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Title:A Social Gospel for Millions: The Religious Bestsellers of Charles Sheldon, Charles Gordon, and Harold Bell Wright (Ralph Connor)
Author(s):Ferre, John Patrick
Department / Program:Speech Communication
Discipline:Speech Communication
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Mass Communications
Abstract:In order to determine popular religious values in the United States during the period of the social gospel, the most popular religious bestsellers between 1897 and 1917 were examined according five questions that comprise a culture's belief system. The religious bestsellers were In His Steps by Charles Sheldon, Black Rock by "Ralph Connor" (Charles Gordon), and The Shepherd of the Hills and The Calling of Dan Matthews by Harold Bell Wright. The texts reveal several common beliefs: (1) that evil is individual selfishness, (2) that institutions are more often than not the cause of evil, (3) that enlightened individuals are the source of good, (4) that the nature of good is cooperation among individuals, and (5) that enlightened individuals can effect cooperation only by their strength of resolve. It is unlikely that these texts persuaded their middle-class readers to adopt these values or that the values that these bestsellers advocated merely reconfirmed the nation's political economy. Rather, the large readership of these texts suggests the salience of the debate concerning the merits of individualism, community, and institutions as well as the likelihood that the middle-class was fairly satisfied with the resolution that the bestselling novels signified.
Issue Date:1986
Description:224 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1986.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8701482
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-05-13
Date Deposited:1986

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