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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


My Fundamentalist Education by Christine Rosen (PublicAffairs) A touching, funny memoir of growing up in St. Petersburg, Florida, in a household, school, and town of flourishing Biblical literalism

When Christine Rosen started kindergarten, her ABCs included the Apocalypse, the Bible, and Christ. At Keswick Christian School "the Bible was our textbook," God the guide, and after entering the school gates, nothing was ever quite the same again. Christine learned creation science, dreamed of becoming a missionary to exotic countries, worried about the souls of Jews and Mormons, and experienced unusual methods of sex education. With the threat of nuclear annihilation at the hands of atheistic Russians looming, she also frequently prayed for rapture. For this she thanks the fundamentalist school she attended from kindergarten until eighth grade, when her parents finally figured out "what we were learning about television, and movies, and, most important, about men and women." In many respects Keswick Christian School in the 1980s was like fabled Catholic schools of the 1950s: misbehaving students were paddled, girls forced to kneel on the floor to check skirt lengths, boys and girls required to keep a respectful six-inch distance from one another. But to Keswick students, Catholics and even some Protestants weren't true Christians, and it was incumbent upon the children to learn "strict morals and Bible belief" and then to "witness" to playmates and families. Alas, writes Rosen, "by the close of third grade, I found I'd not yet converted a single living soul." While young Christine was absorbing an ascetic worldview, her erratic mother was discoveringand unsuccessfully trying to interest her daughter inPentecostal fervor. At home, Florida life seemed happily to confirm several literal truths: the story of Moses, with its plagues that afflicted the Egyptians-from lice, to rivers of stinking dead fish, to hordes of frogs-might have been describing Christine's back yard.

Although today Rosen lives "an entirely secular life," her tone is affectionate rather than critical, and her subtle humor and ironically accurate descriptions will appeal to others with stringent religious backgrounds.

My Fundamentalist Education is a brilliant, affectionate, child's-eye journey to Rosen's home, school and small town. Set in a time and place when the Living Bible outsold The Joy of Sex, during a girlhood lived as the Lord intended, among the tropical flora and fauna of Florida, its televangelists, irascible elderly, and itinerant preachers, Christine Rosen and her sister, Cathy, uncover the not always godly but surely divine secrets of a Hallelujah-ya sisterhood.

REVIVE US AGAIN: The Reawakening of American Fundamentalism by Joel A. Carpenter ($30.00, hardcover, 335 pages, notes, index, Oxford University Press, ISBN: 0-19-505790-2)

By the end of the 1920s, Fundamentalism in America was intellectually bankrupt and publicly disgraced. Bitterly humiliated by the famous Scopes "monkey trial," this once respected movement retreated from the public forum and seemed doomed to extinction. Yet fundamentalism not only survived, but in the 1940s it reemerged as a thriving and influential public movement. And today it is impossible to read a newspaper or watch cable TV without seeing the presence of fundamentalism in American society. In REVIVE US AGAIN , Joel A. Carpenter illuminates this remarkable transformation, exploring the history of American fundamentalism from 1925 to 1950, the years when, to non-fundamentalists, the movement seemed invisible.

Skillfully blending painstaking research, telling anecdotes, and astute analysis, Carpenter—a scholar who has spent twenty years studying American evangelicalism—brings this era into focus for the first time. He reveals that, contrary to the popular opinion of the day, fundamentalism was alive and well in America in the late 1920s, and used its isolation over the next two decades to build new strength from within. The book describes how fundamentalists developed a pervasive network of organizations outside of the church setting and quietly strengthened the movement by creating their own schools and organizations, many of which are prominent today, including Fuller Theological Seminary and the publishing and radio enterprises of the Moody Bible Institute. Fundamentalists also used youth movements, missionary work and, perhaps most significantly, the burgeoning mass media industry to spread their message, especially through the powerful new medium of radio. Indeed, starting locally and moving to national television today. All this activity received no publicity outside of fundamentalist channels until Billy Graham burst on the scene in 1949. Carpenter vividly recounts how the charismatic preacher began packing stadiums with tens of thousands of listeners daily, drawing fundamentalism firmly back into the American consciousness after twenty years of public indifference.

Alongside this vibrant history, Carpenter also offers many insights into fundamentalism during this period, and he describes many of the heated internal debates over issues of scholarship, separatism, and the role of women in leadership. Perhaps most important, he shows that the movement has never been stagnant or purely reactionary. It is based on an evolving ideology subject to debate, and dissension a theology that adapts to changing times.

