Baptized with the Soil: Christian Agrarians and the Crusade for Rural America

Hardcover | October 15, 2015

byKevin M. Lowe

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In the early twentieth century, many Americans were troubled by the way agriculture was becoming increasingly industrial and corporate. Mainline Protestant churches and cooperative organizations began to come together to promote agrarianism: the belief that the health of the nation depended onsmall rural communities and family farms. In Baptized with the Soil, Kevin M. Lowe offers for the first time a comprehensive history of the Protestant commitment to rural America.Christian agrarians believed that farming was the most moral way of life and a means for people to serve God by taking care of the earth that God created. When the Great Depression hit, Christian agrarians worked harder to keep small farmers on the land. They formed alliances with stateuniversities, cooperative extension services, and each other's denominations. They experimented with ways of revitalizing rural church life -including new worship services like Rural Life Sunday, and new strategies for raising financial support like the Lord's Acre. Because they believed that theearth was holy, Christian agrarians also became leaders in promoting soil conservation. Decades before the environmental movement, they inspired an ethic of environmental stewardship in their congregations. They may not have been able to prevent the spread of industrial agribusiness, but their ideashave helped define significant and long-lasting currents in American culture.

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In the early twentieth century, many Americans were troubled by the way agriculture was becoming increasingly industrial and corporate. Mainline Protestant churches and cooperative organizations began to come together to promote agrarianism: the belief that the health of the nation depended onsmall rural communities and family farms. I...

Kevin M. Lowe is an independent scholar of American religious history. He received his Ph.D. from the Pennsylvania State University in 2013.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:264 pages, 9.29 × 6.3 × 0.98 inPublished:October 15, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190249455

ISBN - 13:9780190249458

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction: Consecrating the American Countryside1. Putting Down Roots: The Rural Church Movement and the Family Farm2. Working Together in God's Country: Training Agrarian Ministers and Missionaries3. Spiritual Efficiency: Rethinking the Rural Church Experience4. Cultivating the Kingdom: The Lord's Acre Movement5. The Gospel of the Soil: Soil Conservation and Environmental StewardshipConclusion: Baptized with the SoilNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Long before Silent Spring or the Community Supported Agriculture phenomenon, mainline Protestant agrarians fought for the health of the land, the vitality of rural congregations, and the realization of God's kingdom on earth. Kevin M. Lowe's sensitive and unique study reminds us of their workand demonstrates ways in which spheres often deemed antithetical-Christianity and environmentalism, farm life and modernity, theology and public policy-shared a fruitful past." --Elesha Coffman, author of The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline