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Darkness Falls on the Land of Light

Experiencing Religious Awakenings in Eighteenth-Century New England

Douglas L. Winiarski

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Geisteswissenschaften, Kunst, Musik / Geschichte


This sweeping history of popular religion in eighteenth-century New England examines the experiences of ordinary people living through extraordinary times. Drawing on an unprecedented quantity of letters, diaries, and testimonies, Douglas Winiarski recovers the pervasive and vigorous lay piety of the early eighteenth century. George Whitefield's preaching tour of 1740 called into question the fundamental assumptions of this thriving religious culture. Incited by Whitefield and fascinated by miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit--visions, bodily fits, and sudden conversions--countless New Englanders broke ranks with family, neighbors, and ministers who dismissed their religious experiences as delusive enthusiasm. These new converts, the progenitors of today's evangelical movement, bitterly assaulted the Congregational establishment.

The 1740s and 1750s were the dark night of the New England soul, as men and women groped toward a restructured religious order. Conflict transformed inclusive parishes into exclusive networks of combative spiritual seekers. Then as now, evangelicalism emboldened ordinary people to question traditional authorities. Their challenge shattered whole communities.

Weitere Titel von diesem Autor



sectarian communities, Great Earthquake of 1727, conversion narratives, Hingham, Mass., Whitefieldarians, popular religion in eighteenth-century New England, separate Baptists, mapping religion in early America, Northampton, Mass., Boston, Mass., itinerant preaching, immortalism and spiritual wifery, perfectionist controversies, Ezra Stiles, evangelical Protestant awakening, relation of faith narratives, Hannah Heaton, Jonathan Edwards and Sarah Edwards, Hannah Duston, rise of American and transatlantic evangelicalism, religious practice, New London bonfires and book burning, Sturbridge, Mass., godly walk, Ebenezer Parkman, lived religion, Sarah Prentice, Suffield and Enfield, Conn., dreams, trances, and visions, Stratham, N.H., revivalism and separatism in New England, Nathan Cole, Lyme, Conn., York, Me., religious experience, First Great Awakening in New England, Medfield, Mass., religion, family strategies, and the lifecourse, New England Congregationalism, Haverhill, Mass., Alexander Hamilton (of Annapolis, Md.), women and childbirth, spiritual autobiography, Arminian controversies, Shakers, people called New Lights, Antinomian controversies, Bennington, Vt., James Davenport, George Whitefield, Westborough, Mass., Isaac Backus, biblical impulses, post-puritan New England