Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Religion in the Contemporary South: Changes, Continuities, and Contexts

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Religion in the Contemporary South: Changes, Continuities, and Contexts

Article excerpt

CORRIE E. NORMAN AND DON S. ARMENTROUT, EDS. Religion in the Contemporary South: Changes, Continuities, and Contexts. Knoxville, Tennessee: University of Tennessee Press, 2004. Pp. xxiii + 332. $21.95 (paper).

For anyone interested in the varied modes of faith in today's South, this anthology is a fine place to begin. Edited by Corrie E. Norman, president of the Southeast Region of the American Academy of Religion, and Don S. Armentrout, long a professor at the University of the South, this work originated in the DuBose lectures given at Sewanee in 1999. Seventeen contributors cover topics so diverse that one author, Charles H. Lippy, even titles his contribution "From Angels to Zen: Religion and Culture in the Contemporary South." Another writer, Thomas A. Tweed, gives his article the eye-catching title, "Our Lady of Guadeloupe visits the Confederate Memorial: Latino and Asian Religions in the South." Some essays offer broad coverage, while others are quite specialized. Wayne Flynt, for example, focuses on Alabama Baptists and Carolyn M. Jones on novels by Kasi Lemmons and Barbara Hambly. In his introduction, Samuel S. Hill predicts increasing internal conflict, bewilderment, and enlarged alienation on the part of some Southerners, and this collection shows why.

Women are the subject of several articles. In their joint essay on southern women, Corrie E. Norman, Heather E. Barclay, and Nancy A. Hardesty note that a long period of marginalization is coming to an end, but not without resistance from the Southern Baptist Convention. At the same time, relatively new charismatic denominations form new places where women can play limited but highly visible roles in worship. Conversely, in a piece that focuses in the increasingly prosperous Church of God, David G. Roebuck describes women as still playing a minor role.

Bill Leonard, whose book God's Last and Only Hope (1990) has become a classic, again takes up his study of Southern Baptists. Contrary to stereotype, he sees the Southern Baptist hegemony on the decline, with the old convention system in a state of collapse. The fact that an ever-increasing number of members receive multiple immersions in their quest for the "decisive" conversion experience shows confusion concerning the nature of conversion, baptism, and even the meaning of faith itself. In covering the Jewish tradition, Mark K. …

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