kyriacou, "Orthodox Cyprus Under the Latins, 1191-1571: Society, Spirituality, and Identities" (Lexington Books, 2018)

Medieval and Renaissance Cyprus was a fascinating place of ethnic, cultural, and religious encounters. Following almost nine centuries of Byzantine rule, Cyprus was conquered by the Crusaders in 1191, becoming (until 1571) the most important stronghold of Latin Christianity in the Eastern Mediterranean—first under the Frankish dynasty of the Lusignans, and later under the Venetians. Modern historiographical readings of Cypriot identity in medieval and early modern times have been colored by British colonialism, Greek nationalism, and Cyprocentric revisionism. Although these perspectives have offered valuable insights into the historical experience of Latin-ruled Cypriots, they have partially failed to capture the dynamics of non-coercive resistance to domination, and of identity preservation and adaptation.  Orthodox Cyprus under the Latins, 1191–1571 (Lexington Books, 2018) readdresses the question of Cypriot identity by focusing on the Greek Cypriots, the island’s largest community during the medieval and early modern period. By bringing together theories from the fields of psychology, social anthropology, and sociology, this study explores continuities and discontinuities in the Byzantine culture and religious tradition of Cyprus, proposing a new methodological framework for a more comprehensive understanding of Cypriot Orthodoxy under Crusader and Venetian rule. A discussion of fresh evidence from hitherto unpublished primary sources enriches this examination, stressing the role of medieval and Renaissance Cyprus as cultural and religious province of the Byzantine and post-Byzantine Orthodox world. Chrysovalantis Kyriacou (Ph.D.) is a lecturer in Ecclesiastical History at the Theological School at the church of Cyprus. He earned his Ph.D. in history at Royal Holloway, University of London, and has also taught at the University of Cyprus. His area of specialty is late antique, Byzantine, medieval, and early modern history and culture, focusing on the role of Cyprus as a place of ethnoreligious encounter, interaction, and contention. Evan Zarkadas (MA) is an independent scholar of European and Medieval history and an educator. He received his master’s in history from the University of Maine focusing on Medieval Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean, medieval identity, and ethnicity during the late Middle Ages. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

1h 3m
Jul 22
Ann Marie Borys, "American Unitarian Churches: Architecture of a Democratic Religion" (U Massachusetts Press, 2021)

The Unitarian religious tradition was a product of the same eighteenth-century democratic ideals that fueled the American Revolution and informed the founding of the United States. Its liberal humanistic principles influenced institutions such as Harvard University and philosophical movements like Transcendentalism. Yet, its role in the history of American architecture is little known and studied. In American Unitarian Churches: Architecture of a Democratic Religion (U Massachusetts Press, 2021), Ann Marie Borys argues that the progressive values and identity of the Unitarian religion are intimately intertwined with ideals of American democracy and visibly expressed in the architecture of its churches. Over time, church architecture has continued to evolve in response to developments within the faith, and many contemporary projects are built to serve religious, practical, and civic functions simultaneously. Focusing primarily on churches of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including Frank Lloyd Wright's Unity Temple and Louis Kahn's First Unitarian Church, Borys explores building histories, biographies of leaders, and broader sociohistorical contexts. As this essential study makes clear, to examine Unitarianism through its churches is to see American architecture anew, and to find an authentic architectural expression of American democratic identity. Bryan Toepfer, AIA, NCARB, CAPM is the Principal Architect for TOEPFER Architecture, PLLC, an Architecture firm specializing in Residential Architecture and Virtual Reality. He has authored two books, “Contractors CANNOT Build Your House,” and “Six Months Now, ARCHITECT for Life.” He is an Assistant Professor at Alfred State College and has served as the Director of Government Affairs and as the Director of Education for the AIA Rochester Board of Directors. Always eager to help anyone understand the world of Architecture, he hosts the New Books Network – Architecture podcast, is an NCARB Licensing Advisor and helps coach candidates taking the Architectural Registration Exam. btoepfer@toepferarchitecture. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

26m
Jul 22
Maxwell Kennel, "Postsecular History: Political Theology and the Politics of Time" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021)

