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Sociology of the Church

  1. American Religion, Region by Region by Nancy T. Ammerman

    As much as American religion is "American," it is also local, shaped by the particular history of immigration and economic forces of each place, as well as the particular landscape that often fires religious imaginations. These books remind us that place matters.

  2. Are We ‘Bowling Alone' -- And Does it Matter? by Mark Chaves

    Review of a book about American decline in religious, political and social life. The author points to evidence in a variety of other civic arenas as well -- labor unions, parent-teacher organizations and fraternal organizations.

  3. Church Realities and Christian Identity in the 21st Century by Robert Wuthnow

    The author argues that in the 21st century, churches as institutions will remain essential to nurturing and shaping Christian identity. They will do this as they serve as communities of memory, denominations that help people act locally with thinking globally, or as support groups.

  4. Clergy Morale: The Ups and Downs by Susan Harrington DeVogel

    Clergy need to be aware that they are not as powerless as they often perceive themselves to be -- victims of the ecclesiastical system and the whimsy of the local church. By taking responsibility for their own psychological well-being, social needs, spiritual growth and professional development, clergy can do a great deal toward creating a more positive professional experience, and a happier personal life for themselves and their families.

  5. Communities that Change, Congregations that Adapt by Richard H. Bliese

    Each congregation develops a complex network of rituals and habits that define everyday interactions. Congregations that adapt to change seem to be good at creating opportunities for different people to eat together.

  6. Crunch Time for American Catholicism by R. Scott Appleby

    Today the "always reforming church finds itself once again at a dramatic turning point in the U.S.

  7. Debating Evolution: The God Who Would Intervene by Elizabeth Achtemeier

    The authors report on the results of a survey of scientists and theological educators, asking about their belief in a God who intervenes in human affairs.

  8. Debunking Some Pentecostal Stereotypes by John Dart

    The results of several surveys indicate that charismatics and Pentecostals are not as apolitical, otherworld, bent on "speaking in tongues, the "hard-driving engines fueling the global spread of Christianity that is usually the stereotype.

  9. Did You Really Go To Church This Week? Behind the Poll Data by C. Kirk Hadaway and P.L. Marler

    The actual church attendance figure is about half the rate indicated by public opinion surveys. As people’s church-related identities erode, so too will their need to say they went to church when they didn’t.

  10. Epistemological Modesty: An Interview with Peter Berger by Peter Berger

    The market introduces some tendencies toward democracy. But there is nothing inexorable about such development. There's a danger of romanticizing the idea of civil society. Not all mediating structures are good ones. The problem with liberal Protestantism is not the loss of orthodoxy but the loss of religious substance.

  11. Essays in the History of Religions by Joachim Wach

    (ENTIRE BOOK) This book is a collection of essays by Joachim Wach representing each major phase of his scholarly career. Wach emphasizes that both historical and systematic dimensions are necessary to its task, and he argues that the discipline’s goal is "understanding."

  12. Faith, Hope and Bigotry by Milton Rokeach

    The findings of this study of Americans suggest a pervasive social outlook among the religious-minded that seems to be incompatible with and often opposite to the compassion taught in the Sermon on the Mount.

  13. Finding the Church: Post-Traditional Discipleship by Robert N. Bellah

    Bellah holds that the initial shift in point of view that allowed him as an adult to consider religion as a viable option came from his exposure to Tillich and his confident assertion that Christianity is not "belief in the unbelievable." His later turn to more active fellowship in the company of believers was motivated as much by a feeling that the church had need of him as it was by any private needs of his own.

  14. From Secularity to World Religions by Peter Berger

    Both the extent and the inexorability of secularization have been exaggerated, even in Europe and North America, and much more so in other parts of the world.

