A justification as to why a leave is essential to complete the proposed project

I am completing an application for a university funded one-semester research leave at full pay to work on a book related to my ongoing research with Katie Day on church security (generously funded by the Louisville Institute).

As much as I enjoy teaching, I am grateful for the opportunity to take a leave from teaching periodically in order to focus my complete attention on research and writing. At the same time, our teaching responsibilities at Wake Forest are 9 courses every 4 semesters with no graduate student advising on top of that. Which leaves plenty of time for research and writing under normal circumstances.

Because of this reality, as I was working on my leave application this past Saturday, one of the pieces of information requested rubbed me the wrong way. Although I subsequently re-wrote my response to remove the snark, below is what I originally wrote.

(4) A justification as to why a leave is essential to complete the proposed project, included justification for the timing of the leave relative to the proposed project.

Of the 27 semesters I have completed at Wake Forest, I have had 2 semesters of research leave. During that time I have published two books, completed two revisions of my sociology of religion textbook, edited a major handbook in the sociology of religion, served 7 years as editor and associate editor of leading journals in my field, published 15 articles and book chapters, and written countless reviews and other occasional pieces.

Clearly, a leave is not “essential” to completing this project or any productive faculty members’ projects. I will complete the project with or without the support of a research leave. However, there is no question that without the gift of time and space a research leave provides it will take longer to complete, create more opportunity costs in terms of other work I can do as a teacher-scholar, and (perhaps most significantly) extract a greater toll on my personal health and relationships.

Handbook of Religion and Society

As my last big project in the sociology of religion I edited a Handbook of Religion and Society for the Dutch publishing giant Springer. The book was published in 2016, but I just received a book performance report from the publisher which prompted me to mention it today.

The handbook includes 26 chapters by a distinguished, diverse, and international collection of experts, plus one chapter (on “Sport”) and an “Introduction” by me.

The contributors really did a great job of surveying the work in their respective areas and suggesting avenues for future research. It’s a great starting point for anyone who wants to get up to speed quickly on the social scientific (especially sociological) study of religion.

But don’t just take my word for it. According to the review in CHOICE:

“Editor Yamane has assembled the contributions of 26 authors who assess the state of current theory and research and expand the scope of the analysis of religion and society to include discussions of racial, ethnic, gender, and class diversity in a global context. … An indispensable resource for undergraduates and advanced scholars who seek short, cogent essays that will introduce them to the subspecialties of the sociology of religion. Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries.” (J. H. Rubin, Choice, Vol. 54 (5), January, 2017)

Of course, the financial model for this kind of book is to make money primarily from libraries through purchases and subscriptions. But according to the book’s website, the individual chapters have been downloaded quite a bit also.

Now that the book has been out for a while, the option to purchase a paperback copy somewhat more affordably (relatively speaking) through Springer or Amazon or Barnes & Noble exists. Of course, $100 for a book is not cheap, but having seen the effort that went into producing the chapters and the quality of the results, I would say it is worth it for someone actively involved in the field.

“The Sociology of U.S. Gun Culture” Article Published and Available Free Online

In case you missed the announcement on my Gun Culture 2.0 blog, I am very happy to report that my second academic article on gun culture was published recently in the journal Sociology Compass (my first was on religion and gun ownership).

Thanks to a generous grant from Wake Forest University’s ZSR Library and the Office of Research & Sponsored Programs, “The Sociology of U.S. Gun Culture” is available as a free download from the journal’s website.

In the paper I argue that social scientists have been so concerned with the criminology and epidemiology of guns that there is no sociology of guns, per se. To help develop a sociology of guns that is centered on the legal use of guns by lawful gun owners, I give a brief historical overview of gun culture in the United States, review the small research literature on recreational gun use, highlight the rise of Gun Culture 2.0, and offer some thoughts on directions for future research.

