History Faculty Publications

Title

Review: 'Spirit and Flesh: Life in a Fundamentalist Baptist Church'

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date

Fall 2005

Publication Source

Journal of Church and State

Abstract

If there is a better study of fundamentalism at the local level than Spirit and Flesh, I have not read it. In this book, sociologist and filmmaker James Ault expands on his award-winning documentary, Born Again, to give us a richly detailed report of his three years as a participant-observer in a fundamentalist Baptist church (referred to as Shawmut River) in Worcester, Massachusetts.

He describes Sunday morning worship, Wednesday evening services, and home Bible studies; he discusses how the congregation dealt with divorce, teenage pregnancy, and alcoholism, and how their fundamentalist faith helped “reorder” (and failed to “reorder”) their family lives; he examines the role and power of women in the church; he tells how the congregation limited (most particularly, by withholding financial contributions) the authority of the pastor, a story that ends dramatically near the book’s end with his forced resignation.

Inclusive pages

892-894

ISBN/ISSN

0021-969X

Publisher

Oxford University Press

Volume

47

Issue

4