Friday, April 10, 2015

Division in the American Restoration Movement: A Summary of Jonathan Woodall's Dissertation

Woodall, Jonathan Franklin. "The Post-Termination Rhetoric of the American Restoration Movment." PhD diss., University of Memphis, 2014.

In 2014, Jonathan F. Woodall, under the guidance of Professor Sandra Sarkela, completed a PhD in the field of Communication at the University of Memphis. The dissertation, “The Post-Termination Rhetoric of the American Restoration Movement,” combines rhetorical studies with historical investigation of what traditionally has been called the American Restoration Movement. 

As Woodall explains, the word termination is a technical expression that refers to the death of the founder of a movement. In this study, termination specifically points to the death of the religious pioneer and patriarch Alexander Campbell (1788-1866). Woodall seems to favor the older term American Restoration Movement because, apparently, he does not believe that Barton W. Stone (1772-1844), though prior to Campbell, provided critical leadership in what has more recently been called the Stone-Campbell Movement. To be clear, the author does not explicitly deny Stone’s influence—especially his influence in one of the post-termination factions—so much as he simply focuses on Campbell as the much more significant figure. Again, the all-important “termination” event featured in this study is the death of Campbell.

Woodall's basic research question involves the commonly debated issue of exactly what generated division within a once-unified American religious movement of the nineteenth century. Also, when did division occur? From the early 1830s until he died in 1866, Alexander Campbell presided over an impressive and growing movement that sought to reconstitute biblical Christianity. Today, three distinct religious bodies represent the movement associated with Campbell: the Disciples of Christ denomination, independent Christian Churches, and the acappella Churches of Christ. The first group, the Disciples of Christ, would be listed among several liberal, mainline Protestant denominations. The other two groups subscribe to a conservative theology and practice congregational autonomy. How and when did these three branches emerge?

Woodall argues that, from the standpoint of rhetorical analysis, four sermons included in an 1868 anthology, The Living Pulpit of the Christian Church, edited by W. T. Moore, represent a key to answering those questions. The author explains that rhetorical studies involve, among other things, “the identification of groups” which will be generated “during a period of termination” (1).  “[I]n a moment of termination, what is ultimately at stake is the movement's ideology” (2). Woodall asserts that in his exploration of American Restoration Movement texts, he has “located competing ideographs, or patterns, within the movement and discovered new leaders as they sought to organize their audience and convince them to support the ongoing efforts” (2). Significantly, he notes that a tension in the outlook of Campbell himself increased the likelihood of “competing ideographs” of the early post-termination period:

Campbell’s influence was far reaching, especially through the circulation of his perfecting ideology within his journal. However, Campbell’s ideology not only contained a perfecting myth, but a democratic view of religion with very little structure. In fact, there was no official leadership position outside the context of the local congregation; hence, Campbell’s leadership stood as a contradiction to the very ideology he promoted (12).

Woodall argues "that while the Restoration Movement of Campbell terminated at his death, new rhetorical leaders emerged using competing ideographs found within the work of Campbell to seek new inceptions leading to splintering." Close textual analysis of the four sermons he examines reveals "a widening diversity of ideas within the movement instead of a constant unity of beliefs, values, and practices" (20).

Paradoxically, Alexander Campbell’s compelling leadership of a movement committed to religious principles that were thoroughly democratic nearly guaranteed post-termination splintering. Either way, the heart of Woodall’s dissertation examines four leaders, all of whom knew Campbell, and all of whom contributed a sermon to Moore’s anthology. Following the Civil War and the death of Campbell, Moore wished to present a united front. According to his vision for the collection, all of the best-known preachers and editors of American Restoration Movement during the early post-termination period would speak with one voice. Yet, according to Woodall, it was not to be. In the pages of The Living Pulpit of the Christian Church he detects four competing ideologies. He provides a map of the four central chapters of his work when he writes,

The Movement had an emerging “association” ideology through the establishment of colleges and universities, fueled by the leadership of W. K. Pendleton; a “militant” ideology focused on the frontier and rural areas, fueled by Benjamin Franklin; a “purification” contingency in the South, fueled by Tolbert Fanning; and a “progressive” contingency in the North, fueled by the leadership of Isaac Errett. Each ideology can be traced back to Alexander Campbell’s own ideographs throughout his decades of leadership (30).

Significantly, not only did each of these post-termination leaders contribute a sermon for Moore’s anthology, each one served as the editor of an important serial publication of the time. Pendleton, a son-in-law to Alexander Campbell, took over the editorship of the Millennial Harbinger, which Campbell had begun in 1830. Franklin was editor of the American Christian Review, which promoted biblical primitivism and the common man, and exuded the popular myth of the wisdom of the rustic. Fanning was the founding editor of the Gospel Advocate magazine. Published from Nashville by a southern pacifist, the Gospel Advocate espoused a radical resistance to all human government and championed the kingdom of Christ alone. Errett, editor of the Christian Standard, championed a progressive outlook which highlighted the fact that God had not written one book, but two. The church should interpret both biblical and natural revelation in order to gain the understanding necessary for the advancement of the kingdom of Christ.

Not only does Woodall’s work help to explain the sources and trajectory of division in the American Restoration Movement, it also provides an answer to the question of chronology. Specifically, the dissertation takes a side on the question of when division occurred. Did it happen at or near the time of the Civil War, or did the break come in the decades that followed? In his review of some of the pertinent literature, Woodall notes that scholars like Douglas A. Foster and Bill Humble have insisted that the movement divided in the 1860s. On the other hand, Earl I. West, the father of distinctively Churches of Christ historiography, said that almost everyone in the movement was attempting to hold it together, and that they succeeded in maintaining unity for some time following the war. Siding more with Foster and Humble, Woodall writes, “From the point of the Living Pulpit publication in 1868, it is almost impossible to view the Restoration Movement holistically” (170-71).

