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Interview by Timothy Sato
Donald E. Miller is Firestone Professor of Religion at the University of Southern California and executive director of the Center for Religion and Civic Culture, which he founded with John B. Orr in 1996. Miller has been teaching courses in the sociology of religion at USC since 1975. His book Pentecostalism and Social Transformation: A Global Analysis, written with Tetsuano Yamamori, will be published next year by the University of California Press. In addition, Miller is the author or coauthor of six previous books, including GenX Religion (Routledge, 2000), Reinventing American Protestantism: Christianity in the Next Millennium (University of California Press, 1997), Survivors: An Oral History of the Armenian Genocide (University of California Press, 1993), Homeless Families: The Struggle for Dignity (University of Illinois Press, 1993), Writing and Research in Religious Studies (Prentice Hall, 1992), and The Case for Liberal Christianity (Harper & Row, 1981). He has had major grants from the Lilly Endowment, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the James Irvine Foundation, the Haynes Foundation, the Louisville Institute, and Fieldstead Company. Timothy Sato spoke with Miller earlier this year.
In the early 1980s, you wrote a book called The Case for Liberal Christianity. You followed that up more than a decade later with Reinventing American Protestantism, in which you talked about "new paradigm churches"—Calvary Chapel, Hope Chapel, and the Vineyard. Is there a connection between those books and your current interest in Pentecostalism in the global context?
There is probably a progression that has occurred, which I haven't thought about all that much but which underlies this series of projects, going all the way back to Whittier, California, where I was born in 1946. My parents belonged to the Grace Brethren denomination—fairly conservative, very evangelical, also quite legalistic. That was the church context in which I grew up. Both of my parents were very active: my father ...