THE PECULIAR LIFE OF SUNDAYS

THE PECULIAR LIFE OF SUNDAYS

by Stephen Miller
     
 

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From Augustine to Caesarius, through the Reformation and the Puritan flight from England, down through the ages to contemporary debates about Sunday worship, Miller explores the fascinating history of the Sabbath.  See more details below

Overview

From Augustine to Caesarius, through the Reformation and the Puritan flight from England, down through the ages to contemporary debates about Sunday worship, Miller explores the fascinating history of the Sabbath.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

In this scholarly study, Miller (Conversation: A History of a Declining Art) examines the ways in which Sunday has been observed over the centuries in Western culture as well as the Sunday habits of selected British and American writers. Noting that his subject is of interest for historic and sociopolitical reasons, Miller begins with early Christian Sunday customs. Throughout, the book focuses on the meaning of Sunday among various groups, especially Sabbatarians and evangelicals as well as nonpracticing Christians. By no means all-inclusive, the work is selective in its examination of such groups as the English Puritans though, surprisingly, not during the time of Cromwell and the Protectorate. The title comes from a letter by Wallace Stevens, one of the writers considered here along with other notables including George Herbert, Samuel Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith, John Ruskin, Jonathan Edwards, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and Robert Lowell. The final chapter covers religious experience in contemporary America and ends with the secularization of Sunday in this country. Of interest to academic libraries.
—Denise J. Stankovics

Wall Street Journal

[A] lively history of a day that has exercised a peculiar hold on countless human beings for the past 2,000 years.
— Jay Tolson

Choice

This engaging book provides a sweeping overview of Sunday observance in the Christian West from antiquity to the present.
— G. T. Buggeln

Booklist

A revealing work of cultural history.
— Bryce Christensen

Vancouver Sun

In his book The Peculiar Life of Sundays, Stephen Miller sweeps through countries, epochs and theological debates to give a sense of the dialogue between Christianity and the wider culture over the proper place of Sunday in people's lives.
— Brian Welter

Literary Review

Miller is a nimble and original cultural historian.
— Jeremy Lewis

Times Literary Supplement

The Peculiar Life of Sundays is consistently informative and diverting—as suitable for the melancholy Sunday mornings of the Velvet Underground as the lazy afternoons of the Small Faces.
— Toby Lichtig

Weekly Standard

Miller's cultural history of Sunday observance in the Christian West becomes relevant reading because this day is now being subsumed by commercialization and secularization...The Peculiar Life of Sundays is a stained-glass window of Sunday lives...The Peculiar Life of Sundays succeeds in designing a complex and fascinating stained-glass window with each Sunday life sensitively executed to avoid unfair judgments.
— Christopher Benson

Montreal Gazette

A lively, absorbing history of Sunday observance in the Christian West.
— Susan Schwartz

New Oxford Review

Miller shows us the range of different approaches of literary minds to Sundays, from the beginning of Christianity to the present day, and his book clearly shows that Sundays have taken on a peculiar life of their own.
— Arthur C. Sippo

Jay Parini
This wide-ranging study of the most singular day of the week--as it has played out over the centuries from antiquity to the present--will delight and inform readers. I found it beguiling in every way. Miller writes beautifully, drawing on a wealth of material, shaping his ideas and arguments with nothing short of amazing grace.
The Atlantic
Here is a cultural history of Sunday observance in the Christian West, drawn from ancient and contemporary sources, explored through the psychological dialectic of gladness and gloom. Miller acquaints the reader with the Sunday lives of observant Christians (Augustine, George Herbert, Samuel Johnson, Jonathan Edwards), nonobservant Christians (John Ruskin, Robert Lowell), and lapsed Christians (Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Wallace Stevens), narrating a transformation of Sunday that began when Constantine's decree eclipsed pagan veneration for the sun god with Christian veneration for the Son of God. His focus on the Sabbatarian debates in America and Britain attests to the human need for a day of rest and reflection. Post-secular anxiety can be heard in this story, as residual blue laws fade to black--giving way to idle amusements and banal commerce. Now that Sundays are free of burdensome forms, they seem burdened by formlessness, which may be why Pope Benedict XVI exhorts, "Give the soul its Sunday, give Sunday its soul."
Catholic Herald