Trying to Put My Writing on a Diet

Like many academics, I write alot. Books, book chapters, articles, book reviews, lectures and lesson plans, manuscript reviews, letters of recommendation, my blogs (this one less than my Gun Culture 2.0 blog), emails, and more.

Like some academics, I enjoy writing. Although I enjoy writing, it is hard. Or perhaps, I enjoy writing because it is hard. The most rewarding things in life aren’t easy.

As legendary writing teacher William Zinsser puts it, “A clear sentence is no accident. Very few sentences come out right the first time, or even the third time. Remember this in moments of despair. If you find that writing is hard, it’s because it is hard.”

Unlike most academics, I sometimes actually think of myself as a writer. That is, I try to think of myself not as someone who is just reporting research findings, but someone who is trying to present ideas in an clear, interesting, and compelling way.

To that end, I try to read and think about not just the substance of what I am saying but the writing itself. Zinsser’s On Writing Well  is a book I return to often.

Among his advice is to write what you think you want to say, then cut it in half (or something like that). There are so many wasted words in writing, some due to poor mechanics, some due to poor thinking.

Here’s an example I came across recently in my work on concealed carry laws:

BEFORE: What permits are called can sometimes be meaningful.

AFTER: Permit names are sometimes meaningful.

In this case, I am clear about what I want to say but I just say it poorly. Poor mechanics. My work is replete with such problems.

My writing accountability partner recently recommended Helen Sword’s Stylish Academic Writing  to me.

In the “Things to Try” section of her chapter on “Smart Sentencing,” Sword recommends a free diagnostic tool available on a web site she has created called The Writer’s Diet. You cut and paste a section of your writing into the tool and it tells you how “flabby or fit” your writing is.

I put some of the sections of the introduction to my book on Gun Culture 2.0 through the test and here is what I found.

The catchy story that begins the chapter: FIT AND TRIM!!!!

 

The analytical framework, mid-section of the chapter: NEEDS TONING!

 

The descriptive final section of the chapter: FIT AND TRIM!!!!! But needs some work with the prepositions.

This is not to say that I am a good writer, but it is a reflection of the fact that I take writing seriously and try to put in the work to make my writing better. It is an ongoing process.

Religion and Guns Research Digested in Academic Minute

For those of you who would rather listen to me explain my recent article on religion and guns in America than read it, you can do so thanks to WAMC Public Radio’s Academic Minute program, which is also available on the Inside Higher Education website.

academic-minute

Or if you are a real glutton for statistical punishment, go ahead and read the full paper (yamane-2017-journal_for_the_scientific_study_of_religion).

My Blogging Year in Review for 2015

Because most of my blogging these days is at my Gun Culture 2.0 blog, this personal blog gets relatively neglected. So I was surprised that I still had nearly 6,000 visitors to the site in 2015.

2015 Year in Review

On the Ideal of Ethical Neutrality in Research on America’s Culture Wars

I am not sure what it says about me, but in my career as a sociologist, I have been drawn to some of the more controversial issues of my time. What James Davison Hunter way back in 1991 called “culture wars.” Culture wars, according to Hunter, are “struggles to define America,” and have been fought in recent years over the family, education, media and the arts, law, and politics.

Hunter Culture WarsMy earliest work looked at one aspect of the culture wars over education: the struggle to incorporate multiculturalism into the curriculum. I then examined the intersection of religion and politics – two topics to be avoided in polite conversation and potentially explosive when considered together. And now I am studying one of the most controversial and divisive issues of all: guns.

Because my topics are part of ongoing culture wars in America, it is common for people to want to situate me on one side of the battle or the other. From multiculturalism, to religion and politics, to guns, I find myself repeatedly coming back to the question of objectivity in research.

I recognize that there is no perfect standpoint of objectivity (“Punctum Archimedis”). As philosopher Leszek Kolakowski once observed, “there is no well so deep that leaning over it one does not discover at bottom one’s own face.” But this does not mean that everything is completely relative and the quest of objectivity should be abandoned.

