Puritanism is a very negative term nowadays, usually meaning something akin to 'killjoy'. In the popular mind a Puritan is someone strait-laced, severe, and intolerant of others' beliefs and behaviour; so to be described that way is effectively to be held up for ridicule. Despite that reputation, Stuart Sim provocatively argues that Puritanism can be re-appropriated for our contemporary cultural situation, as an attitude of mind rather than a set of rigid beliefs. Puritanism could be regarded as serious rather than severe, anti-authoritarian rather than intolerant, and those are characteristics that could play an important social role in contemporary life. The best aspects of Puritanism can be adapted, and after surveying both its historical emergence and then its legacy in British culture (as well as in various other countries, most notably the USA), Twenty-First Century Puritanism puts forward a secularised philosophy of Puritanism suitable for today's world.
Throughout Billy Graham’s career, the evangelist used performative techniques to ensure that he would not be perceived as an “Elmer Gantry,” a huckster preacher out to win money, fame, and favor. Graham desired to grow a ministry that would form a new performance paradigm for American revivalism. Graham prepared like an actor: training his voice and body as well as writing a different style of script to capitalize on celebrity, and embracing new media forms to bring his message to the world. At the same time Graham distanced himself from being seen as the character in Sinclair Lewis’ novel Elmer Gantry and subsequent Richard Brooks directed movie version of Elmer Gantry starring Burt Lancaster as a Graham-like Gantry. Taking a cue from Constantin Stanislavski’s An Actor Prepares, this book, An Actor/ Preacher prepares, reintroduces a familiar figure of recent history and elucidates the social and performative transitions essential to Billy Graham’s journey to cast himself as an appropriate evangelist. Starting before the Los Angeles crusade of 1949 to his reaction following the Academy Awards when the movie version of Elmer Gantry won three statues (1961), this book sheds critical light on the way Graham created a new revivalism based on his new performance paradigm.
Since the 9/11 attacks the world has been led to believe that Muslims, encouraged by their religion, Islam, play a major part in terrorist acts around the world. It is alleged by numerous Western scholars that Islam creates a premise that allows Muslims to terrorise non-believers. This book provides knowledge and understanding by examining terrorism in Islam and the Quran. It examines how certain Muslims advocate and express their own fanatical version of Islam and believe that to kill oneself and other innocent individuals through suicide is justified in Islam. Neither of these positions are actually supported by Islam or the Quran, but are upheld by certain misled Muslims whose positions and practices have led to the downfall of the integrity and credibility of Muslims as followers of Islam amongst the international community.
The book also examines how Western media and governments mislead the world as to the true roots of terrorism and how numerous Western governments created an atmosphere of terrorism and fear by contributing to the increasing terrorism problem throughout the world through economic, political or social support to further their foreign policies.
This book provides an insight into how the stability in many Muslim countries, backed by Western governments, in reality 'hangs by a thread'. This is purely for the reason that many Muslim leaders obtain instructions from major powers in shaping their countries policies and do not listen to their own people or focus on their needs.
The Gay Apostle and Other Essays is a sociological study of Saint Paul and the controversies emanating from his teaching about homosexuality, the role of women, marriage, and divorce. The title essay contends that St. Paul was homosexual and that his conversion to Christianity resulted from a psychotic seizure due to mental stress brought on by homosexual urges that ran counter to his deeply-engrained religious faith. Paul eventually formed an affective but celibate relationship with St. Luke and sublimated his sexual desires by pouring energy into a passion for God as the missionary to the Gentiles, which conveniently took him into the safer, more tolerant, non-Judaic Roman world. Yet despite all this, he bequeathed to Christianity a homophobic outlook. Some say Paul has been misunderstood, but David Dawkins argues that his condemnatory words mean exactly what they say, though they do require explanation, and in our better-informed age Paul’s opinions should be rejected. This questions the notion of the Bible as “The Word of God.” Following Paul, the Church adopted a view of marriage as divinely ordained and strictly monogamist, but research in evolutionary biology and behavioural science indicates that family and marriage are variable social constructs. By medieval times, the Church had institutionalized marriage and divorce as a means of exerting socio-political influence, but one king wrested power from the Vatican by reclaiming a right established in the Magna Carta. His story, encompassing geopolitics and papal corruption and venality, also reveals how willing the Church has been to disregard its own rules.