In this thought provoking book entitled PostSecular History:Political Theology and The Politics of Time (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021), Max Kennel explores how contemporary approaches to the meaning of time and history follow patterns that are simultaneously political and theological. Even after postsecular critiques of Christianity, religion, and secularity, many influential ways of dividing time and history continue to be formed by providential narratives that mediate between experience and expectation in movements from promise to fulfilment. In response to persistent theological influences within ostensibly secular ways of understanding time and history, Postsecular History revisits and revises the concept of periodization by tracing powerful efforts to divide time into past, present, and future, and by critiquing historical partitions between the Reformation and Enlightenment. Developing a postsecular critique of theopolitical periodization in six chapters, Postsecular History questions how relations of possession, novelty, freedom, and instrumentality implied in the prefix ‘post’ are reproduced in postsecular discourses and the field of political theology. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

32m
Jul 20
Francine Friedman, "Like Salt for Bread: The Jews of Bosnia and Herzegovina" (Brill, 2021)

Francine Friedman's Like Salt for Bread: The Jews of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Brill, 2021) is the only comprehensive treatment in any language of a rather “exotic” Balkan Jewish community. It places the Jewish community of Bosnia and Herzegovina into the context of the Jewish world, but also of the world within which it existed for around five hundred years under various empires and regimes. The Bosnian Jews might have remained a mostly unknown community to the rest of the world had it not played a unique role within the Bosnian Wars of the early 1990s, providing humanitarian aid to its neighbor Serbs, Croats, and Muslims. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

1h 26m
Jul 20
Simran Jeet Singh, "The Light We Give: How Sikh Wisdom Can Transform Your Life" (Riverhead, 2022)

An inspiring approach to a happier, more fulfilling life through Sikh teachings on love and service.  As a boy growing up in South Texas, Simran Jeet Singh and his brothers confronted racism daily: at school, in their neighborhood, playing sports, and later in college and beyond. Instead, Singh delved deep into the Sikh teachings that he grew up with and embraced the lessons to seek the good in every person and situation and to find positive ways to direct his energy. Singh reaches beyond his comfort zone to practice this deeper form of living and explores how everyone can learn the insights and skills that have kept him engaged and led him to commit to activism without becoming consumed by anger, self-pity, or burnout. Part memoir, part spiritual journey, The Light We Give: How Sikh Wisdom Can Transform Your Life (Riverhead, 2022) is a transformative book of hope that shows how each of us can turn away from fear and uncertainty and move toward renewal and positive change. Raj Balkaran is a scholar, online educator, and life coach. For information see rajbalkaran.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

44m
Jul 19
Philippe Denis, "The Genocide Against the Tutsi, and the Rwandan Churches: Between Grief and Denial" (James Currey, 2022)

Why did some sectors of the Rwandan churches adopt an ambiguous attitude towards the genocide against the Tutsi which claimed the lives of around 800,000 people in three months between April and July 1994? What prevented the churches' acceptance that they may have had some responsibility? And how should we account for the efforts made by other sectors of the churches to remember and commemorate the genocide and rebuild pastoral programmes?  Drawing on interviews with genocide survivors, Rwandans in exile, missionaries and government officials, as well as Church archives and other sources, this book is the first academic study on Christianity and the genocide against the Tutsi to explore these contentious questions in depth, and reveals more internal diversity within the Christian churches than is often assumed. While some Christians, Protestant as well as Catholic, took risks to shelter Tutsi people, others uncritically embraced the interim government's view that the Tutsi were enemies of the people and some, even priests and pastors, assisted the killers. The church leaders only condemned the war: they never actually denounced the genocide against the Tutsi.  In The Genocide Against the Tutsi, and the Rwandan Churches: Between Grief and Denial (James Currey, 2022), Denis examines in detail the responses of two churches, the Catholic Church, the biggest and the most complex, and the Presbyterian Church in Rwanda, which made an unconditional confession of guilt in December 1996. A case study is devoted to the Catholic parish La Crête Congo-Nil in western Rwanda, led at the time by the French priest Gabriel Maindron, a man whom genocide survivors accuse of having failed publicly to oppose the genocide and of having close links with the authorities and some of the perpetrators. By 1997, the defensive attitude adopted by many Catholics had started to change. The Extraordinary Synod on Ethnocentricity in 1999-2000 was a milestone. Yet, especially in the immediate aftermath of the genocide, tension and suspicion persist. Allison Isidore is the Assistant Director for the American Catholic Historical Association. Her research interest is focused on the twentieth-century American Civil Rights Movement and the Catholic Church’s response to racism, and the participation of Catholic clergy, nuns, and laypeople in marches, sit-ins, and kneel-ins during the 1950s and 1960s. Allison is also a Video Editor for The Religious Studies Project, producing videos for the podcast and marketing team. She tweets from @AllisonIsidore1. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

