Festival Elephants and the Myth of Global Poverty by ProQuest

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Cochrane's description of the failings of international aid can be painful to read but is relieved at various points by his dry humor. Festival elephants tend to operate through high-publicity and highly funded international relief projects based on the myth that there is one form of international poverty and one way - lots of money and big, one-size-fits-all programs - to solve it.

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									Book Reviews
Atlas of Global Christianity.

Edited by Todd M. Johnson and Kenneth R.
Ross. Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press,
2009. Pp. xix, 361. £150 / $250.

The Atlas of Global Christianity is being      are because of emigration/immigration,        world, and on various other topics. Most
produced in conjunction with the               births/deaths, and conversion/defection.      of the regional essays are by scholars from
centennial of the 1910 Edinburgh World         The atlas even provides data on religious     the areas they describe (i.e., not by Euro-
Missions Conference. It self-consciously       liberty at the province level for the whole   peans or North Americans). The editors
mirrors the Statistical Atlas of Christian     world. The amount of work needed to           have done a wonderful job recruiting not
Missions, produced for Edinburgh 1910.         collect and estimate these data is mind-      only the most widely known scholars of
The change in name reflects the change         boggling. I do not fully trust many of the    missions and world Christianity but also
in focus between these two impressive          numbers at the national level, let alone at   a truly global sample of scholars.
volumes. In 1910 the focus was on foreign      the province, city, or people-group level,         While the separate volumes of essays
missions, and the atlas documented the         but even having these best estimates is       from 1910 were much longer and were
locations of Protestant mission stations       extraordinarily valuable. The data come       designed to shape missionary strategy,
around the world and the personnel at each     from the World Religion Database (WRD)        the essays in the 2010 atlas are designed to
station. This earlier atlas was primarily a    (which I and others review elsewhere          give helpful overviews that are accessible
planning tool for mission organizations        in this issue of the IBMR). While I wish      to ordinary people, yet informative to
and contained tables of statistics by          the editors made the imprecision of the       scholars. I found them clear, concise,
mission organization and country, contact      estimates clearer, I still feel indebted to   and helpful. Although a few regional
information of the mission organizations       them (and those who worked behind the         experts I asked to read specific essays
from each country, a series of maps, and       scenes) for providing these incredibly        disagreed with some of the information
a list of mission stations. These maps         detailed estimates. I plan to use them        and interpretations reported in particular
reveal the countries and provinces in          in my research but would warn against         essays, the essays provide a great intro-
which Protestant missions had established      taking any individual number too literally    duction to each topic for nonexperts and
stations and the types of services the         and against doing statistical analysis with   provide helpful short bibliographies for
missions provided in each country; they        the data without robustness checking.         those who want more detail. In sum, while
were valuable for working out comity           Despite all the careful work that went into   experts may quibble about particular
agreements or identifying regions where        creating these estimates, in areas without    estimates or particular interpretations in
missionaries had not yet gone.                 censuses and high-quality probability-        individual essays (as will always happen
     The 2010 atlas, however, focuses          sampled surveys, they are still estimates     with a project of this size), the amount of
on world Christianity. Rather than             and contain random error and probably         valuable information in the atlas is truly
showing mission stations, it displays the      some systematic error.                        extraordinary. While I encourage caution
distributions of Christians (and of other           The graphic presentation of the data     in using the numbers, I plan to use them
religious traditions) by country, province,    both in the atlas and in the accompanying     and am impressed that the editors and
major city, and ethnolinguistic group.         Atlas of Global Christianity Presentation     those who helped them could pull off such
The data highlight the localities and          Assistant is extraordinary and makes          an amazing collection of data and maps.
people groups where few have convert-          patterns much easier to see than flipping                        —Robert D. Woodberry
ed, regardless of historical missionary        through tables and tables of data (e.g.,
prevalence. The maps alone are an              in the WRD). The CD allows people to          Robert D. Woodberry is Director of the Project
astonishing
								
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