Synopses & Reviews
In this evocative ethnography, Omri Elisha examines the hopes, frustrations, and activist strategies of American evangelical Christians as they engage socially with local communities. Focusing on two Tennessee megachurches, Moral Ambition reaches beyond political controversies over issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage, and public prayer to highlight the ways that evangelicals at the grassroots of the Christian Right promote faith-based causes intended to improve the state of social welfare. The book shows how these ministries both help churchgoers embody religious virtues and create provocative new opportunities for evangelism on a public scale. Elisha challenges conventional views of U.S. evangelicalism as narrowly individualistic, elucidating instead the inherent contradictions that activists face in their efforts to reconcile religious conservatism with a renewed interest in compassion, poverty, racial justice, and urban revivalism.
“This book is a gem. Elisha has crafted a memorable portrait of evangelical activism, rife with hopes, strivings, failures, confusions, and predicaments.”
“A fascinating window into the tensions animating conservative Protestantism in America today.”
"Excellent."--Jssr: Journal For Sci Stdy Religion
“A substantive and insightful work. It provides a rich picture of evangelical belief and practice while also clarifying the tensions and ambiguities many evangelical congregations face as they attempt to seek the peace of their earthly city in the name and hope of Christ.” Jssr: Journal For Sci Stdy Religion
“Excellent.” Sociology Of Religion
This is a lovely book. Secular Americans all too often assume that evangelical Christianity embraces an individualistic ethos. This well-written and engaging account takes us into the life of the social world of evangelical megachurches and shows the tensions between unconditional love and accountability. In doing so, this book allows us to grasp the experience at the heart of evangelical faith. These people emerge as likable and intelligible through Elishas narrative.” T.M. Luhrmann, Watkins University Professor, Stanford University
Elisha is a wonderfully talented ethnographerempathetic in the very best sense: critically engaged, attentive, and clearly committed to forming genuine relationships. I have tremendous admiration for the research that went into this project, and I cant wait to teach this book in my classes.” R. Marie Griffith, John A. Bartlett Professor, Harvard Divinity School
About the Author
Omri Elisha is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Queens College, City University of New York.