American JewBu: Jews, Buddhists, and Religious Change

Emily Sigalow. Princeton Univ., $29.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-691-17459-4
Sigalow, sociologist and executive director at the UJA-Federation of New York, uses fresh sociological concepts to shed light on the relationship of contemporary American Buddhism and Judaism in America in this probing debut. She begins by reclaiming the idea of religious syncretism, describing religious mixing without judgment about authenticity of religious contents. Sigalow’s work openly contests this “pejorative” understanding of syncretism and “challenges the dominant paradigm within sociology that suggests that religions adapt and change in this country by assimilating into the majority, and taking on the characteristics and organizational forms of liberal Protestantism.” She argues that “Jewish social location” as a “distinctively left-liberal, urban, secular, and upper-middle-class religious minority” was similar to that of American Buddhism, allowing for distinctive and fruitful interactions throughout the 19th century. Her extremely close focus at times misses larger forces at work—specifically the overall decline of institutional religion over the past century, which has allowed beliefs and practices to mix. Nonetheless, Sigalow detailed investigation offers new insights about the mechanisms by which religions evolve in multireligious America. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 08/06/2019
Release date: 11/01/2019
Genre: Religion
Ebook - 280 pages - 978-0-691-19781-4
Compact Disc - 978-1-68457-647-0
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