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Interviews with Scholars of Religion about their New Books

Interviews with Scholars of Religion about their New Books
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Interviews with Scholars of Religion about their New Books




Alexander Rocklin, "The Regulation of Religion and the Making of Hinduism in Colonial Trinidad" (UNC Press, 2019)

Beginning in the mid 19th century, thousands of indentured laborers traveled from India to the Caribbean, and many settled in Trinidad. In The Regulation of Religion and the Making of Hinduism in Colonial Trinidad (University of North Carolina Press, 2019) Alexander Rocklin argues that the beliefs and practices they recreated in the new world only became recognizable as a discrete entity we now call “religion” over time and as the result of social and political processes. This book tells the...


Zahra Ayubi, "Gendered Morality: Classical Islamic Ethics of the Self, Family, and Society" (Columbia UP, 2019)

How are notions of justice and equality constructed in Islamic virtue ethics (akhlaq)? How are Islamic virtue ethics gendered, despite their venture into perennial concerns of how best to live a good and ethical life? These are the questions that Zahra Ayubi, an assistant professor of religion at Dartmouth college, examines in her new book Gendered Morality: Classical Islamic Ethics of the Self, Family, and Society (Columbia University Press, 2019). Using akhlaq literature by al-Ghazali,...


Ronald E. Purser, "McMindfulness: How Mindfulness Became the New Capitalist Spirituality" (Repeater Books, 2019)

In his recent exposé, McMindfulness: How Mindfulness Became the New Capitalist Spirituality (Repeater Books, 2019), Ronald Purser Ph.D. takes a hard look at the mindfulness movement that has taken society by storm. Purser opens the book by questioning elements of the movement that have lead to its success: its scientific credibility, its secular façade, the prevailing discourse in society around stress, and other topics. Purser’s main concern, however, is that mindfulness is being used to...


Milton Gaither, "Homeschool: An American History" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017)

With around two million children currently enrolled in home schools in the USA, no-one can doubt that the subject of Milton Gaither’s new book is timely. Gaither, a professor of education at Messiah College, PA, first published this study in 2008, but has updated his text to reflect both the levelling out of the number of children involved in the movement as well as to explain some of the scandals that have brought some parts of the movement into disrepute. Homeschool: An American History...


Sara Georgini, "Household Gods: The Religious Lives of the Adams Family" (Oxford UP, 2019)

Sara Georgini is a historian and series editor for The Papers of John Adams at the Massachusetts Historical Society. Household Gods: The Religious Lives of the Adams Family (Oxford University Press, 2019) is a family biography that explores the Christian republicanism of John and Abigail Adams and how it shaped their view of the origins and destiny of the American nation under the guidance of divine providence. The book charts change in religious culture through the generations with profiles...


Gregg L. Frazer, "God against the Revolution: The Loyalist Clergy’s Case Against the American Revolution" (UP of Kansas, 2018)

Not everyone was convinced by the arguments of patriots during the American revolution. Among those who retained some degree of loyalty to the British crown were the majority of the clergy of the Episcopalian Church, as well as a smaller number of clergy from Congregational, Presbyterian and other protestant bodies. In this important new work, Gregg L. Frazer, professor of history and political science at The Master’s University, Santa Clarita, CA, surveys the arguments that loyalist clergy...


Larry E. Morris, "A Documentary History of the Book of Mormon" (Oxford UP, 2019)

The story of the creation of the Book of Mormon has been told many times, and often ridiculed. A Documentary History of the Book of Mormon (Oxford University Press, 2019), by Larry E. Morris, presents and examines the primary sources surrounding the origin of the foundational text of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the most successful new religion of modern times. The scores of documents transcribed and annotated in this book include family histories, journal entries,...


Evdoxios Doxiadis, "State, Nationalism, and the Jewish Communities of Modern Greece" (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018)

How did minorities fit into the new Greek state during the country’s transition from imperial rule to national sovereignty? How did the relationship between Greece and its Jewish minorities, in particular, shift as definitions of national belonging expanded, shrunk, and transformed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries? These are the questions that Dr. Evdoxios Doxiadis, Associate Professor in History at Canada’s Simon Fraser University, seeks to answer in his new book, State,...


Matthew E. Ferris, "If One Uses It Lawfully: The Law of Moses and the Christian Life (Wipf and Stock, 2018)

One of the most enduring debates within protestant theology has been the discussion about how the law of Moses relates to the Christian life. In this important new book, Matthew E. Ferris, a self-described “gentleman theologian,” puts the debate within the contexts of recent writing in New Testament studies as well as in practical theology, and argues that Christian ethics require the law to be “fulfilled” rather than “kept.” This might seem to be a nice distinction, but, Ferris argues, it...


E. H. Ecklund and D. R. Johnson, "Secularity and Science: What Scientists Around the World Really Think of Religion" (Oxford UP, 2019)

It is common to see science and religion portrayed as mutually exclusive and warring ways of viewing the world, but is that how actual scientists see it? For that matter, which cultural factors shape the attitudes of scientists toward religion? Could scientists help show us a way to build collaboration between scientific and religious communities, if such collaborations are even possible? The book we’re looking at today, Secularity and Science: What Scientists Around the World Really Think...


