Brantley W. Gasaway’s New Book

Brantley W. Gasaway’s New Book
 

Gasaway BookBrantley Gasaway (PhD ’08) is an assistant professor of religion at Bucknell University. His new book, Progressive Evangelicals and the Pursuit of Social Justice is a compelling history of progressive evangelicalism. Gasaway examines a dynamic though often overlooked movement within American Christianity today. Gasaway focuses on left-leaning groups, such as Sojourners and Evangelicals for Social Action, that emerged in the early 1970s, prior to the rise of the more visible Religious Right. He identifies the distinctive “public theology”–a set of biblical interpretations regarding the responsibility of Christians to promote social justice–that has animated progressive evangelicals’ activism and bound together their unusual combination of political positions.

The book analyzes how prominent leaders, including Jim Wallis, Ron Sider, and Tony Campolo, responded to key political and social issues over the past four decades. Progressive evangelicals combated racial inequalities, endorsed feminism, promoted economic justice, and denounced American nationalism and militarism. At the same time, most leaders opposed abortion and refused to affirm homosexual behavior, even as they defended gay civil rights. Gasaway demonstrates that, while progressive evangelicals have been caught in the crossfire of partisan conflicts and public debates over the role of religion in politics, they have offered a significant alternative to both the Religious Right and the political left.

“I see this as the “go-to” book on this subject. This is not a story of a final victory, but one with a kind of suspense.” –Martin E. Marty, The University of Chicago Divinity School

“A significant contribution to our understanding of progressive evangelicalism … Gasaway’s analysis demonstrates with skill and understanding the vitality and relevance of progressive evangelicalism.” –Randall Balmer, Dartmouth College

For more information and to read an excerpt, visit UNC Press or Amazon.

Congratulations Brantley!

Posted in Alumni News on January 8, 2015. Bookmark the permalink.

Annie Blazer’s New Book

Annie Blazer’s New Book
 

Annie Blazer Playing for God BookAnnie Blazer (PhD ’09) is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the College of William and Mary. Her new book, Playing for God: Evangelical Women and the Unintended Consequences of Sports Ministry (New York University Press, 2015), offers an exploration of the history and religious lives of Christian athletes, showing that evangelical engagement with popular culture can carry unintended consequences.

When sport became an avenue for embodied worship, it forced a reckoning with evangelical teachings about the body. Female Christian athletes increasingly turned to their own bodies to understand their religious identity, and in so doing, came to question evangelical mainstays on gender and sexuality. What was once a male-dominated masculinist project of sports engagement became a female-dominated movement that challenged evangelical ideas on femininity, marriage hierarchy, and the sinfulness of homosexuality. Though evangelicalism has not changed sporting culture, for those involved in sports ministry, sport has changed evangelicalism.

You can find out more about Playing for God by checking out NYU Press or Amazon.

Congratulations Annie!

Posted in Alumni News on December 10, 2014. Bookmark the permalink.

Jeff Wilson’s (PhD ’07) Mindful America Out with OUP

Jeff Wilson’s (PhD ’07) Mindful America Out with OUP
 

MindfulAmericaDr. Jeff Wilson, Associate Professor of Religious Studies and East Asian Studies at Renison University College at the University of Waterloo, has just published his third book Mindful America: The Mutual Influence of Meditation and American Culture through Oxford University Press.

From the OUP website: “Thirty years ago, ‘mindfulness’ was a Buddhist principle mostly obscure to the west. Today, it is a popular cure-all for Americans’ daily problems. A massive and lucrative industry promotes mindfulness in every aspect of life, however mundane or unlikely: Americans of various faiths (or none at all) practice mindful eating, mindful sex, mindful parenting, mindfulness in the office, mindful sports, mindfulness-based stress relief and addiction recovery, and hire mindful divorce lawyers. Mindfulness is touted by members of Congress, CEOs, and Silicon Valley tech gurus, and is even being taught in public schools, hospitals, and the military.

Focusing on such processes as the marketing, medicalization, and professionalization of meditation, Jeff Wilson reveals how Buddhism shed its countercultural image and was assimilated into mainstream American culture. The rise of mindfulness in America, Wilson argues, is a perfect example of how Buddhism enters new cultures and is domesticated: in each case, the new cultures take from Buddhism what they believe will relieve their specific distresses and concerns, and in the process create new forms of Buddhism adapted to their needs. Wilson also tackles the economics of the mindfulness movement, examining commercial programs, therapeutic services, and products such as books, films, CDs, and even smartphone applications.

Mindful America is the first in-depth study of this phenomenon–invaluable for understanding how mindfulness came to be applied to such a vast array of non-religious concerns and how it can be reconciled with traditional Buddhism in America.”

You can find out more about Wilson’s research by checking out this recent guest blog for CNN or listening to this Interfaith Voice interview.

Congratulations Jeff!

Posted in Alumni News on September 18, 2014. Bookmark the permalink.

UNC Alumni Curate Religious Images on Facebook

UNC Alumni Curate Religious Images on Facebook
 

BasketballRosaryRabia Gregory and Shanny Luft, two graduates of the doctoral program in Religious Studies at UNC Chapel Hill, have launched a Facebook venture together. Iconofiles curates religious visual and material culture from history and pop culture – from sacred to profane, and back again. The site provides a wealth of images for both research and teaching. For example, the basketball rosary to the left is just one of many Catholic sports rosaries available online. Is a football rosary the perfect accessory for any given Sunday this fall?

Posted in Alumni News on June 28, 2014. Bookmark the permalink.

Keep Us Updated!

Keep Us Updated!
 

We love to hear from our alum. Let us know about your recent adventures and tell us how you’ve put your Religious Studies degree to use.

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Posted in Alumni News on December 13, 2013. Bookmark the permalink.