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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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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.
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.