Lived Religion in America: Toward a History of Practice

Hall, David D., ed. Lived Religion in America: Toward a History of Practice. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997.

Lived Religion, edited by Harvard Divinity School professor David Hall, contains a collection of essays that explore the religious practices, and their many-layered meanings, of everyday lay men and women both inside and outside the institutional church. The essays build on multiple lines of inquiry into the study of religion and American religious history, including cultural, ethnographic, sociological, historical, ritual studies, and social anthropology approaches. The methodology employed is “radically or phenomenologically empiricist, concerned with what people do with religious practice, and what they make with it of themselves and their worlds.” <p> Essayists Robert Orsi and Daniele Hervieu-Leger open the volume by outlining common understandings of the lived religion approach against the backdrop of the book’s case studies (Orsi) and the Catholic charismatic renewal movement in France since World War II (Hervieu-Leger). Specific case studies treat the following themes: family strategies of continuity in early New England Congregationalism (Anne Brown and David Hall); the meanings involved in gift exchange in American religious history (Leigh Eric Schmidt); the late 19th century cremation movement (Stephen Prothero); the devotional life of women in light of the book Streams in the Desert (Cheryl Forbes); hymn-singing among the converted Ojibwa Indian tribe (Michael McNally); devotional practices in Women’s Aglow Fellowship (R. Marie Griffith); lived religion in mainstream America (Nancy Ammerman); and modern homesteading as lived religion (Rebecca Kneale Gould).