From Publishers Weekly
Although the Scopes Trial of 1925 often looms large as the defining moment in early 20th-century debates between religion and culture, historian Hankins's entertaining history of American religion in the '20s reminds us otherwise. Covering a number of events and personalities of the era, from Prohibition and Modernism to Billy Sunday, J. Frank Norris, Aimee Semple McPherson, and Father Divine, Hankins demonstrates that the debate over the nature of religion (is it a private expression of faith or a value supporting the common good?) had its foundation in the '20s. The sex and legal scandals involving Norris and McPherson, for example, became media fodder, helping to keep religion center stage in American culture. Hankins's lively retelling of a key chapter in American religious history is a must for anyone who wants to better understand the warp and woof of contemporary American religion.
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Faith-based conflicts have dominated the American political landscape for a generation. In Jesus and Gin
, Barry Hankins gives us some historical perspective on the present climate and shows us that "…the religiously fueled culture wars of the 1920s were a prologue to our own age." Hankins skillfully corrals a vivid cast of characters in this helpful and entertaining account, and Jesus and Gin
gives us some much-needed context for the issues we face at the contemporary intersection of faith and politics. (John A. D'Elia
Neither Jesus nor gin has ever been as much fun as in the capable hands of Barry Hankins. As this engaging history of the twenties makes clear, modern culture warriors Pat Roberson, Jerry Falwell, and Tammy Faye Bakker had nothing on predecessors Aimee Semple McPherson, Billy Sunday and J. Frank Norris. (Matthew Avery Sutton, author of Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America
Religion and American public life has a complicated history full of scandals, secrets, saints, and scapegoats. In this careful and highly readable account, Barry Hankins covers all of these and more, showing how some of the biggest issues of today are not as new as we think. He tackles perennial concerns such as the place of religion in society and the nature of freedom while offering a fresh look at the so-called "culture wars" by demonstrating remarkable parallels between the 1920s and our own time. Anyone who cares about religion in the public square ought to read this book. (D. Michael Lindsay, author of Faith in the Halls of Power
As Barry Hankins makes clear, the culture wars that roil contemporary America had their precedent in the Roaring Twenties, with their battles over evolution, drugs (alcohol), and censorship, and with the fierce debate over the place of religion in public life. Along the way Hankins provides juicy scandals that rival anything we have seen in recent years, including a fundamentalist preacher who killed a man in his church office, a Pentecostal preacher who apparently faked her own kidnapping, and a U.S. President (and Baptist) who conducted an illicit affair in a White House closet. Jesus and Gin
is a fun read and a timely book. (William Vance Trollinger, Jr., author of God's Empire: William Bell Riley and Midwestern Fundamentalism