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 at: February 22, 2008 at 10:58 AM said...

Still the one:

Baptized in Blood.

Luke Harlow at: February 22, 2008 at 11:49 AM said...

The Nation with the Soul of a Church.

But Baptized in Blood probably wins.

Great topic, Ed.

Edward J Blum at: February 22, 2008 at 12:18 PM 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 at: February 22, 2008 at 12:39 PM said...

Without God, Without Creed: easy to remember and succinctly conveys the the thesis.

Randall at: February 22, 2008 at 1:09 PM said...

Jon Butler, Awash in a Sea of Faith: Christianizing the American People

Art at: February 22, 2008 at 2:09 PM said...

Chidester's proposed title for Authentic Fakes was Holy Shit. That would have won this contest hands down.

Edward J Blum at: February 22, 2008 at 3:43 PM 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 at: February 22, 2008 at 5:33 PM 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 at: February 22, 2008 at 6:31 PM 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.

Kevin M Schultz at: February 22, 2008 at 7:50 PM said...

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 Baker at: February 23, 2008 at 8:07 AM 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 at: February 23, 2008 at 8:24 AM 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 at: February 23, 2008 at 2:12 PM 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 at: February 23, 2008 at 2:15 PM said...

And can't forget Harrison's _Righteous Riches_.

John Fea at: February 23, 2008 at 3:26 PM said...

Phil: Don't forget Moore, *Selling God*

Amy at: February 23, 2008 at 5:57 PM said...

Red-hot & Righteous.

Benjamin Brandenburg at: February 24, 2008 at 11:33 AM said...

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 at: February 25, 2008 at 7:28 AM said...

If we expand the category to include sociology, I really like Michael Emerson's _Divided by Faith_

sarahblum at: February 25, 2008 at 2:18 PM said...

I have to say Beryl Satter's Each Mind a Kingdom. It's hands-down perfect.

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