The Eastern Church in the Spiritual Marketplace: American Conversions to Orthodox Christianity

Like many Americans, the Eastern Orthodox converts in this study are
participants in what scholars today refer to as the “spiritual marketplace”
or quest culture of expanding religious diversity and individual choice-
making that marks the post-World War II American religious landscape.
In this highly readable ethnographic study, Slagle explores the ways in
which converts, clerics, and lifelong church members use marketplace
metaphors in describing and enacting their religious lives.

Slagle conducted participant observation and formal semi-structured
interviews in Orthodox churches in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and
Jackson, Mississippi. Known among Orthodox Christians as the “Holy
Land” of North American Orthodoxy, Pittsburgh offers an important
context for exploring the interplay of Orthodox Christianity with the
mainstreams of American religious life. Slagle’s second round of research
in Jackson sheds light on the American Bible Belt where over the past
thirty years the Orthodox Church in America has marshaled significant
resources to build mission parishes.

Relatively few ethnographic studies have examined Eastern Orthodox
Christianity in the United States, and Slagle’s book fills a significant gap.
This lucidly written book is an ideal selection for courses in the sociology
and anthropology of religion, contemporary Christianity, and religious

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