Hudnut-Beumler, James 1958- (James David Hudnut-Beumler)
Hudnut-Beumler, James 1958- (James David Hudnut-Beumler)
Born February 21, 1958, in Detroit, MI; married wife, Heidi, July 17, 1987; children: Julia and Adam. Education: College of Wooster, B.A. (cum laude), 1980; Union Theological Seminary, M.Div., 1983; Princeton University, M.A., 1987, Ph.D., 1989.
Home—Brentwood, TN. Office—Vanderbilt University, 2201 West End Ave., Nashville, TN 37235. E-mail—[email protected]
Ordained a minister of the Presbyterian Church of the United States, March, 1987. Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, lecturer in international affairs, 1988-91; Lilly Endowment Ltd., Indianapolis, IN, program officer, 1991-93; Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, GA, professor of religion and culture, dean, 1993-2000; Vanderbilt University, Divinity School, Nashville, TN, Anne Potter Wilson Distinguished Professor of American Religious History, dean of the divinity school, 2000—.
Phi Beta Kappa, American Academy of Religion, American Society of Church History, Association for Religion and Intellectual Life, Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.
Looking for God in the Suburbs: The Religion of the American Dream and Its Critics, 1945-1965, Rutgers University Press (New Brunswick, NJ), 1994.
Generous Saints: Congregations Rethinking Ethics and Money, Alban Institute (Bethesda, MD), 1999.
In Pursuit of the Almighty's Dollar: A History of Money and American Protestantism, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 2007.
James Hudnut-Beumler was born February 21, 1958, in Detroit, Michigan. He earned his undergraduate degree in history from the College of Wooster, graduating cum laude in 1980. From there, he continued his education, first earning his master's of divinity in church history from Union Theological Seminary, and then going on to Princeton University, where he earned both a master's degree and his doctorate, focusing on religion in the modern West. In March 1987, Hudnut-Beumler was ordained as a minister of the Presbyterian Church of the United States, but the majority of his career has been devoted to his work as an educator. He spent several years as a lecturer in international relations at Princeton University and as a program director in the Religion Division of the Lilly Endowment, Inc. Then in 1993, he took a position as professor of religion and culture, as well as that of dean, at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia, remaining on the faculty there until 2000. At that time, he made a move to the Divinity School at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, joining the faculty as dean of the divinity school and as the Anne Potter Wilson Distinguished Professor of American Religious History. Beyond his academic endeavors, Hudnut-Beumler is the author of several books about religion and its place in American history and society.
In Looking for God in the Suburbs: The Religion of the American Dream and Its Critics, 1945-1965, Hudnut-Beumler addresses the migration of the middle class out of the cities in the wake of World War II, and the effect that had on religious practices, both in cities and in the fast-growing suburban areas. The search for the American dream, for a better life, and for more space for growing families all prompted many of the moves, but the result was a severe decrease in the population of many cities, a factor that contributed to a lower average income and a lesser quality of living as less money fed into maintaining the cities and smaller congregations resulted in fewer religious services and even the closing of churches. Many Christians protested these results, which included not just fewer opportunities to pray but, in some areas, racial segregation when it came to places to worship. Likewise, religion in the suburbs, while experiencing an upswing, also suffered from a more homogeneous feel and a limited demographic. Hudnut-Beumler's work analyzes these trends over a period of two decades, and discusses what they meant for the development of religious observances in the United States during the latter part of the century. Diane Winston, in a review for the Journal of Urban History, commented that "Hudnut-Beumler establishes that the missing link between the popular suburban religion of the 1950s and the turbulent religious ethos of the 1960s is to be found in the ‘intellectual move made by the critics of suburban religion.’"
Generous Saints: Congregations Rethinking Ethics and Money, Hudnut-Beumler's next effort, is the fourth book in a series on money, faith, and the associated lifestyles, published by the Alban Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. The book addresses questions regarding money and its connection to faith and religion, including the concept of the commonwealth, and what sort of financial support is appropriate when it comes to maintaining the goals of the church and its good works for both the congregation and for the community at large. He does not address issues such as fundraising on the church's behalf, nor does he preach the need to donate a greater proportion of one's income to the church. Instead the book discusses the meaning of giving and encourages readers to address their decisions regarding money and the church in a clear and logical manner, one that is planned out and relates to their own beliefs, their capabilities, and their ideas regarding what the money will be going to support. Hudnut-Beumler encourages an ethical viewpoint regarding money and the church. A reviewer on the Material History of American Religion Project Web site referred to the work as "a constructive theology and ethics of money in Christian life."
