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The Antebellum American Sermon As Lived Religion

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines Annals to gain insight into the experience of listening to sermons in antebellum America, focusing on descriptions of preaching in letters written about ministers whose pastoral labors began in 1800 or later. This subset of Annals includes approximately 450 ministers and 750 solicited letters, nearly all of which comment on preaching since, as the "Pulpit" in Sprague's title suggests, this was a defining dimension of Protestant ministry. These letters provide a thoughtful, detailed, highly literate, and impressively panoramic perspective on antebellum American preaching, sweeping in its denominational scope and geographic range. The chapter shares the study of lived religion's commitment to understanding American religion from the ground up and to destabilizing these traditional dichotomies. In particular, it follows through on unsettling the sharp distinctions between the clergy and laity.

Keywords: Annals; Antebellum American Sermon



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