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Religion in Twentieth Century America
     

Religion in Twentieth Century America

by Randall Herbert Balmer
 

Covering Protestant, Hindu, Jewish, New Age, Mormon, Buddhist, Roman Catholic, and many other faiths, Religion in Twentieth Century America is a dynamic look at religion in America through two World Wars, vast industrialization, the civil rights movement, and massive immigration. Included are crucial moments, such as:

• The appointment of Louis Brandeis,

Overview

Covering Protestant, Hindu, Jewish, New Age, Mormon, Buddhist, Roman Catholic, and many other faiths, Religion in Twentieth Century America is a dynamic look at religion in America through two World Wars, vast industrialization, the civil rights movement, and massive immigration. Included are crucial moments, such as:

• The appointment of Louis Brandeis, a Jew, to the U.S. Supreme Court

• The contentious court trial of John T. Scopes, which dramatized the debate over Darwinism

• The extraordinary rise of evangelist Billy Graham at mid-century

• The Presbyterian church's decision to ordain women
*The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
*The federal government's decision to attack the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas.
With a chronology, index, and suggestions for further reading following, these momentous events and others are tied together in an absorbing narrative in Religion in Twentieth Century America, providing an illuminating guide to the complex issues of 21st-century religion.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
During the last two years, Oxford has quietly released a series that, while aimed at high school students, offers the best primers available for anyone who is interested in American religious history. The strategy has been to find top scholars on each topic Native American religions, women's religious history, Islam in America, etc. and have them write as accessibly as possible. To installments by such authors as Jon Butler, Richard and Claudia Bushman, Albert Raboteau and Edwin Gaustad, Oxford now adds volumes by Randall Balmer (Religion in Twentieth Century America) and Jenna Weissman Joselit (Immigration and American Religion). Photographs and illustrations, explanatory sidebars and literary excerpts make the books entertaining as well as informative. (May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
In 1910, two California oilmen published a series of booklets about conservative Christian theology called The Fundamentals. The term "fundamentalist" was born and is widely used to this day, and not just for Christians. Although the book's title refers to "religion" in general, it concentrates overwhelmingly on Christianity and particularly on conservative, or fundamentalist, Christianity. There is only fleeting mention of Eastern religions or Islam, now the fastest growing religion in the United States. Jews are highlighted for their role in the civil rights movement, and there is an interesting discussion of the notion of a common "Judeo-Christian tradition," suggesting "a kind of moral consensus between Christians and Jews that has never really existed...but functioned as a code for exclusion." The book is very heavy on text and the few photos are all black-and-white and usually small. This makes for a book that is not immediately appealing, but there are fascinating bits of history and trivia for the student willing to work at finding them. There is a timeline for twentieth century American religious history, a lengthy reading list and a thorough index. 2001, Oxford University Press, $22.00. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Karen Leggett
VOYA
Religion is considered a topic to avoid in social conversations, yet religious belief is central to the lives of many. In fact, religion plays a major role in American history and continues as a crucial part of the nation's culture. The seventeen-volume Religion in American Life series, three volumes of which are reviewed here, aims to "explore the evolution, character, and dynamics of religion in American life from 1500 to the end of the [twentieth] century." With the exception of Native American religions, religious beliefs in America were imported. In Immigration and American Religion, Joselit provides a historical overview of the Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish experiences and briefly touches on other religions. In Religion in Twentieth Century America, Balmer traces America's religious experience through the twentieth century, a period that saw a growing diversity of beliefs. Both volumes cover so much information that the presentation seems encyclopedic without providing much depth. In contrast, Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs in America has the space to take more leisurely looks at these faiths. In addition to recounting events related to the history of these religions in the United States, specific beliefs are explained with descriptions of how adherents practice their faiths within the context of American culture. All three books present their information clearly and objectively in workmanlike fashion. Because they read like expanded encyclopedia articles, they would not be the first choices for young people trying to define their personal beliefs. Their objective yet sympathetic portrayals of people of faith, however, are recommended highly for those doing research. Index. Photos.Further Reading. Chronology. VOYA CODES: 3Q 3P J S (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2001, Oxford University Press, 144p. PLB
— Libby Bergstrom
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-From the Pentecostal revival sparked by Agnes Ozman in Kansas, 1901, to the flare and fade of the millennium in 1999, this text covers a century of events, ideas, and trends. Its seven chapters tell one story, but can also be read independently, as they cover and characterize specific periods: "The Age of Militancy" for the interwar years, for example, or the "Age of Upheaval" for the `60s and `70s. Balmer includes a few original-source excerpts (e.g., from Autobiography of Malcolm X), and there is a useful chronology as well as a list for further reading (exclusive of online materials). Unfortunately, there is no glossary nor is there an index entry for "humanist" or "secular humanist," though the concept figures significantly in portions of the text. This is as much a social as a religious history, and the author had to, of course, be selective. One theme-the tension between fundamentalism and modernism-does recur, and many of the items treated in passing here will find an expanded place in another volume of the series. Overall, this title is accessible and reliable, brief and lively, and makes a fine addition to most libraries.-Patricia Lothrop-Green, St. George's School, Newport, RI Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195112955
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
04/28/2001
Series:
Religion in American Life Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
144
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 7.30(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
14 Years

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