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Consuming Faith: The Social Gospel and Modern American Culture

Overview

In A Consuming Faith, Susan Curtis analyzes the startling convergence of two events previously treated independently: the emergence of a modern consumer-oriented culture and the rise of the social gospel movement. By examining the lives and works of individuals who identified themselves as social gospelers, rather than just groups or individuals who fit a particular definition, Curtis is able to capture the very fluidity of the term social gospel as it was used.

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Overview

In A Consuming Faith, Susan Curtis analyzes the startling convergence of two events previously treated independently: the emergence of a modern consumer-oriented culture and the rise of the social gospel movement. By examining the lives and works of individuals who identified themselves as social gospelers, rather than just groups or individuals who fit a particular definition, Curtis is able to capture the very fluidity of the term social gospel as it was used.

In addition to exploring the time in which the movement took shape, Curtis provides biographical sketches of traditional figures involved in various aspects of the social gospel movement such as Walter Rauschenbusch, Washington Gladden, and Josiah Strong alongside those of less-prominent figures like Charles Jefferson, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, and Charles Macfarland. Going beyond their roles in the movement, Curtis shows them to be sons and daughters, husbands and wives, and workers and citizens who experienced the vast changes in their world wrought by industrialization and class conflict even as they sought to define a meaningful religious life. The result of their quest was a redefinition of Protestantism that contributed to an evolving public discourse and culture.

This groundbreaking study, now with a new preface by Curtis, provides an illuminating look at culture and religion as interdependent influences, and treats religious life as an integral part of American culture--not a sacred world apart from the secular. A Consuming Faith will be of interest to anyone who strives to understand not only the social and cultural history of America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but also the origins of modern America.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Curtis has achieved an intelligent and engaging view of a seminal American Protestant religious movement."—American Historical Review

"Curtis is to be applauded for attempting to find further meanings in the language of social gospel Protestantism, for searching for common experiences behind the psychology of social gospelers, for calling attention to some lesser known figures at the edge of the social gospel movement (Caroline Bartlett Crane, for example), and for depicting ways in which the social gospel abetted secularization."—American Studies International

Booknews
Some 2100 conversion factors for biologists and mechanical engineers. Curtis (history, Purdue U.) focuses on 15 American to investigate how the social gospel movement, founded in the late 19th century as a response to industrialization, drew from and helped shape the consumerist society, and illustrates important links between liberalism and protestantism. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826213624
  • Publisher: University of Missouri Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2001
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Curtis is Professor of History and Chair of American Studies at Purdue University. She is the author of several books, including Dancing to a Black Man's Tune: A Life of Scott Joplin and The First Black Actors on the Great White Way (both with the University of Missouri Press).

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Table of Contents

List of Figures ix
Preface to the Paperback Edition xi
Preface to the First Edition xvii
Acknowledgments xxiii
1 American Protestantism at a Crossroads 1
2 Work and Salvation in Corporate America 16
Washington Gladden: The Labor Question in Industrial America 36
Shailer Mathews: "Men must be convinced that you are sincere" 48
Caroline Bartlett Crane: Professionalization of Domesticity, Domestication of Profession 59
3 American Families and the Social Gospel 72
Elizabeth Stuart Phelps: "Half the meaning of the gentle scene is hidden" 88
Walter Rauschenbusch: "Bound Up by a Thousand Ties" 101
The Macfarlands: A Social Gospel Family 114
4 Ministers and the Bully Pulpit 128
Lyman Abbott: From the "Barbarism of Individuality" to "Fraternal Government" 146
Mary Eliza McDowell: Cleanliness, Godliness, Reform 156
Bishop Francis John McConnell: Herald of a Humanized Faith 167
5 The Pentecost of Calamity: The Great War and the Social Gospel 179
George Davis Herron: The Defeat in the Victory 195
Harry Emerson Fosdick: The Challenge of the Present Crisis 206
Edward Scribner Ames: The New Orthodoxy 215
6 A Consuming Faith: The Social Gospel and Modern American Culture 228
Charles Monroe Sheldon: "Youth, it's your innings!" 243
Charles Stelzle: A Son of the Bowery on Madison Avenue 254
Charles E. Jefferson: Thirty Years on Broadway 265
Notes 279
Index 313
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