Elusive Togetherness: Church Group's Trying to Bridge
America's Divisions. By Paul Lichterman. Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 2005. 331p. $65.00 cloth, $21.95 paper.
America and the Challenges of Religious Diversity. By Robert
Wuthnow. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005. 391p. $29.95.
Robert Wuthnow's latest book is a wide-ranging and insightful
study into how Americans are responding to dramatic increases in religious
and cultural diversity. Wuthnow gives particular attention here to the
ways in which Christians are addressing (or ignoring) the growing
populations of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and other followers of
non-Western religions in America. His aim is not only to understand the
current terms by which American Christians are negotiating an increasingly
complex and diverse religious setting but also to pointedly ask how
pluralistic Americans are willing to be. The answers that are revealed
throughout this book, drawing from hundreds of in-depth interviews and a
large cross-national survey, offer plenty of room for deep worry as well
as guarded optimism. Moving beyond these caged responses, Wuthnow pulls
together the ambivalent stands of America's present attitudes toward
religious differences and offers suggestive ideas about how Americans
might begin to move beyond their currently shallow responses to diversity
and embrace a more active, self-conscious form of pluralism, what he calls
“reflective pluralism” (p. 289).