American Grace takes its findings from two of the largest, most comprehensive surveys ever conducted on religion and public life in America, plus in-depth studies of diverse congregations---among them a megachurch, a Mormon congregation, a Catholic parish, a reform Jewish synagogue, and an African American congregation. From abortion to gay marriage to feminism, this book shows how religion has influenced politics in America---and vice versa. The discoveries are often unexpected: The most politicized churches tend to be liberal, not conservative, congregations. Faith matters less to Americans than their communities of faith. Most Americans marry outside their religion. And nearly half of all Americans change their religion at some point during their lifetime. Robert D. Putnam won huge acclaim for Bowling Alone and Better Together. Together with coauthor David E. Campbell, Putnam brings his distinctive brand of in-depth research and analysis to religion in America.
©2010 Robert Hellenga (P)2010 Tantor
"This surprising, absolutely fascinating, and ultimately uplifting portrait of the changing role of religion in American life deserves the widest possible audience. It is a triumph." (Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals)
This book included some very interesting views concerning religion in America. I like how the authors present a large amount of data quite free of bias concerning one particular viewpoint. The authors are also careful to point out periodically that their correlational data does not prove causality. They tended to present data that would allow the reader to theorize. I also enjoyed how the authors triangulated their data with other sources as well as historical information.
On the other hand, I can see how some people might be turned off by the large amount of statistical data that is presented. It is probably more difficult to understand on an audiobook, if you do not generally carry around the list of figures when listening to it.
Overall, I think this book has very important information for creating understanding in a time when religion can become the source of cultural wars and division. I would also recommend reading Jonathan Haidt's "The Righteous Mind" for a more psychological analysis on these problem!
I get that the authors are researchers and it definitely has many statistical moments to slough through, however (a word used often by the authors), there are some nice stories to help with their research. Since it's the first book really of it's kind - good first attempt. Look forward to the follow-on trending and changes.
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