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J A N U A R Y 2 0 0 8 73 While the authorgives much attentionto Ryan’sunreconstructedviews, during and after the Civil War, the historical context could be deepened. According to Ryan, the South’s cause, or the Lost Cause, a conceit he would help to create, was constitutionally just. It was an authentic expression of states’ rights against an overbearing federal government and unjust and intrusive “Northern political policies” (p. 14). In addition, while he was against slavery, he refused to accept the political and social equality of the freedmen, including universal suffrage. With these opinions , Ryan represented the views of many of his fellow Roman Catholics, northerners and southerners, before and after the Civil War. The author does offer a brief discussion of the pre-war Catholic struggles with the slavery issue, particularly the Catholic anti-abolitionist sentiment fostered by abolitionist nativism (pp. 15–19). The continuing struggles with the Catholic response to emancipation and Ryan’s place in the debate could be further developed. The Second and Third Plenary Councils (1866, 1884) of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States were notable for their lack of enthusiasm to assist and evangelize the freedmen . Painfully, and despite his priesthood and its vocation to universal charity, Ryan was not alone in his insensitivity to the sufferings of the newly emancipated. Abram J. Ryan was one of those personalities who appear in history, famous for a moment and then somewhat forgotten. It is hard to imagine him being admitted into the pantheon of great American poets. But, in this substantial and sensitive re-telling of the poet-priest’s story within the context of southern Roman Catholicism of the nineteenth century, David O’Connell reminds us that we are all presented with opportunities during a lifetime to live beyond the moment and to do good, although the results can often be quite mixed. THOMAS W. JODZIEWICZ University of Dallas Little Zion: A Church Baptized by Fire. By Shelly O’Foran. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006. xviii, 266 pp. $49.95 (cloth). ISBN 0-8078-3048-8. $19.95 (paper). ISBN 0-8078-5763-7. Shelly O’Foran chronicles the history, culture, events, and future of a small church in Boligee, Alabama, that was destroyed by arson in 1996. Shelly was part of a contingent of volunteers, ones that she notes were “predominantly white, suburban young people with the resources to pay transportation and living costs for workcamp stints of one week to one T H E A L A B A M A R E V I E W 74 month” (p. xii). O’Foran spent roughly eight years in conversation and dialogue with the members of Little Zion Baptist Church in an effort to convey that churches, in particular this one, are comprised of more than simply brick and mortar, religious phraseology, or even religious traditions , although all of the above play important and significant roles in the lives of the church membership. What is also interesting about the book is O’Foran’s use of the personal narrative via the oral tradition, in particular the use of “folk life” as opposed to “folklore” in providing a unique glimpse into the culture and traditions, mores, religious life, and history of the people of Little Zion. She also provides a connection to the existing literature on African American folklore, religious life, and oral history techniques, a feature scholars will appreciate. At first glance, one might assume the book is written for those interested in the numerous unsolved cases of church burnings that occurred about a decade ago. But that is not the only audience that will be interested in this book and the story it tells. As a political scientist and a Baptist pastor for twenty-two years, and as an African American, I read the book with great interest. As I worked my way through the narrative, I was struck by my own reaction to the behavior and comments witnessed by O’Foran. I kept asking myself as I was drawn deeper and deeper into the story, what was O’Foran’s opinion of this behavior or belief or ideology or cultural...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2166-9961
Print ISSN
0002-4341
Pages
pp. 73-75
Launched on MUSE
2012-07-11
Open Access
N
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