At Ease in Zion: a Social History of Southern Baptists, 1865-1900.
At Ease in Zion: A Social History of Southern Baptists, 1865-1900. By Rufus B. Spain. Foreword by Samuel S. Hill. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press The University of Alabama Press is a university press that is part of the University of Alabama. External link
Nearly four decades since its original publication, the University of Alabama Press has once again made available a book that students of southern religion and Baptist history will find useful. Written as a doctoral dissertation at Vanderbilt University Vanderbilt University, at Nashville, Tenn.; coeducational; chartered 1872 as Central Univ. of Methodist Episcopal Church, founded and renamed 1873, opened 1875 through a gift from Cornelius Vanderbilt. Until 1914 it operated under the auspices of the Methodist Church. and published in 1967 by the Vanderbilt University Press Vanderbilt University Press, founded in 1940, is a university press that is part of Vanderbilt University. External link
Concerned mainly with the three decades following the Civil War, Spain uses the minutes and reports of the annual Southern Baptist Convention Noun 1. Southern Baptist Convention - an association of Southern Baptists
association - a formal organization of people or groups of people; "he joined the Modern Language Association"
Southern Baptist - a member of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC (1) (SBC Communications Inc., San Antonio, TX, www.sbc.com) A large, national telecommunications company that grew from a multitude of local and regional companies, including Southwestern Bell, Pacific Bell and Nevada Bell, into a single, unified brand by 2002. ) and the minutes, reports, and newspapers of twelve state conventions (ex-Confederate states plus Kentucky) to ascertain how Southern Baptists integrated their understanding of Christian faith into southern society. In other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently , "Did Baptists think of themselves as Baptists first or Southerners first" (p. 11).
After a beginning chapter outlining the South's political and social problems during this tumultuous period, Spain devotes three chapters to attitudes toward and relationship with African Americans. In the main, Spain concludes of this relationship that "the Baptist view of race was the southern view" (p. 126). In a chapter on "economic problems," his conclusion is the same: "the denomination was not greatly concerned" (p. 148). The temperance movement temperance movement
International social movement dedicated to the control of alcohol consumption through the promotion of moderation and abstinence. It began as a church-sponsored movement in the U.S. in the early 19th century. , however, did generate excitement and activity, and Southern Baptists welcomed various methods to control strong drink. Spain devotes a chapter to temperance, one that follows a more general chapter on "social evils" such as Sabbath breaking the violation of the law of the Sabbath.
See also: Sabbath , gambling, crime, and prize fighting prize fighting: see boxing. .
The last chapter of the book, titled "Personal Morality," is brief but important. Spain argues that Southern Baptist faith during these years is best described as an "intensely personal matter." White Baptists in the South considered the conversion of individuals central to their understanding of Christianity and responded to cultural changes and conditions with that perspective always in mind. Spain's ultimate conclusion, then, is not surprising: "[Southern Baptist] attitudes toward political, social, economic, and other problems of Southern society coincided with the prevailing attitudes of Southerners in general" (p. 213).
While the text of At Ease in Zion is unchanged from the original version, this edition includes a foreword by Samuel S. Hill. Hill briefly outlines Spain's work as a pioneering venture in the field and mentions the challenges and changes in scholarship since the book's publication. The question of how white Baptists in the South interacted with southern culture is a complex question, to say the least. Spain offers a simple answer, one that scholars today will find too narrowly researched and analyzed. That fact is not surprising; each generation builds on the work of the former. We are thankful to the University of Alabama Press for making available once again this important first voice to the subject.--Reviewed by Mark Wilson, doctoral candidate, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.