Holly Rogers, "The Mindful Twenty-Something" (New Harbinger, 2016)

In her book, The Mindful Twenty-Something (New Harbinger, 2016), Holly Rogers presents a unique, evidence based approach to help you make important life decisions with clarity and confidence. As cofounder of the extremely popular Koru Mindfulness program developed at Duke University, her work with students serves as inspiration for this book. As a twenty-something, you may feel like you are being pulled in dozen different directions. With the daily tumult, busyness, and major life changes...


Arik Moran, "Kingship and Polity on the Himalayan Borderland" (Amsterdam UP, 2019)

What role did women play in securing power in colonial Himalayan kingdoms? Kingship and Polity on the Himalayan Borderland (Amsterdam UP, 2019) specifically documents the key roles played by women - especially queen regents - in the modern transformation of state and society in the Indian Himalaya kingdoms. Arik Moran examines three Rajput kingdoms during the transition to British rule (c. 1790-1840) and their interconnected histories and court intrigues. He draws on rich archival records,...


Levi McLaughlin, "Soka Gakkai’s Human Revolution: The Rise of A Mimetic Nation in Modern Japan" (U Hawaii Press, 2018)

Being Japan’s largest and most influential new religious organization, Soka Gakkai (Society for the Creation of Value) and Soka Gakkai International (SGI) claims to have 12 million members in 192 countries around the world. Founded in the 1930s by a group of teachers focused on educational reform, Soka Gakkai has since evolved from its grassroot origins as a movement inspired by Nichiren Buddhism to a highly significant source of influence in contemporary Japanese education and politics. In...


William M. Gorvine, "Envisioning A Tibetan Luminary: The Life of a Modern Bonpo Saint" (Oxford UP, 2018)

In his new book, Envisioning A Tibetan Luminary: The Life of a Modern Bonpo Saint (Oxford University Press, 2018), William M. Gorvine provides a multifaceted analysis of Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen (1859-1934), one of the most prominent modern representatives of the Tibetan Bön tradition. Engaging two written versions of Shardza’s life story as well as oral histories gathered during fieldwork in eastern Tibet and Bön exile communities in India, Gorvine explores the ways in which Shardza has been...


William Elison, "The Neighborhood of Gods: The Sacred and the Visible at the Margins of Mumbai" (U Chicago Press, 2018)

William Elison's The Neighborhood of Gods: The Sacred and the Visible at the Margins of Mumbai(University of Chicago Press, 2018) explores how slum residents, tribal people, and members of other marginalized groups use religious icons to mark urban spaces in Mumbai. Interestingly, not all of Elison's interview subjects identify as Hindu, which bolsters has argument that sacred space in Mumbai is created by visual and somatic practices performed across religious boundaries. Join as as we...


Berthe Jansen, "The Monastery Rules: Buddhist Monastic Organization in Pre-Modern Tibet" (U California Press, 2018)

The Monastery Rules: Buddhist Monastic Organization in Pre-Modern Tibet (University of California Press, 2018) discusses the position of the monasteries in pre-1950s Tibetan Buddhist societies and how that position was informed by the far-reaching relationship of monastic Buddhism with Tibetan society, economy, law, and culture. Berthe Jansen's study of monastic guidelines is the first study of its kind to examine the genre in detail. The book contains an exploration of its parallels in...


Max Oidtmann, "Forging the Golden Urn: The Qing Empire and the Politics of Reincarnation in Tibet" (Columbia UP, 2018)

In 1995, the People’s Republic of China resurrected the technology of the “Golden Urn,” a Qing-era tool which involves the identification of the reincarnations of prominent Tibetan Buddhist monks by drawing lots from a golden vessel. Why would the Chinese Communist Party revive this former ritual? What powers lie in the symbolism of the “Golden Urn”? Why was this tradition invented? Using both archival sources in the Manchu language and chronicles of Tibetan elites, Max Oidtmann answers...


M. David Litwa, "How the Gospels Became History: Jesus and Mediterranean Myths" (Yale UP, 2019)

Did the early Christians believe their myths? Like most ancient—and modern—people, early Christians made efforts to present their myths in the most believable ways. In How the Gospels Became History: Jesus and Mediterranean Myths (Yale University Press, 2019), M. David Litwa explores how and why what later became the four canonical gospels take on a historical cast that remains vitally important for many Christians today. Offering an in-depth comparison with other Greco-Roman stories that...


Daniel Veidlinger, "From Indra’s Net to Internet: Communication, Technology, and the Evolution of Buddhist Ideas" (U Hawaii Press, 2018)

In this episode of New Books in Buddhist Studies, I am joined by Daniel Veidlinger to discuss his exciting new book From Indra’s Net to Internet: Communication, Technology, and the Evolution of Buddhist Ideas (University of Hawaii Press, 2018), which offers a theoretically compelling exploration of the types communicative “ecosystems” in which Buddhist ideas have flourished throughout history. Drawing inspiration from evolutionary biology and media theory, Veidlinger’s book begins by...


Jonathan G. Kline, "Keep Up Your Biblical Greek in 2 Minutes a Day" (Hendrickson, 2017)

The last few years have seen a proliferation of helps for those of us who struggle to consolidate and develop our knowledge of ancient languages. But here is one of the most helpful of these new resources. Jonathan G. Kline, who is academic editor at Hendrickson, and the author of Allusive soundplay in the Hebrew Bible (SBL, 2017), has published a series of books that provide one-sentence daily readings in Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic, and which then parse these sentences in an imaginative and...