The Polis Center Series on Religion and Urban Culture
Indiana University Press has recently announced The Polis Center Series on Religion and Urban Culture, edited by David J. Bodenhamer and Arthur E. Farnsley II. The series’ goal is to make the ideas emerging from innovative projects on religion in American cities available to a wide audience. Each book will interpret national or global issues as they are played out in real-life context of a specific city. By viewing broad social issues through the lens of local experience, we hope to illuminate the changing relationship between religion and contemporary urban culture in ways that are useful not only for scholars, but also for policy makers, clergy, social service and health care professionals, and the many others who deal daily with religion in its urban context. Farnsley’s Rising Expectations, Diamond’s Soul of the City, and Mapes’s A Public Charity are the first three books in the series.
Rising Expectations: Urban Congregations, Welfare Reform, and Civic Life
Rising Expectations examines the factors crucial to the success or failure of faith-based partnerships, by analyzing faith-based projects initiated in Indianapolis. Civic leaders are calling for a new role for faith-based groups, especially congregations, in public life—in building social capital, delivering social services, and spearheading community development. Partnerships among government, foundations, and the faith-community are innovative, and many appear to offer promise. However, many factors are crucial to the success or failure of these partnerships. Rising Expectations challenges many of the assumptions on which these reforms are based and offers a realistic assessment of what congregations can and cannot reasonably be expected to do.
Rising Expectations is the first in The Polis Center Series on Religion and Urban Culture from Indiana University Press.
Souls of the City: Metropolitan Growth and Religious Change in Postwar Indianapolis
Souls of the City will analyze how Indianapolis congregations were shaped by the physical and social mobility that characterized the post-war metropolis. Indianapolis’s transformation from a small city in an otherwise rural county to a complex metropolis occurred precisely at the time that its religious landscape was transformed—from having a predominant mainline Protestant core to a more complex, multi-denominational congregational blend. How these trends were intertwined—and what that intertwining says about the nature of community life in the contemporary metropolis—will be explored in Souls of the City.
Souls of the City is the second in The Polis Center Series on Religion and Urban Culture from Indiana University Press.
A Public Charity: Religion and Social Welfare in Indianapolis
A Public Charity examines the social matrix of 20th century Indianapolis to reveal how religion was a key factors in shaping both private and public welfare. Historically, religion and social welfare have been intimately connected. In America, religious boundaries helped define social welfare even as the public welfare state expanded its responsibilities during the New Deal and the Great Society—then helped define the boundaries as welfare state shrank in more recent times. A Public Charity will explore the role faith-based organizations have played in the city’s social welfare system, both public and private, and analyze how have religious institutions, beliefs and cultural values have affected the operation of that system.
A Public Charity is under contract with Indiana University Press as part of The Polis Center Series on Religion and Urban Culture. The publishing date has not yet been set, but the book's prospectus is available here.
Sacred Circles, Public Squares
Sacred Circles, Public Squares by Arther E. Farnsley II and N.J. Demerath II, Etan Diamond, Mary Mapes, Elfreide Wedam, examines how Indianapolis was shaped by the interchange between a pluralistic religious culture and a core Protestant establishment. Based on the largest collection of data ever amassed on urban religion in one city, the book surveys the changing role of religion in the public life of a mid-sized city. The book analyzes the history of religion in the city, both as a community with a common identity, and as a collection of neighborhoods. The book will include an extensive selection of surveys and interviews.
Sacred Circles, Public Squares, the capstone volume for The Project on Religion and Urban Culture, is being completed for future publication. The book's prospectus is available here.
Falling Toward Grace: Images of Religion and Culture from the Heartland
In this collection of essays and photographs, writers including Susan Neville, Sandy Sasso, Dan Wakefield, Andrew Levy, and Scott Russell Sanders explore the range of everyday religious and spiritual expression in a particular city: Indianapolis. Photographers include Kim Charles Ferrill, Tyagan Miller, Jeff Wolin, Darryl Jones, and others, who capture images of faith from very different perspectives. Falling Toward Grace is published by Indiana University Press in association with The Polis Center
The Polis Center is working with a diverse group of citizens to develop Urban Tapestry, a book of stories and photographs. We are interested in stories that help define the life of the city of Indianapolis, its triumphs and failures. Indianapolis is often viewed as homogenous and conservative; yet racial conflict, ethnic diversity, economic disparity, technological change, and progressive political and religious groups are an integral part of our urban landscape. We hope this collection of personal narratives will reflect the soul that animates this city. As well as publishing the book, we hope to create forums, at public libraries and other gathering places, where individuals can come to hear each other’s stories.
Voices of Faith: Making A Difference in Urban Neighborhoods
“Big Red the Wrestling Preacher” ministers to one of the poorer neighborhoods in Indianapolis. “A young man comes to me cold and I put a coat on his back. He comes to me hungry and I feed him. He can’t read and I find him a tutor. That’s hope. That’s empowerment.” Big Red’s is one of 26 voices in Voices of Faith: Making a Difference in Urban Neighborhoods. The book profiles ordinary people, professional and volunteer, whose service to their communities grows out of religious faith. Featuring striking portrait photography, Voices of Faith is published by The Polis Center as part of its Project on Religion and Urban Culture.
“See You in Church?” Religion and Culture in Urban America
The largest American cities, such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Atlanta are obviously important, and quite visible. They are however atypical, in that the greater proportion of the nation’s residents live in cities that may be classified as “mid-sized.” This is a broad but useful category embracing metropolitan areas ranging from large towns to cities such as Indianapolis. Their manageable size and representative nature make them more amenable sites for the study of urban culture, and particularly the study of religion.
This comparative volume of religion in five mid-sized American cities is being completed for future publication. Publishing information is not yet available, but the book's prospectus is available here.