“The Post-Termination Rhetoric of the American Restoration Movement” represents a solid contribution to the study of the rhetorical range and history of the Campbell tradition. Although the dissertation was done in the field of Communication, specifically Rhetoric, historians of the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement can learn much from it.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Day in the Western History Collections at OU

I spent Thursday, March 19, 2015 in the Western History Collections, which is a part of the library system at the University of Oklahoma, It was rainy in Norman that day. Students were gone for Spring Break.  The Collections are held on the third floor of the beautiful old School of Law building, Monnet Hall.

Anyone who knows anything about college football knows that the Sooners are a perennial powerhouse. So I wasn't surprised, but was amused to see the note about the hours of operation on game days!

A plaque at the entrance to the building.  . . .

The central reading room for the Western History Collections, an inspiring place to study! . . .

Among the one-of-a-kind items I examined was this 1907 photograph of the First Christian Church in Chickasha, Indian Territory. The photo was taken about eight months before statehood.  . . .

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Meeting with Meta at the Oklahoma History Center

I was in the archive at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City this Monday through Wednesday, March 16-18. What a great place to do research on the history of the Sooner State!

I spent almost all of my time there going through "Box 1" of the Meta Chestnutt Sager Collection. Those folders look innocent. But searching through their contents wore me out.  . . . 

Among the many documents in the collection, there were also a few photographs. In this one, probably taken in Nashville, Meta is about 26 years old. The year would have been 1889.

Here she is 50 years later, in 1939, beside her house in Chickasha, Oklahoma. This photo was taken on the day she rode the train to Oklahoma City where she was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.

Among the few items she put in her scrapbook was the Rock Island Railroad napkin from the train ride to "the City."

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Summary of "Unless Authorized to Act" by C. J. Dull

Dull, C. J., “Unless Authorized to Act: A Suggestion for the Timing Issue in the Civil War Hypothesis Concerning the First Division in the Stone-Campbell Movement.” Encounter 63, no. 4 (2002): 373-84.

Professor C. J. Dull begins with the notion that the Civil War marked the beginning of the end of any unity within the Stone-Campbell movement. He states, however, that "[t]he problem is that the tangible split did not happen then."  Moses Lard, in his classic 1866 editorial certainly did not think that a split was taking place. Two years later, W. K. Pendleton said much the same thing. Since then, interpreters have pointed to any number of events that supposedly mark the moment of division:

1866 - the death of Alexander Campbell
1879 - the death of Benjamin Franklin
1889 - the Sand Creek Address and Declaration
1903 - the revival at Henderson, Tennessee
1906 - the official census split

"What this paper wishes to suggest is that the reason such arguments [against musical instruments and the missionary society, fvb] found increasing plausibility toward the end of the nineteenth century was that there had arisen a class of congregational leaders and members who by the mere fact that they had served in the military, whether North or South, found the argument that silence excludes more compelling."

Dull cites a few examples where subordinates during the Civil War were upbraided for having done something that, though reasonable, was not authorized. The soldier who acted without authorization was out of line, no matter how practical or pressing his actions might have been.

" . . . we can conceive that the first member of the threefold hermeneutic--command, necessary inference, approved example--would have taken on special force for war veterans, and this stronger view of 'command' in which silence does prohibit would have come more naturally for them than for those who had not served."

Dull goes on to note evidence like presence of Churches of Christ near military installations worldwide, and what seems like periods of growth among a cappella churches in the wake of American wars.

"In summary, I wish to suggest that the Civil War was a contributing factor in our first split in that it helped to nurture and emphasize a perspective that valued more highly the value of silence than had previously been the case, an issue that resonated quite strongly at the beginning of the twentieth century and, apparently, following a quarter century of general peace and negative views of the military because of the Viet Nam conflict, much less at the end. . . . On the whole, emphasis has historically been placed on prominent individuals of the period and their role in this split. Perhaps many less prominent individuals may have been equally, if not more, significant. Rather than concentrating on what such individuals as Lipscomb, McGarvey and Hardeman said, we might consider investigating to whom they said it."

Though this article presents an interesting suggestion (see again the title), it begs for evidence from sermons and articles in which advocates of the threefold hermeneutic use military examples and metaphors. Dull does not provide such evidence, which may or may not be there. If this article could cite such evidence, then that could change Dull's suggestion and conception into a considerable argument. One can only wonder if, since the publication of this article, someone has taken up the challenge of trying to assemble the necessary evidence required in order to try the case.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Silver City, Indian Territory

[page 173]

County: Grady
Location: (a) Sec. 22, T 10 N, R 6 W  (b) 19 miles north, 8 miles east of Chickasha; 3 miles north of Tuttle
Map: Page 219
Post Office: May 29, 1883--June 17 1890

Silver City, located just south of the Canadian River where it was crossed by the Chisholm Trail, was an important stopping point for cattlemen on their way to northern markets. Just when the village had its beginning is obscure. It is known, however, that a Mexican family living nearby sold quirts to cowboys before 1880. The Canadian may have caused the village to be located at its particular site. In the vicinity were three small creeks with good water, and the land between the creeks furnished a grazing area when the river was in flood. Even when the

[page 174]

water in the Canadian was low, quicksand could present a problem. Cattle, once they had started across, had to be kept moving. Most trail bosses preferred to hold the cattle on the south bank if the crossing could not be completed in daylight. With the opening of the Unassigned Lands, the Cheyenne and Arapaho Reservation, and the Cherokee Outlet for settlement, the Chisholm Trail ceased to exist.

