The Promotion of Devotion

Religion, Culture, and Communication (Second Edition)
Donn J. Tilson
©2023, 480 pages

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The Promotion of Devotion

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    The first edition of The Promotion of Devotion: Religion, Culture, and Communication pioneered the nexus of spirituality and public relations, exploring religious-spiritual tourism and church-state partnerships; devotional-promotional campaigning; sports and religion; and art and the promotion of devotion. It provided readers with an A-list look at Elvis Presley, Princess Diana, and other celebrity “saints,” fans and their love for Smokey Bear and superstar racehorse Barbaro, and cultural phenoms Marilyn Monroe and Pharaoh Tutankhamun.

    In this revised second edition, the author revisits some of these topics with updates, expands others, and ventures into new territory. New chapters explore the death of Argentinian “soccer god” Diego Maradona, the resurrection of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris following extensive fire damage, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic upon worship and social media.

    Underscoring the important and influential nature of spirituality in society and exploring the many ways in which communication and faith intersect, The Promotion of Devotion is an ideal text for courses and programs in communication, religion, international studies, and culture.

    Donn James Tilson, associate professor emeritus, School of Communication, University of Miami, is the leading scholar in religion and public relations. His cutting-edge research has explored devotion and campaigning, public relations and religious diversity, religion and tourism, and the role of faith in shaping social responsibility in early civilizations, Indigenous cultures, and contemporary society. He has lectured extensively on public relations and religion, including as a U.S. State Department Fulbright Scholar in interfaith dialogue (University of Ottawa). Dr. Tilson developed programming for a groundbreaking exhibition, Student Spiritual Treasures, at UM’s Lowe Art Museum, the first of its kind on a college campus in the world.
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    "In the second edition of The Promotion of Devotion: Religion, Culture, and Communication, Donn Tilson explores foundational but neglected aspects of public relations (PR), such as its role in the propagation and maintenance of faith traditions in society and in the communicative forms by which such traditions shape secular culture. The former includes topics such as religious or spiritual tourism, the promotion of holy sites or pilgrimages, and communication through sacred texts and images, suggesting this field deserves the kind of research devoted to, for example, sports PR or, of course, propaganda, both of which are covered in this book. The echoes of idolatry in celebrity worship, for example in case studies of Marylin Monroe and Diego Maradonna, offer rich insights into contemporary culture, with its need to elevate and sanctify idealized individuals. Finally, a new chapter looking at the recent global pandemic through the lens of devotion reveals a pattern of resilience in faith communities that offers readers some hope in dismal times."
    Johanna Fawkes, Ph.D., Visiting Research Fellow, University of Huddersfield, UK, Visiting Fellow, Leeds Beckett University, UK

    "The original The Promotion of Devotion explored aspects of religion and communication in unique and innovative ways. This second edition continues to explore this concept in relation to new examples like the COVID-19 pandemic. Religion stretches beyond traditional institutions and definitions and into the very fabric of society, so this book should become a must-read text for every communication scholar."
    Cylor Spaulding, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Communications, California State University, Fullerton

    "Professor Tilson, a distinguished professor and scholar of the widely misunderstood art and science of public relations, has devoted his career to expanding and deepening what public relations—and communication itself—is and can be. His big insight into what is typically thought of, at best, as persuasive communication, and at worst, as unethical manipulation, is that it can be understood to be infused with a spiritual immanence that is magisterially redemptive to both self and society. And in this second edition of his groundbreaking book, Tilson lays out his vision across the map not only of the heart but the world of nations. In so doing, he has moved the disciplinary concept of public relations far beyond the well-intentioned but deeply flawed boundaries of corporate social responsibility, and even more so, he has challenged everyone in the public relations community to rethink PR both outside and inside the limitations of the secular box we have constructed for it."
    Robert E. Brown, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Salem State University