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Practicing Protestants

Histories of Christian Life in America, 1630–1965

This collection of essays explores the significance of practice in understanding American Protestant life. The authors are historians of American religion, practical theologians, and pastors and were the twelve principal researchers in a three-year collaborative project sponsored by the Lilly Endowment.

Profiling practices that range from Puritan devotional writing to twentieth-century prayer, from missionary tactics to African American ritual performance, these essays provide a unique historical perspective on how Protestants have lived their faith within and outside of the church and how practice has formed their identities and beliefs. Each chapter focuses on a different practice within a particular social and cultural context. The essays explore transformations in American religious culture from Puritan to Evangelical and Enlightenment sensibilities in New England, issues of mission, nationalism, and American empire in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, devotional practices in the flux of modern intellectual predicaments, and the claims of late-twentieth-century liberal Protestant pluralism.

Breaking new ground in ritual studies and cultural history, Practicing Protestants offers a distinctive history of American Protestant practice.

About the Authors

Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp is an associate professor of religious studies and American studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Leigh E. Schmidt is a professor of religion at Princeton University. Mark Valeri is the E. T. Thompson Professor of Church History at the Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education.

Endorsement

Practicing Protestants integrates social theories about religious practice as a means of producing culture with the insights of several Protestant theologians who promote practice as a means to faith. It is an important contribution to American religious history and to the study of religious practice in the United States.

- Amanda Porterfield, Florida State University, author of Healing in the History of Christianity

Reviews

Each of the essays in Practicing Protestants offers rewarding insights into some facet of American religion.

- David Fillingim - Studies in American Culture

Thoughtful, thought provoking, well researched, well written, and engaging... A wonderful showcase of the scholarship of American church historians.

- Kenneth B. Bedell - Journal of Contemporary Religion

A unique perspective into a burgeoning field... Will undoubtedly provide a scholarly benchmark from which other historical and theoretical studies in practice theory can be examined.

- Emily Wright - H-Net Reviews

Practicing Protestants is both comprehensive in its introduction to the study of religious practice and specialized in its consideration of many and varied subjects pertaining to religion in America. It is a book long overdue, and thus a starting point for more collaborative efforts to understand the complicated lives of American Christians.

- Michael Pasquier - Historian

A very readable and theoretically astute collection of essays that brings to light valuable conclusions drawn from original research. Readers will really appreciate the value of this volume for teaching and research.

- Sylvester Johnson - Church History
Johns Hopkins University Press
Lived Religions
From 13 To 17

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