Plowed through some basic editing on chapter 2 today, so I can mark that off my list from last week. This week, I need to…
Find an illustrative anecdote to open the chapter.
Fill in some small gaps. For instance, I need a paragraph on Strong’s critique of wealth, and some explanatory stuff on young overseers (from Scarborough) and religion in Mississippi (from Sparks). The large gaps will have to wait.
Straighten out and format the citations.
Write a summary/conclusion for this chapter. That is hindered by the fact that I’m still unsure of what this chapter is about. I mean, it’s all over the place. I’ve got a discussion of “discipline,” and description of church courts (where the largest gap is), a narrative and slight analysis of the Wesleyan episode, and a discussion of the “temperance reform” that is rather tepid. This is followed by Flintoff’s not-so-excellent adventures in Mississippi, and Strong Thomasson’s oddball view of the world. None of these things would seem to have anything to do with any other.
I actually do know what this is about, I’m just not confident that what I have down on paper is expressing this. It is about how religious practice shapes behavior of people toward social groups and the secular world.* Discipline in general and church courts in particular are the practice and in them we can see how an evangelical sensibility is articulated and prescribed. In the Wesleyan episode and the temperance movement, we can see how that evangelical sensibility reacted to secular social tension. (It aggressively entered the secular world, but had limitations.) That evangelical sensibility motivated individuals—especially the majority who did not tangle with their churches—in ways different from how it motivated group action. Thus, the Flintoff and Thomasson sections. They don’t talk about church courts, discipline, Wesleyans (slavery), and temperance (well, Strong did on that one), but they still experienced and enacted (sorry) the tenets of that evangelical sensibility in their lives. It’s a different perspective on the same thing.
*This is supposed to be a bit more specific than my usual refrain that I am looking at how religious practice shapes social behavior.
Ok, I feel better for having written that out. Now I got to go make three or four pages out of it.
I am really looking forward to finishing this (for now), and moving on to the next chapter (which is actually the first chapter.) And talking to you about it.