Public Relgion and Urban Transformation: Faith in the City

Livezey, Lowell (ed.), Public Religion and Urban Transformation: Faith in the City. New York University Press, 2000.

The result of an ethnographic study in Chicago under the Religion in Urban America Project, this book is divided into four parts and features eleven essays by nine contributors. In Part I, Lowell Livezey’s introductory essay, “The New Context of Urban Religion,” provides a general overview of the urban, metropolitan context of the Chicago area where this study took place. He names and explores the impact of different social, cultural, and economic forces at play in the urban landscape of Chicago.
Covering the gamut of religious denominations – from Roman Catholics to Mainline Protestants and Evangelicals – in Chicago, Part II details the direct outcome of the project that studied seventy-five urban congregations in the Chicago metropolitan area which was geographically divided into eight regions. These congregations represented the cross-section of the metropolitan area and ranged from ethnically diverse to ethnically single, and immigrant and non-immigrant congregations with widely varying socio-economic locations. These chapters focus on how the congregations negotiate and mediate religious identities for its members through their programs and services; additionally, the way in which these congregations deal with issues of urban planning, economy, community, ethnicity and race, citizenship and civic responsibility is also described.
Essays in Part III, “Religion and the New Metropolitan Context,” deal specifically with the prospects of congregational services in Chicago with respect to urban restructuring and its impact on recent immigrant religions such as Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, and Jainism. Two additional essays in this section describe Catholic planning for its parishes in response to the socio-economic and cultural changes. Stephen Warner’s epilogue, “Building Religious Communities at the Turn of the Century,” concludes this collection of essays; it deals in general with aspects of urban transformation with specific reference to congregations and religious communities.