Memoirs of the Spirit: American Religious Autobiography from Jonathan Edwards to Maya Angelou

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9780802849960: Memoirs of the Spirit: American Religious Autobiography from Jonathan Edwards to Maya Angelou

This anthology displays the tapestry of religious experience in America during the past three centuries. Compiled and edited by a foremost historian of American religion, these twenty-six spiritual autobiographies, ordered chronologically, uniquely capture the nation's soul in the words of the people who helped shape it.. "Featuring a full-page portrait of most of the writers included in the volume as well as insightful introductory comments by Edwin Gaustad, Memoirs of the Spirit offers an enlightening view of America's rich religious past - and suggests the multiplicity that is America's religious future.

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Review:

There are many rooms in the Father's mansion, we're told, and this collection of American religious autobiographies is beautiful proof of that truth. Arranged chronologically, the collection takes us from the 17th-century captivity narrative of Mary Rowlandson to another kind of captivity in the contemporary story of Barbara Harrison, who lived with and ultimately left the Jehovah's Witnesses. Along the way we get glimpses of familiar faces (Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jimmy Carter, Billy Graham), and some that are likely to be less familiar: Orestes Brownson, Mary Antin, Virginia Sorenson. Mostly Christian, but including a few representatives of other faith traditions (Isaac Wise, Alan Watts, Paramahansa Yogananda, Black Elk), the editor has selected and edited well, providing useful single-page introductions to each selection. Handsomely packaged, the book makes a fine gift--a true remembrance of the spirit in its rainbow of forms. --Doug Thorpe

About the Author:

Edwin S. Gaustad is a professor of history at the University of California, Riverside. He is a noted church historian and the author of over a dozen books, including The Great Awakening in New England, Dissent in American Religion, and A Religious History of America.

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