Contemporary American Religion

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In the preface, Roof characterizes this two-volume work as "a lexicon of popular religious culture" in contemporary America that pays less attention to "official teachings and practices" than to how these beliefs are "popularly understood." More than 250 contributors offer 500 articles on diverse religious movements, beliefs, and practices in the United States. Roof (religious studies, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara) assembles enlightening, entertaining entries for the browsing reader. For those seeking interfaith comparisons, however, the work has some drawbacks. Many articles focus almost exclusively on the Christian understanding of terms. For instance, the entry on "millennialism" deals only with its Christian context, largely ignoring its modern sociological use to describe any movement that expects the replacement of the current world system with a divine one. Given that the work aims to document popular understanding and that most Americans are still most familiar with Christian approaches, this may be a minor flaw. This work compares favorably with other encyclopedias on American religion, filling a slightly different niche. J. Gordon Melton's Encyclopedia of American Religions (Gale, 1996. 5th ed.) and James R. Lewis's The Encyclopedia of cults, Sects, and New Religions (LJ 9/1/98) deal with major and obscure religions as well as new religious movements. Roof's, on the other hand, looks at popular spiritual expression and includes subject articles on concepts that cross religious boundaries, such as "Food" and "Healing." Recommended for academic and large public libraries.-William P. Collins, Library of Congress
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up-This work describes various aspects of religious life in America from 1965 to the present. Each signed entry offers a clearly written, well-balanced discussion of the topic followed by see-also references and a bibliography. Major religions and smaller and fringe groups are represented as are individuals, symbols, traditions, beliefs, and practices. Coverage extends to subjects that readers might not initially think of in this context such as "Charles Colson" or "dowsing." Discussions of potentially controversial issues, e.g., "Wicca" or cults, are descriptive and nonjudgmental. The examinations of the moral issues involved in a number of contemporary, often highly charged political issues such as abortion are particularly valuable. Occasional black-and-white photographs are interspersed throughout the volume. The comprehensive index highlights those entries that are represented by a full article. The Encyclopedia of American Religious History (Facts On File, 1995) and J. Gordon Melton's Encyclopedia of American Religions (Gale, 1999) cover some of the same territory, but where interest demands and budget permits, this is a worthy addition.-Linda Greengrass, Bank Street College Library, New York City Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780028649276
  • Publisher: Cengage Gale
  • Publication date: 12/1/1999
  • Pages: 861

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