The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline

The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline

by Elesha J. Coffman
     
 

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The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline offers the first full-length, critical study of The Christian Century, widely regarded as the most influential religious magazine in America for most of the twentieth century and hailed by Time as "Protestantism's most vigorous voice." Elesha Coffman narrates the previously…  See more details below

Overview

The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline offers the first full-length, critical study of The Christian Century, widely regarded as the most influential religious magazine in America for most of the twentieth century and hailed by Time as "Protestantism's most vigorous voice." Elesha Coffman narrates the previously untold story of the magazine, exploring its chronic financial struggles, evolving editorial positions, and often fractious relations among writers, editors, and readers, as well as the central role it played in the rise of mainline Protestantism. Coffman situates this narrative within larger trends in American religion and society. Under the editorship of Charles Clayton Morrison from 1908-1947, the magazine spoke out about many of the most pressing social and political issues of the time, from child labor and women's suffrage to war, racism, and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. It published such luminaries as Jane Addams, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Martin Luther King Jr. and jostled with the Nation, the New Republic, and Commonweal, as it sought to enlarge its readership and solidify its position as the voice of liberal Protestantism. But by the 1950s, internal strife between liberals and neo-orthodox and the rising challenge of Billy Graham's evangelicalism would shatter the illusion of Protestant consensus. The coalition of highly educated, theologically and politically liberal Protestants associated with the magazine made a strong case for their own status as shepherds of the American soul but failed to attract a popular following that matched their intellectual and cultural clout. Elegantly written and persuasively argued, The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline takes readers inside one of the most important religious magazines of the modern era.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[An] outstanding history of The Christian Century..." —John Turner, George Mason University

"Ms. Coffman's research has uncovered a great deal of material about the rise and decline of mainline Protestantism, and she tells its story well..." —Barton Swaim, Wall Street Journal

"[An] elegantly crafted and subtly witty account... [Coffman] makes a theoretically sophisticated contribution to the growing scholarship on religious media in the postwar United States." —The Christian Century Take and Read

"The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline is happily distinguished by its sustained attention to the character and dynamics of the great gap between an educated elite and a mass population of churchgoers." —The Christian Century

"A fascinating, well-documented tale." —CHOICE

"Far more than the history of a magazine, Elesha Coffman's elegant, insightful book shows how The Christian Century grew from obscure beginnings as a Disciples of Christ publication to become the most enduring icon of liberal Protestantism. For anyone sympathetic to the ecumenical vision of the Protestant mainline, Coffman's tale makes for poignant, even haunting, reading. Her account also demolishes the recent scholarly fashion of dismissing mainline Protestantism as lifeless or irrelevant. An essential volume for historians and church people alike." — Peter J. Thuesen, Professor of Religious Studies and Department Chair, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

"America's religious history travels, to a great extent, along the networks that religious media provide. Anyone who is interested in this story needs to know about The Christian Century, one of the greatest national Protestant conversation starters of the twentieth century. Elesha Coffman has written a sensitive and often witty account of The Century's first half-century, and it has much to tell us about the rise and decline of mainline Protestantism." — Joel Carpenter, Professor of History and Director of the Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity, Calvin College

"Elesha Coffman provides an illuminating portrait of The Christian Century in the days when it was in its prime. She recounts evenhandedly and with insight its strengths and weaknesses, its identity crises, aspirations, accomplishments, and controversies as the leading liberal voice in the Protestant establishment." — George Marsden, Professor of History Emeritus, University of Notre Dame

"Not only does Coffman show that the Century itself mattered in defining the mainline, but that the Protestant establishment was not simply a historical given. Establishments can be hard to explore, precisely because, almost by definition, they present themselves as given and inevitable. Yet as Coffman argues, the Protestant establishment was not a given but a historically contingent creation of an elite group of (almost exclusively) well-educated white men... Coffman's work, then, gives us insight into the complicated nature of today's Protestant mainline." — Sarah E. Rule, Associate Professor of Religion at Gustavus Adolphus College

"Coffman's work is clearly written and highly accessible."-HNet

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199985869
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
04/04/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
File size:
4 MB

Meet the Author

Elesha J. Coffman is Assistant Professor of Church History at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary.

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