It's that time of year again -- senior thesis drafts (35 of them, but who's counting), one committee meeting after another, fatigue in the classroom, yada yada. Anyway, we'll do our best to keep the blog up through this least wonderful time of the year. Thanks to Chris for his mega-post on recent books on Methodism, and for today, some odds and links ends for you to explore. We'll get back to more substantive blogging soon we hope.
has found a Paul Revere engraving -- of Christ being baptized by immersion. A win for the Baptists!
John Fea reports on his weekend trip to Notre Dame's Cushwa Center and discussion there of his book Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?
And speaking of which, our blog contributor Kathy Sprows Cummings has been named new Director of the Cushwa Center -- congratulations to Kathy!
(While we're on congratulations, a big one to John Turner, who will be accepting a position next year in the Department of Religious Studies at George Mason University, and awaiting the imminent publication of his biography of Brigham Young!. Way to go, John!)
Another luminary at the Cushwa Center, Timothy Matovina, has his work Latino Catholicism: Transformation in America's Largest Church, reviewed very thoughtfully by Sean Michael Winters at The New Republic. A little excerpt, of note:
The historical experience of Latino Catholics was, in some ways, the reverse of what later European immigrants experienced. The nineteenth-century Irish and German immigrants left their homelands to come to America, but according to Timothy Matovina “the first large group of Hispanic Catholics became part of the nation during that same era without ever leaving home, as they were incorporated into its boundaries during U.S. territorial expansion into Florida and then westward.” Additionally, when restrictive immigration laws in the 1920s closed the doors to Europe, the Mexican Revolution initiated the first large-scale immigration of Latinos across the border into the United States. In the post-World War II era, “waves of Hispanic immigrants have comprised an increasingly significant portion of what was purportedly an established, Americanized, post-immigrant church.”
In his new book on Latino Catholicism, Matovina argues that American Catholics must reclaim this Latino Catholic history not only because it is true, but also because understanding it will help the Catholic Church come to grips with the enormous demographic fact facing it today: according to the most recent national survey, 45 percent of all Millennial Catholics, those born between 1979 and 1987, are Latino. The largest archdiocese is no longer New York or Chicago, but Los Angeles with four and a half million Catholics. Indeed, if you created an archdiocese that only included the three million Latino Catholics of Los Angeles, it would still be the largest in the nation. Within a very few years, the Catholic Church in the United States will be majority Latino.
Meanwhile, Kevin Schultz's Tri-Faith America gets a substantive review by Fred Beuttler over at U.S. Intellectual History.
Immanent Frame has more good stuff than I can keep up with, but here are two to recommend: Evan Haefeli "The Problem with the History of Toleration," which reflects on the "new history of toleration" in both European and American religious history; and Jason Bivins, "Get It On," which reflects on the experimental project freq.uenci.es. Jason writes:
Duke Ellington once responded to an Icelandic student’s overly serious question about “art music” by reaching into his pocket and unwrapping a pork chop he’d stashed there. This is a gesture that does what words cannot. And something about the “spiritual,” with no stable referent available to us, invites us to think about improvisation. What if we were to propose only in sound, not trying to recreate its sensualism through our words or document its structure but to offer sound and nothing more? Is such confidence in sound’s power, or submission to its inevitable disappearance, the spiritual?
And he concludes: “Spirituality” may be a category unable to escape its over-determination, no matter the beauty or sizzle an author intends. But in the very “ugliness” of its inevitable frames we might find the questions that bother us.
Which makes me all the more pumped for Season II of Treme, finally available for us cheapos via Netflix this week. I may be alone in being excited about watching the season, the show generally being viewed as a dramatic letdown compared to David Simon's previous epic venture, The Wire. That it is, and yet, appropriately for its subject, the music (rather than the plot) is the message, saving Treme from mediocrity through its evocation of New Orleans musical legacies, from the Mardi Gras Indians to Dr. John to the Rebirth Brass Band to Kermit Ruffins to . . . countless others. This brings me to the final link, related to religion in American history tangentially perhaps, but a brilliant piece and certainly related to "spirituality": "The Privileged White Men of Treme, and their Hard-Working Others," at the blog zunguzungu (the author is one of those who lost interest in the show, but thankfully, not before producing this little blog masterpiece). Those interested in the show, you must read this for some tremendous reflections on the meaning of the work of Albert Lambreaux (played by Clarke Peters, fresh from his memorable role as Lester Freamon on The Wire). You can watch a little excerpt of Clarke and his crew of Indians in action here.The rest of you have plenty to read above.