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Down in the Chapel

Religious Life in an American Prison

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.

Description


A bold and provocative interpretation of one of the most religiously vibrant places in America—a state penitentiary

Baraka, Al, Teddy, and Sayyid—four black men from South Philadelphia, two Christian and two Muslim—are serving life sentences at Pennsylvania's maximum-security Graterford Prison. All of them work in Graterford's chapel, a place that is at once a sanctuary for religious contemplation and an arena for disputing the workings of God and man. Day in, day out, everything is, in its twisted way, rather ordinary. And then one of them disappears.

Down in the Chapel tells the story of one week at Graterford Prison. We learn how the men at Graterford pass their time, care for themselves, and commune with their makers. We observe a variety of Muslims, Protestants, Catholics, and others, at prayer and in study and song. And we listen in as an interloping scholar of religion tries to make sense of it all.

When prisoners turn to God, they are often scorned as con artists who fake their piety, or pitied as wretches who cling to faith because faith is all they have left. Joshua Dubler goes beyond these stereotypes to show the religious life of a prison in all its complexity. One part prison procedural, one part philosophical investigation, Down in the Chapel explores the many uses prisoners make of their religions and weighs the circumstances that make these uses possible. Gritty and visceral, meditative and searching, it is an essential study of American religion in the age of mass incarceration.

From Publishers Weekly

Jun 10, 2013 – University of Rochester religion professor Dubler (Bang! Thud: World Spirit from a Texas School Book Depository) takes readers where every American should go at least once to prison. The highly religious United States also has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Examining chapel life at Pennsylvania s maximum-security prison at Graterford, readers follow two prison guards, five chaplains, 15 prisoner-workers, 20 volunteers, one secular professor of religion, and hundreds of religious followers of Sunni Islam, Salafi Islam, Judaism, Nation of Islam, Moorish Science Temple, Evangelicals, Catholics, Christian Science, Native American Church, and more. His postmodern frame keeps Dubler, as the interpreter, always in plain view, while profitably weaving in Graterford s social location (an era that prioritizes punishment, not rehabilitation), and historical context (Pennsylvania s early experiments in reforming prisoners through religious instruction and solitary confinement). In this important book, Dubler reveals an essential American conversation that is complex, nuanced, highly intellectual, woefully uninformed, often humorous, and deeply theological among men held in violent, repressive circumstances. This book aptly proves Dostoyevsky s claim that one can judge a society s civilization by entering its prisons.
Down in the Chapel
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Religion & Spirituality
  • Published: Aug 13, 2013
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Seller: Macmillan
  • Print Length: 400 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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