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143 Reviews Eros in his relationship with this past; what he doesn’t discuss is the seductive power of his own writing. Works Cited Koven, Seth. Slumming: Sexual and Social Politics in Victorian London. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005. M att Co ok Birkbeck College,University of London • Pulling the Devil’s Kingdom Down:The Salvation Army in Victorian Britain by Pamela J.Walker; pp. xiii + 337. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. $35.00 cloth. Pamela Walker’s well-researched study establishes a new approach to the history of the Salvation Army and, in the process, promises to open new avenues of investigation in the study of religion and urban working-class culture in the Victorian period. A non-Salvationist herself,Walker provides a sympathetic account of the movement’s theology, membership, and social practice in roughly its first thirty years; at the same time, her outsider’s perspective allows her to broaden the terms of analysis that have tended to characterize histories of the organization produced by its own members. Her principal dispute is not, however, with Salvationist historians, but rather with social historians who have tended to overlook or diminish the Army’s distinctive nature amongVictorian religious movements.The story of the Army’s origins has much to contribute,Walker suggests, not only to the history of religion, but equally to our understanding of urban social reality in late-Victorian England. To appreciate the Army’s significance, she maintains, we must consider its “place inVictorian working-class communities, its relationship to the women’s movement, its innovative use of popular and commercial culture, and its integration of Methodism, revivalism, and holiness” in its theology (3). The Salvation Army’s particular theology lies at the heart ofWalker’s assessment of the movement’s religious, political, and cultural importance.The faith and beliefs developed by the Army’s founders,William and Catherine Booth, in their work first in the Christian Mission and later in theArmy, emerged out of a holiness theology that had its roots in England but was strongly inflected by American evangelicalism; from the outset, Walker observes, this theology was an“exceedingly important influence on the [Christian] Mission’s practice” (54).“Because holiness was a condition of religious office, worldly and bodily distinctions could be regarded as insignificant. Thus this theology provided the possibility of reconsidering the cultural, sexual, and racial hierarchies that structured authority in Christian churches” (54).Through plentiful examples, victorian review • Volume 33 Number 1 144 Walker demonstrates how many of the religious and social features that distinguished the Salvation Army from Anglican and Nonconformist religions can be accounted for in terms of the Army’s holiness theology: the authority of women preachers; the immediacy of conversion and of converts’ evangelizing; the eschewal of much religious ritual, especially communion; and the redeployment of popular cultural forms to evangelical ends. By elaborating this doctrine at length,Walker is able to account for the complex and often contradictory nature of the Army’s relationship to the wider society.The sustained focus on holiness theology allows her to explain persuasively, for example, how the organization could take its controversial position on women’s preaching, sharing certain tenets of the women’s movement, without in any way espousing a radical politics. It allows her to argue, similarly, that the Army’s privileging of lived experience over intellectual knowledge constituted something other than “a religious version of the Victorian cult of self-help” (74); rather, she insists, this emphasis reflected Salvationists’ particular understanding of conversion and sanctification. Walker’s detailed analysis of the Army’s theology underpins the entirety of the study, beginning in the opening chapter, which traces the roots of the movement through the Booths’s early ministry. While this terrain has been covered before, Walker uses the story of Catherine Booth’s early life in particular to lay the groundwork for the study’s later consideration of the Army’s gender politics. The subsequent chapters interweave a narrative of the Army’s development with anecdotal evidence and cultural critique: Walker examines the movement’s evolution into an increasingly hierarchized, autocratic organization; recounts stories of individual Salvationists, their conversions, and their religious work; and analyzes the cultural...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 143-145
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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