Two years ago, I posted an interview with Matthew Bowman, a preview of a book that has now appeared as The Urban Pulpit:New York City and the Fate of Liberal Evangelicalism.
– Paul Putz posted an excellent summary/review at Religion in American History:
Bowman argues that the fracturing of evangelicalism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century is best understood as a response to the crisis of the city. That sounds familiar enough on the surface. But Bowman’s Orsi-inspired approach is unique. For him, evangelicalism should be seen as a religious style, a “set of behavioral expectations and methods of practice” rather than a “coherent theological proposition” (p. 10). Bowman zeroes in on three elements that united evangelicals in the nineteenth century: conversion (although there were competing notions about this process), a desire to interact with God through language, and an emphasis on the preached sermon and the read Bible as the means towards that end.
– Bowman’s book makes me think of Chris Gehrz’s post (which came to me via John Fea’s blog) about the “New York-centrism” in “evangelical cultural engagement.” The significance that evangelicals placed on cities such as New York (and perhaps on New York above all others) has a very long history, clearly. It might be interesting to compare explicitly the late-nineteenth-century experiences of Protestants on the periphery with those at the “center of culture.”
– Say a prayer for more reasonable book prices!