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A Cheerful and Comfortable Faith: Anglican Religious Practice in the Elite Households of Eighteenth-Century Virginia Hardcover – October 19, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (October 19, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300124694
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300124699
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #853,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Few historical works I have read so fully re-create the sensory world of people in a particular time and place in colonial American history. In this sense this is a wonderfully original work, deeply informed by scholarship but branching far beyond what has gone before.”—Paul Harvey, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
(Paul Harvey)

“I am particularly impressed by the creativity the author shows in identifying revealing examples of material life, especially domestic life, analyzing them with both respect and originality, and connecting those examples to a range of other issues in the religious lives of Virginia Anglicans and their society.”—Ted Ownby, University of Mississippi
(Ted Ownby)

"How do you capture the nature of Anglican piety in colonial Virginia? Lauren Winner does it by linking household objects to theological and devotional books and religious practice. Her astute analysis takes us to the heart of eighteenth-century Anglican religion—in Virginia's houses where the needlework, walnut tables, prayer books, and silver bowls she examines once resided. The result is a landmark work in material culture and religious studies scholarship."—Richard Lyman Bushman, author of The Refinement of America: Persons, Houses, Cities
(Richard Bushman)

"A very satisfying book, persuasive in showing how material culture and household devotion are central to the workings of 'lived' Anglicanism in eighteenth-century Virginia."—David D. Hall, Harvard Divinity School
(David D. Hall)

"Those with a keen interest in the role of religion in early America will find a wealth of informed scholarship and evocative descriptions in this volume."—Christopher Schoppa, Washington Post
(Christopher Schoppa Washington Post)

"Winner's work is thoroughly and imaginatively researched, informed but not overwhelmed by theory, adequately illustrated, and accessibly written. This book is an important contribution to Anglican, elite, Colonial, material, and gendered dimensions of American religious life."—P. W. Williams, CHOICE
(P. W. Williams CHOICE)

Selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2011 in the Religion category
(Choice Outstanding Academic Title Choice 2012-03-12)

About the Author

Lauren F. Winner, an assistant professor at Duke Divinity School, lectures and writes widely about Christianity. She lives in Durham, NC.

More About the Author

Lauren F. Winner teaches Christian spirituality Duke Divinity School, in Durham, North Carolina. Her favorite things include October weather, mystery novels, and doodling prayer (see Sybil MacBeth's Praying in Color if you'd like to know more about that last one).

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Egghead Reader on March 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover
A Cheerful and Comfortable Faith is the published version of Lauren Winner's doctoral dissertation in American history. As the subtitle indicates, it is about how Anglicans (now called Episcopalians) conducted their religious lives in eighteenth century Virginia. It is not a memoir, nor is it part of a 'trilogy.'

Earlier historians have said that Anglicans did not have much of a religious life. They have been seen as secular, especially in contrast to New England's Puritans. Partially, this is because the Puritans left more written documents to interpret.

This book attempts to understand Anglicans more accurately as people of a "cheerful and comfortable faith," examining objects that they used in their daily routine, as well as written sources such as sermons to illumine their lives.

There are numerous illustrations of items referred to in the text, which helps the reader appreciate her argument more fully.

In one chapter, she discusses the significance of a bowl, originally meant for cooling wine glasses in, which the Mason family used for baptisms. This leads to a discussion of Anglican controversy over baptism with Friends (Quakers) and Baptists, as well as whether babies should be baptized in church or home, and whether Anglicans should baptize slaves. Thus she is able to synthesize a wide range of data in support of her thesis.

Highly recommended for libraries and people with interest in eighteenth century, southern, and religious history.
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4 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Alcibiades on January 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I was hoping this would be the "Empire Strikes Back" to "Girl Meets God," but lo and behold it is the "Temple of Doom" of the trilogy. "Girl Meets God" was a gripping, delightful, thought provoking, strangely sensual read. It touched my heart strings in ways I wouldn't let me husband do.

Unfortunately "A Cheerful & Comfortable Faith" does not live up to the precedence set by "Girl Meets God." Lauren Winner's life takes a detour through eighteenth-century Virginia before coming back to the future in her third and final piece in the trilogy, "Real Sex." This book is the Die Hard 2 of the series, lacking the tell-all original style that entranced me so. I'm uncertain as to how this book fits into her general memoir corpus, as it lacks the first person narrative and powerful descriptions of her emotional journey, leaving me asking that age old question, "What does Virginia have to do with Lauren Winner?"

But, I have a penchant for Southern needlework and walnut tables so I found it quite the interesting read. Her investigations into the eighteenth-century Virginians' material culture became a breath taking, non-stop action, edge-of-my-seat read that set a new standard for "blockbuster hit."

I think this would be a better read for someone interested in history, especially Anglican history in the US, rather than those of us looking to learn more about Lauren Winner's life odyssey.
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