Heaven in the American Imagination

Hardcover | June 15, 2011

byGary Scott Smith

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Does heaven exist? If so, what is it like? And how does one get in? Throughout history, painters, poets, philosophers, pastors, and many ordinary people have pondered these questions. Perhaps no other topic captures the popular imagination quite like heaven. Gary Scott Smith examines how Americans from the Puritans to the present have imagined heaven. He argues that whether Americans have perceived heaven as reality or fantasy, as God's home or a human invention, as a source of inspiration and comfort or an opiate that distracts from earthly life, or asa place of worship or a perpetual playground has varied largely according to the spirit of the age. In the colonial era, conceptions of heaven focused primarily on the glory of God. For the Victorians, heaven was a warm, comfortable home where people would live forever with their family and friends.Today, heaven is often less distinctively Christian and more of a celestial entertainment center or a paradise where everyone can reach his full potential. Drawing on an astounding array of sources, including works of art, music, sociology, psychology, folklore, liturgy, sermons, poetry, fiction, jokes, and devotional books, Smith paints a sweeping, provocative portrait of what Americans - from Jonathan Edwards to Mitch Albom - have thought aboutheaven.

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Does heaven exist? If so, what is it like? And how does one get in? Throughout history, painters, poets, philosophers, pastors, and many ordinary people have pondered these questions. Perhaps no other topic captures the popular imagination quite like heaven. Gary Scott Smith examines how Americans from the Puritans to the present have ...

Gary Scott Smith is Professor of History at Grove City College, in Pennsylvania. He is the author, most recently, of Faith and the Presidency: From George Washington to George W. Bush.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:360 pages, 6.5 × 9.29 × 1.18 inPublished:June 15, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199738955

ISBN - 13:9780199738953

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Table of Contents

Preface1. Introduction2. The Puritans: Celebrating the Glory of Heaven3. Jonathan Edwards and the First Great Awakening: Heaven Is a World of Love4. The Early National Era and the Second Great Awakening: The Founders, Assaults on Orthodoxy, and Revival5. Heaven as Home: The Victorians and Heaven, 1830-1870; Family, Friends, and Fellowship6. Slavery, the Civil War, and Heaven7. Heaven in the Gilded Age: Dwight Moody and the Princes of the Pulpit8. Heaven in the Progressive Years: The Social Gospel, Urban Revivalism, and Theological Liberalism; Personal Growth, Service, and Reform9. Heaven from the Roaring Twenties to the Fabulous Fifties10. Heaven, 1960-2000: New Trends and Revived Themes11. The Contemporary Scene: Heaven Today12. Conclusion