In 1890, when the Rock Island extended its tracks south of the river, there was a general movement from Silver City to the new town of Minco. One of the noted pioneers of Silver City was Meta Chestnut [sic], who had organized a subscription school. She also moved to Minco where she started Minco Academy, which later become El Meta Bond College.

The only existing reminder of Silver City is the cemetery. All land formerly occupied by the village and trail is now in agricultural use.


Source: John W. Morris, Ghost Towns of Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press), 173-74.

Note: The Oxford English Dictionary defines "quirt" as "a riding whip with a short handle and a braided leather lash."

Friday, January 02, 2015

Some of My 2014 Books

In late August of 2014 I began full-time study in the field of history. That means I got in a lot of reading last year, especially in the fall. I either perused, skimmed, read, or completely-processed more than a hundred books. And then there were the articles, essays, and book reviews. Listed here are most of the books I thoroughly digested. Almost to a one, they're worth reading if your interested in the topic.

A. Early American History

Anderson, Jennifer L. Mahogany: The Costs of Luxury in Early America (2012)

Bolster, W. Jeffrey. The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail (2011)

Carp, Benjamin L. Defiance of the Patriots: The Boston Tea Party and the Making of America (2011)

Cronon, William. Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England (1983)

Jasanoff, Maya. Liberty's Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary War (2011)

Little, Ann M. Abraham in Arms: War and Gender in Colonial New England (2007)

Rediker, Marcus. Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age (2004)

Richter, Daniel K. Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America (2001)

Taylor, Alan. The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 (2013)

B. American Religious History

Conkin, Paul. Cane Ridge: America's Pentecost (1990)

Dochuck, Darren. From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-Folk Religion and the Death of Jim Crow (2012)

Fisher, Linford D. The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures in Early America (2014)

Hall, David D. A Reforming People: Puritanism and the Transformation of Public Life in New England (2011)

Herzog, Jonathan P. The Spiritual-Industrial Complex: America's Religious Battle against Communism in the Early Cold War (2011)

Kidd, Thomas. God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution (2012)

Porterfield, Amanda. Conceived in Doubt: Religion and Politics in the New American Nation (2012)

C. History of Renaissance and Reformation Europe

Burke, Peter. The European Renaissance: Centres and Peripheries (1998)

Cunningham, Andrew and Ole Peter Grell, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Religion, War, Famine and Death in Reformation Europe (2000)

Davis, Natalie Zemon. The Return of Martin Guerre (1983)

Ginzburg, Carlo. The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller (1980)

O'Malley, John W. Trent and All That: Renaming Catholicism in the Early Modern Era (2000)

D. Twentieth-Century U.S. History

Boyle, Kevin. Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age (2004)

Branch, Taylor. Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63 (1988)

Brands. H. W. Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (2009)

Brilliant, Mark. The Color of America Has Changed: How Racial Diversity Shaped Civil Rights Reform in California, 1941-1978 (2010)

Dallek, Robert. An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963 (2003)

Gerstle, Gary. American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century (2001)

May, Elaine Tyler. Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era (1988)

Miscamble, Wilson D. The Most Controversial Decision: Truman, the Atomic Bombs, and the Defeat of Japan (2011)

Schrecker, Ellen. Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America (1998)

Self, Robert O. All in the Family: The Realignment of American Democracy Since the 1960s (2012)

E. Primary Sources

Northup, Solomon. Twelve Years a Slave (1853)

Paine, Thomas. Age of Reason (1794-96)

Foster, Hannah Webster. The Coquette or, The History of Eliza Wharton (1797)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Our Trip to Carlsbad

It's been such a busy week! Larkin and Ory were married in Wellington on Saturday. We spent the night in Altus at the wonderful (well, adequate) Days Inn, and came back to Tulia on Sunday. 

Then, on Monday, it was time for Michele, Abigail, and I to begin our next adventure, one that turned out a little longer than we had planned. It was a nice drive from Tulia down to Carlsbad, New Mexico. We got up Tuesday morning ready for our day at Carlsbad Caverns.

By late afternoon, we were tired and had seen just about all we could. Walking out of the visitor center, we discovered that everything was coated in a sheet of ice. After we scraped off our cars, we drove slowly down the mountain out to the highway. Michele was planning to drive south and spend a day or two with her sister and her family in El Paso. Abigail and I turned north, planning to make it back to Tulia that night.

Before we reached Carlsbad, just a few miles north of the Caverns, Michele called and said, "Get a room in Carlsbad." We knew the weather wasn't nice, but didn't understand. On her way south, she had seen more than one overturned car. She had even stopped to help a couple who had rolled over in their pickup. They stayed warm and waited for the emergency vehicles in her car.

Naturally, Michele was afraid and had no intention of going to El Paso, Tulia, or anywhere far. She was convinced that neither car should go beyond Carlsbad that night. The roads were just too treacherous. So Abigail and I stopped and got a room in Carlsbad, and Michele eventually met us there.

