At once historically and theoretically informed, these essays invite the reader to think of religion dynamically, reconsidering American religous history in terms of practices that are linked to specific social contexts. The point of departure is the concept of "lived religion." Discussing such topcis as gift exchange, cremation, hymn-singing, and women's spirituality, a group of leading sociologists and historians of religion explore the many facets of how people carry out their religious beliefs on a daily basis. As David Hall notes in his introduciton, a history of practices "encompasses the tension, the ongoing struggle of definition, that are constituted within every religious tradition and that are always present in how people choose to act. Practice thus suggests that any synthesis is provisional."