206: Pillars of Faith by Nancy Ammerman

by Gerard


206.50973: Ammerman, Nancy Tatom. Pillars of Faith: American Congregations and Their Partners. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2005. 277 pp. ISBN 0-520-24311-0.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 200: Religion
  • 206: Leaders and organization
  • 206.5: Religious organizations and organization of religious activities
  • +0973: United States

Nancy T. Ammerman’s Pillars of Faith covers the seven main religious traditions from an interesting light—to see how the their congregations have evolved over time and how those evolutions relate to American society as a whole. What are the traditions covered, you may ask? In order of size, they are Conservative Protestantism, Mainline Protestantism, African-American Protestantism, Catholic and Orthodox traditions, “Other” religions, Sectarian groups, and Judaism. Each of these groups brings something different to the proverbial melting pot, and each is shaped and influenced by the other.

Ammerman’s analysis of each congregational history is interesting and complex. The base groups themselves are formed by looking at congregational practices and are borne more from their similarities and not their differences. She takes a look at how each congregation was built, how it engages with its members, and how their organization and practices intersect with the others. She argues that organized religion is thriving and even necessary for the growth of the nation. Now, that being said, this is not a book you can pick up on a lazy Saturday afternoon and just stroll through. But if you’re genuinely interested in the intersection of American religion and American sociology, you’ll find a great deal here. This book is as much about American history as it is about American religion. While this book is not raucous or fun, it is well-researched and measured in its tone, and for those reasons, I found it intriguing enough to finish.