Strangers and Friends at the Welcome Table: Contemporary Christianities in the American South

James Hudnut-Beumler. Univ. of North Carolina, $34.95 (296p) ISBN 978-1-4696-4037-2
This dense survey by Hudnut-Beumler (In Pursuit of the Almighty’s Dollar), professor of American religious history at Vanderbilt, tracks the diverse mix of beliefs and practices that have influenced Christianities in the South over the past 75 years. Hudnut-Beumler represents the full diversity of religious communities while also acknowledging the inherent difficulty in untangling the networks, regional myths, and cultural idiosyncracies that make up Southern Christianity. He writes that faith communities in the South are as segregated as ever, arguing that white Christianity in the South is still very much a “religion of the lost cause” that glamorizes the Civil War. Hudnut-Beumler argues that the region continues to be dominated by white, Protestant, and conservative communities, but he includes stories from a range of Christian groups—Catholic churches reconnecting to their communities while cleaning up after natural disasters, megachurches on the rise, parents who homeschool their children in creationism, gay Christians, and snake-handling Pentecostals throughout Appalachia, among many others. What the survey lacks in critical theory it makes up for in the sheer quantity of narratives, but readers looking for insight will be disappointed in a work that can be entertaining but is never really revelatory. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/12/2018
Release date: 04/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
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