After a good meal at the motel restaurant, we spent our second night in Carlsbad. This morning, Wednesday, December 31st, we woke up to a couple inches of snow. But there was daylight, and crews had made some progress in clearing the roads. It was a long, slow trip home. But we made it safely. Best of all, we had our unforgettable day at the Caverns.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmastime in Texas and Oklahoma

Just a quick note from my home here in Tulia, Swisher County, Texas. It's Sunday evening, December 28. The last few days have been full and fun. But I'm so glad to be home now, taking it easy.

On Thursday, both Ben and Aubrey drove down from Amarillo to spend Christmas with me and Michele. We exchanged gifts and, of course, ate a bit too much. (But it was so good, thanks to Michele).

Ben, Aubrey, and Michele. Christmas Day 2014

Friday, the 26th, was a long day for Abigail, me, and Michele. Ab started the day with an early-morning flight out of Hartford, CT. She changed planes at Midway in Chicago, and landed before noon in Oklahoma City. Michele and I had also gotten up early that morning to drive from Tulia to OKC.

After the three of us shared lunch, we drove to Wellington, Texas, for a wedding rehearsal. My niece, Larkin Davis, was getting married to Ory Johnson the next day. And I was one of the officiants! 

Larkin and her dad, Keith Davis. Wedding rehearsal dinner, Dec. 26, 2014
After rehearsal and dinner in Wellington, the three of us were back in the car headed to Tulia, where we spent the night. Whew! We were so tired.

We got to sleep in the next morning. The wedding wasn't until 2 o'clock in the afternoon, and we didn't need to be back in Wellington until about 1. That was nice. The wedding went off without a hitch. The other officiant in the ceremony, Judge Les Hatch from Lubbock, is a great guy and did a fine job. It was so good to be with most of my family that day.

After the wedding reception, Michele and Abigail and I decided that we hadn't gotten to spend near enough time with my kid sister, Vicky Crews, and her family. They had just come in from Arkansas the night before. They would be staying the night in Altus, OK before returning to their home on Sunday, the 28th. So we all loaded up and went to Altus together. 

We met at my parent's house and got to catch up a bit. When the folks started getting weary, we went to the motel and took over the lobby until late into the night. 

Joy, Abigail, and Frank H. Bellizzi at the Davis-Johnson wedding, Dec. 27
With my parents, two great people

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Scottish Antecedents to American Revivalism, or The Roots of Cane Ridge

Schmidt, Leigh Eric. Holy Fairs: Scotland and the Making of American Revivalism. Second Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001.

To this day, Jimmy Swaggart Ministries in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, hosts an annual event they call "Campmeeting." Though a far cry from the "holy fairs" that emerged in Scotland during the early 1600s, at least in name the gathering in Baton Rouge represents a faint echo of what was, at one time, a powerful tradition. Beginning sometime in the eighteenth century, this tradition made its way to America and, in turn, deeply impacted Protestantism on both sides of the Atlantic.

In Holy Fairs: Scotland and the Making of American Revivalism, historian Leigh Eric Schmidt sets out to provide an extensive history of the regional communion gatherings that were "a critical part of the religious culture of the evangelical Presbyterians" for roughly two centuries in Scotland and a century in America (p. 205). Schmidt says that his goal is simply to understand these events themselves. He compares this to other approaches that seek to identify what caused the revivals or what they generated. He says that his work is about neither causation nor consequence. Instead, it is a sort of "ethnographic history," an exploration of what the revivals meant to their participants and how attendance at the holy fairs shaped their worlds (6). In the interests of a full description, Schmidt makes use of all sorts of "material evidences" and "disparate disciplines" (7). He wants to find out what the sacramental gatherings were like for average people, even those who were not sympathetic to what was happening. He especially wants to avoid simply reporting the exploits and experiences of the ministers (7).

In Chapter 1, a stand-alone history, Schmidt provides a brief description of the early development, basic character, and transatlantic extension of the Presbyterian regional communion gatherings. Regarding their nature, Schmidt writes: "What separated the festal communions from earlier sacraments were such characteristics as outdoor preaching, great concourses of people from an extensive region, long vigils of prayer, powerful experiences of conversion and confirmation, a number of popular ministers cooperating for extended services over three days or more, a seasonal focus on summer, and unusually large numbers of communicants at successive tables" (24).

In Chapters 2 and 3, the author changes over from diachronic description to synchronic analysis. Here, he focuses on the experiences that people had before, during, and after the communion gatherings. What was it like to prepare for, travel to, and participate in one of the festal communions? What did the average person actually do? The author succeeds in showing that the communion gatherings realized minister John Livingston's premise that what the Word is to the ear, the Eucharist should be to the eye. Schmidt also reveals, for example, how five spiritual disciplines traditionally associated with participation in the sacramental occasions--self-examination, personal covenanting, secret prayer, meditation, and devotional reading--led up to and generated the kinds of powerful, unforgettable experiences that people wanted to relive year after year.

Finally, in Chapter 4, Schmidt describes how the sacramental season fell into disuse during the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Why did this happen? Schmidt says that it was the result of mainly two factors: the influence of the Enlightenment, which made the festal communions seem contemptible, and the rise of a capitalist economy, which made them seem wasteful. What these two storms left behind, Victorian standards finished off.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Wilson Miscamble on The Most Controversial Decision, Full Summary of the Book

Miscamble, Wilson D. The Most Controversial Decision: Truman, the Atomic Bombs, and the Defeat of Japan. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011.


According to Miscamble, this book "examines why the bombs were used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki." It "goes on to investigate the role they played in Japan's surrender." The author is convinced that history always includes a moral dimension. So, especially in a book on this subject, he feels compelled to explore "whether it was right for the United States to use this weapon against Hiroshima and Nagasaki" (3).