In the appendix to my first book, I wrote at some length about the ideal of ethical neutrality in research. Re-reading that appendix, I realized that I could with some minor editing, say the same thing about my research on guns as I did about my research on multiculturalism. So what follows is my adaptation of the words I originally wrote back in the late 1990s.

Student Movements for MulticulturalismThe battle over guns in American society is a culture war. The two sides in this battle not only have different positions on guns, they have different views of what American is fundamentally. Much of the discourse over guns, therefore, is shaped by the ideological positions people bring to the debate. Given this reality, in my study of Gun Culture 2.0, am I not simply substituting one ideologically-based analysis for another?

This is a very significant question, and one which I need to address immediately and directly. There is absolutely a difference between my social scientific analysis of Gun Culture 2.0 and the advocacy research of groups like the Violence Policy Center, the applied research of public health scholars like Arthur Kellerman, the journalistic muckraking of Dana Loesch or Tom Diaz, and the like.

The difference is in my aspiration to and the methodical pursuit of “value freedom” or “ethical neutrality” in scholarship. Of course, a full consideration of the question of whether social science is, can be, or should be “value free” is beyond the scope of this work. Whether dealing with important issues of epistemology or ontology, the philosophy of science or sociology of knowledge, such a treatment would fill a volume in itself. I can only briefly offer my own position on the question, one I derive from my engagement with the great German social scientist, Max Weber, and his famous essay on “value freedom” (Wertfreiheit, sometimes rendered as “ethical neutrality”) in the social sciences. [Source: Weber, “The Meaning of ‘Ethical Neutrality’ in Sociology and Economics” (1917), pp. 1-47 in Max Weber, The Methodology of the Social Sciences, Edward Shils and Henry Finch, eds. (New York: Free Press, 1949.]

Weber Methodology Book CoverAlthough Weber’s specific concern was with the “sciences of culture” (Kulturwissenschaften), his principles seem to me applicable to all the social sciences which aspire to be empirical sciences of concrete reality, or what Weber called “sciences of actuality” (Wirklichkeitswissenschaften). [Source: Weber, “‘Objectivity’ in Social Science and Social Policy” (1904), in The Methodology of the Social Sciences, p. 72.]

Weber argues for a particular relationship between “facts” on the one hand and “values” on the other. He holds that although “the problems of the social sciences are selected by the value-relevance of the phenomena treated,” these problems “are, of course, to be solved ‘non-evaluatively.’” Social scientists, therefore, should heed “the intrinsically simple demand that the investigator and teacher should keep unconditionally separate the establishment of empirical facts . . . and his own practical evaluations, i.e., his evaluation of these facts as satisfactory or unsatisfactory. . . . These two things are logically different and to deal with them as though they were the same represents a confusion of entirely heterogeneous problems.” [Source: Weber, “The Meaning of ‘Ethical Neutrality,’” pp. 21, 11.]

Thus, while the values and interests social scientists hold necessarily affect the questions we pose, the phenomena we choose to study, and our modes of investigation, these values and interests should not affect our application of widely-accepted protocols for the collection, analysis, and presentation of evidence.

To be sure, these protocols and their enforcement through peer review of work prior to publication are imperfect. Ideologies, we know from Marx, Freud, and other “hermeneuticists of suspicion,” often operate unconsciously or subconsciously, and so the ability of methodology to bracket motivations may be limited. [See: Irving Louis Horowitz, “Social Science Objectivity and Value Neutrality: Historical Problems and Projections,” in Professing Sociology: Studies in the Life Cycle of Social Science (Chicago: Aldine Publishing, 1968), p. 40.]

Hence, ethical neutrality is an ideal we pursue; even Weber himself was not able to attain it. That we pursue neutrality nevertheless is, in my view, a characteristic which most distinguishes social scientific research from journalistic speculation and advocacy. The Violence Policy Center’s “research” on concealed carry killers, for example, would never see the light of day in a peer-reviewed academic journal.