The idea behind this book is so interesting that I am surprised it has not been tackled before. In an erudite but humorous fashion Miller charts the history of Sunday worship: when it began and how it has been observed, in literature as well as life.
— Charlie Hegarty

The Age

[A] polished and, at times, wistful meditation on the transformation of Sunday from late antiquity to the present.
— Fiona Capp

Christianity and Literature

Sunday, precisely because it was set apart for something other than work, became the stage for the complex moral and cultural debates that Miller's book describes.
— Samuel Graber

David Mikics
A fascinating cultural history of Sunday that draws on some of our best-known writers and public figures. Fluently written, vastly enjoyable, both instructive and diverting.
Times Literary Supplement - Toby Lichtig
The Peculiar Life of Sundays is consistently informative and diverting--as suitable for the melancholy Sunday mornings of the Velvet Underground as the lazy afternoons of the Small Faces.
Montreal Gazette - Susan Schwartz
A lively, absorbing history of Sunday observance in the Christian West.
Booklist - Bryce Christensen
A revealing work of cultural history.
The Age - Fiona Capp
[A] polished and, at times, wistful meditation on the transformation of Sunday from late antiquity to the present.
Wall Street Journal - Jay Tolson
[A] lively history of a day that has exercised a peculiar hold on countless human beings for the past 2,000 years.
Weekly Standard - Christopher Benson
Miller's cultural history of Sunday observance in the Christian West becomes relevant reading because this day is now being subsumed by commercialization and secularization...The Peculiar Life of Sundays is a stained-glass window of Sunday lives...The Peculiar Life of Sundays succeeds in designing a complex and fascinating stained-glass window with each Sunday life sensitively executed to avoid unfair judgments.
Literary Review - Jeremy Lewis
Miller is a nimble and original cultural historian.
Vancouver Sun - Brian Welter
In his book The Peculiar Life of Sundays, Stephen Miller sweeps through countries, epochs and theological debates to give a sense of the dialogue between Christianity and the wider culture over the proper place of Sunday in people's lives.
Catholic Herald - Charlie Hegarty
The idea behind this book is so interesting that I am surprised it has not been tackled before. In an erudite but humorous fashion Miller charts the history of Sunday worship: when it began and how it has been observed, in literature as well as life.
Choice - G. T. Buggeln
This engaging book provides a sweeping overview of Sunday observance in the Christian West from antiquity to the present.
New Oxford Review - Arthur C. Sippo
Miller shows us the range of different approaches of literary minds to Sundays, from the beginning of Christianity to the present day, and his book clearly shows that Sundays have taken on a peculiar life of their own.
Christianity and Literature - Samuel Graber
Sunday, precisely because it was set apart for something other than work, became the stage for the complex moral and cultural debates that Miller's book describes.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674041035
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
06/30/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
File size:
377 KB

What People are saying about this

A fascinating cultural history of Sunday that draws on some of our best-known writers and public figures. Fluently written, vastly enjoyable, both instructive and diverting.
Jay Parini
This wide-ranging study of the most singular day of the week--as it has played out over the centuries from antiquity to the present--will delight and inform readers. I found it beguiling in every way. Miller writes beautifully, drawing on a wealth of material, shaping his ideas and arguments with nothing short of amazing grace.
Jay Parini, Middlebury College
David Mikics
A fascinating cultural history of Sunday that draws on some of our best-known writers and public figures. Fluently written, vastly enjoyable, both instructive and diverting.
David Mikics, University of Houston

Meet the Author

Stephen Miller is the author of the bestselling book Conversation: A History of a Declining Art.

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