01: The New Believers (Sterling Publishing, 387 Park Ave. So., New York, NY 10016-8810, $29.95) by David I. Barrrett, is an exhaustive overview of new religious movements (NRMs).
In its 544 pages, Barrett looks beyond the traditional “cultic” boundaries used to define NRMs in order to explore movements as diverse as the charismatic renewal, the Alpha program (a Christian basics program popular in mainline and charismatic churches), and the Catholic Opus Dei order, as well as the more expected Unificationists and Raelians.
Each group receives a brief historical overview as well as a description of their beliefs, practices and current situation. Barrett, a student at London School of Economics, devotes the first part of the book to controversies over cults and new religions, such as brainwashing, or thought reform, and abuse. Although calling for less animosity between scholars and activists on these issues, he is most critical of the anticult camp that that holds to thought reform theories.
02: For the holidays, RW readers can obtain a copy of Trusting The Spirit: Renewal And Reform In American Religion for $15, including postage and handling (the regular price is $21.95, not including postage and handling).
The book, written by RW editor Richard Cimino, provides six case studies of Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and ecumenical groups attempting to revitalize their denominations and traditions. The book then analyzes the strategies employed to bring about religious revitalization.
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