New Book on American Religious Liberalism



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Just a reminder to pre-order Matt Hedstrom's The Rise of Liberal Religion, to be released by Oxford on November 23rd.  Here's some early praise for the book:

"An original and eye-opening study, planting liberal religion in the wider history of liberalism, including its middlebrow culture of print. Hedstrom shows how liberal religion keeps renewing itself by sidling up to secular culture, and by welcoming wave after wave of refugees from orthodoxy on the one hand and agnosticism on the other, all of them drawn to the premise of liberal spirituality that science and religion make excellent bedfellows."--Richard Fox, Professor of History, University of Southern California

"Hedstrom shows that the prevailing values of liberal Protestantism were widely disseminated through mass-market, 'middlebrow' books during the middle decades of the twentieth century, influencing ostensibly secular domains of popular culture in ways that no previous scholar has established. This is a strikingly original, crisply argued contribution to cultural and religious history."--David A. Hollinger, Preston Hotchkis Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley


"Hedstrom dexterously knots together several cultural threads: liberal Protestantism, middlebrow reading habits, corporate publishing, popular psychology, and seeker spirituality. The expectation that the right religious books-mystical, adventuresome, psychologically attuned, and affordable-would arrest modernity's dissolutions was perhaps another instance of liberal Protestantism's unrequited optimism, but Hedstrom makes a compelling case for just how potent this publishing mission was from the 1920s through the 1940s and beyond."--Leigh Eric Schmidt, Edward Mallinckrodt University Professor, Washington University in St. Louis

"In this engrossing study, Matthew Hedstrom provides nothing less than a series of revelations -- about the construction of liberal religion, the circulation of books, and indeed the making of modern spiritual selves. Hedstrom's work will reshape historians' understanding of religion in 20th-century America. For those who wish to push the historical analysis, this book will also invite new questions about liberal religion in 2013 and beyond."--Lauren F. Winner, Assistant Professor of Christian Spirituality, Duke Divinity School

"In the modern age of mass-culture and commoditization, liberal religious intellectuals reasoned that the consumption of good books could make a far-reaching contribution to the spiritual formation of American readers. Matthew Hedstrom delivers a deeply thoughtful and thoroughly researched study that urges us to recognize how liberal religion used mass-culture rather than just sneered at it, and to think hard about reading and spirituality today. The legacy of liberal religion is larger than we might have thought."--David Morgan, Professor of Religion, Duke University

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