Consuming Faith: The Social Gospel and Modern American Culture

Consuming Faith: The Social Gospel and Modern American Culture

by Susan Curtis


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In A Consuming Faith, Susan Curtis analyzes the startling convergence of two events previously treated independently: the emergence of a modern consumer-oriented culture and the rise of the social gospel movement. By examining the lives and works of individuals who identified themselves as social gospelers, rather than just groups or individuals who fit a particular definition, Curtis is able to capture the very fluidity of the term social gospel as it was used.

In addition to exploring the time in which the movement took shape, Curtis provides biographical sketches of traditional figures involved in various aspects of the social gospel movement such as Walter Rauschenbusch, Washington Gladden, and Josiah Strong alongside those of less-prominent figures like Charles Jefferson, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, and Charles Macfarland. Going beyond their roles in the movement, Curtis shows them to be sons and daughters, husbands and wives, and workers and citizens who experienced the vast changes in their world wrought by industrialization and class conflict even as they sought to define a meaningful religious life. The result of their quest was a redefinition of Protestantism that contributed to an evolving public discourse and culture.

This groundbreaking study, now with a new preface by Curtis, provides an illuminating look at culture and religion as interdependent influences, and treats religious life as an integral part of American culture—not a sacred world apart from the secular. A Consuming Faith will be of interest to anyone who strives to understand not only the social and cultural history of America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but also the origins of modern America.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780826213624
Publisher: University of Missouri Press
Publication date: 10/08/2001
Edition description: 1
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Susan Curtis is Professor of History and Chair of American Studies at Purdue University. She is the author of several books, including Dancing to a Black Man's Tune: A Life of Scott Joplin and The First Black Actors on the Great White Way (both with the University of Missouri Press).

Table of Contents

List of Figuresix
Preface to the Paperback Editionxi
Preface to the First Editionxvii
1American Protestantism at a Crossroads1
2Work and Salvation in Corporate America16
Washington Gladden: The Labor Question in Industrial America36
Shailer Mathews: "Men must be convinced that you are sincere"48
Caroline Bartlett Crane: Professionalization of Domesticity, Domestication of Profession59
3American Families and the Social Gospel72
Elizabeth Stuart Phelps: "Half the meaning of the gentle scene is hidden"88
Walter Rauschenbusch: "Bound Up by a Thousand Ties"101
The Macfarlands: A Social Gospel Family114
4Ministers and the Bully Pulpit128
Lyman Abbott: From the "Barbarism of Individuality" to "Fraternal Government"146
Mary Eliza McDowell: Cleanliness, Godliness, Reform156
Bishop Francis John McConnell: Herald of a Humanized Faith167
5The Pentecost of Calamity: The Great War and the Social Gospel179
George Davis Herron: The Defeat in the Victory195
Harry Emerson Fosdick: The Challenge of the Present Crisis206
Edward Scribner Ames: The New Orthodoxy215
6A Consuming Faith: The Social Gospel and Modern American Culture228
Charles Monroe Sheldon: "Youth, it's your innings!"243
Charles Stelzle: A Son of the Bowery on Madison Avenue254
Charles E. Jefferson: Thirty Years on Broadway265

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