Ruth Braunstein is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut and editor-at-large of The Immanent Frame. She previously served as a consultant with the SSRC's program on Religion and the Public Sphere and a senior editor of Reverberations. Her research explores the diverse ways in which ordinary citizens across the political spectrum participate in public life, and the complex role of religion in this process. She has studied debates over evolution in public schools, liberal religious advocacy groups, and interfaith political coalitions. She is currently working on a book based on her comparative ethnographic study of progressive faith-based community organizing and Tea Party activism.
Posts by Ruth Braunstein:
An interdisciplinary call for applications for Congregational Studies Fellowships has been released.Read the rest of Interdisciplinary Congregational Studies Fellowships.
New Directions in the Study of Prayer Grantee Tanya Luhrmann’s book, When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship With God, was named one of the New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2012. As Molly Worthen wrote in an early 2012 review of the book: After more than four years of observing and interviewing […]Read the rest of When God Talks Back named a Notable Book of 2012.
Several months ago, it seemed religion might be a notable factor in the 2012 presidential election.Read the rest of Religion and the election.
On October 11, 2012, the Religious Freedom Project of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University’s School of Law will convene a conference at Georgetown University on “Differences between the U.S. and European Approaches to Religious Freedom.”Read the rest of Which Model, Whose Liberty?.
As part of our discussion of the “Lives of Great Religious Books” series out this March from Princeton University Press, I had the opportunity to talk to editor Fred Appel about how the series was “born.” Situating the books somewhere between reception history and popular memoir, he discusses the contested status of some texts as “religious,” the importance of reaching the public, and the books he hopes will eventually be part of the series.Read the rest of “I would love to read the biography of a book . . .”.
At Religion in American History, Edward J. Blum reflects on how blogging may influence a junior scholar’s career, for better or for worse, and raises several important questions that we have also been puzzling about here at The Immanent Frame. In his piece, he draws on his own experiences as well as anecdotal evidence, and lays out his reservations about the academic blogging enterprise.Read the rest of Lessons learned from academic blogging.
Ruthie, Grace and David here, reporting live from the IWM International Summer School in Philosophy and Politics in Cortona, Italy. We are here with forty graduate students and post-docs and an inspiring group of faculty from over 20 countries to explore a range of issues related to religion in public life. And over the next two weeks, we look forward to sharing some of our discussions with the readers of The Immanent Frame. Today we would like to talk about an issue we discussed in the first session of our course on “The Role of Faith in Public Discourse,” taught by Nilüfer Göle and Michael Sandel.Read the rest of Discussing mosques, minarets, and crosses.
Public Religion Research and Third Way have jointly released a new report, Beyond the God Gap, which presents new research on “the beliefs and values underlying attitudes toward politics and cultural and domestic policy issues among white evangelical Protestants, white Mainline Protestants, African American Protestants, and Roman Catholics (Latino and non-Latino), which together account for about three-quarters of the U.S. population.”Read the rest of Beyond the God gap.
The 12th Mediterranean Research Meeting of the European University Institute—to be held in Florence, Italy, from April 6-9, 2011—will include a workshop on Social Policy and Religion in the Middle East: Questioning Existing Paradigms. The organizers have released a call for papers for the workshop.Read the rest of CFP: “Social Policy & Religion in the Middle East”.
At God’s Politics, Jim Wallis asks: “Just how Christian is the Tea Party Movement—and the Libertarian political philosophy that lies behind it?”Read the rest of How Christian is Tea Party Libertarianism?.
At Reset DOC, Marco Cesario provides an overview of a recent roundtable discussion held at the Bilgi University in Istanbul, in which participants were asked whether religion was “an integrating or dividing factor in societies of the third millennium?”Read the rest of Does religion unite or divide?.