This is not to say that social scientists should never make normative claims, be involved in the public sphere, or seek to influence public policy. Social science, as my teacher at UC-Berkeley Robert Bellah often said, can be a form of “moral inquiry” and “public philosophy.” [See especially the position outlined in the Appendix to Robert Bellah, Richard Madsen, William Sullivan, Ann Swidler, and Steven Tipton, Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), a book which itself exemplifies social science as public philosophy.]

But, Weber implores us, in moving from “judgments of fact” to “judgments of value” we must try to be “absolutely explicit” about our movements and intentions (as Bellah is in his work). [Source: Weber, “The Meaning of ‘Ethical Neutrality,’” p. 10.]

Reinhard Bendix (1916-1991)

Reinhard Bendix (1916-1991)

Another UC-Berkeley sociology professor, Reinhard Bendix, provides a useful summary of the position I am outlining when he writes, “Social research is characterized by an interplay between identification and detachment, of subjectivity and objectivity.” [Force, Fate, and Freedom: On Historical Sociology (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), p. 28.]

In my case, my identification with the issue of guns came not until my 43rd year of life, when a combination of circumstances led me to learn to shoot a handgun under the guidance of my future wife and a trainer for the state police. From there I had the opportunity to do more fun shooting: plinking with .22 handguns, trap and sporting clays with shotguns, and destroying plastic bottles with a .50 cal rifle. I also came to identify with armed self-defense after a very dangerous encounter with a drug addict and criminal in the parking lot of my apartment complex.

Thus, before I even began studying Gun Culture 2.0, I had already formulated certain answers to questions such as, “What are guns for?” and “Why do people need X/Y/Z gun?” and “Why carry a gun?” I necessarily approach empirical questions about guns with these pre-scientific intuitions and ideas in mind. It is this “value-relevance” which shapes my choice of phenomena to study. But in seeking to understand Gun Culture 2.0, I turn not to speculation or advocacy but to my disciplinary training as a professional sociologist which stresses the aspiration to detachment and objectivity in the analysis of empirical data.

I believed when I began this work a couple of years ago, and I continue to believe, that my distinctive contribution to the question of guns in American society is to examine the issue empirically using established methods of social scientific inquiry. My aspiration in this work was best summarized for me by the late Reinhard Bendix, a Weberian sociologist who I had the good fortune to meet at Berkeley not long before his death in 1991. Bendix referred me to a quote from the philosopher Baruch Spinoza which I will always remember as embodying the social scientific ideal to which I still aspire: “I have sedulously endeavored not to laugh at human actions, not to lament them, nor to detest them, but to understand them” (Tractatus Politicus, i, 4).

Robert N. Bellah (1927-2013)

This is not an obituary or remembrance of Robert Bellah. I don’t have the emotional energy to spare for that, even though it has been over a year since he passed. There are many such tributes, though, some collected on the website maintained in his name.

This is simply the text of an entry I wrote on Bellah in 1997 for the Encyclopedia of Religion and Society, which I recently found posted online at the website of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research. It says alot about what an amazing thinker he was, and what an inheritance (and challenge) he left behind.

Copyright (c) 2008 by Andreas and Philip Guther. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Copyright (c) 2008 by Andreas and Philip Guther. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bellah, Robert N.

(1927-) Elliott Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has been on the faculty since 1967, chairing the Center for Japanese and Korean Studies from 1968 to 1974 and the Department of Sociology from 1979 to 1985.

One of the most distinguished sociologists of the post-World War II era, a “public intellectual” seeking to address a wide audience, Bellah is conversant with sociologists, anthropologists, and political scientists as well as ethicists and philosophers, theologians, and the general public. (Significantly, although he is widely known, Bellah has not held a major office in any professional association.) At Harvard, where he earned a joint Ph.D. in sociology and Far Eastern languages in 1955, Bellah was a student of Talcott Parsons. Although Parsons’s influence on Bellah’s thinking is evident, during his career Bellah has worked within several theoretical traditions.

