Gender, Family, and Modern Evangelicalism in Fides et Historia

Randall Stephens

The new issue of Fides et Historia will be mailed out shortly.  (Graduate student membership in the Conference on Faith and History is still $20.  Explore back issues via ATLA.)  This latest issue is a little heftier than usual.  We have one article and two substantial roundtables.  And, as usual, there are a mountain of reviews and a foothill of review essays. 
D.L. Moody and J.V. Farwell's first Sunday school class,
North Market Hall, Chicago, Ill. An 1876 print.
Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

A few topics stand out in the new issue: gender, parenting, and rise of modern evangelicalism. The roundtable on Darren Dochuk's From Bible Belt to Sunbelt comes from a 2013 AHA/CFH session in New Orleans. (Some blog readers were likely in attendance.) I put together the second roundtable to explore how historians and religious studies scholars are writing and thinking about child-rearing and the family.  Here's the brief intro for that, followed by the table of contents.    

“The family is the most important institution in the world. It was God's idea in the first place. It was not the invention of sociologists or economists or government bureaucrats who decided it would make society operate more smoothly. Families existed before cities and governments, before written language, nations, temples, and churches.”[1]
- Billy Graham

“Children are not casual guests in our home. They have been loaned to us temporarily for the purpose of loving them and instilling a foundation of values on which their future lives will be built.”[2]  - James Dobson

In 2004 the historian Steven Mintz observed that “The history of children is often treated as a marginal subject, and there is no question that it is especially difficult to write.” He wondered why that was the case. “Children are rarely obvious historical actors,” Mintz explained. “They leave fewer historical sources than adults, and their powerlessness makes them less visible than other social groups. Nevertheless, the history of childhood is inextricably bound up with the broader political and social events in the life of the the nation—including colonization, revolution, slavery, industrialization, urbanization, immigration, and war. . .”[3]

More recently the religious historian Robert Orsi remarked that children tend to be invisible in American religious history, even though “the cast of a culture’s imagination begins in its work with children.”[4]   There is still much for historians of American religion to learn about the cultural work being done in the raising of children and the ordering of family life.

Certainly, the story of Christianity in America has often centered on childhood as well as parenting and the family.  Indeed, in postwar America contested ideas of what constituted or threatened the ideal family animated a variety of believers.  What does the study of family life, parenting, and children add to our understanding of American Christianity? Why did the family and parenting take on new religious relevance in the second half of the twentieth century? How do historians, religious studies scholars, and others make sense of the interconnections of religion and family life?  Or, the connections between religion, politics, and the family?  We asked a group of scholars—Margaret Bendroth, Hilde Løvdal, Kathryn Lofton, and Dan Williams—to reflect on the critical interplay of faith and the family.  In the pages that follow they examine childcare expertise, politics and family values, the views of leading figures, notions of calling, and the recent evolution of American Christianity.

Table of Contents Fides et Historia (Summer/Fall 2013)


“She Must Be a Proper Exception”: Females, Fuller Seminary, and the Limits of Gender Equity among Southern California Evangelicals, 1947–1952
Arlin C. Migliazzo
Roundtable: Darren Dochuk’s From Bible Belt to Sunbelt

Barry Hankins

Assessing Dochuk’s From Bible Belt to Sunbelt
Daniel K. Williams

“Plain-Folk Religion”: Theology’s Place in a Political Story
Molly Worthen

Response to Daniel Williams and Molly Worthen
Darren Dochuk

Commentary: Errand into the Military-Industrial Complex
Michelle Nickerson

Axel Schaefer

Roundtable: Children and Family in the History of Modern American Christianity

Randall J. Stephens

“Bad Children”
Peggy Bendroth

Called to Preach, Called to Parent: American Evangelicals and Their Mission in the World
Hilde Løvdal

Willing Children
Kathryn Lofton

Parental Rights: Conservative Evangelicals’ Approach to Protecting Children in the 1970s
Daniel K. Williams

Review Essays

The Poverty of History and Theory: Frank Ankersmit’s Search for Historical Experience
William Katerberg

On the Agency of Dreams 
Joseph Amato

The Rise of Modern Science: Shifting Perspectives, Sliding Interpretations
William R. Shea

Evangelical Responses to the Christian America Thesis
Barton E. Price

[1] Billy Graham, Hope for Each Day: Morning and Evening Devotions (Nashville: Countryman and Thomas Nelson, 2012), 632.
[2] James Dobson, The Strong-Willed Child: Birth Through Adolescence (1978; Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1992), 246.
[3] Steven Mintz, Huck's Raft: The History of American Childhood (Cambridge, Mass: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2004), vii-viii.
[4] “Beyond the Niebuhrs: An Interview with Robert Orsi on Recent Trends in American Religious History,” conducted by Randall J. Stephens, in Recent Themes in American Religious History, Historians in Conversation Series, Randall Stephens, ed. (University of South Carolina Press, 2009), 24.


Looks great. Can't wait to get my copy.
Laura Leibman said…
Looks awesome-can't wait to read it. Love the quote about "Children are not casual guests in our home" as it suggests that perhaps, we are thinking about certain family members as such?