Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Rachel M. McCleary's "Global Compassion"

Rachel M. McCleary is a Senior Research Fellow, Taubman Center, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and director of the Political Economy of Religion program.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Global Compassion: Private Voluntary Organizations and U.S. Foreign Policy Since 1939, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Global Compassion: Private Voluntary Organizations and U.S. Foreign Policy since 1939 is a snapshot of the turbulent 1960s in the United States and the effects of secularization on Judaism and Roman Catholicism. Judaism in America was losing adherents, the state of Israel was at war with its neighbors, and significant efforts were made to ratchet up the Jewish lobby and increase federal as well as private donations to Israel. American Judaism was in crisis as its youth intermarried with non-Jews. For its part Roman Catholicism had been losing members for some time not only in the United States but in predominantly Roman Catholic countries in Latin America. The women’s movement of the 60s meant that the profession of becoming a nun was no longer attractive, particularly in a patriarchal structure. As a consequence, the Roman Catholic Church lost a significant source of volunteer labor.

Out of the ashes of secularism came the growth of evangelicalism. Why? Because people were looking for a personal religious experience, a back-to-basics approach to religion. Judaism was struggling with its renewal and relevance through its reform branch. Eventually, Roman Catholicism would come to terms with Vatican II. Page 99 reveals a lot about the dynamics captured in the book in that religion plays a large role in American culture, politics, and social involvement. Although secularism made great headway during the 1960s, Americans did not become atheists; rather they sought religious experimentation, reform, and renewal. All of which translated into a significant growth in new private voluntary agencies, involvement in international programs such as the Peace Corps and belief that American know-how could change the world.
Learn more about Global Compassion at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue