James K. Wellman Jr. is Professor and Chair of the Comparative Religion Program in the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. Wellman's publications include an award-winning book, The Gold Coast Church and the Ghetto: Christ and Culture in Mainline Protestantism and Evangelical vs. Liberal: The Clash of Christian Cultures in the Pacific Northwest; edited volumes: Belief and Bloodshed: Religion and Violence Across Time and Tradition, and Religion and Human Security: A Global Perspective. Katie E. Corcoran is Assistant Professor of Sociology at West Virginia University. Her areas of expertise are in religion, organizations, emotion, criminology, and social networks. Corcoran has published articles in Social Forces, Sociological Forum, Social Currents, the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Sociology of Religion, Criminal Justice and Behavior, Social Science History, Sociological Inquiry, and Rationality & Society. She co-authored the book Religious Hostility: A Global Assessment of Hatred and Terror with Rodney Stark. Kate J. Stockly is a PhD candidate in the Graduate Program in Religion at Boston University. Her work focuses on ritual theory; the social, cognitive and affective neuroscience of religion; emotion and religion; American religion; the scientific study of religion; feminist theory; new materialism; and women's and gender studies in religion. She is a Doctoral Fellow at the Center for Mind and Culture in Boston, where she researches cross-cultural sex differences in religion and the contemporary use of brain-based technologies for spiritual enhancement.
In High on God, Emile Durkheim meets Joel Osteen. Authors Wellman, Corcoran, and Stockly integrate social science theory with contemporary data to explain the emotional draw of America's largest Protestant churches. They argue that megachurches and their charismatic pastors help fulfill deep human needs. A fascinating topic, well researched, and engagingly written. I highly recommend it. * Kevin D. Dougherty, Associate Professor of Sociology Baylor University * Neither dismissive nor encomiastic, High on God examines the phenomenon of megachurches from a variety of perspectives- sociological, demographic, psychological, ethnographic and, most important, historical. The authors discern an intricate negotiation between self and society that characterizes those who attend megachurches. This intelligent and nuanced study may provide the best analysis of megachurches (and those who love them) to date. * Randall Balmer, author of Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America * How have megachurches taken over church attendance in America? By replacing traditional church formalities with casual clothing and everyday settings that look like malls or pop concerts. Above all, by creating successful interaction rituals, with high rhythmic entrainment, mutual attention, and a love affair with a charismatic pastor who channels embodied emotions back out into the congregation. Wellman, Corcoran, and Stockly explore the dangers too, as adulation of the pastor can lead to sex scandals and the perils of too much success. High-energy churches draw people from low-energy churches by putting into practice the power of micro-sociology. * Randall Collins, author of Napoleon Never Slept: How Great Leaders Leverage Social Energy *