Bookbeat

Bookbeat: September 2007

Haitian Creole Bilingual Dictionary

Haitian Creole Bilingual Dictionarycoedited by Benjamin Hebblethwaite, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures
(Creole Institute of Indiana University, 2007 )
Available through the Creole Institute of Indiana University

The Haitian Creole-English Bilingual Dictionary features an unmatched set of lexicography features, including abundant sentence-length examples with English translations for all words except nouns with clear English equivalents; cross-checking references providing links to synonyms or semantically related expressions; abundant expressions (subentries); and clear separation of homonyms (words with the same spelling but different meaning or word class) .

- Publisher

Shopping for God: How Christianity Went from In Your Heart to In Your Face

Shopping for Godby James B. Twitchell, Department of English
(Simon & Schuster, 2007 )
Available through Amazon

Not so long ago religion was a personal matter that was seldom discussed in public. No longer. Today religion is everywhere, from books to movies to television to the internet-to say nothing about politics. Now religion is marketed and advertised like any other product or service. How did this happen? And what does it mean for religion and for our culture?

Just as we shop for goods and services, we shop for church. A couple of generations ago Americans remained in the faith they were born into. Today, many Americans change their denomination or religion, sometimes several times. Churches that know how to appeal to those shopping for God are thriving. Think megachurches. Churches that don't know how to do this or don't bother are fading away. Think mainline Protestant churches.

Religion is now celebrated and shown off like a fashion accessory. We can wear our religious affiliation like a designer logo. But, says James Twitchell, this isn't because Americans are undergoing another Great Awakening; rather, it's a sign that religion providers-that is, churches-have learned how to market themselves. There is more competition among churches than ever in our history. Filling the pew is an exercise in salesmanship, and as with any marketing campaign, it requires establishing a brand identity. Successful pastors ("pastorpreneurs," Twitchell calls them) know how to speak the language of Madison Avenue as well as the language of the Bible.

In this witty, engaging book, Twitchell describes his own experiences trying out different churches to discover who knows how to "do church" well. He takes readers into the land of karaoke Christianity, where old-style contemplative sedate religion has been transformed into a public, interactive event with giant-screen televisions, generic iconography (when there is any at all), and ample parking.

Rarely has America's religious culture been examined so perceptively and so entertainingly. Shopping for God does for religion what Fast Food Nation has done for food.

- Publisher

Studying Hinduism: Key Concepts and Methods Studying Hinduism: Key Concepts and Methods

edited by Sushil Mittal and Gene Thursby, Department of Religion
(London and New York: Routledge, 2007)
Available through Routledge

This book is an indispensable resource for students and researchers wishing to develop a deeper understanding of one of the world's oldest and most multifaceted religious traditions.

Sushil Mittal and Gene Thursby, leading scholars in the field, have brought together a rich variety of perspectives which reflect the current lively state of the field. Studying Hinduism is the result of cooperative work by accomplished specialists in several fields that include anthropology, art, comparative literature, history, philosophy, religious studies, and sociology. Through these complementary and exciting approaches, students will gain a greater understanding of India's culture and traditions, to which Hinduism is integral. The book uses key critical terms and topics as points of entry into the subject, revealing that although Hinduism can be interpreted in sharply contrasting ways and set in widely varying contexts, it is endlessly fascinating and intriguing.

- Publisher

The Burke-Wollstonecraft Debate: Savagery, Civilization, and Democracy The Burke-Wollstonecraft Debate: Savagery, Civilization, and Democracy

Daniel O'Neill, Department of Political Science
(PSU Press, 2007)
Available through the PSU Press

Many modern conservatives and feminists trace the roots of their ideologies, respectively, to Edmund Burke (1729–1797) and Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–1797), and a proper understanding of these two thinkers is therefore important as a framework for political debates today.

According to Daniel O’Neill, Burke is misconstrued if viewed as mainly providing a warning about the dangers of attempting to turn utopian visions into political reality, while Wollstonecraft is far more than just a proponent of extending the public sphere rights of man to include women. Rather, at the heart of their differences lies a dispute over democracy as a force tending toward savagery (Burke) or toward civilization (Wollstonecraft). Their debate over the meaning of the French Revolution is the place where these differences are elucidated, but the real key to understanding what this debate is about is its relation to the intellectual tradition of the Scottish Enlightenment, whose language of politics provided the discursive framework within and against which Burke and Wollstonecraft developed their own unique ideas about what was involved in the civilizing process.

- Publisher

Reviews

“Who would have thought there was much new and fascinating to say about Burke and Wollstonecraft? But O’Neill’s argument, rooted in their response to the French Revolution and their relationship to Scottish Enlightenment ideas, is wonderfully fresh and illuminating, shedding new light on many a shadowy part of Burke’s conservatism and Wollstonecraft’s feminism.” —Isaac Kramnick, Cornell University

“This is an excellent contribution to the literatures on Mary Wollstonecraft and Edmund Burke and to the growing discussions of the significance of the Scottish Enlightenment.” —Virginia Sapiro, University of Wisconsin, Madison

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