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Revising the Map of American Religion

Martin E. Marty
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Vol. 558, Americans and Religions in the Twenty-First Century (Jul., 1998), pp. 13-27
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1049101
Page Count: 15
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Revising the Map of American Religion
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Abstract

The concept of mapping religion and then acting on the basis of that concept necessarily involves discussion of another concept, that of boundaries. The notion of discerning neat boundaries serves well for assessing the inherited institutions of religion in America; assessments of trends within them reveal impressive continuities in organization and structures of meaning. Many of the most important religious developments in the last third of the century, however, appear to be less bounded-or even unbounded-and on the blurry landscape of boundarylessness there are more evident discontinuities, innovations, and evidence of fluidity. An analysis of several trends on the unbounded landscape suggests that, in the new century, there will be a great deal of interchange and conflict between these two ways of conceiving American religious dynamics.

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