Inspired by Holly Tucker’s post about writing accountability, I thought I would give this a try. And look…I’m already a day late.
I’m just trying this out and may not continue with it, but it might go something like this:
This week I am working on Chapter 2, the chapter that deals with church discipline and congregations as social agents. I got a good jump on the introduction and historiographical review over Christmas, but need to dig into the meat of the chapter. I am trying to provide a more expansive definition of discipline than just church courts as a means social control, but as the way a congregation conceives of its relationship with “the world,” and how it uses evangelical expectations to define acceptable behavior of its members in a changing secular environment. Of course, the conditions of religious communities and the world are ever changing, which give historians something to do. I spent the last few days reading articles on church discipline in the English Protestant world, including Seventeenth Century England and Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century New England. Good stuff on how the breakdown of Catholic and Anglican Church authority increased the power of congregations to regulate themselves without state aid, but also how religious pluralism/freedom in America made universal regulation simply not feasible. This makes a nice glide into the change of moral authority from community to family in the Nineteenth Century. Anyhow, the point is to get that all written out in about two to four pages. If anyone has good suggestions for articles or monographs about religious discipline in America, I’d be glad to know them. (I’ve been using articles by J.W. Black and David Brown thus far.)
Then explain what historians have observed as discipline and its secular/social facets in the antebellum south. This means taking a closer look Jean Freidman’s and Stephanie McCurry’s books, and C.V. Smith’s dissertation, while synthesizing them with the Donald Mathews framework I am using for this section, in two to four pages. Also need to look out for other secondary literature on the subject, because what I have now seems awful thin. I do have other works at hand, but suggestions are welcome.
To get through this seems like a reasonable goal. With business cranking up again requiring many errands this week, not to mention getting ready to start class next week, this might be a little ambitious. Quite a bit of reading and note taking is involved, and I find that writing historiography reviews and summarizing other scholars’ work is my most ponderous and unsatisfying writing time.
Should I, by some miracle, get past these two things, I’ll start in describing applied discipline in some Montgomery and Anson County Baptist churches and a variety of Quaker Meetings. But I wouldn’t hold my breath on that.