Hudnut-Beumler's In Pursuit of the Almighty's Dollar: A History of Money and American Protestantism is primarily a history of the process of fundraising in the Protestant Church. He takes a systematic approach to the subject, alternating sections on the church's fundraising process in different specific time periods, with sections that go on to explain how the funds that were raised were subsequently put to use. According to Hudnut-Beumler, during the early history of America, churches had a difficult time obtaining sufficient funding to run smoothly and conduct the projects they felt most appropriate and beneficial to their congregations. Some churches solved this issue by actually renting out pews to parishioners, as if the church were some sort of club with a set membership that required attendees to pay dues on a regular basis in order to participate. This led to a split between classes, as those without available funds were unable to attend these houses of worship, so the churches that would accept them suffered from an even greater lack of funding as their congregations were made up primarily of lower-income families who could not give much even on the purely voluntary basis that was encouraged. From there he discusses different methods used by the church to collect money through the ages, including the idea of imposing a tithe on its parishioners, which was popular during the nineteenth century. Modern times saw the advent of pledge drives and other fundraising techniques used for various nonprofit organizations other than the church as well. Mark A. Noll, writing for Church History, observed that "the book includes more pointed theological and ethical commentary than most historical studies, but in this case that commentary flows naturally from the book's solid historical findings." D. Stephen Long, in a review for the Journal of Church and State, dubbed the book "a descriptive historical work, relatively free of the moralizing that so often goes with analyses of the church and money."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, February 1, 1996, James G. Moseley, review of Looking for God in the Suburbs: The Religion of the American Dream and Its Critics, 1945-1965, p. 256; February 1, 2008, Kevin Schmiesing, review of In Pursuit of the Almighty's Dollar: A History of Money and American Protestantism, p. 179.
Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, November 1, 1995, Robert Fishman, review of Looking for God in the Suburbs, p. 237.
Baptist History and Heritage, spring, 2005, Merrill M. Hawkins, review of The History of the Riverside Church in the City of New York (Religion, Race, and Ethnicity), p. 111.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, January 1, 1995, F.M. Szasz, review of Looking for God in the Suburbs, p. 804; July 1, 2007, B.M. Stephens, review of In Pursuit of the Almighty's Dollar, p. 1928.
Christian Century, May 24, 2000, "People," p. 596.
Church History, June 1, 1996, James W. Lewis, review of Looking for God in the Suburbs, p. 310; December 1, 2007, Mark A. Noll, review of In Pursuit of the Almighty's Dollar, p. 894.
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, December 1, 2004, review of The History of the Riverside Church in the City of New York (Religion, Race, and Ethnicity).
Journal of American History, June 1, 1996, Edith L. Blumhofer, review of Looking for God in the Suburbs, p. 280.
Journal of Church and State, spring, 2007, D. Stephen Long, review of In Pursuit of the Almighty's Dollar, p. 372.
Journal of Urban History, November 1, 1998, Diane Winston, review of Looking for God in the Suburbs, p. 122.
Library Journal, July 1, 1994, review of Looking for God in the Suburbs, p. 99.
Sociology of Religion, summer, 1996, Michael McMullen, review of Looking for God in the Suburbs, p. 221.
Theology Today, January 1, 2008, Mark Valeri, review of In Pursuit of the Almighty's Dollar, p. 523.
EH.Net Economic History Services,http://eh.net/ (June 22, 2007), Donald E. Frey, review of In Pursuit of the Almighty's Dollar.
Material History of American Religion Project,http://www.materialreligion.org/ (July 9, 2008), review of Generous Saints: Congregations Rethinking Ethics and Money.
Vanderbilt University, Religion Department Web site,http://www.vanderbilt.edu/ (July 9, 2008), faculty profile.