He also writes: " . . . my effort here takes account of the available and extensive documentary evidence on this much debated issue, and it draws on the best scholarship on the subject" (4).

Chapter 1, "Franklin Roosevelt, the Manhattan Project, and the Development of the Atomic Bomb"

The title of this chapters says it all. Miscamble briefly describes the end of the FDR administration and the planning and practical advance towards the development of an atomic weapon to use against the enemies of the Allies. The chapter includes vignettes of, for example, the collaboration between Maj. Gen. Leslie Groves and Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, an unlikely partnership. In retrospect, it is a bit surprisingly to realize that the success of the Manhattan Project was not a sure thing, and that at least some of FDR's advisers considered it a waste. Those who reported on the project, however, seemed confident. The bomb could make a huge contribution toward achieving the goal of "complete victory at the lowest cost in American lives."

Chapter 2, "Harry Truman, Henry Stimson, and Atomic Briefings"

The chapter begins with the death of FDR in April 1945, and with Harry S. Truman's succession to the presidency. Miscamble reveals how that FDR had operated on the premise that knowledge is power. He had not often met with Vice-President Truman, who came into the Oval Office poorly informed about any number of significant matters, including the Manhattan Project. To make things even more difficult, Truman's success going forward depended on the likes of Henry L. Stimson, the U.S. Secretary of War, a seasoned official with an Ivy League education. Miscamble notes that men like Stimson, who Truman inherited from the previous administration, had never thought very highly of "the senator from Pendergast." But Truman worked effectively enough during those critical first days in office, depending heavily on the best teams he could assemble. Miscamble notes that, contrary to his image of autocracy and quick decisions, Truman actually worked methodically and deliberately, relying on advisers. Also, Miscamble takes the side of those historians who do not believe that Truman strongly considered the development of atomic weapons with an eye toward their implications for future diplomacy. Truman focused simply on winning the war.

Chapter 3, "James F. Byrnes, the Atomic Bomb, and the Pacific War"

Although often overlooked in the 21st century, the contribution of Byrnes (Secretary of State, 1945-47) should not be ignored. "There was but one major issue from Truman's swearing-in until the eve of Potsdam on which Byrnes exercised real impact on policy. His membership on the Interim Committee allowed him to influence American policy on the use of the atomic bomb" (41). Meanwhile, the incredible, ferocious war in the Pacific was dragging on. Iwo Jima and Okinawa were absolutely brutal fights. The politicians and military leaders could only imagine what an invasion of Japan itself would be like. As late as June 18, 1945, U.S. officials were planning for such an invasion, knowing that casualties would run into the hundreds of thousands. Essentially, Truman relied on and deferred to Byrnes on questions related to the atomic weapon. Regarding the development and use of the bomb, Byrnes argued for no sharing of atomic secrets with U.S. allies, and no warning to Japan before use of the bomb.

Chapter 4, "The Potsdam Conference, the Trinity Test, and Atomic Diplomacy"

This chapter reports an incredibly interesting time in history, July 1945. The test at Alamogordo succeeded, and the negotiations at Potsdam were, in the words of both Truman and Byrnes, "the success that failed." Much of the deliberations were held among the advisers, not among the Big Three themselves. Failure was the result of Stalin's deceit, his intention to take as much territory in Europe as he could, and his lack of any real commitment to the agreements. After those meetings in Germany, Truman and Byrnes were eager to go home and, above all, to find out the specifics of what the bomb promised in terms of ending the war.

Chapter 5, "Hiroshima, the Japanese, and the Soviets"

In contrast to the backward look, Miscamble insists that the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan was not a controversial decision for President Truman. Moreover, that action was perfectly consistent with the policies of FDR, who would have done the same thing. The assessments of what could happen in the event of a U.S. invasion of Japan were grim. There would be tens of thousands of American casualties, if not more. Miscamble denies the early and oft-repeated story that Japan was on the brink of surrender in late July 1945. This chapter gives some of the details of the preparations at Tinian Island in the Pacific, and about Paul Tibbets and "Deak" Parsons, and the naming of the Enola Gay after Tibbets' mother.

Chapter 6, "The Japanese Surrender"

The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were combined with the announcement that the Soviets were declaring war on Japan. Emperor Hirohito decided to end the sufferings of his people and agree to the terms of surrender. Yet even then, there were holdouts in the Japanese military who wanted to fight on. A third atomic bomb would be ready before the end of August, with Tokyo as its intended target. The U.S., strangely, was not well-prepared for Japan's acceptance of the Potsdam proposal for surrender (with the Japanese caveat that the imperial system of government remain intact).  Miscamble points out, again, that in this case, the haggling among officials within the Japanese government over the terms indicates that Japan was not already on the verge of surrender. Miscamble reports the audacity of the Soviets who wanted to jointly rule in Japan with the U.S., and the Soviet attempts to conquer Japanese islands as the war was ending.

Chapter 7, "Necessary, But Was It Right?"

Miscamble seeks to place Hiroshima and Nagasaki in context. First, the immediate destruction of the bombs, and the total number of deaths that came as a result of radiation poisoning, are a comparatively small number during WW II. Second, the number of people who were not killed because the war came to an end is comparatively high. Third, to focus on the barbarity of August 1945 while ignoring Pearl Harbor Day and the hundreds of thousands the Japanese killed in Asia every month is hardly fair.  Nor is it fair to implicate Truman alone while ignoring Churchill and FDR. Both of them were, of necessity it seems, proponents of total war. Nor is it right to suggest that Truman ever turned his back on "some feasible moral course of action that would have secured a Japanese surrender" (124).

