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Southern Crossroads

Perspectives on Religion and Culture

Walter Conser

Publication Year: 2008

The South has always been one of the most distinctive regions of the United States, with its own set of traditions and a turbulent history. Although often associated with cotton, hearty food, and rich dialects, the South is also noted for its strong sense of religion, which has significantly shaped its history. Dramatic political, social, and economic events have often shaped the development of southern religion, making the nuanced dissection of the religious history of the region a difficult undertaking. For instance, segregation and the subsequent civil rights movement profoundly affected churches in the South as they sought to mesh the tenets of their faith with the prevailing culture. Editors Walter H. Conser and Rodger M. Payne and the book’s contributors place their work firmly in the trend of modern studies of southern religion that analyze cultural changes to gain a better understanding of religion’s place in southern culture now and in the future. Southern Crossroads: Perspectives on Religion and Culture takes a broad, interdisciplinary approach that explores the intersection of religion and various aspects of southern life. The volume is organized into three sections, such as “Religious Aspects of Southern Culture,” that deal with a variety of topics, including food, art, literature, violence, ritual, shrines, music, and interactions among religious groups. The authors survey many combinations of religion and culture, with discussions ranging from the effect of Elvis Presley’s music on southern spirituality to yard shrines in Miami to the archaeological record of African American slave religion. The book explores the experiences of immigrant religious groups in the South, also dealing with the reactions of native southerners to the groups arriving in the region. The authors discuss the emergence of religious and cultural acceptance, as well as some of the apparent resistance to this development, as they explore the experiences of Buddhist Americans in the South and Jewish foodways. Southern Crossroads also looks at distinct markers of religious identity and the role they play in gender, politics, ritual, and violence. The authors address issues such as the role of women in Southern Baptist churches and the religious overtones of lynching, with its themes of blood sacrifice and atonement. Southern Crossroads offers valuable insights into how southern religion is studied and how people and congregations evolve and adapt in an age of constant cultural change.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Series: Religion in the South

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. 1-6

Crossroads are places of power and transformation. The traveler at a crossroads may suddenly change directions or transgress established boundaries; at the crossroads, different worlds come into...

Religious Aspects of Southern Culture

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"Just a Little Talk with Jesus"

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pp. 9-26

In December 1956 Elvis Presley dropped in at Sun Studios in Memphis, just as a Carl Perkins recording session was ending. Presley was now a national star, having transcended earlier that year his previous status as a regional rockabilly performer. That special day became...

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Miami's Little Havana

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pp. 27-38

In the summer of 1978 a brief article entitled "Neighbors Irate over Family's Shrine" appeared in the Miami Herald.1 The story told of a group of residents in the predominantly non-Latin city of South Miami who feared that a newly erected seven-foot shrine in the...

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The Archaeology of African American Slave Religion in the Antebellum South

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pp. 39-62

The archaeology of African slavery in the New World has expanded exponentially within the past twenty years.1 During this time, several historical archaeologists have diligently set about reconstructing...

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Prime Minister

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pp. 63-88

For most preachers, Monday is a day of rest. For Joel Osteen, the forty-two-year-old pastor of Houston's mammoth Lakewood Church and the face of the world's most popular religious television...

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Contextualizing the Apocalyptic Visions of McKendree Robbins Long

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pp. 89-132

The Reverend McKendree Robbins Long (1888-1976), a native of Statesville, North Carolina, who spent much of his adult life as an itinerant preacher, produced a large and compelling oeuvre of religious paintings during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.1 These works...

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Flannery O'Connor and the Southern Code of Manners

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pp. 133-144

Lionel Trilling worried that the United States would never produce a classic novel because we lacked the basis for writing one–a European-styled struggle between the ancien régime and the nouveau...

Encounters in Southern Religion and Culture

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Meetings at the Buddhist Temple

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pp. 147-163

WOOD FOR SALE. It is a small sign made of plywood, painted white with red letters. Nailed to a short stake, it is stuck in the ground next to the driveway. Across the pavement a larger sign, mounted...

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Feeding the Jewish Soul in the Delta Diaspora

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pp. 164-193

Mention "The Delta" and vivid images come to mind of a dramatic, flat landscape etched by rows of cotton and bounded by the Mississippi River. One imagines catfish, juke joints, barbecue, and pickup...

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"There Is Magic in Print"

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pp. 194-230

Testimonials similar to these flooded Holiness and Pentecostal periodicals throughout the United States from 1906 to 1910, making the religious press instrumental in the revival's formation and perpetuation. 1 As correspondents penned their sentiments, Pentecostalism entered the South through the enthusiastic reports of an unconventional...

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Scottish Heritage, Southern Style

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pp. 231-248

During the past four decades, growing interest in Americans' cultural and ancestral ties to Scotland has produced hundreds of new clan and heritage societies and a steadily increasing number of Scottish Highland games. Scottish American ethnic awareness and...

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"These Untutored Masses"

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pp. 249-272

Historians of white and black religious culture in the post–Civil War American South have heretofore focused on the rebuilding of white southern churches, the religion of the Lost Cause, and the rise of African American denominations. Scholars have ignored the...

Religion and Markers of Identity

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Purgatory in the Carolinas

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pp. 275-302

During the nineteenth century, Charleston, South Carolina, was a major site of Catholic activity in the South. The Diocese of Charleston served the states of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia, and although throughout most of these states Catholics lacked...

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Baptist Women and the South

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pp. 303-317

This article from the Statement of Faith of the Baptist Bible Fellowship International, an organization of Independent Baptist churches, summarizes the twofold approach of many, perhaps most, Baptist...

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Lynching Religion

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pp. 318-353

On an April Sunday afternoon in 1899, a crowd of five hundred men and boys in Coweta County, Georgia, seized by an "intense feeling of right and justice," forced a black day laborer to the outskirts of...

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Fundamentalism in Recent Southern Culture

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pp. 354-368

In fair weather and foul, the South is reputed; that is, it has reputation. Asking whether its reputation for this, that, or the other quality is justified has fascinated analysts–both Dixie admirers and detractors–for a very long time. One property long attributed to it,...

Copyrights and Permissions

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pp. 369-370


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pp. 371-374


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pp. 375-382

E-ISBN-13: 9780813129280
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813124940

Page Count: 390
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: Religion in the South