Conversion Experience In America

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From the early narratives of such colonial writers as Jonathan Edwards to the more recent conversion experiences of Jim Bakker, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson, America is rich in both conversions and autobiographies. This volume provides a sourcebook for the study of American religious conversion narratives. It includes entries providing biographical, bibliographic, and critical commentary on thirty significant writers of conversion narratives. The subjects include writers of early colonial America, such as Mary Rowlandson and John Woolman, nineteenth-century women writers, such as Carry Nation and Ann Eliza Young, and writers from the twentieth-century social gospel movement, such as John Cogley and Dorothy Day. Chapters on subjects such as Jim Bakker give insight into the rise of televangelism. Finally, chapters on such writers as Frederick Douglass, Eldridge Cleaver, and Piri Thomas cover the conversion experiences of those who lived outside mainstream American culture.

The chapters are arranged alphabetically. Each one is divided into sections providing a short biography, discussing the narrative, covering criticism of the narrative, and a bibliography. The work concludes with a bibliographic essay and a full subject index.

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Editorial Reviews

For thirty Americans who have written accounts of their religious conversion, reviews their lives, their autobiographies, and criticism of the work; a primary and secondary bibliography is included for each. The subjects range from Mary Rowlandson (1682) to Jim Bakker (1976) and include people out of the mainstream such as Eldridge Cleaver, Black Elk, and Alan Watts. Holte (English, East Carolina U.) concludes with a bibliographic essay on conversion autobiography. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780313266805
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/30/1992
  • Pages: 246
  • Lexile: 1320L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Meet the Author

JAMES CRAIG HOLTE is Associate Professor of English at East Carolina University.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Autobiography and Conversion
1 Jim Bakker, Move That Mountain! 1
2 Lyman Beecher, The Autobiography of Lyman Beecher 9
3 Black Elk, Black Elk Speaks 17
4 Eldridge Cleaver, Soul on Fire 25
5 John Cogley, A Canterbury Tale: Experiences and Reflections: 1916-1976 31
6 Charles W. Colson, Born Again 39
7 Nicky Cruz, Run, Baby, Run 45
8 Mary Francis Clare Cusack, The Nun of Kenmare 53
9 Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness 59
10 Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave: Written by Himself 67
11 Jonathan Edwards, Personal Narrative 77
12 Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African 87
13 Jerry Falwell, Strength for the Journey 93
14 Charles Grandison Finney, The Memoirs of Charles Grandison Finney 101
15 Alexander Irvine, From the Bottom Up 111
16 Rebecca Cox Jackson, Gifts of Power: The Writings of Rebecca Jackson, Black Visionary, Shaker Eldress 117
17 Peter Jenkins, A Walk Across America 125
18 Malcolm X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X 131
19 Aimee Semple McPherson, In the Service of the King 139
20 Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain 145
21 William Miller, Apology and Defense 155
22 Carry Nation, The Use and Need of the Life of Carry A. Nation 161
23 Daniel Alexander Payne, Reflections of Seventy Years 167
24 Pat Robertson, Shout It from the Housetops 173
25 Mary Rowlandson, The Soveraignty and Goodness of God, Together with the Faithfulness of His Promises Displayed; Being a Narrative of the Captivity and Restauration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson 181
26 Thomas Shepard, The Autobiography of Thomas Shepard 187
27 Piri Thomas, Down These Mean Streets 193
28 Alan Watts, In My Own Way 199
29 John Woolman, The Journal of John Woolman 207
30 Ann Eliza Young, Life in Mormon Bondage: A Complete Expose of Its False Prophets, Murderous Danites, Despotic Rulers, and Hypnotized Deluded Subjects 215
Bibliographic Essay 223
Index 227
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