Australian Soul: Religion and Spirituality in the 21st Century 1st Edition

5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521673891
ISBN-10: 0521673895
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Bouma has taken on the enormous task of depicting Australian religion and spirituality in all of its diverse forms, and in this he has done an admirable job...a grand analysis of Australian religious life in the tradition of Hans Mol. The detailed depiction Bouma provides, with its many parallels with and divergences from America and Europe, make it worthwhile reading for anyone interested in examining the fate of religion in the modern West." --Damon Mayrl, University of California, Berkeley: Sociology of Religion

Book Description

This fascinating book challenges the idea that religious and spiritual life in Australia is in decline. Australian Soul not only describes and analyses religious and spiritual life in detail, it also provides a series of case studies that give voice to the range of practices and beliefs in Australia today.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (March 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521673895
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521673891
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,646,926 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Rowland Croucher on June 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
Gary Bouma, Australian Soul: Religion and Spirituality in the Twenty-first Century (Cambridge University Press, 2006).

Professor Gary Bouma, an ordained Anglican priest, is head of the School of Political and Social Inquiry at Monash University. He's one of Australia's leading sociologists of religion, and excellently equipped to survey the Australian religious scene.

Australians are more reserved about their expression of religious commitment, writes Bouma, but religion and spiritual life in Australia are not in decline. His firm opinion is that `the secularity of the twenty-first century is not anti-religious or irreligious, as it was in the twentieth century.' `While to many educated in the 1960s and 1970s "Australian religion" was a contradiction in terms or at best an embarrassing legacy of a forgettable past, that is not so now'. A 2005 survey found that 35% of Australians in their twenties said `religion was important in their lives' compared with 21% in 1978. And while `in the twentieth century religion and spirituality often provided an identity and meaning for people, in the twenty-first century the core is the production and maintenance of hope.' Another summary-statement: `The needs addressed by religion and spirituality are core to humanity: hope, and meaning grounded in a connection with that which is more than passing, partial and broken' (p. 205).

The references to theoretical and research sources are authoritative, and in my view are worth the value of the book. The suggested reading, references and index at the back of the book are second-to-none. It's all the work of a careful scholar, who is as familiar as anyone with the main sources of religious knowledge about Australians (the censuses, Christian Research Association, NCLS surveys etc.).
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Format: Paperback
Gary Bouma, Australian Soul: Religion and Spirituality in the Twenty-first Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006)

Australian Soul offers a comprehensive description of the nature of religious and spiritual life in Australia today. It analyses the post-modern, post-Christendom, post-empire, post-colonial, post-national, post-ecumenical, post-denominational, secular, post-secular, post-book, post-family, post-patriarchal and multicultural characteristics of the Australian context. Bouma builds his case with up-to-date facts and figures, the latest research and astute insights and case studies. Rather than bemoaning religious decline, he observes how religious and spiritual life is changing and showing itself as `A whisper in the mind and a shy hope in the heart' (words used by Manning Clarke and Thornhill to refer to a key characteristic of the ANZAC psyche, appropriate also to broader Australian spirituality). A key theme was his analysis of the cultural shift from tradition to rationality (after the Renaissance, Reformation and especially the Enlightenment), and now to experience and emotion as the dominant form of authority. It is a move from orthopraxy (in terms of right worship scripting), to orthodoxy (right beliefs and creeds), to orthoprassy (right feelings and emotional responses). Bouma indicates how this shift in authority-base is reflected in what spirituality is appealing, what church forms are declining and how religious communities and worship services are organized. His analysis of globalization and changing family structures were also significant. Churches need expressions that address global justice issues and that cater for people other than the 40% that live in nuclear families.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By peter veitch on February 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
Negatives: he frames religion as a good thing. He also concludes that religion is on the rise. Perhaps he hasn't seen the latest data? Or maybe regardless of directions of lines on a graph, the direction may not predict the future? He has studied theology, alas it shows ( in terms of bias).
He gives some wonderful thoughts on ways that may have effected marginalization of religion(s). Paradoxically an educated Prof that still thinks religious superstition is a good thing, might let other"s see the awful power of religious viruses.
Positives: Some stunning insights, well worth a read. Strengths and weaknesses due to his own personal comments. Some first class thinking in many places.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Margaret C. Sadler on December 24, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is very intriguing to read. It relates to US readers as well as those from Australia. Gary Bouma uses statistics from Australia to illustrates changes in how we practice religion in the 21st Century. Many changes are happening all around us but they happen without analysis for the most part. Dr. Bouma has spent most of his career in this field and has many insights which are helpful to the student of religion and society.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tony Castle on February 14, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's always interesting to see what others perceive about your nation. Yet when we consider a nation, how can the whole be encapsulated? Statistics are of no use, particularly in Australia - (We're notorious for not trusting those who govern and therefore are sometimes less than honest in what we give away!) Overall, I think that Bouma does justice to the spiritual question of Australia; a hard task for any author.
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