Marquette University, a Catholic university run by Jesuits, has come under fire after rescinding its offer to Seattle University sociologist Jodi O’Brien to serve as Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. In a statement to The New York Times, Marquette’s president, Rev. Robert A. Wild, denies that the decision was based on O’Brien’s sexual orientation, instead claiming that concerns arose after the administration “found some strongly negative statements about marriage and family.” At Sexuality & Society, Shari Dworkin and Kari Lerum (who acknowledge that they are long term colleagues of Dr. O’Brien) discuss the backlash that is emerging in response to Marquette’s decision.Read the rest of Jesuit university rescinds offer to sociologist.
At Miller-McCune, David Villano reports on a new study that finds that religious adherents in the U.S. are more inclined toward ethnocentric attitudes than agnostics.Read the rest of “Love Thy Neighbor? Not If He’s Different”.
At Miller-McCune, Michael Scott Moore reports on a German family that was granted asylum by a federal immigration judge in Tennessee, who found they “were at risk of persecution by German authorities because they wanted to home-school their kids.” The family was represented by the Home School Legal Defense Association, which took on the case “in the name of homeschoolers around the world.”Although the organization argues that the “Western nation should uphold basic human rights, which include allowing parents to raise and educate their own children,” Moore seeks to contextualize Germany’s schooling policy in light of these claims.Read the rest of A right to home-school?.
The Ethics and Public Policy Center has posted a transcript of James Davison Hunter’s talk, “To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World,” at this year’s Faith Angle Conference on Religion, Politics & Public Life. Ross Douthat of The New York Times and Amy Sullivan of Time responded to his comments, which addressed the problem of social solidarity.Read the rest of James Hunter on social solidarity.
On April 12, the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life at Columbia University will host a conversation and book signing with Nicholas D. Kristof, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and columnist for the New York Times.Read the rest of Nicholas Kristof to discuss “covering conflict”.
Like many of the other participants in this discussion on the current state of the sociological study of religion, we have spent much of our early careers engaging in broader conversations regarding culture and politics. As scholars who bring deep interests in religion to these conversations, we have found that the default position in these sub-disciplines is often either to ignore religion or to see it as a dangerous force in society. In this regard, we greet the “strong program” that Smilde and May see emerging in the sociology of religion with a modicum of relief, as it seems to show clearly that 1) more researchers are taking religion seriously, and 2) they are finding that religion’s influence is not always negative—rather, its effects are varied. But while a small part of us is relieved by the emergence of a strong program, a larger part shares Smilde and May’s concerns about the increasing focus on religion as an autonomous, independent variable. This emphasis seems to rest on the assumption that religion consists primarily of a set of fixed beliefs, preferences, and dispositions that exist deep inside of individuals, which they will reveal to us if only we ask the right questions.Read the rest of Toward a sociology of social religion.
At Slate, Noreen Malone notes that American nuns were instrumental in countering the conservative position of the Catholic Bishops during the recent health care battle, but explores whether the next generation of nuns will be more conservative than their progressive predecessors who “were formed in the crucible of Vatican II.”Read the rest of “How the health care bill made nuns rad”.
If you cannot attend the religion and media conference hosted by the Columbia University Religion Graduate Students Association this weekend, fear not. On April 9, you can attend the New School for Social Research’s 2010 Sociology Graduate Student Conference, “We Have Never Been Secular: Re-Thinking the Sacred in the Modern World.”Read the rest of We Have Never Been Secular.
The Columbia University Religion Graduate Students Association is sponsoring a conference in New York City this weekend on the relationships between media, mediation, and religion. Find details about the conference, “Divining the Message, Mediating the Divine,” here.Read the rest of Divining the Message, Mediating the Divine.
The New York Times reports that a “nonprofit think tank of hip, media-savvy Jewish professionals, based in New York” is spearheading an experiment they call the first annual National Day of Unplugging, which asks people to avoid technology from sundown Friday, March 19, to sundown Saturday.Read the rest of On the seventh day you shall unplug.
The most popular post at GOOD last week, Transparency: America’s Wealthiest Religions, featured an infographic portraying the varying income levels of major religious groups compared to the national average income. A new post details some of the debate generated by the feature.Read the rest of America’s wealthiest religions?.