Although his later work increasingly manifests a Weberian ambivalence toward rationalization, his early work exemplifies the “modernization theory” of the 1950s and is clearly and self-consciously structural-functionalist. A Durkheimian concern for shared symbols and the obligations they articulate runs through many of his writings. Bellah’s more recent work also has been informed by the critical functionalism of Habermas, especially the idea that economic and political “systems”—wherein the primary media of communication are money and power, respectively— invade and “colonize” the “life-world”—in which the medium of communication is linguistic and ideally oriented toward mutual understanding.

Religious Evolution

Bellah’s dissertation, published as Tokugawa Religion: The Cultural Roots of Modern Japan (Free Press 1957, second edition 1985), provides a Weber-like analysis of Japanese development, explaining the role of premodern cultural values in modernization. Against a Parsonian theoretical background, Bellah identifies the indigenous equivalent of the Protestant ethic in the motivational ethic of inner-worldly asceticism fostered by certain religious movements in the Tokugawa period (1542-1868). This early work and Bellah’s later contributions to the study of religion can be characterized as variations on a theme most clearly articulated in his essay “Religious Evolution” (1964), which he developed in a course on social evolution cotaught with Parsons and S. N. Eisenstadt at Harvard.

Bellah begins by defining religion as “a set of symbolic forms and acts that relate man to the ultimate conditions of his existence.” He argues that beginning with the single cosmos of the undifferentiated primitive religious worldview in which life is a “one possibility thing,” evolution in the religious sphere is toward the increasing differentiation and complexity of symbol systems. His evolutionary religious taxonomy specifies five stages: primitive (e.g., Australian Aborigines), archaic (e.g., Native American), historic (e.g., ancient Judaism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Islam, early Palestinian Christianity), early modern (e.g., Protestant Christianity), and modern (religious individualism). In the modern stage of religious evolution, the hierarchic dualistic religious symbol system that emerged in the historic epoch is collapsed and the symbol system that results is “infinitely multiplex.” In this posttraditional situation, the individual confronts life as an “infinite possibility thing,” and is “capable, within limits, of continual self-transformation and capable, again within limits, of remaking the world, including the very symbolic forms with which he deals with it, even the forms that state the unalterable conditions of his own existence.”

This argument foresaw the reflexive individualism that characterizes both the intellectual culture of post-modernism and the “new religious consciousness” of the 1960s and 1970s. With Charles Glock, Bellah undertook a project in the early 1970s to investigate the latter, the results of which were published as The New Religious Consciousness (University of California Press 1976). In his concluding remarks, Bellah foreshadows the argument of Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life —written with Richard Madsen, William M. Sullivan, Ann Swidler, and Steven M. Tipton (University of California Press 1985 [second edition 1995], hereafter Habits )—in arguing that the deepest cause of the 1960s counterculture was “the inability of utilitarian individualism to provide a meaningful pattern of personal and social existence.” The crisis of the 1960s therefore was “above all a religious crisis.” As a response to the sterility of the utilitarian worldview, the counterculture turned to the American tradition of expressive individualism in the form of a spirituality grounded in the primacy of individual experience and the belief in nonduality, exemplified by the appropriation of Zen Buddhist practices. Again foreshadowing the argument in Habits , Bellah highlights the danger that expressive individualism may come to articulate with utilitarian individualism, to which it was originally a response. When expressive individualist-inspired religious symbols and practices “become mere techniques for ‘self-realization,’ then once again we see utilitarian individualism reborn from its own ashes.”

