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Gospel of Freedom and Power

Protestant Missionaries in American Culture after World War II

Sarah E. Ruble

Publication Year: 2012

In the decades after World War II, Protestant missionaries abroad were a topic of vigorous public debate. Public conversations about missionaries followed a powerful yet paradoxical line of reasoning, namely that people abroad needed greater autonomy from U.S. power and that Americans could best tell others how to use their freedom. In The Gospel of Freedom and Power, Sarah Ruble analyzes these public discussions about what it meant for Americans abroad to be good world citizens, placing them firmly in the context of the United States' postwar global dominance.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press


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pp. ix-xiv

In the years I have been writing this book, I have acquired many debts. It is a joy to acknowledge them, even though I will not be able to repay them. I owe the idea for this book to Grant Wacker. Throughout the project, he has been an invaluable conversation partner as well as a constant source of encouragement...

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pp. 1-18

In 1959 James A. Michener published his first epic novel, Hawaii. Since World War II, Michener had carved a successful niche as a guide to the South Pacific. Rodgers and Hammerstein adapted...

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Chapter one. Protestant Mainline

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pp. 19-54

In 1984 a small war of words broke out in the United Methodist Church (UMC). Newscope, a weekly denominational newsletter, treated readers to accusations and counteraccusations of blasphemy, violence, and misrepresentation. The fight featured old combatants: members of Good News...

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Chapter two. Evangelicals

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pp. 55-90

In September 1945 the Free Methodist Missionary Tidings featured a poem, “The Converted Heathen Speaks.” The author adopted the voice of a convert: Out of the Stygian darkness Of heathendom, brutish and base...

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Chapter three. Anthropology

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pp. 91-120

In 1988 Jonathan Benthall could not explain why missionaries were at the American Anthropological Association’s (AAA) annual meeting. Benthall, the editor of Anthropology Today, had “dropped into” an informal session titled “Christian Anthropologists” expecting to hear about scholarship...

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Chapter four. Gender

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pp. 121-152

In 1950 the Christian Century reported that female self- interest was impeding an important development in missions. The Century was excited about joint efforts between the Foreign Missions Conference (FMC) and the National Council of Churches (NCC)...

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pp. 153-166

Some critics of U.S. power did attack its gendered logic. Barbara Kingsolver for one. In 1998 and 1999, Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible joined John Grisham’s The Testament on best- seller lists. Her story garnered critical acclaim...


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pp. 167-184


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pp. 185-204


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pp. 205-214

E-ISBN-13: 9781469601601
E-ISBN-10: 1469601605
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807835814
Print-ISBN-10: 0807835811

Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 811502671
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Gospel of Freedom and Power

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Missions, American -- History -- 20th century.
  • Protestant churches -- Missions -- History -- 20th century.
  • United States -- Foreign public opinion.
  • United States -- Foreign relations -- Public opinion.
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