Chapter 8, "Byrnes, the Soviets, and the American Atomic Monopoly"

Strange! Truman enunciated a policy of keeping atomic secrets from a dangerous world. Yet even before the Japanese had surrendered, H. D. Smyth's official history of the Manhattan Project was published. Something else that's strange: After WW II, the Truman administration did not emphasize America's exclusive control of atomic weaponry in its foreign diplomacy. One might say that the U.S. didn't have to. It's power was obvious. But nothing suggests that U.S. officials were deliberately exploiting their power. At a conference in London, Byrnes got little cooperation from Molotov who was representing Stalin. As usual, Truman, now focused more on domestic issues, gave Byrnes a diplomatic blank check. Miscamble's account not only denies that the Truman Administration was involved in "atomic diplomacy." It insinuates that the major players hardly knew how that might be done.

Chapter 9, "The Atomic Bomb and the Origins of the Cold War"

Miscamble emphasizes that, after the end of World War II, the Truman administration did not have a coherent view of how the U.S. might go forward with its newfound atomic capability. He denies that Truman was actively conducting nuclear diplomacy. Miscamble says that the Cold War that unfolded was not inevitable, but that it escalated mainly because of Joseph Stalin's paranoid power grabs.

"Ironically, Stalin might have been able to pursue his chosen approach of sovietization of a vast territory without much objection from the United States, if he had been able to limit his external goals to an East European sphere of influence. If he had learned a lesson from the Iran episode in March 1946 and sat back contentedly to enjoy an empire that reached beyond the accomplishment of any of his Czarist forebears, then the Cold War might have been averted. But he could not. Stalin overreached and moved far beyond cementing his control of Eastern Europe so as to threaten both in the Mediterranean, particularly in Turkey, and also in Western Europe. In this disastrous choice lies the immediate origins of the Cold War" (146-47).

Regarding Japan and the bombs, Miscamble concludes as follows: "First, the principal motive for utilizing the new weapon lay in a potent mix of desire to force Japan's surrender and save American lives. Second, the atomic bombs contributed decisively in forcing that eventual surrender and in bringing the brutal war to an end prior to any costly invasion of the Japanese home islands." Third, "while the atomic bomb was never entirely separated from considerations of postwar international politics, the decision to use the weapon was not driven by these concerns" (151).

A major theme here is that one of the most remarkable aspects of this story is how uncontroversial atomic weapons were before the end of World War II.  Both FDR and Truman, along with virtually everyone in their administrations, assumed that if ever the silver bullet of an atomic weapon came into American hands, the U.S. was going to use it to end the war.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Wilson on the Historiography of American Religion

Wilson, John F. Religion and the American Nation: Historiography and History. Athens. GA: University of Georgia Press, 2003.

This is one of the few sweeping historiographies of American religion to be published in recent times, and that makes it an important book. It likely deserves more attention than it has gotten.

In his "Introduction," John F. Wilson says that because American exceptionalism has been related to religion--he cites Sidney Mead as an example of what he's describing--the subject of this book is even more significant. He goes on to give an overview of his three lectures, which make up the rest of the book. The primary subject, says Wilson, is "the historiography of religion in the United States" (3).

Lecture One provides a survey up to the 1970s. Wilson acknowledges that, because it tries to account for so much, he necessarily leaves out several worthy figures. In this lecture, one of his main points is that the term "Puritan" could stand to be redefined and rehabilitated so as to serve as a useful, not-so-anxious expression.

Lecture Two is about more-recent attempts by historians to get past or to overturn the dominance of Puritanism in American religious historiography. Such attempts fall into to difference categories: (a) the position that says a variety of narratives, and not just the Puritan one, truly represent American religious history, and (b) the position that says historians can use social-science approaches in order to get at the paradigms and mechanisms of religion in America.

Lecture Three then explores "the religiously generative dimension of the American society" (5).


If I have a complaint about this book, it would be that if left me wanting a lot more. Part of that is just a result of Wilson attempting to tackle this subject in a mere three lectures. The other part of this frustration is Wilson's neglect of certain historians and their work, while giving attention to others that are less deserving. For example, he mentions that P. G. Mode assumed Frederick Jackson Turner's "frontier thesis." But he doesn't say anything more about Turner. He also mentions that W. W. Sweet assumed the same (15-16). But, again, we hear nothing about Turner. If he's so seminal, why not more information about him, at least in the notes?

On the other hand, I wondered about Wilson' inclusion of Harold Bloom's book and ideas in the third and final chapter. Bloom certainly is an interesting guy. But I thought that when he proclaimed himself a gnostic and basically said that most all other Americans are gnostics too, well, that was just sort of bizarre.

But this is mostly nit-picking on my part. The fact is, there aren't many people who can equal John Wilson in what they know about the historiography of American religion. This book introduces and sorts through the material about as well as it can be done, I suspect. For that reason, it is an important resource for graduate students and for non-specialists who would like to quickly get up-to-speed on the topic.