Thus, by the 1970s, Bellah’s positive embrace of the “wide-open chaos of the post-Protestant, postmodern era” in Beyond Belief: Essays on Religion in a Post-Traditional World (Harper 1970) had grown more cautious as the full consequences of the “modern” religious epoch became more evident. By the 1980s, the relationship is clearly strained. Understanding that the treatment of religion in Habits is an elaboration of the fifth “modern” stage of religious evolution makes clear that the “infinite possibility thing” he lauds in “Religious Evolution” has become the hyperprivatized “Sheilaism” (“my own religion”) he laments in Habits . Particularly troubling about the personalized and privatized modern religion examined in Habits is that it is underwritten by what Alasdair MacIntyre in After Virtue (1981) calls an “emotivist” view of ethics that reduces the foundation of moral claims to the subjective feelings of individuals and renders the development of common moral understandings difficult if not impossible.

Civil Religion

Bellah’s strong position that “any coherent and viable society rests on a common set of moral understandings” is a Durkheimian thread that runs throughout his work and draws attention back to his work in the 1960s. While his guiding theoretical framework is encapsulated in the “Religious Evolution” paper, Bellah is best known for his landmark “Civil Religion in America” (1967), an essay that, according to Bellah, he has “never been allowed to forget” and that “in important respects changed” his life. Alongside church religion and distinct from it, Bellah argued, is an elaborate and well-organized civil religion . It is actually a religious “dimension” of society, characteristic of the American republic since its founding. It is not Judeo-Christianity but grows out of the American historical experience, which is heavily influenced by Protestantism. Civil religion is “an understanding of the American experience in the light of ultimate and universal reality” and can be found in presidential inaugural addresses from Washington to Kennedy, sacred texts (the Declaration of Independence) and places (Gettysburg), and community rituals (Memorial Day parades). It is especially evident in times of trial for the nation such as the Revolution and Civil War.

In Varieties of Civil Religion (coedited with Phillip Hammond, Harper 1980), Bellah ties this argument to the religious evolution framework, arguing that every society has a “religio-political” problem, and that in premodern phases the solution consists either in a fusion of the two realms (archaic) or in a differentiation but not separation (historic and early modern). Civil religion proper comes into existence only in modern society, where church and state are separated as well as differentiated. A civil religion that is differentiated from both church and state is possible only in a modern society.

Although Bellah concludes his 1967 essay by declaring American civil religion to be “still very much alive,” he also warns that the nation is facing a third time of trial centered on “the problem of responsible action in a revolutionary world.” Decrying U.S. involvement in Vietnam, Bellah claimed America to be “at the edge of a chasm the depth of which no man knows.” Just as his hope in “Religious Evolution” became more cautious in Habits , so too does his concern at the conclusion of “Civil Religion” turn somewhat despairing in his American Sociological Association Sorokin Award-winning book, The Broken Covenant: American Civil Religion in Time of Trial (Seabury 1975 [second edition, University of Chicago Press 1992]) in which he famously declares American civil religion to be “an empty and broken shell.” Written at the time of Watergate and the continuation of the Vietnam War, there was little to temper Bellah’s pessimism in the mid-1970s. By the 1980s, however, some hope began to emerge once again.

Although he never uses the term civil religion in Habits , the “biblical and republican traditions” championed in Habits are a new and more dynamic conceptual response to the same substantive issues. A public focus on commitment to the common good as opposed to the excesses of utilitarian and expressive individualism is possible, for Bellah, if the once-dominant cultural language of the biblical and republican traditions—relegated in contemporary America to the status of “second languages”—are reappropriated by citizens actively pursuing the good society in common. The obstacles to forging a national community based on common moral understandings are considerable—they are institutional as well as cultural, as Bellah states in The Good Society (Knopf 1991)—but as any Durkheimian would argue, surmounting them is essential.

Symbolic Realism

As should be evident, Bellah has always been a cultural sociologist, taking seriously the causal efficacy of values, the centrality of meaning, and the sui generis reality of symbols. His famous definition of religion in “Religious Evolution” is unmistakably cultural. This perspective on religion is also evident in his major methodological statement on behalf of a nonreductionist perspective in the social scientific study of religion, the perspective of “symbolic realism.”