REVIVE US AGAIN is more than an enlightening history of fundamentalism. Through his reasoned, objective approach to a topic that is all too often reduced to caricature, Carpenter brings fresh insight into the continuing influence of the fundamentalist movement on modern America, and its role in shaping the popular evangelical movements of today.

JOEL A. CARPENTER is Provost of Calvin College, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has also been the Director of the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals at Wheaton College.

Five-Volume Series Benchmarks the Academic Study of Global Fundamentalism

Project, Vol 1) by Martin E. Marty (Editor), R. Scott Appleby (Editor) ($27.50, paperback, 872 pages, University of Chicago Press; ISBN: 0226508781) This acclaimed volume is an encyclopedic introduction to movements of religious reaction in the 20th century, The fourteen chapters are thematically linked by a common set of concerns. The most extensive and
detailed analysis of the global resurgence of religion, Fundamentalism Observed sheds new light on current religious movments and cultures from North America to the far East. The Fundamentalism Project is a monumental undertaking by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences that involves an international group of scholars. Taken together, the volumes in this series will become a standard reference for educators and policy analysts for years to come.

FUNDAMENTALISMS AND SOCIETY: Reclaiming the Sciences, the Family, and Education (Fundamentalism Project, Vol 2) by R. Scott Appleby (Editor), Martin E. Marty ($45.00, Hardcover, 592 pages, University of Chicago Press; ISBN: 0226508803) PAPERBACK

FUNDAMENTALISMS AND THE STATE: Remaking Polities, Economies, and Militance (Fundamentalism Project, Vol 3) by Martin E. Marty, R. Scott Appleby (Editor) ($49.50, hardcover, 665 pages, University of Chicago Press; ISBN: 0226508838) This third volume of the Fundamentalism Project provides a systematic
overview of the advances made by antisecular religious movements over the past twenty-five years. The distinguished contributors to this volume - economists, political scientists, religious historians, social anthropologists, and sociologists - focus on the impact these movements have had on national economies, political parties, constitutional issues, and international relations on five continents and within the religious
traditions of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism. Do fundamentalisms tend toward political activism, and how successful have they been in remaking political structures? To answer
this question and others, the contributors discuss the anti-abortion movement in the U.S., the Islamic war of resistance in Afghanistan, and Shiite jurisprudence in Iran. Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby conclude the volume with a synthetic statement of fundamentalist impact on polities, economies, and state security.

Character of Movements (The Fundamentalism Project,|br> Vol 4) by Martin E. Marty, R. Scott Appleby (Editor) ($47.50, hardcover,  852 pages, University of Chicago Press; ISBN: 0226508854) This fourth volume of the Fundamentalism Project provides a comprehensive analysis of the ideologies and behaviors of "fundamentalist" movements, both in their internal dynamics and in their attitudes toward the outside world. Surveying fundamentalist movements
in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Buddhism, the distinguished contributors to this volume describe the organization of these movements, their leadership and recruiting techniques, and the
ways in which their ideological programs and organizational structures shift over time in response to changing political and social environments.
Accounting for Fundamentalisms features treatments of fundamentalist movements that are in today's headlines, including the Islamic Group, members of which were charged with plotting to blow up the World
Trade Center; the World Hindu Party, members of which sparked riots in India by destroying an Islamic shrine; and the revitalized Christian Right in the United States. Why do certain fundamentalist movements act
aggressively toward outsiders, while others are integrationist or accommodationist, and still others passive or separatist? Drawing upon world-renowned experts in four major areas of the world with an
introduction by the editors and a framing conclusion, this book is the first concerted effort to understand the dynamics of fundamentalist movements around the world.

FUNDAMENTALISMS COMPREHENDED (The Fundamentalism Project, Vol 5) by Martin E. Marty (Contributor), R. Scott Appleby (Editor) ($45.00, hardcover, 522 pages, University of Chicago Press; ISBN: 0226508870) This concluding volume tests the project's initial premise: that fundamentalist movements share certain  general "family
resemblances" regardless of their underlying faith. Several essays reconsider the definition of fundamentalism as a reactive, absolutist, and
comprehensive mode of anti-secular religious activism; some challenge the idea that fundamentalism is a distinctively modern phenomenon; and others question whether the term "fundamentalist" can be applied to
movements outside Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. A final essay delineates the distinct patterns of fundamentalist behavior toward outsiders and provides a framework for understanding and comparing
fundamentalist movements around the world. This large body of inquiry offers a field's defining moment and much in these studies will become the foundation of common knowledge about fundamentalisms while also providing a sure future for disputes and new formulations.

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