For a useful, comparable resource, see Catherine L. Albanese, American Religious History: A Bibliographical Essay.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

PhD Reading List for "American Religious History"

Submitted to Professor Mark Stoll, Advisor, Texas Tech University October 3, 2014

So here it is, my reading list for the field of American Religious History. Occasionally, I've included a hyperlink to something I've posted about that particular title. As time goes on, I will add to the number of titles that have a link. I just have to come up with more blog posts about these books and articles. In putting this together, I spent a lot of time looking at what other people had done, coming up with categories that made sense to me, and, of course, selecting the books and placing them where they are. Since I won't be taking my comprehensive exams anytime soon, the list isn't set in stone. But I'm sure this is pretty close to what I'll be tested over when the time comes.

Background, Surveys, Historiography (13)

Ansary, Tamim. Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World through Islamic Eyes (2009)

Butler, Jon, Grant Wacker, and Randall Balmer. Religion in American Life: A Short History (2nd ed., 2011)

Butler, Jon. Awash in a Sea of Faith: Christianizing the American People (1990)

__________. "Jack-in-the-Box Faith: The Religion Problem in Modern American History," Journal of American History (2004)

Hatch, Nathan O. and Mark A. Noll, editors. The Bible in America: Essays in Cultural History (1982)

Holifield, E. Brooks. Theology in America: Christian Thought from the Age of the Puritans to the Civil War (2003)

Hughes, Richard T., and C. Leonard Allen. Illusions of Innocence: Protestant Primitivism in America, 1630-1875 (1988)

Hutchison, William R. Religious Pluralism in America: The Contentious History of a Founding Ideal (2003)

May, Henry F. "The Recovery of American Religious History,” American Historical Review (1964)

Noll, Mark A. America’s God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln (2005)

O'Malley, John W. Four Cultures of the West (2004)

Stendahl, Krister. "Paul and the Introspective Consciousness of the West," Harvard Theological Review 56 (1963): 199-215.

Wilson, John F. Religion and the American Nation: Historiography and History (2003)

Religion in the British American Colonies, 1620-1775 (19)

Benedict, Philip. Christ's Churches Purely Reformed: A Social History of Calvinism (2002)

Bonomi, Patricia. Under the Cope of Heaven: Religion, Society, and Politics in Colonial America (1986)

Bozeman, T. Dwight. To Live Ancient Lives: The Primitivist Dimension in Puritanism (1988)

Butler, Jon. "Enthusiasm Described and Decried: The Great Awakening as Interpretive Fiction," Journal of American History (1982)

Foster, Stephen. The Long Argument: English Puritanism and the Shaping of New England Culture, 1570-1700 (1991)

Griffin, Patrick. The People with No Name: Ireland's Ulster Scots, America's Scots Irish, and the Creation of a British Atlantic World, 1689-1764 (2001)

Hall, David D. Worlds of Wonder, Days of Judgment: Popular Religious Belief in Early New England (1989)

__________. A Reforming People: Puritanism and the Transformation of Public Life in New England (2011)

Knight, Janice. Orthodoxies in Massachusetts: Rereading American Puritanism (1994)

Lambert, Frank. Inventing the “Great Awakening" (1999)

McGiffert, Michael, "American Puritan Studies in the 1960s," William and Mary Quarterly (1970)

McMillon, Lynn A. Restoration Roots: The Scottish Origins of the American Restoration Movement (1983)

Miller, Perry. Errand into the Wilderness (1956)

Morgan, Edmund. Visible Saints: The History of a Puritan Idea (1963)

__________. The Puritan Dilemma: The Story of John Winthrop, 3rd ed. (2006)

Pestana, Carla Gardina. Protestant Empire: Religion and the Making of the British Atlantic World (2009)

Valeri, Mark. Heavenly Merchandize: How Religion Shaped Commerce in Puritan America (2010).

Westerkamp, Marilyn J. Triumph of the Laity: Scots-Irish Piety and the Great Awakening, 1625-1760 (1988)

Winship, Michael. Making Heretics: Militant Protestantism and free Grace in Massachusetts, 1636-1641 (2002)

Revolutionary Era (6)

Kidd, Thomas S. God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution (2010)

Lambert, Frank. The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America (2003)

May, Henry F. The Enlightenment in America (1976)

Porterfield, Amanda. Conceived in Doubt: Religion and Politics in the New American Nation (2012)

Smith, John Howard. The Perfect Rule of the Christian Religion: Sandemanianism in the Eighteenth Century (2008)

Wright, Conrad. The Beginnings of Unitarianism in America (1955)

Second Great Awakening (7)

Boles, John B. The Great Revival, 1787-1805: The Origins of the Southern Evangelical Mind (1972)

Conkin, Paul. Cane Ridge: America's Pentecost (1990)

Cross, Whitney R. The Burned-over District: The Social and Intellectual History of Enthusiastic Religion in Western New York, 1800-1850 (1981)

Hatch, Nathan O. The Democratization of American Christianity (1989)

Lyerly, Cynthia Lynn. Methodism and the Southern Mind, 1770-1810 (1998)

Mathews, Donald G. "The Second Great Awakening as an Organizing Process, 1780-1830: An Hypothesis," American Quarterly (1969)

Schmidt, Leigh Eric. Holy Fairs: Scotland and the Making of American Revivalism (2nd ed., 2001)

Nineteenth Century Religion including the Civil War (12)

Bushman, Richard L. Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (2005)

Frei, Hans W. The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative: A Study in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Hermeneutics (1974).

