The Church In American Society
Religion and Society in Tension, by Charles Y. Glock and Rodney Stark (Rand McNally, 1965, 316 pp. $6), is reviewed by $. Richey Kamm, professor of history and social science, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.
If a book can be both valuable and ambiguous, this volume is just that. It is valuable for its studied attempt to revive the scientific study of religion as a social phenomenon in American society. Viewed from this perspective, the early chapters dealing with conceptual problems in the social-science approach to religion as a social phenomenon are invaluable.
The ambiguities of the volume arise out of this studied attempt to follow a behavioral approach to scientific study. The use of the term “religion” suggests a concept of universal cognition. Actually, the authors indicate near the close of the volume that they have been concerned primarily with Christianity as practiced in America, an admission amply borne out by the data presented throughout the fifteen chapters of the study. The title is ambiguous in that it suggests a study of conflict between religion and social institutions. The entire thrust of the study is to show that, contrary to expectation, little tension exists between the organized church and American society.
The general reader will be most interested in Parts II, III, and IV, in which the authors seek to describe: 1) the role that the Church plays in American society and the internal tensions that characterize its institutional existence; 2) the role of the Church in social and political change in Western society; and 3) the tension between those committed to a religious framework of thought and those devoted to scientific inquiry in American communities.
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