Blessed Are the Organized: Grassroots Democracy in America

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Princeton University Press, Oct 11, 2010 - Political Science - 368 pages
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In an America where the rich and fortunate have free rein to do as they please, can the ideal of liberty and justice for all be anything but an empty slogan? Many Americans are doubtful, and have withdrawn into apathy and cynicism. But thousands of others are not ready to give up on democracy just yet. Working outside the notice of the national media, ordinary citizens across the nation are meeting in living rooms, church basements, synagogues, and schools to identify shared concerns, select and cultivate leaders, and take action. Their goal is to hold big government and big business accountable. In this important new book, Jeffrey Stout bears witness to the successes and failures of progressive grassroots organizing, and the daunting forces now arrayed against it.

Stout tells vivid stories of people fighting entrenched economic and political interests around the country. From parents and teachers striving to overcome gang violence in South Central Los Angeles, to a Latino priest north of the Rio Grande who brings his parish into a citizens' organization, to the New Orleans residents who get out the vote by taking a jazz band through streets devastated by Hurricane Katrina, Stout describes how these ordinary people conceive of citizenship, how they acquire and exercise power, and how religious ideas and institutions contribute to their successes.

The most important book on organizing and grassroots democracy in a generation, Blessed Are the Organized is a passionate and hopeful account of how our endangered democratic principles can be put into action.

 

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IIf you have an interest in how local community efforts can really make a difference in a city or community then this book is for you. I can vouch for the accuracy of the chapter, " the passion of St. Rose" for /I was very much involved in that successful community fight and was interviewed and quoted by Mr. Stout in his book. the events in Maywood occurred just as he described them in his book. 

Contents

The Responsibilities of a Citizen
1
A Power Analysis
21
Organizing for the Common Good
34
Rites of Solidarity Commitment and Mourning
45
Domination Anger and Grief
53
Public Address
70
Aint It Awful?
85
The Authority to Lead
93
The Passion of St Rose
165
Blood and Harmony
181
Fathers and Sisters for Life
186
Pastors and Flocks
196
The Contested Sacred
210
Across Great Scars of Wrong
235
The Organizer President
260
Walking in Our Sleep
278

On the Treatment of Opponents
114
Organize Reflect and Reorganize
125
The Compelling Force of the Ideal
134
FacetoFace Meetings
148
Acknowledgments
291
Notes
295
Index
329
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About the author (2010)

Jeffrey Stout is professor of religion at Princeton University. His books include Ethics After Babel and Democracy and Tradition (both Princeton). He is past president of the American Academy of Religion and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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