Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Mainline: The Launch of an Idea

In early 2006, I embarked on research for what I am excited to say is now my second book.  Its focus is Mainline Christianity in the United States, its past, present, and future.  The premise is that while it is common to think of the "Mainline" as the "Seven Sisters" of Protestantism (that is the Congregational, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Disciples of Christ, and Evangelical Lutheran denominations), in fact as a concept it is much more fluid that this formulation.  In other words, that this concept has a history, and that the membership has changed over time.  Furthermore, and this is what is new in many respects, that there is nothing wrong with pondering if in the twenty-first century, it is time to think about a new formulation of the membership of the Mainline.

The reason, of course, is that since the 1960s and 1970s, the Mainline of the Seven Sisters has been in decline, both in terms of membership numbers as well as in their cultural influence.  By exploring how the Mainline of the Seven Sisters came into being, pondering the reasons for decline, and thinking about what might come next, readers will get a fuller picture of Christianity in America.  Considering the role of religion, both in the United States and in the world beyond the nation's borders, such a study is an important one.

I am very excited that this book is going to be published by New York University Press.  They have been great to work with (and very patient as well).  More updates to come!