United States is the most religiously diverse nation in the world,"
Harvard professor and leading religious scholar, Diana Eck, writes
in this eye-opening guide to the religious realities of America
today. The Immigration Act of 1965 eliminated the quotas linking
immigration to national origins. Since then, Muslims, Buddhists,
Hindus, Sikhs, Jams, Zoroastrians, and new varieties of Jews and
Catholics have arrived from every part of the globe, radically altering
the religious landscape of the United States. Members of the world's
religions live not just on the other side of the world but in our
neighborhoods; Hindu children go to school with Jewish children;
Muslims, Buddhists, and Sikhs work side-by-side with Protestants
new religious diversity is now a Main Street phenomenon, yet many
Americans remain unaware of the profound change taking place at
every level of our society, from local school boards to Congress,
and in small-town Nebraska as well as New York City. Islamic centers
and mosques, Hindu and Buddhist temples, and meditation centers
can be found in virtually every major American metropolitan area.
There are Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists in Salt Lake City, Utah;
Toledo, Ohio; and Jackson, Mississippi. Buddhism has become an American
religion, as communities widely separated in Asia are now neighbors
in Los Angeles, Seattle, and Chicago. Eck discovers Muslims worshiping
in a U-Haul dealership in Pawtucket, Rhode Island; a gymnasium in
Oklahoma City; and a former mattress showroom in Northridge, California.
Hindu temples are housed in a warehouse in Queens, a former YMCA
in New Jersey, and a former Methodist church in Minneapolis.
Americans of all faiths and beliefs can engage with one another
to shape a positive pluralism is one of the essential questions
perhaps the most important facing American society. While race has
been the dominant American social issue in the past century, religious
diversity in our civil and neighborly lives is emerging, mostly
unseen, as the great challenge of the twenty-first century. Diana
Eck brilliantly analyzes these developments in the richest and most
readable investigation of American society since Robert Bellah's
classic, The Habits of the Heart. What Eck gives us in A New
Religious America is a portrait of the diversity of religion
in modern America, complete with engaging characters, fascinating
stories, the tragedy of misunderstanding and hatred, and the hope
of new friendships, offering a road map to guide us all in the richly
diverse America of the twenty-first century.
professor of comparative religion at Harvard University, delivers
a stunning tour de force that may forever change the way Americans
claim to be "one nation, under God." Drawing on her work with the
Pluralism Project, an ongoing study of religious diversity in the
United States, Eck focuses here on the explosion of Muslim, Hindu
and Buddhist communities in America, particularly since 1965. How
has the growth of these religions changed the American landscape?
And just as important, how are the religions themselves changing
because of America? Eck's travels take her (and us) to major cities,
but also to places such as Greenville, S.C.; Portland, Maine; and
Toledo, Ohio. Eck is a highly skilled ethnographer who delicately
balances the challenge of interpreting events while also participating
in them. The success of this portrait lies in the details: in the
Nikes and Reeboks that adorn the shoe racks in Sikh gurdwaras, Islamic
mosques and Hindu temples; in the Muslim Girl Scout who promises
to "serve Allah and my country"; in the consecration rituals at
a Massachusetts Hindu temple, where the waters of India's sacred
Ganges River are mixed with the Mississippi and poured freely over
the building. Eck does far more than simply document the presence
of religious diversity in America; she places it in historical context
and illustrates the ongoing challenges it presents by describing
legal battles and pivotal court cases. The last chapters address
the rise of religiously motivated hate crimes and, conversely, the
innovative ways some communities have welcomed religious pluralism.
This is not just a book; it is a celebration.
excellent overview of America’s exploding religious diversity doubles
as an impassioned call to action.
intelligent introduction to religious life outside American churches
cannot be a wiser or more authoritative guide . . . rich, exciting,
Armstrong, author of A History of God
is a book I recommend to everyone I see.
Moyers, author and PBS television series creator
L. Eck is Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian
Studies at Harvard University and is Master of Lowell House and
Director of The Pluralism Project. As a Christian, she has also
been involved in the United Methodist Church, the World Council
of Churches, and the life of Harvard Divinity School. Her book Encountering
God: A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banaras won the
prestigious Grawemeyer Book Award. In 1998, President Clinton awarded
her the National Humanities Medal for the work of The Pluralism
Project in the investigation of America's religious diversity.
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