Cover: Church in the Wild: Evangelicals in Antebellum America, from Harvard University PressCover: Church in the Wild in HARDCOVER

Church in the Wild

Evangelicals in Antebellum America

Add to Cart

Product Details

HARDCOVER

$45.00 • £32.95 • €40.50

ISBN 9780674919372

Publication Date: 05/13/2019

Text

280 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

6 illus.

World

A religious studies scholar argues that in antebellum America, evangelicals, not Transcendentalists, connected ordinary Americans with their spiritual roots in the natural world.

We have long credited Emerson and his fellow Transcendentalists with revolutionizing religious life in America and introducing a new appreciation of nature. Breaking with Protestant orthodoxy, these New Englanders claimed that God could be found not in church but in forest, fields, and streams. Their spiritual nonconformity had thrilling implications but never traveled far beyond their circle. In this essential reconsideration of American faith in the years leading up to the Civil War, Brett Malcolm Grainger argues that it was not the Transcendentalists but the evangelical revivalists who transformed the everyday religious life of Americans and spiritualized the natural environment.

Evangelical Christianity won believers from the rural South to the industrial North: this was the true popular religion of the antebellum years. Revivalists went to the woods not to free themselves from the constraints of Christianity but to renew their ties to God. Evangelical Christianity provided a sense of enchantment for those alienated by a rapidly industrializing world. In forested camp meetings and riverside baptisms, in private contemplation and public water cures, in electrotherapy and mesmerism, American evangelicals communed with nature, God, and one another. A distinctive spirituality emerged that paired personal piety with a mystical relationship to nature.

As Church in the Wild reveals, the revivalist attitude toward nature and the material world, which echoed that of Catholicism, spread like wildfire among Christians of all backgrounds during the years leading up to the Civil War.

Recent News

From Our Blog

Jacket, In Mrs. Tully’s Room: A Childcare Portrait by Vivian Gussin Paley, Harvard University Press

Remembering Vivian Gussin Paley

Renowned educator and author Vivian Gussin Paley died recently. Her former editor at Harvard University Press, Elizabeth Knoll, looks back on her life and work, which emphasized storytelling as an important tool in children’s learning. Vivian Gussin Paley was a small, gray-haired schoolteacher

‘manifold glories of classical Greek and Latin’

The digital Loeb Classical Library (loebclassics.com) extends the founding mission of James Loeb with an interconnected, fully searchable, perpetually growing virtual library of all that is important in Greek and Latin literature.