Working on material culture, my research has taken me to some interesting, if unexpected places. Last summer, it involved waiting outside Saint John’s Church in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, founded in 1732 as the Anglican Queen’s Chapel. I quickly ran inside to snap some pictures of a baptismal font between back-to-back Sunday services. The Saint John’s font is an impressive fixture, carved from marble in a Continental European baroque style. As a ritual object used in the sacrament of baptism, the font is hardly unusual, but its story is. Continue reading
Today’s guest poster, Thomas S. Kidd, is professor of history at Baylor University and the author, most recently, of George Whitefield: America’s Spiritual Founding Father (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014).
A Long Afterlife (Jessica Parr)
Those familiar with the first great awakening will undoubtedly recognize George Whitefield as a key figure of eighteenth century evangelical culture in Britain and its American colonies. Like many associated with the Methodist movement in Whitefield’s time, the prolific preacher and publisher saw himself as an Anglican in discussion with the Church of England about reform and an allowance for a broader religious experience. However, his theology, the new birth doctrine, the gathered church, etc., all alienated Whitefield from the Anglican hierarchy within the first few years of his missionary career.
Kyle T. Bulthuis, Four Steeples over the City Streets: Religion and Society in New York’s Early Republic Congregations. New York: New York University Press, 2014.
In many respects, Four Steeples over the City Streets is a story about different ways of being Anglican in New York City. It’s also a story about how external social changes influenced and threatened a vision of social order without destroying it. And it’s a story about how different kinds of New Yorkers in the early republic–black and white and male and female–experienced their community in religious terms. Continue reading
After a few quiet weeks in early American history, we’re back with your breaking headlines. To the links! Continue reading
I’ve been reading, writing, and thinking about Virginia’s colonial Anglican establishment since I entered graduate school (back when the Galactica had just uncovered the fate of Earth and Lehman Brothers was still short-selling subprime mortgages). This work led me to decide to write a dissertation on the religious politics and fate of the colonial establishments in the post-Revolutionary Chesapeake. Beginning the real work on my dissertation, however, has hammered home one important insight: despite all that reading I still don’t have a real sense of what the hell was going with Virginia’s colonial establishment. Continue reading
Next year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the publication of Nathan Hatch’s seminal The Democratization of American Christianity. Few books have had as wide an influence and impact in my field of the cultural and political history of religiosity in the early American republic. In his masterwork Hatch achieves what most scholars yearn for throughout their entire careers. Democratization crystallized an interpretative scheme (the “democratization thesis”) and shoved its rival interpretation into the historiographical abyss. Continue reading