Gordon, Sarah Barringer. The Mormon Question: Polygamy and Constitutional Conflict in Nineteenth-Century America (2002)

Hughes, Richard. Reviving the Ancient Faith: A History of Churches of Christ (1996)

Johnson, Paul E. and Sean Wilentz, The Kingdom of Matthias: A Story of Sex and Salvation in 19th-Century America (2nd ed., 2012)

Makdisi, Ussama. Artillery of Heaven: American Missionaries and the Failed Conversion of the Middle East (2008)

Mason, Patrick. The Mormon Menace: Violence and Anti-Mormonism in the Postbellum South (2011)

Noll, Mark. The Civil War as a Theological Crisis (2006)

Rable, George C. God's Almost Chosen Peoples: A Religious History of the American Civil War (2010)

Walters, Ronald G. American Reformers, 1815-1860 (1978)

Wigger, John. American Saint: Francis Asbury and the Methodists (2009)

Woodall, Jonathan Franklin. "The Post-Termination Rhetoric of the American Restoration Movment." PhD diss., University of Memphis (2014)

Religion in Late-Nineteenth and Early-Twentieth Century (11)

Carter, Paul Allen. The Spiritual Crisis of the Gilded Age (1971)

Flake, Kathleen. The Politics of American Religious Identity: The Seating of Senator Reed Smoot, Mormon Apostle (2004)

Hutchison, William R. The Modernist Impulse in American Protestantism (1992)

Larson, Edward J. Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion (1997)

Marsden, George M. Fundamentalism and American Culture, 2nd ed. (2006)

May, Henry F. Protestant Churches and Industrial America (1949)

Evans, Christopher H. The Kingdom Is Always but Coming: A Life of Walter Rauschenbusch (2004)

Schmidt, Leigh Eric. “The Commercialization of the Calendar: American Holidays and the Culture of Consumption, 1870-1930,” Journal of American History (1991)

Sutton, Matthew Avery. Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America (2007)

Wacker, Grant. Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture (2003)

Wilson, Charles Reagan. Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause, 1865-1920, (1980, 2009)

Religion in Post-World War II America (11)

Dochuk, Darren. From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism (2011)

Eck, Diana L. A New Religious America: How a "Christian Country" Has Become the World's Most Religiously-Diverse Nation (2001)

Flippen, J. Brooks. Jimmy Carter, the Politics of Family, and the Rise of the Religious Right (2011)

Herzog, Jonathan P. The Spiritual-Industrial Complex: America's Battle against Communism in the Early Cold War (2011)

Lawrence, Bruce B. New Faiths, Old Fears: Muslims and Other Asian Immigrants in American Religious Life (2004)

Marsden, George M. The Twilight of the American Enlightenment: The 1950s and the Crisis of Liberal Belief (2014)

Mojtabai, A. G. Blessed Assurance: At Home with the Bomb in Amarillo, Texas (1986)

Oppenheimer, Mark. Knocking on Heaven's Door: American Religion in the Age of Counterculture (2003)

Turner, John G., Bill Bright and Campus Crusade for Christ: The Renewal of Evangelicalism in Postwar America (2008)

Worthen, Molly. Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism (2014)

Wuthnow, Robert. After Heaven: Spirituality in America Since the 1950s (New ed., 1988)

African-Americans and Religion (7)

Callahan, Allan D. The Talking Book: African Americans and the Bible (2008)

Chappell, David L. A Stone of Hope: Prophetic Religion and the Death of Jim Crow (2004)

Daulatzai, Sohail. Black Star, Crescent Moon: The Muslim International and Black Freedom beyond America (2012)

Frey, Sylvia R. and Betty Wood, Come Shouting to Zion: African American Protestantism in the American South and British Caribbean to 1830 (1998)

Haley, Alex. The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965)

Raboteau, Albert. Slave Religion: The "Invisible Institution" in the Antebellum South (updated ed., 2004)

Richards, Phillip. "The 'Joseph Story' as Slave Narrative: On Genesis and Exodus as Prototypes for Early Black Anglophone Writing," in African Americans and the Bible (2000)

Judaism and American History (4)

Berman, Lila Corwin. Speaking of Jews: Rabbis, Intellectuals, and the Creation of an American Public Identity (2009)

Diner, Haisa R. The Jews of the United States, 1654-2000 (2006)

Sarna, Jonathan. American Judaism: A History (2004)

Wyman, David S. The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust, 1941-1945 (2007)

Native Americans and Religion (4)

Fisher, Linford D. The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures in Early America (2012)

Greer, Allan. Mohawk Saint: Catherine Tekakwitha and the Jesuits (2004)

Salisbury, Neal. Manitou and Providence: Indians, Europeans, and the Making of New England, 1500-1643 (1982)

Smoak, Gregory Ellis. Ghost Dances and Identity: Prophetic Religion and American Indian Ethnogenesis in the Nineteenth Century (2008)

Roman Catholicism and American History (4)

McGreevey. John T. Catholicism and American Freedom: A History (2003)

Orsi, Robert A. The Madonna of 115th Street: Faith and Community in Italian Harlem, 1880-1950 (3rd ed., 2010)

Orsi, Robert A. Thank you, St. Jude: Women's Devotion to the Patron Saint of Hopeless Causes (1996)

O'Toole, James M. The Faithful: A History of Catholics in America (2008)

Women and American Religion (4)

Braude, Ann. "Women's History Is American Religious History," in Retelling U.S. Religious History (1997)

Brekus, Catherine A. The Religious History of American Women: Reimagining the Past (2007)

Koehler, Lyle. A Search for Power: The "Weaker Sex" in Seventeenth-Century New England (1980)

Pascoe, Peggy. Relations of Rescue: The Search for Female Moral Authority in the American West, 1874-1939 (1993)