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The rise of liberal religion : book culture and American spirituality in the twentieth century

Author: Matthew Hedstrom
Publisher: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, ©2013.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
The story of liberal religion in the twentieth century, Matthew S. Hedstrom contends, is a story of cultural ascendency. This may come as a surprise-most scholarship in American religious history, after all, equates the numerical decline of the Protestant mainline with the failure of religious liberalism. Yet a look beyond the pews, into the wider culture, reveals a more complex and fascinating story, one Hedstrom  Read more...
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Genre/Form: History
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Matthew Hedstrom
ISBN: 9780195374490 0195374495
OCLC Number: 778857544
Description: 278 pages ; 25 cm
Contents: Enlarging the faith: books and the marketing of liberal religion in a consumer culture --
Religious book club: middlebrow culture and liberal Protestant seeker spirituality --
Publishing for seekers:Eugene Exman and the religious bestsellers of Harper & Brothers --
Religious reading mobilized: the book programs of World War II --
Inventing interfaith: the wartime reading campaign of the National Conference Of Christians And Jews --
Religious reading in the wake of war: American spirituality in the 1940s.
Other Titles: Book culture and American spirituality in the 20th century
Responsibility: Matthew S. Hedstrom.

Abstract:

The story of liberal religion in the twentieth century, Matthew S. Hedstrom contends, is a story of cultural ascendency. This may come as a surprise-most scholarship in American religious history, after all, equates the numerical decline of the Protestant mainline with the failure of religious liberalism. Yet a look beyond the pews, into the wider culture, reveals a more complex and fascinating story, one Hedstrom tells in The Rise of Liberal Religion. Hedstrom attends especially to the critically important yet little-studied arena of religious book culture-particularly the religious middlebrow of mid-century-as the site where religious liberalism was most effectively popularized. By looking at book weeks, book clubs, public libraries, new publishing enterprises, key authors and bestsellers, wartime reading programs, and fan mail, among other sources, Hedstrom is able to provide a rich, on-the-ground account of the men, women, and organizations that drove religious liberalism's cultural rise in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. Critically, by the post-WWII period the religious middlebrow had expanded beyond its Protestant roots, using mystical and psychological spirituality as a platform for interreligious exchange. This compelling history of religion and book culture not only shows how reading and book buying were critical twentieth-century religious practices, but also provides a model for thinking about the relationship of religion to consumer culture more broadly. In this way, The Rise of Liberal Religion offers both innovative cultural history and new ways of seeing the imprint of liberal religion in our own times.

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This is a useful contribution to the study of American religion in the twentieth century. * Theo Hobson, Theology *

 
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