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Customer Review

16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Solid South, April 22, 2000
This review is from: Southern Cross: The Beginnings of the Bible Belt (Paperback)
How would you feel if a visiting preacher came along and told you that the way you had been "doing church" all your life was wrong and would be radically changed? Your reaction would probably be similar to that of many whose calm and quiet lives were caught up in the frenzy of the evangelical awakenings and revivals of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In this book Christine Heyrman, a Professor of History at the University of Delaware, looks with a somewhat jaundiced eye at "the beginnings of the Bible belt" in the South of the early 1800's. The legacy of the Awakenings there was a population, many of whom had made a transition from the old, established Episcopal Church into the Baptist Church. No sooner had the effects of this jolt subsided when the region was overrun with itinerant Methodist circuit riders who raged against cards, guns, dancing, and Calvinism; in short, everything which had made the South that bastion of macho chivalraic leisure which, among the upper classes, it had become. For good measure, a smattering of Scottish Presbyterianism is thrown in to complicate the mixture. As they usually do, the flames of revival had spawned a certain amount of hysteria and superstition as people sometimes fainted, raved, and saw unearthly visions when they came under conviction of sin. Church growth outstripped oversight and discipline as new, unshepherded converts often headed for the Quaker or Shaker communities or into bizarre churches of their own devising. Heyrman's main point, however, is to show how the Southern mindset and lifestyle of today were molded and shaped by the synthesis of pre-Revival Southern mores and the evangelical preaching and style of the revivalists, especially the Methodist circuit riders. These rough, bold pioneers were actually viewed as effete and effeminate by the plantation hedonocracy because of their distaste for hunting, shooting, duelling, riding to hounds, cursing, dancing, drinking, and gambling which were the pastimes of the leisure class. Eventually a synthesis emerged, in which these practices were recognized as undesirable, but were still indulged in, producing the South of the Confederate era, holding a Bible in one hand and a rifle and a bottle of Southern Comfort in the other, the image of which has persisted to the present day. Heyrman is to be commended for embarking on the exploration of a theme, if not an era, which has been little handled previously. The American reading public still awaits a treatment of this subject from an evangelical Christian perspective--a book waiting to be written.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 17, 2010 7:00:56 PM PDT
J. Clifford says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 10, 2010 8:29:58 PM PDT
Wow Clifford, that's a pretty bigoted comment and offensive in that it's a terribly inaccurate stereotype. Your words here certainly do not contribute positively to an open and fair discussion of this book or the issues that it may or may not address.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 2, 2011 5:00:28 PM PDT
paul best says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 6, 2011 2:15:34 PM PDT
B.C. says:
WOW Paul, I pray you're not "researching" at any reputable institution. The fact that you not only misspelled Evangelist and Pentecostals but also conflated the two is mind-boggling.

Also, you admit that you would never buy this book, yet you feel compelled to offer a review. In addition, the fact you live in NO (presumably New Orleans) is utterly irrelevant to the book at hand or to Burton's earlier post. I take it that because you live in the South, you are an unquestioned expert on all things religious. Bizarre.

American religion is, in your words, "a dead man walking," yet religious adherence and church attendance in the United States still remain remarkably high. Curious.

Seems to me you have well beyond 5 years of research ahead. It also seems that you've already made up your mind regarding religion. Good luck *ever* making it in academia. You've got a long, long, long way to go.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 6, 2011 6:12:16 PM PDT
paul best says:
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Posted on Jun 2, 2016 1:12:17 AM PDT
Fairminded says:
Concerning your last statement, few, if any, major themes in American evangelical history have been left untouched by the prolific pen of Mark A. Noll. Though he is currently at Notre Dame, he is an evangelical historian.
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