The leader was Islam, but other notable topics and trends in academic religion publishing emerged at the 2013 AAR/SBL conference.
New approaches to world and comparative religions: Princeton University Press sold out of The Bible in Arabic by Sidney H. Griffith, and its new reference Dictionary of Buddhism by Robert E. Buswell and Donald S. Lopez was “doing extremely well,” said executive editor Fred Appel. Religion scholar Charles Kimball (When Religion Becomes Evil) is writing a world religions text for Westminster John Knox to be published in 2015.
Mindfulness/contemplative studies: In addition to its usual areas of religion and spirituality and healthy living, HarperOne is developing a list of books that look at the intersection of business, personal growth, and mindfulness (Search Inside Yourself by Chade-Meng Tan). Oxford University Press will have a summer title on the history of mindfulness by Jeff Wilson. Yale University Press senior editor Jennifer Banks is scouting the growing field of contemplative studies, which takes a scientific lens to the individual experience of meditation and deep contemplation.
Social issues: Brazos Press continues to develop its line of books about religion and social engagement with What’s So Amazing about Justice? by Bethany Hoang of the advocacy group International Justice Mission and theologian Kristen Deede Johnson (fall 2014). HarperOne is pleased with sales of Toxic Charity by community development activist Robert Lupton. Just Water: Theology, Ethics, and the Global Water Crisis by Christiana Z. Peppard (Orbis, Jan.) marries theology, hydrology, and Catholic social teaching.
New horizons for Catholicism: Francis, the new pope, symbolizes, and could catalyze, a new era for Catholicism in the pew and the academy. Books about Jesuits, the Catholic order of which Francis is a member, abound in the pipeline. The Jesuit Post edited by Patrick Gilger (Orbis, Mar.) collects essays written by young Jesuits. A Very Brief History of the Jesuits is recounted by Georgetown University theologian John O’Malley (Rowman & Littlefield, fall 2014). In spring 2014, Oxford University Press will publish Becoming Catholic: Finding Rome on the American Religious Landscape by Wake Forest University sociologist David Yamane, on adult converts to Catholicism—there are almost 6 million of them--and Young Catholic America by religion sociologist Christian Smith, who has headed the National Study of Youth and Religion.
The view from the Twitterverse: Wendell Berry, author, poet, and farmer, was much tweeted about as he spoke in conversation with Duke University theologian Norman Wirzba. Berry received the 2013 Martin E. Marty Award for the Public Understanding of Religion and the session drew a sizable crowd at AAR/SBL.