Jehovah's Witnesses: Portrait of a Contemporary Religious Movement

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9780415266109: Jehovah's Witnesses: Portrait of a Contemporary Religious Movement

This is the first major study of the enigmatic religious society. By examining the Jehovah's Witnesses' dramatic recent expansion, Andrew Holden reveals the dependency of their quasi-totalitarian movement on the physical and cultural resources have brought about the privatization of religion, the erosion of community, and the separation of 'fact' from faith.

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About the Author:

Andrew Holden (PH.D) has taught sociology at various levels of further and higher education. He has been conducting fieldwork on millenarian belief systems for over a decade.

From Publishers Weekly:

Why do people convert to the Watch Tower Society? How can these Jehovah's Witnesses persist in their belief that the end of the world is imminent? In this academic study, Holden, a British sociologist, attempts to understand why the strict and austere Watch Tower Society continues to enjoy rapid growth. This is neither a primer on the danger of "cults" nor an endorsement of the Witnesses' distinctive beliefs, but a balanced ethnography that draws upon interviews with both adherents and ex-members to help readers understand what it is like to be part of the Society. Holden's main thesis that the Watch Tower is engaged in careful and ongoing negotiations with the secular culture that surrounds it is a nuanced one, especially compared to previous studies that have depicted the movement as little more than an extremist rejection of modernity. The study bears the marks of the dissertation that it once was: it overexplains how data were collected and analyzed, surveys the historiography of the topic (which, as Holden points out, is all but nonexistent in the case of the Witnesses) and relies heavily on a few theorists (in this case, Clifford Geertz and Mary Douglas). But the topic is compelling enough that readers who are interested in the Watch Tower will be obliged to put aside Holden's academese and be grateful for what he has given them: a thoughtful book that takes the Witnesses' own beliefs and words seriously.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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