  15. Giving to Religion: How Generous Are We? by John and Sylvia Ronsvalle

    There is good reason to believe that Americans are receiving an overly optimistic picture of charitable giving in the U.S. Amounts being widely publicized indicate that charitable giving has increased dramatically. The authors' analysis however, reveals that giving has been declining as a portion of income for almost 30 years. As Christians try to make intelligent decisions about giving, accurate information is indispensable. The authors suggest ways to improve that accuracy.

  16. Looking for the Mainline with Roof and McKinney by David Heim

    The authors, Roof and McKinney, are interested not in issuing a jeremiad or an apology about the state of American religion, but in ascertaining just how the landscape of American religion is being altered.

  17. Measuring Church Growth by Carl S. Dudley

    In working with those who believe without belonging, mainline Protestants may rediscover the true church. With them we apparently share many values of the past as well as hopes for the future. We may not get them “back” into the churches, but we can join with them to do the Lord’s work on earth.  And we may rediscover the Christian church in the process.

  18. Miracle, Mystery and Authority: Recalling Jonestown by Thomas F. MacMillan

    A retrospective piece marking the tenth anniversary of the Jonestown tragedy – in which more than 900 people affiliated with Jim Jones’s Peoples Temple in Guyana took part in a communal act of murder and suicide. The most frequently asked question: "How did they ever become involved?"

  19. New Religious Consciousness: Rejecting the Past, Designing the Future by Robert N. Bellah

    A noted sociologist analyzes the reasons behind the current religious malaise in American culture, then proposes three possible scenarios for the future.

  20. No Radicalism Here: Faculty Survey by Martin E. Marty

    A recent faculty survey is devastating to the preconceptions of those who carry radical images of the theological professoriate. Doctrinally these faculty members are conventional. Ecclesiastically they are faithful. In general we get the image that, across the spectrum, they are bourgeois Hauspapas (although 7.7 per cent are female).

  21. Pious Materialism: How Americans View Faith and Money by Robert Wuthnow

    Wuthnow concludes, from his three-year research into how Americans view faith and money, that although there is much lip service to decrying the
    overemphasis on money and materialism, in practice mammon is winning out over God, and the churches are silent for the most part on stewardship issues.

  22. Protestantism and the Quest for Certainty by Peter Berger

    Religious institutions built on modern skepticism will be fragile, but they can show remarkable vitality.

  23. Rediscovering the Sacred: Perspectives on Religion in Contemporary Society by Robert Wuthnow

    (ENTIRE BOOK) Wuthnow proposes that the term "rediscovery" rather than "revival" clarifies what is happening in religion today. He provides personal background which informs this choice, then outlines his case using insights from other sociologists as well as social commentators. This volume offers a contemporary survey of sociology of religion, as well as challenging suggestions for further work.

  24. Sounds of Silence by Rodney Stark, Foster, Glock and Quinley

    The authors examine preaching in 1,580 churches, and conclude that whether or not people listen, there is not much to hear. Most sermons rarely touch on controversial moral and ethical issues.

  25. The Church in the Centrifuge by Wade Clark Roof

    Liberals must come to terms with the personal religious vocabulary and quit discrediting people’s spiritual quests or somehow looking upon them as less important than social and political matters.

  26. We Are What We Read by Michael Leach

    Though church attendance continues to drop, sales of religious books continue to rise. What’s going on?

  27. What Religious People Think About the Poor by Robert Wuthnow

    The results of a survey of over 2,000 working Americans, including in-depth interviews with more than 175 of them, to discover what religious people think about their responsiblity to the poor.

  28. Why Monotheism Makes Sense by Sara Miller

    This article is a review of the thoughts of the sociologist of religion and historian, Rodney Stark. Stark finds belief in the supernatural essential to religion.

  29. Worship and Renewal: Surveying Congregational Life by David A. Roozen

    Roozen analyzes three reasons for the renewal of religion in America in contrast to other nations: 1. Immigration; 2. The characteristic nature of American religious movements; 3. Contemporary forms of worship. In regard to contemporary forms of worship, it is no panacea, the term itself has different meanings in different traditions; and the change of style brings conflict.