Arthur E Farnsley II
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About Arthur E Farnsley II
Art Farnsley is a researcher, writer, and teacher. He is Research Professor of Religious Studies at IUPUI, Research Director of the Religion and Urban Culture 2.0 Project and data evangelist for the ARDA. From 2007-2016 he was Executive Officer of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.
Art writes about religion's relationship to American culture, especially American politics, but he steers clear of the usual angles. For instance, his first book, Southern Baptist Politics, examined the influence of American political culture on that denomination's internal affairs, not vice-versa.
Art shoots flintlock rifles (poorly) and throws knife and tomahawk (very well). He is now the 30-time knife and tomahawk champion of the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association.
Art's been lucky enough to visit 25 countries. He's seen 1-horned rhinos from the back of an elephant in West Bengal, gone around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at 180mph, hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon (and back), trekked on a glacier in Alaska and dove the reefs in Belize. He was at Live Aid at Wembley in 1985 (and yes, he has the tickets) and saw Tiger Woods at St Andrews winning part of the Tiger Slam in 2000.
Art lives in Indianapolis with his wife Gail. His elder daughter is a ballet dancer living in London and his younger daughter works in the nutraceutical industry in Vilnius, Lithuania.
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"Flea Market Jesus" provides an up-close look at the rugged individualism of those trying hardest to separate themselves from institutions: flea market dealers. Having spent most of his life studying American religious organizations, Art Farnsley turns his attention to America’s most solitary, and alienated, entrepreneurs.
Farnsley describes an entire subculture of white Midwesterners—working class, middle class, and poor—gathered together in a uniquely American celebration of guns and frontier life. In this mix, the character “Cochise” voices the frustrations of flea market dealers toward business, politics, and, especially, religion.
Part ethnography, part autobiography, "Flea Market Jesus" is a story about alienation, biblical literalism, libertarianism, and deep-seated religious belief. It is not about the Tea Party, the Occupy movement, or the Christian Right, but it shines a light on all of these by highlighting the potent combination of mistrust, resentment, and personal liberty too often kept in the shadows of public discourse among educated elites.
“Drawing on extensive participation in flea markets and systematic interviews with the people who sell their wares there, Arthur Farnsley has written a vivid and sympathetic portrayal of flea market dealers and the world they inhabit. But this book is about more than flea markets. Part memoir and part cultural analysis, 'Flea Market Jesus' compellingly connects dealers’ economic precariousness, religious beliefs, and alienation to broader currents in American politics and religion.”
—Mark Chaves, Duke University
“Had anyone else told me he was going to write an account of American individualism as it is concocted, practiced, and sometimes sold in a Midwest flea market that hosts buckskin-clad muzzle-gun shooters and tomahawk throwing on the side, I would have patted them on the back and beat a quick retreat. But not Art Farnsley. This has long been a part of his world. And the result is one of the most personally engaging and intellectually compelling accounts of individualism since Thoreau. Farnsley dips into his own marginality to play interlocutor to the conflicts between anti-individualistic institutionalism and anti-conformist individuality. After being introduced to a beguiling range of his lifelong flea market friends and their composite, Cochise, the book slips up on you like a few cold beers on a hot summer afternoon.”
—Jay Demerath, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Arthur E. Farnsley II is Research Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis. He is the author of "Southern Baptist Politics" (1994); "Rising Expectations: Urban Congregations, Welfare Reform and Civic Life" (2003); and "Sacred Circles, Public Squares: The Multicentering of an American City" (2004). His stories have appeared on the cover of 'Christianity Today' and 'The Christian Century'. He is also twenty-two-time knife and tomahawk champion of the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association.
The Bible in American Life is a sustained, collaborative reflection on the ways Americans use the Bible in their personal lives. It also considers how other influences, including religious communities and the Internet, shape individuals' comprehension of scripture. Employing both quantitative methods (the General Social Survey and the National Congregations Study) and qualitative research (historical studies for context), The Bible in American Life provides an unprecedented perspective on the Bible's role outside of worship, in the lived religion of a broad cross-section of Americans both now and in the past.
The Bible has been central to Christian practice, and has functioned as a cultural touchstone
From the broadest scale imaginable, national survey data about all Americans, down to the smallest details, such as the portrayal of Noah and his ark in children's Bibles, this book offers insight and illumination from scholars across the intellectual spectrum. It will be useful and informative for scholars seeking to understand changes in American Christianity as well as clergy seeking more effective ways to preach and teach about scripture in a changing environment.