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The Transformation of American Religion: How We Actually Live Our Faith [Hardcover]

By Alan Wolfe (Author)
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Item Number 53037  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   304
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.44" Width: 6.2" Height: 1.1"
Weight:   1.08 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Aug 31, 2003
Publisher   Simon & Schuster
ISBN  0743228391  
EAN  9780743228398  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...

God is not dead in America, but the way he lives and breathes has nothing in common with the old-time religion dramatized in Inherit the Wind. In this groundbreaking work, leading American social scientist Alan Wolfe demonstrates that American religion has been transformed beyond recognition. God has met and struggled fiercely against American culture -- and the culture has won.

On the face of it, religion in America seems to be booming. Church attendance remains high and God talk is omnipresent. Yet after traveling across the country, visiting with clergy, joining in worship services, and digesting reports from every corner of the land, Wolfe discovered that the reality of religion as we actually practice it is utterly different from the stereotype. Gone is the language of sin and damnation. Forgotten are all the doctrinal differences that were once of burning importance. Worship and prayer serve the needs of the inner self. Witnessing is another lifestyle option.

In short, American religion has been tamed, and God has become a friend rather than an authority figure. Even conservative religion has become part of the culture of narcissism. Evangelicals are more interested in planting and growing churches than they are in saving souls. People change denominations as frequently as they change jobs.

Americans continue to take their religion seriously, but as a group we have thoroughly domesticated what was once a matter of spiritual life and death. We are witnessing the end of religion as our grandparents understood it -- and the start of a new religion we are just beginning to know. The Transformation of American Religion offers nothing less than a roadmap to our new national faith.

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More About Alan Wolfe

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Alan Wolfe is a professor of political science and director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College. A contributing editor of "The New Republic, The Wilson Quarterly, CommonWealth, "and "In Character, "Professor Wolfe also frequently writes for "Commonweal, The New York Times, Harper's, The Atlantic Monthly, "and "The Washington Post. "He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Alan Wolfe currently resides in the state of Massachusetts. Alan Wolfe was born in 1942 and has an academic affiliation as follows - Boston College.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > General   [17908  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Philosophy   [1924  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
The American Faithful Lose Their Focus  Jan 2, 2006
The Transformation of American Religion: How We Actually Live Our Faith by Alan Wolfe is a fascinating study of how the faith of Americans has changed and is practiced in this 21st century. It is an objective sociological study by a self-professed agnostic and non-practicing Jew. Wolfe is not hostile to religion and admits admiring those with a strong belief.

It is always a plus to come across a readable academic study. Professor Wolfe shows how faithful Americans, in the Judeo-Christian sense, have gone from a God focused practice of faith to a faith were the focus is on self and God is a tool for a kind of sentimental self-defined morality.

The writer also covers the faith experience of new immigrants to the United States and does reflect on Islam and new religions like Mormonism. He observes the struggle for orthodox Islam against "Americanization" of that faith.

What comes across in this study is that how people label themselves is not necessarily the faith they practice. This is probably not news to the keen observer of the "churched" but the book does one a service in verifying what one observes in scientific terms.

My only negative about this work is that the author overlooks those bastions of serious orthodox study and practice of Judaism, Catholic and Reformed theology. Dr. Wolfe tends to think orthodox belief will be all but gone in a few years. I disagree, and believe this is where the future of Judaism and Christianity can be found. Overall I recommend this work for any serious student of religion in America.

Fascinating and thought-provoking  May 3, 2004
This book is a must-read for any person who wants to take an intellectual look at modern American religions. I happen to be a "believer" in one of the analyzed faiths (Protestantism--both mainline and evangelical, Catholicism, and Judiasm) and I found his analysis to be insightful, occasionallly disturbing, amd very thought-provoking. Although Wolfe calls himself an agnostic, of sorts, he is respectful to the people and views he analyzes and uses an even handed tone to both praise and critique the current state of religious belief in the US.

As a person interested in theology I found his discussion of modern doctrine, sin, and worship to be completely fascinating. This book does not set out to change anyone's core beliefs about God, but it very well may change your view about how the church approaches God, worship, and evangelism.

Although I am a lay reader, I have read quite a bit of theology and was comfortable with some terms that Wolfe takes a bit for granted. A person who has trouble distinguishing between the terms "evangelical" and "mainline", or thinks that a church using rock music might be called "liberal" could have difficulty with the text. Wolfe could have included a short glossary at the end of his book; this may have made this important text more accessible to lay readers.

I strongly recommend this book to any person studying religion or theology, or to any intellectually-minded believer in Christianity or Judaism.


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