1h 2m
Jul 17
Erin C. MacLeod, "Visions of Zion: Ethiopians and Rastafari in the Search for the Promised Land" (NYU Press, 2014)

In reggae song after reggae song Bob Marley and other reggae singers speak of the Promised Land of Ethiopia. "Repatriation is a must!" they cry. The Rastafari have been travelling to Ethiopia since the movement originated in Jamaica in 1930s. They consider it the Promised Land, and repatriation is a cornerstone of their faith. Though Ethiopians see Rastafari as immigrants, the Rastafari see themselves as returning members of the Ethiopian diaspora.  In Visions of Zion: Ethiopians and Rastafari in the Search for the Promised Land (NYU Press, 2014), Erin C. MacLeod offers the first in-depth investigation into how Ethiopians perceive Rastafari and Rastafarians within Ethiopia and the role this unique immigrant community plays within Ethiopian society. Rastafari are unusual among migrants, basing their movements on spiritual rather than economic choices. This volume offers those who study the movement a broader understanding of the implications of repatriation. Taking the Ethiopian perspective into account, it argues that migrant and diaspora identities are the products of negotiation, and it illuminates the implications of this negotiation for concepts of citizenship, as well as for our understandings of pan-Africanism and south-south migration. Providing a rare look at migration to a non-Western country, this volume also fills a gap in the broader immigration studies literature. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

50m
Jul 15
Tony Perman, "Signs of the Spirit: Music and the Experience of Meaning in Ndau Ceremonial Life" (U Illinois Press, 2020)

In 2005, Tony Perman attended a ceremony alongside the living and the dead. His visit to a Zimbabwe farm brought him into contact with the madhlozi, outsider spirits that Ndau people rely upon for guidance, protection, and their collective prosperity. Perman's encounters with the spirits, the mediums who bring them back, and the accompanying rituals form the heart of his ethnographic account of how the Ndau experience ceremonial musicking. As Perman witnessed other ceremonies, he discovered that music and dancing shape the emotional lives of Ndau individuals by inviting them to experience life's milestones or cope with its misfortunes as a group. Signs of the Spirit: Music and the Experience of Meaning in Ndau Ceremonial Life (U Illinois Press, 2020) explores the historical, spiritual, and social roots of ceremonial action and details how that action influences the Ndau's collective approach to their future. The result is a vivid ethnomusicological journey that delves into the immediacy of musical experience and the forces that transform ceremonial performance into emotions and community. Tony Perman is an associate professor music at Grinnell College.  Marshall Poe is the founder and editor of the New Books Network. He can be reached at marshallpoe@newbooksnetwork.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

42m
Jul 15
Evan Berry, "Climate Politics and the Power of Religion" (Indiana UP, 2022)

How does our faith affect how we think about and respond to climate change? Climate Politics and the Power of Religion (Indiana University Press, 2022) is an edited collection that explores the diverse ways that religion shapes climate politics at the local, national, and international levels. Drawing on case studies from across the globe, it stands at the intersection of religious studies, environment policy, and global politics. From small island nations confronting sea-level rise and intensifying tropical storms to high-elevation communities in the Andes and Himalayas wrestling with accelerating glacial melt, there is tremendous variation in the ways that societies draw on religion to understand and contend with climate change. Climate Politics and the Power of Religion offers 10 timely case studies that demonstrate how different communities render climate change within their own moral vocabularies and how such moral claims find purchase in activism and public debates about climate policy. Whether it be Hindutva policymakers in India, curanderos in Peru, or working-class people's concerns about the transgressions of petroleum extraction in Trinidad—religion affects how they all are making sense of and responding to this escalating global catastrophe. Evan Berry is an associate professor of Environmental Humanities at Arizona State University and President of the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

