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The Christian Home in Victorian America, 1840--1900

Colleen McDannell

Publication Year: 1994

"... wonderfully imaginative and provocative in its interdisciplinary approach to the study of nineteenth-century American religion and women's role within it."  -- Choice

"... an important addition to the fields of religious studies, women's history, and American cultural history." -- Journal of the American Academy of Religion

"... a complete and complex portrait of the Christian home." -- The Journal of American History

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: Religion in North America

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii


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pp. ix-1

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pp. xi-xii

In this new study, Colleen McDannell opens the door to a domestic world that has been largely overlooked. It is a domestic religious world that she shows us, complete with its own sacred space and time, officiants, ceremonies, and ceremonial objects. This religious world is Christian: but, as McDannell demonstrates so clearly as she conducts ...

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pp. xiii-xvii

In 1869 Catharine Beecher and her sister Harriet Beecher Stowe included in their book, The American Woman's Home, drawings for a house church. This building, which could also serve as a school, had a steeple for a chimney and a movable screen to convert the parlor into a nave. For the practical Beecher sisters the idea that a house was a ...

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1. Church, Home, and Society

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pp. 1-19

The first of these was the Protestant sabbath and the second was the family. Although few Catholic writers would call on the Old Testament as evidence for the eternal character of the Christian family, they frequently cited the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as the sacred model for domestic life. Catholics and Protestants assumed that God instituted the family and that it had certain spiritual ...

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2. Domestic Architecture and the Protestant Spirit

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pp. 20-51

The development of an ideology of domestic architecture accompanied the economic, social, and religious changes of the early Victorian period. By examining the architectural philosophy and building designs of mid-nineteenth-century housing reformers, we can see how a particular moral and spiritual order was literally "built," ...

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3. Catholic Domesticity

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pp. 52-76

It took almost fifty years before Irish Catholic immigrants developed a Victorian domesticity similar to Protestant sensibilities. Due to their social and economic situation, Irish Catholics directed their attentions toward nondomestic issues: work, religious freedom, anti-Catholic sentiments, and Irish politics during the first half of the century. ...

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4. Rituals of the Hearth

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pp. 77-108

The popular theology of both Protestants and Catholics during the nineteenth century upheld the home as the God-given cornerstone of society. Adam and Eve's home in paradise had been destroyed by sin, but a glimpse of it could still be seen in the homes of good Christians. Although Catholics might uphold the church as the locus of sacredness ...

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5. Leaders at the Domestic Altar: The Paternal Model

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pp. 108-126

If the home rivaled the church as the center of Christian nurture, then who directed its religious activities? How did the guiding actions of fathers differ from that of mothers? Domestic Christianity for Victorian Protestants and Catholics vacillated between two traditional perspectives on religion: a paternal model and a maternal model. ...

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6. Leaders at the Domestic Altar: The Maternal Model

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pp. 127-149

A maternal model of domestic religion exists alongside the paternal model. The maternal model depends on the popular notion that the New Testament asserted love over authority. Gone is the idea that the extended household is the basis of society, and in its place is the image of the virgin mother with the sacred infant. In the maternal model of ...

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pp. 150-155

In 1967 Robert Bellah published an article which firmly established the concept of "civil religion" in the minds of scholars. Following classical sociological theory, Bellah saw religion not as individual piety but as a symbol system which binds together a community. Embodied in presidential inaugural addresses, Memorial Day celebrations, and ...


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pp. 156-177


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pp. 178-186


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pp. 187-193

E-ISBN-13: 9780253113566
E-ISBN-10: 0253113563
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253208828

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 1994

Series Title: Religion in North America