19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
For an undergraduate course in American Religious history and experience I am teaching, I use a derivative of this book (the publishers, Pearson, will customise texts for particular schools). However, the basic shell remains the same, as well as the vast majority of the content with the text one would purchase here.
According to authors Corrigan and Hudson, `the story of religion in America is the story of many religions, some claiming large memberships, some numbering only a few followers.' It involves issues of geography, ethnography, and pluralism both comfortable and conflicting. This continues into the present time, as issues of nationalism and globalism enter into relationship with the continuing diversity of religious identity and expression in the United States.
The text begins with colonial times, not simply with the various settlements in the thirteen colonies, but also in the Spanish and French arrivals dating back to 1492. It also discusses in the opening chapter the worldview of the native peoples, which is not a monolithic or unitary thing, but rather a wide range of viewpoints, practices and organisational elements perhaps outnumbering the variety within Christianity today.
The authors draw in brief discussions of the situation in European Catholicism and Protestantism as they introduce the various peoples who arrive in the Americas, as their understanding and reaction to the European versions play a pivotal role in how they attempt to constitute themselves in the Western hemisphere. The various elements within English-speaking and Continental Protestantism are covered with good definition for an introductory survey.
The text continues with a discussion of the Great Awakening and its influence on the increasingly independent colonies of North America, and how it contributed to the sense of communal identity and separateness that led to distinct denominationalism. The authors also look at the role of religion in politics at the time of the American Revolution as well as the attitudes of different churches toward independence. Included here is a brief discussion of the situation with regard to the unwilling immigrants who brought aspects of their own religious traditions from Africa.
The second section surveys the new nation as it grows and spreads from east to west, including a strengthening and realignment of denominations, with Protestant Christian dominance more or less solidified by the Second Awakening. The authors also discuss the situation of Jewish communities now forming in America, various Utopian movements, social movements such as Abolitionism, and various new developments in the American religious landscape (Mormonism, Spiritualism, etc.).
The period from the Civil War to the first world war is covered in the third section. This looks at issues dealing with north/south splits and reunifications due to the Civil War, the impact of freedom for African Americans on religious life in America, the impact of modern intellectual movements on religious thinking, and issues of the increasing urban character of the United States. Various movements here include the idea of the Social Gospel, women's issues, and missionary work both at home and abroad.
The final section looks at the twentieth century from the first world war forward. Protestantism and Catholicism underwent major changes both domestically and worldwide, and many smaller groups began to grow in importance, such as Judaism and Eastern Orthodoxy (and, as the century drew to a close, other world religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam began to have a presence in the religious fabric of America).
This is a relatively brief survey for such a vast topic, considering that so many Americans take religion seriously, even if not adhering to particular churches or other institutions. Even so, the numbers of people who do not identity themselves as Christian or even as religious has grown tremendously in the last decade of the twentieth century. Still, this has not lessened the increasing diversity of religious expression. `Religious diversity in America has created an environment hospitable to popular religion. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Native America religions, and other ancient traditions are visible in as assortment of American contexts and locales. Alongside them are the many younger religions that either were born on American soil or were brought here by immigrants.'
The book includes a very useful index and a section of suggested readings, which could be fleshed out a bit more. There are footnotes rather than endnotes, which is a good thing, particularly given that the number of footnotes is adequate for scholarly purposes but not overbearing for the general and typical undergraduate reader. There is a small but reasonable number of maps, photographs, and other images throughout the text. The narrative itself is accessible, fairly engaging and helpful for anyone interested in the history of religion in America.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2013
I needed this textbook for an online college course. I enjoyed the book itself. It gave great insight into the religious history of America. But my reason for writing this review has to do with Amazon's stellar shipping process.
I must give Amazon props for their packaging. I ordered books through my university's online bookstore and had them shipped to my home. When I received them, the packaging was torn and the books were worn on the sides that had been exposed to the elements due to faulty packaging. I was apprehensive about purchasing heavy textbooks from Amazon, but I was pleasantly surprised. The textbook was in great condition and packaged very well, in a box (instead of the horrible mailer bag that my university used). I will now be purchasing all of my textbooks from Amazon. Thank you so much for you exceptional service, as always.