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Religious Melancholy and Protestant Experience in America (Religion in America) [Hardcover]

By Julius H. Rubin (Author)
Our Price $ 115.20  
Retail Value $ 120.00  
You Save $ 4.80  
Item Number 160325  
Buy New $115.20

Item Specifications...

Pages   320
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.62" Width: 6.38" Height: 1.02"
Weight:   1.28 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 1993
Publisher   Oxford University Press
ISBN  0195083016  
EAN  9780195083019  

Availability  139 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 21, 2016 07:19.
Usually ships within one to two business days from La Vergne, TN.
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Item Description...
This original examination of the spiritual narratives of conversion in the history of American Protestant evangelical religion reveals an interesting paradox. Fervent believers who devoted themselves completely to the challenges of making a Christian life, who longed to know God's rapturous love, all too often languished in despair, feeling forsaken by God. Ironically, those most devoted to fostering the soul's maturation neglected the well-being of the psyche. Drawing upon many sources, including unpublished diaries and case studies of patients treated in nineteenth-century asylums, Julius Rubin's fascinating study thoroughly explores religious melancholy--as a distinctive stance toward life, a grieving over the loss of God's love, and an obsession and psychopathology associated with the spiritual itinerary of conversion. The varieties of this spiritual sickness include sinners who would fast unto death ("evangelical anorexia nervosa"), religious suicides, and those obsessed with unpardonable sin. From colonial Puritans like Michael Wigglesworth to contemporary evangelicals like Billy Graham, among those who directed the course of evangelical religion and of their followers, Rubin shows that religious melancholy has shaped the experience of self and identity for those who sought rebirth as children of God.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Interesting study of a neglected topic  Aug 28, 2000
In this book, Julius Rubin studies the fascinating topic of religious melancholia (a form of mental depression) in American history. Although we still have problems with depression in America, we don't see as much of the psychotic religious depression nowadays, most likely because mental illnesses are culturally determined (at least in part) and our culture has moved beyond some forms of the religious fanaticism that haunted its early years. For example, most American churches are now of the Arminian (whoever wants to be saved, can be) rather than the more austere and gloomy Calvinistic (God decides who will be saved and who will be damned) variety. And most people, to use one clergyman's lament, are now more concerned about losing their job than going to hell.

It was not always this way. This book gives an excellent picture of the psychological casualties that resulted when the Bible was taken literally, with no humanistic template applied to moderate its more extreme teachings. The current generation of believers does not realize how much it benefits from generations of work done by heroic liberal clergy to modify and soften biblical teachings and conclusions, partially in response to withering moral criticism from people like Voltaire and Ingersoll.

Sexual repression and guilt-induction was only the tip of the iceberg. Some people in conservative churches lived in constant fear of damnation, of not truly being among the elect, of committing the unpardonable sin, of falling away with no opportunity to "renew themselves unto repentance," of failing to confess each and every sin, of committing the "blasphemy against the Holy Ghost." Since there is no objective means of verifying whether any of these events has or has not occurred, the more sensitive among them were literally driven insane by their fears. This book does an excellent job describing that insanity.

Calls for a return to the Old-Time Religion to strengthen family and societal values and create positive mental attitudes must take into account the dark side of the religious impulse, including the kind of illness discussed in this book. That illness has not entirely disappeared in our day, as revealed in this book's end notes, which mention more recent research in the 1970s on religious neurosis among some American evangelicals. Fortunately, the old darkness is much more rare in our day and hopefully will eventually disappear.

A 308-page trainwreck by a confused academic  Feb 28, 2000
THE OTHER SIDE OF JOY should have been titled THE OTHER SIDE OF REASON. I mean, isn't it a little presumptious for someone who's never set foot on the community he's describing to write a whole book about how awful it is? For people whose reading tastes encompass books on winetasting by teetotalers, or articles on living the rugged life by people who've never ventured beyond the suburbs, I highly recommend the book. As for the rest of you, don't bother. If this is the future of academic research, I shudder. Of course, maybe it's nothing to get excited about--just another sign of the end times.

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