What Are the Best Titles in American Religious History?


After I posted about Courtney Bender's book and praised her for the title, she sent me an emailing mentioning that her title was conceived in conversation with her press editor. She wanted U Chicago Press to feel some of the accolades as well.

And it got me thinking: what are the best titles in American religious history? Not the best books, but the best literary titles - and why.

So, if you have an opinion on this, please leave a comment and defend your choice. Let's have a comment-off.


Paul Harvey said…
Still the one:

Baptized in Blood.
Luke Harlow said…
The Nation with the Soul of a Church.

But Baptized in Blood probably wins.

Great topic, Ed.
Anonymous said…
Two books about the same period and moment, but with two totally different and elegant titles:

Shopkeeper's Millennium by Paul Johnson

Cradle of the Middle Class by Mary Ryan

Those titles, I think, are just terrific.
Luke Harlow said…
Without God, Without Creed: easy to remember and succinctly conveys the the thesis.
Randall said…
Jon Butler, Awash in a Sea of Faith: Christianizing the American People
Art Remillard said…
Chidester's proposed title for Authentic Fakes was Holy Shit. That would have won this contest hands down.
Anonymous said…
Freedom's Coming ain't too bad either. It has hope, but also lament in it - since freedom is not here yet.
John Fea said…
Great idea, Ed. I like titles that are plays on popular phrases or have multiple meanings.

Consumer Rites by Leigh E. Schmidt

New England's Generation by Virginia DeJohn Anderson
Randall said…
I've been reading Van Wyck Brooks works on American lit. I like the sound of his New England: Indian Summer, 1865-1915. Few historians and scholars in general can write with the sweep and confidence of a mid-century author like this. Maybe that's a good thing, though.
Although only moderately concerning religion (although more so than you might remember):

Henry May, The End of American Innocence: A Study of the First Years of Our Own Time.

Then, on Catholics:
William Halsey, The Survival of American Innocence: Catholicism in an Era of Disillusionment.
Kelly J. Baker said…
I like Chidester's Salvation and Suicide, Griffith's Born Again Bodies, and Frykholm's Rapture Culture, but I have to agree with Art about Holy Shit, I mean, Authentic Fakes.
DEG said…
The Democratization of American Christianity.

Boom. Thesis in title. No need for subtitle.

I also like When Church Became Theatre and Body Piercing Saved My Life.
Phil said…
Seeman's _Pious Persuasions_ captures the interplay that creates popular religion, and Shuck's _Marks of the Beast_ is just unforgettable.

One has to like titles that reflect the religious economy: Cimino and Latin's _Shopping for Faith_, George's _God's Salesman_, Chesnut's _Competitive Spirits_, and Miller's _Consuming Religion_.
Phil said…
And can't forget Harrison's _Righteous Riches_.
John Fea said…
Phil: Don't forget Moore, *Selling God*
Amy said…
Red-hot & Righteous.
Below are some winner's form my comps list:

Daniel Hofrenning's In Washington But Not Of It

Hudnut-Beumier's In Pursuit of the Almighty's Dollar

Edward Larson's Summer of the Gods

And the winner? Blood Done Sign my Name by Tim Tyson.
Anonymous said…
If we expand the category to include sociology, I really like Michael Emerson's _Divided by Faith_
Sarah said…
I have to say Beryl Satter's Each Mind a Kingdom. It's hands-down perfect.

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