Archive for the ‘Findings & Footnotes’ Category

Findings & Footnotes

The Journal of CESNUR, a publication of the Center for the Study of New Religions, devotes its March/April issue to the Plymouth Brethren and the changes this small but influential conservative Christian movement has undergone recently. The Brethren fall into two main groupings, the “exclusive” and the “open” Brethren (who are largely integrated within world evangelicalism), but the issue focuses on the former, especially since they have been at the center of so much contention.

Findings & Footnotes

The new book The Routledge Handbook on Religion and Cites (Routledge, $250; e-version, $47.65), edited by Katie Day and Elise Edwards, presents the state of the art on research about religion in the urban context. In the introduction, Day and Edwards write that while there has been renewed attention to religion and cities, there has been less focus on the specific places and spaces and how they interact with religious institutions at the community level.

Findings & Footnotes

Pneuma, the journal of Pentecostal studies, devotes a double issue (42) to the futures of charismatic and Pentecostal movements around the world. Although seen as a global religious movement of approximately 400 million adherents, the articles in this issue suggest that the churches in each region are facing particular issues in gaining or maintaining vitality and influence.

Findings & Footnotes

The state of the patriotic or “Three-Self” church movement in China is the subject of the current issue of ChinaSource Quarterly (September 2020). Patriotic churches, which can be of various denominations, are registered with China’s government but are not necessarily subservient to the Communist Party in terms of their teaching and practices, as was the case in earlier years, according to several articles.

Findings & Footnotes

By now, new research on the COVID crisis is making its way into journals and soon into books– just when the reading public and probably many journalists are suffering from “pandemic fatigue.” But for a comparative understanding of how churches in the global South have responded to the crisis, the current issue (26.3) of the journal Studies in World Christianity has brought together several fascinating articles on the subject.

Findings & Footnotes

Baylor University historian and prolific author Philip Jenkins’ latest book Fertility and Faith (Baylor University Press, $29.95) plots drastic changes ahead for religious institutions due to a “demographic revolution” of plummeting fertility rates often below replacement rates across much of the globe. Jenkins’ specialty of mining available data and other reports to tease out provocative analysis and forecasts is put to good use as he establishes the intimate connections between fertility trends with changes in religious belief and belonging– that have been too often been ignored by demographers (though there is now an emerging field of religious demography).

Findings & Footnotes

The current issue of the journal Approaching Religion (Summer) is devoted to the Laestadians in northern Finland, Norway and Sweden, known as the largest Christian revivalist movement in secularized Scandinavia. Laestadianism broke off from the Lutheran state churches in Scandinavia in the 19th century (though not in Norway) and is known for its pietistic and communal faith, with members often living apart from mainstream society (although increasingly active in conservative politics) and having large families.

Findings & Footnotes

The subtitle of the new book, The End of Empathy (Oxford University Press, $34.95), which asks “Why White Protestants Stopped Loving Their Neighbors,” is intended to provoke, but author John W. Compton has written a fairly nuanced historical study on the loss of Protestant social influence in America. Compton uses primary and secondary sources to document the continual weakening of American religious institutions that promoted concerns, leaving the field open to secular activism and “entrepreneurs of the religious right.”

Findings & Footnotes

Last month, we neglected to mention an important special issue of the journal International Affairs (March, 2020) devoted to the interaction between international relations and the discipline of religious studies. It is not as arcane as it sounds, with editor Katherine Brown writing in the introduction to the issue that “we cannot understand international affairs without understanding religion and also that we cannot understand religion without understanding international affairs.”

Findings & Footnotes

Despite common perceptions that China remains communist only in name, the recent book Rouge Vif: L’Idéal Communiste Chinois (Paris: Editions de l’Observatoire), by Alice Ekman (European Union Institute for Security Studies), contends that—despite reforms and opening taking place after 1978—communist ideology continues to be a key component of the Chinese approach, and even more so after Xi Jinping took control.