REVIVE US AGAIN: The Reawakening of American Fundamentalism by Joel A. Carpenter

REVIVE US AGAIN: The Reawakening of American Fundamentalism

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In 1925, H.L. Mencken scoffed that if he heaved an egg out of a Pullman window anywhere in the country, he would hit a fundamentalist. But by 1930, defeated by their public humiliation in the Scopes ""monkey trial,"" those same fundamentalists seemed to have disappeared. Or had they? In this groundbreaking new book, historian Carpenter, provost of Calvin College, argues that fundamentalists did not vanish in the 1930s and '40s--they went underground and built a unique and powerful subculture, with Bible schools, foreign mission societies, seminaries, camp meetings, and mom-and-pop publishing houses. Carpenter traces the vitality of the fundamentalist movement from 1925 to 1950, arguing that fundamentalism actually expanded during the '30s, when mainline Protestants were experiencing a precipitous decline. What's more, these militantly antimodern crusaders eagerly embraced the most cutting-edge of mediums, radio, to proclaim their old-time gospel message. Radio evangelists like Paul Rader and Charles Fuller gave fundamentalists a respectability they had coveted since Mencken's hurtful depictions of them as ignorant backwater bumpkins. Radio was fundamentalism's entry into many American homes. In the 1940s, the highly successful Youth for Christ movement built on this media-savvy precedent, gaining mass appeal with slick publicity campaigns and evangelists be-bopping from the pulpit to contemporary big-band tunes. So when the nation as a whole began turning to religion in the anxious days of WW II and its aftermath, fundamentalists were at the ready with their well-established infrastructure. The ""prophet"" who arose from this fundamentalist subculture and was a product of its Bible schools, radio ministries, and revival circuits was the legendary Billy Graham, who helped bring fundamentalism further into the American mainstream. A valuable contribution to a critical but neglected era in fundamentalist studies.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0195129075
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Oxford Univ.