Shall the Historians Win, Part II: More Fundamentalist Roundup

Paul Harvey

For those of you who happen to be in the Pacific Northwest or planning on attending the Pacific Coast Branch meeting of the AHA in Seattle coming up this Fri-Sat., come on by and visit this panel on Friday afternoon, 3:30 - 5, in the Seattle Renaissance hotel (before you go to our panel, make sure to go visit the Seattle Public Library first, a really wonderfully cool architectural landmark in downtown SEA a few blocks from the hotel):

Rethinking American Religion during the Interwar Period

Chair and Comment: Paul Harvey, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

“What does Fundamentalism Have to Do with Class?: The New York Labor Temple, 1920-
1926” -- Janine Giordano Drake, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

“The Great Depression and the Elasticity of Fundamentalism”
Christopher Schlect, Washington State University

“Evangelical Methodists and Postwar Conservatism”
W. Andrew Tooley, Wheaton College

The papers collectively represent excellent empirical work in the complications regarding the term "fundamentalism" during its originary years earlier in the twentieth century, and Janine's work suggests much about the ways in which working-class socialist Christianity got "read out" of acceptability around the end of World War I. Christopher's paper shows how various Presbyterian ministers nationwide who were identified as "fundamentalists" in fact disagreed substantially on any number of issues.

While these papers considerably complicate the meaning and definitions given to "fundamentalism," one person that no one would dispute fits the label, however the label is defined, is John R. Rice, longtime editor of the important periodical The Sword of the Lord.

Rice's grandson, Andrew Himes, moved from the fundamentalism of his family background to another form of fundamentalism, Maoist leftism, in the 1970s. He has emerged from that wrenching experience to author a book at once poignant and informative, juxtaposing anecdotes from his own life together with a hefty "long history" of fundamentalism, culminating in extensive sections on his grandfather John R. Rice.

As it happens, after you enjoy the excellent papers mentioned above at the PCB-AHA panel, you have the opportunity to meet Andrew Himes and hear him read from his work The Sword of the Lord: The Roots of Fundamentalism in an American Family (with a foreword by Parker J. Palmer). Himes will be reading from his work at a great independent bookseller, Elliott Bay Books in Seattle, on Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. Here's a description from the author's own site:

My new book was released on May 15, and ever since then I have been eagerly awaiting my gig at Elliot Bay Bookstore. Ever since I moved to Seattle in 1985 I've been a fan of Elliot Bay -- perhaps the best independent bookstore in the world. Elliot Bay has a passionate, articulate, engaged staff, a wide selection of great books, and a fantastic cafe with some of the best coffe, pastries, sandwiches and soups in Seattle. Elliot Bay also has a well-stocked calendar of author readings in the basement, and I have been to many over the years -- reading performances and talks by some of the funniest, smartest, best story tellers and writers I've heard or read. So it makes me really happy to be invited to speak/read/perform, at Elliot Bay Bookstore on Friday, August 12th at 7:00 PM. If you are in Seattle, I dearly hope you come to this event to support Elliot Bay and have a great time giving me a hard time with challenging questions. Then you can hang out with me in the cafe and talk 'til all hours!

More about the book next!


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