In the essay “Between Religion and Social Science,” Bellah criticizes the “Enlightenment myth of secularization . . . the view that there is only a mechanical relation between science and religion, namely, the more of one the less of the other.” He argues that the theories of Marx, Freud, Durkheim, and Weber contribute to this myth because of their reductionist view of religion. Even when they correctly see the symbolic (nonrational, noncognitive) dimensions of human life and hence religion (Freud’s unconscious, Durkheim’s collective effervescence, and Weber’s charisma), they end up explaining religious symbols away as expressing some other more fundamental “reality.” Bellah, in contrast, advocates a position he calls symbolic realism in which religious symbols are seen to express a nonreducible reality, a reality sui generis. While not denying that rationalistic and reductionistic approaches have something to tell us about religion, he refuses to allow them to be the only voices.

Social Science as Moral Inquiry

That the social sciences regardless of their empirical focus must have a moral voice is a point Bellah has made in various essays, but nowhere more clearly than in the Appendix to Habits , “Social Science as Public Philosophy.” Against those who would place social science firmly on the former side of the allegedly unbridgeable divide between “is” and “ought,” Bellah argues for a reappropriation of the larger, synoptic view of a social science that is at once philosophical, historical, and sociological. Such an approach would embrace the ethical aims of social inquiry: holding a mirror up to society, being a form of social self-understanding, discerning the good society from actually existing societies, or, as any good Durkheimian would say, distilling the ideal from the real. A social science that ignores its ethical meaning not only fails to live up to its highest calling but also can more easily be put in service of manipulative ends by those with political and economic power. For Bellah, then, the social sciences must always be moral sciences.

In conclusion, it must be said that the meaning of Robert Bellah’s work cannot be fully understood without recognizing that he is a man of faith (see 1991). At Harvard, he came under the influence of the Lutheran theologian Paul Tillich during the period when Bellah was “reappropriating” his Presbyterian religious upbringing on his own terms. Indeed, there are as many references to Tillich in Beyond Belief as to Durkheim and Parsons. The question Tillich posed in The Theology of Culture (1959) is the one with which Bellah seems to be wrestling: “How can the radicalism of prophetic criticism which is implied in the principles of genuine Protestantism be united with the classical tradition of dogma, sacred law, sacraments, hierarchy, cult, as preserved in the Catholic churches?” As Bellah himself has said, “Discipleship and citizenship and the relation between them have been my enduring preoccupations.”

David Yamane

References

R. Bellah, “Religious Evolution,” American Sociological Review 29(1964):358-374

R. Bellah, “Civil Religion in America,” Daedalus 96(1967):1-21

R. Bellah, “Between Religion and Social Science,” in Beyond Belief (New York: Harper, 1970): 237-259

R. Bellah, “Comment,” Sociological Analysis 50(1989):147

R. Bellah, “Finding the Church,” in How My Mind Has Changed , ed. J. Wall and D. Heim (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1991): 113-122

A. MacIntyre, After Virtue (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1981)

P. Tillich, The Theology of Culture (London: Oxford University Press, 1959)

Three Blog Posts on Initiation in the Contemporary Catholic Church

Oxford University Press was good enough to allow me to write three blog posts this Easter weekend with my thoughts on initiation in the contemporary Catholic Church. Here are links to the three posts:

  1. Initiation into America’s Original Megachurch (18 April 2014)
  2. Reinventing Rites of Passage in Contemporary America (19 April 2014)
  3. Easter Rites of Initiation Bring Good News for American Catholics (20 April 2014)

The posts build on my recently published study of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, and hopefully build some interest in it.

You can order it from Barnes & Noble at a 20% discount, and also get it as a Nook book or for the Amazon Kindle (Amazon.com was recently sold out of the book, but hopefully it will come back in stock there, too.)

Becoming Catholic Cover