57m
Jul 14
Antonio Rigopoulos, "The Hagiographer and the Avatar: The Life and Works of Narayan Kasturi" (SUNY Press, 2021)

In The Hagiographer and the Avatar: The Life and Works of Narayan Kasturi (SUNY Press, 2021), Antonio Rigopoulos explores the fundamental role of a hagiographer within a charismatic religious movement: in this case, the postsectarian, cosmopolitan community of the Indian guru Sathya Sai Baba. The guru's hagiographer, Narayan Kasturi, was already a distinguished litterateur by the time he first met Sathya Sai Baba in 1948. Drawing on years of research on the movement as well as interviews with Kasturi himself, this book deepens our understanding of this important pan-Indian figure and his charismatic religious movement. You can find oral testimonies about Sai Baba here.  Raj Balkaran is a scholar, online educator, and life coach. For information see rajbalkaran.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

52m
Jul 14
Yehudah Mirsky, "Towards the Mystical Experience of Modernity: The Making of Rav Kook, 1865-1904" (Academic Studies Press, 2021)

Avraham Yitzhaq Ha-Cohen Kook (1865-1935) stands as a colossal figure of modern Jewish history and thought. Jurist, mystic, poet, theologian, communal leader, founder of the modern Chief Rabbinate and still the defining thinker of Religious Zionism, he is indispensable for understanding modern Jewish thought, the contemporary State of Israel, and the most fundamental interactions of religion, nationalism, ethics and spirituality. Despite countless studies of him, almost no full-fledged intellectual biography of him exists in any language.  This study of the years before his momentous move to Jaffa in 1904, drawing on little-known works, including recently published manuscripts, begins to fill that gap. Towards the Mystical Experience of Modernity: The Making of Rav Kook, 1865-1904 (Academic Studies Press, 2021) traces his life and times in the remarkably intense Rabbinic intellectual milieu of late nineteenth-century Eastern Europe, and his path from a profound, regularly rationalist traditionalism, towards a dynamic theology and spiritual practice weaving together Kabbalah, philosophy, universal ethics, and romantic mysticism. Matthew Miller is a graduate of Yeshivat Yesodei HaTorah. He studied Jewish Studies and Linguistics at McGill for his BA and completed an MA in Hebrew Linguistics at Queen Mary University of London. He works with Jewish organizations in media and content distribution, such as TheHabura.com and RabbiEfremGoldberg.org. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

1h 27m
Jul 13
Travis W. Proctor, "Demonic Bodies and the Dark Ecologies of Early Christian Culture" (Oxford UP, 2022)

Drawing insights from gender studies and the environmental humanities, Demonic Bodies and the Dark Ecologies of Early Christian Culture (Oxford UP, 2022) analyze how ancient Christians constructed the Christian body through its relations to demonic adversaries. Through case studies of New Testament texts, Gnostic treatises, and early Christian church fathers, Travis W. Proctor notes that early followers of Jesus construed the demonic body in diverse and sometimes contradictory ways, as both embodied and bodiless, “fattened” and ethereal, heavenly and earthbound. Across this diversity of portrayals, however, demons consistently functioned as personifications of “deviant” bodily practices such as “magical” rituals, immoral sexual acts, gluttony, and pagan religious practices. This demonization served an exclusionary function whereby Christian writers marginalized fringe Christian groups by linking their ritual activities to demonic modes of (dis)embodiment. The tandem construction of demonic and human corporeality demonstrates how Christian authors constructed the bodies that inhabited their cosmos - human, demon, and otherwise as part of overlapping networks or “ecosystems” of humanity and nonhumanity. Through this approach, Proctor provides new resources for reimagining the enlivened ecosystems that surround and intersect with our modern ideas of “self.” Tiatemsu Longkumer is a Ph.D. scholar working on ‘Anthropology of Religion’ at North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong: India. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

43m
Jul 12