1,392 episodes

Interviews with Scholars of Religion about their New Books
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    • Religion & Spirituality

Interviews with Scholars of Religion about their New Books
Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

    Yakir Englander, "The Male Body in Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Theology" (Pickwick Publications, 2021)

    Yakir Englander, "The Male Body in Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Theology" (Pickwick Publications, 2021)

    How does Ultra-Orthodox Jewish literature describe the male body? What does the body represent? What is the ideal male body? In The Male Body in Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Theology, published in 2021 by Pickwick Publications, Yakir Englander presents a philosophical-theological exploration of the different images of the male body in Ultra-Orthodox literature since the holocaust. The body is not incidental to this community but is the axis by which it tries to understand its meaning and its role in life.
    In the first part of the book, Englander explains the “problem of the body” and the different ways that Ultra-Orthodox theology deals with it. These different and even contradictory voices can teach the reader about the shifting of ideas inside Ultra-Orthodox thought in the last decades. The second part of the book focuses on the image of the ideal body and describes how the rabbis train their bodies to reach ultimate form.
    Yakir Englander is a scholar and an activist who teaches at the Academy for Jewish Religion and is also a host on the New Books Network.
    Schneur Zalman Newfield is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York, and the author of Degrees of Separation: Identity Formation While Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Judaism (Temple University Press, 2020). 
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    • 59 min
    Jake Johnson, "Lying in the Middle: Musical Theater and Belief at the Heart of America" (U Illinois Press, 2021)

    Jake Johnson, "Lying in the Middle: Musical Theater and Belief at the Heart of America" (U Illinois Press, 2021)

    Jake Johnson, author of Lying in the Middle: Musical Theater and Belief at the Heart of America (University of Illinois Press, 2021) takes as his subject the artifice of musicals—no one really bursts into song and dance to liven up a simple conversation and even the historical characters are not true-to-life. He argues that it is the very unreality of musicals that makes them powerful sites of belief—whether it is a reflection of the beliefs of the creators of the work, or what audiences want to believe about themselves. He focuses on how musicals serve large and small communities across America and shape local religious, political, cultural, and familial identities. Rather than using examples from the commercial Broadway theater, however, Johnson brings to life more idiosyncratic productions from the middle of America from the “Senior Follies,” a Ziegfeld-follies like production staffed by older performers to a re-imagining of The Sound of Music written for a polygamous community called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the current political climate where consumers are fixated on the urban/rural divide and differences in the “flyover” states from the coasts, it seems especially important to turn critical attention to musical and dramatic practices outside of Broadway institutions.
    Kristen M. Turner is a lecturer in the music and honors departments at North Carolina State University. Her research centers on race and class in American popular entertainment at the turn of the twentieth century.
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    • 57 min
    A Conversation with Laurie Patton: Professor of Religions and President of Middlebury College

    A Conversation with Laurie Patton: Professor of Religions and President of Middlebury College

    Raj Balkaran speaks with Laurie Patton, Professor of Religions and President at Middlebury College, about her scholarly journey, educational administration, poetry, trends in scholarship, the significance of Indian myth, and more.
    Raj Balkaran is a scholar, educator, consultant, and life coach. For information see rajbalkaran.com.
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    • 52 min
    Yonatan Gez et al., "Butinage: The Art of Religious Mobility" (U Toronto Press, 2021)

    Yonatan Gez et al., "Butinage: The Art of Religious Mobility" (U Toronto Press, 2021)

    Based on comparative ethnographic research in four countries and three continents, Butinage: The Art of Religious Mobility (U Toronto Press, 2021) explores the notion of "religious butinage" as a conceptual framework intended to shed light on the dynamics of everyday religious practice. Derived from the French word butiner, which refers to the foraging activity of bees and other pollinating insects, this term is employed by the authors metaphorically to refer to the "to-ing and fro-ing" of believers between religious institutions.
    Focused on urban, predominantly Christian settings in Brazil, Kenya, Ghana, and Switzerland, Butinage examines commonalities and differences across the four case studies and identifies religious mobility as existing at the meeting points of religious-institutional rules and narratives, social norms, and individual agency and practice. Drawing on anglophone, francophone, and lusophone academic traditions, Butinage is dedicated to a dialogue between ethnographic findings and theoretical ideas, and explores how we may rethink common conceptions of religious normativity.
    Irene Promodh is a Ph.D. student in Sociocultural Anthropology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her research focuses on mobile forms of Christianity across the Indian Ocean, particularly among migrant communities circulating between their places of work in the Arabian/Persian Gulf and their home societies in South India. She is especially interested in questions of caste, denominational difference, and religious conversion among Christian diasporas in the Indian Ocean world.
    Byung Ho Choi is a Ph.D. student in the Department of History & Ecumenics, focusing on World Christianity and history of religions at Princeton Theological Seminary. His research interest lies in Indonesia and the Muslim dominant regions of Southeast Asia, from the postcolonial approach to Christianity and the coexistence of various religions, including the study of Christianity and the Islamic faith in a Muslim dominant society that includes challenges of ethnic diversity.
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    • 1 hr 34 min
    Gideon Sapir and Daniel Statman, "State and Religion in Israel: A Philosophical-Legal Inquiry" (Cambridge UP, 2019)

    Gideon Sapir and Daniel Statman, "State and Religion in Israel: A Philosophical-Legal Inquiry" (Cambridge UP, 2019)

    Mahatma Gandhi said, “Those who believe religion and politics aren't connected don't understand either.”
    The relationship between religion and state presents complex challenges to liberal democracies around the world. In this work, Gideon Sapir and David Statman

    Propose a comprehensive theory about state and religion relations, providing tools to think systematically about questions in this field

    Use a clear philosophical underpinning for its analysis

    Offer a detailed case study of the arrangements in Israel which encourages sensitivity to the unique circumstances of different countries


    State and Religion in Israel: A Philosophical-Legal Inquiry (Cambridge UP, 2019) begins with a philosophical analysis of the two main questions regarding the role of religion in liberal states: should such states institute a 'Wall of Separation' between state and religion? Should they offer religious practices and religious communities special protection?
    Sapir and Statman argue that liberalism in not committed to Separation, but is committed to granting religion a unique protection, albeit a narrower one than often assumed. They then use Israel as a case study for their conclusions.
    Although Israel is defined as a Jewish state, its Jewish identity need not be interpreted religiously, requiring that it subjects itself to the dictates of Jewish law (Halakha). The authors test this view by critically examining important topics relevant to state and religion in Israel, such as marriage and divorce, the drafting of yeshiva students into the army, and the character of the Sabbath.
    Renee Garfinkel, Ph.D. is a psychologist, writer, Middle East television commentator and host of The New Books Network’s Van Leer Jerusalem Series on Ideas. Write her at reneeg@vanleer.org.il
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    • 58 min
    Neha Sahgal on the Pew Study “Religion in India: Tolerance and Segregation”

    Neha Sahgal on the Pew Study “Religion in India: Tolerance and Segregation”

    Neha Sahgal, Associate Director, Research, at the Pew Research Center speaks of Pew’s ground-breaking research on Indian public opinion on religion. The data shows that Indians maintain a commitment to religious tolerance while also living highly religiously segregated lives. The survey report explores these themes in greater detail along with Indians’ attitudes about caste, religious observance, and a variety of other social and political issues. Find out more about the report here and here. 
    Raj Balkaran is a scholar, educator, consultant, and life coach. For information see rajbalkaran.com.
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    • 52 min

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