At the New York Times, Charles M. Blow weighs in on new data showing that “Young adults are looking for spirituality but not necessarily through organized religion,” a topic being explored in depth by the SSRC’s project on Spirituality, Political Engagement, and Public Life.Read the rest of Spirit quest.
As the new White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships reflects on what it has accomplished during its first year, a timely new book from sociologist (and here & there contributor) Rebecca Sager—Faith, Politics, and Power: The Politics of Faith-Based Initiatives—provides readers with an in-depth analysis of the hopes and fears surrounding Faith-Based Initiatives at the state level.Read the rest of Faith, Politics, and Power.
At The Moth Chase, some insightful analysis of the theological issues at the heart of the fourth season of Big Love, America’s favorite “polygamist melodrama.”Read the rest of Theological reflections on Big Love.
Harvard University’s Center for Geographic Analysis has issued a call for posters for its “New Technologies and Interdisciplinary Research on Religion” workshop March 12 – 13, 2010.Read the rest of Call for posters: religion and geographic analysis.
Despite critiques that the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships has been relatively quiet recently, Joshua DuBois, the Office’s Director, takes to the White House blog to reflect on what they have achieved during the past year.Read the rest of Year one in White House faith-based office.
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has released “A Brief History of Religion and the U.S. Census,” which reviews debates during the last century over whether questions about religion should be included in the census or whether such questions would “infringe upon the traditional separation of church and state.”Read the rest of Religion and the U.S. Census.
Miroslav Volf blurbs Carlos Eire’s new book, A Very Brief History of Eternity, which asks of its subject, “Is it anything other than a purely abstract concept, totally unrelated to our lives? A mere hope? A frightfully uncertain horizon? Or is it a certainty, shared by priest and scientist alike, and an essential element in all human relations?”Read the rest of A Very Brief History of Eternity.
The World Economic Forum has released “Faith and the Global Agenda: Values for the Post-Crisis Economy,” an annual report on issues related to the role of faith in global affairs. John J. DeGioia, the President of Georgetown University, which collaborated on the report, explains its rationale: “The economic and financial crisis is an opportunity to re-articulate the values that should underpin our global institutions going forward. The world’s religious communities are critical repositories of those values.”Read the rest of Values for the Post-Crisis Economy.
At New America Media, Edwin Okong’o suggests that the U.S. Christian Right has been successful in influencing the Ugandan anti-gay agenda because Africans “staunchly believe in the supremacy of the white man. Ill-informed Christians […] place the white man immediately below the Holy Trinity, a belief with its roots in the colonial era.”Read the rest of Why Ugandans embrace the Family.
The New York Times reports on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s annual interfaith breakfast, which for the first time in eight years included representatives of nonbelievers.Read the rest of ‘Interfaith’ includes atheists in NYC.
In an opinion piece at The Christian Science Monitor, sociologist Wendy Cadge shares findings from her research (with Elaine Howard Ecklund) on how physicians learn about and deal with their patients’ spiritual and religious beliefs. She concludes that a “holistic approach to medicine requires physicians to understand the complex role of spirituality and religion in compassionate patient care. The best prescription: Integrate these topics throughout medical education.”Read the rest of A more holistic approach to faith and health.
In Ashville, North Carolina, opponents of atheist City Councilman Cecil Bothwell are challenging the legitimacy of his oath of office on the grounds that the state Constitution disqualifies officeholders “who shall deny the being of Almighty God.”Read the rest of Atheist councilman challenged.
Controversy has erupted over a decision by Missouri tax authorities to require yoga centers to collect and pay a sales tax on yoga classes. Yoga instructors argue they should be exempt from the tax “because the lessons include spiritual elements.”Read the rest of Taxing yoga: exercise or spiritual practice?.
At the Rock and Theology blog, scholars explore “the relationship between ’secular’ rock and ’sacred’ theology, and related matters of faith and culture today.” As part of a larger project on this topic, Tom Beaudoin takes to the blog to reflect on interconnections between culture, music and theology.Read the rest of Rock and theology.