Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

A Cheerful and Comfortable Faith

Winner, Lauren F. A Cheerful and Comfortable Faith: Anglican Religious Practice in the Elite Households of Eighteenth-Century Virginia. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010.

With strong interests in genealogy, Christianity, and history, this book by Lauren Winner appealed to me. I have read a couple of Winner's books designed for lay audiences, but this particular volume has a decidedly academic tone. Winner explores the role the church, specifically the Anglican Church, played in the lives of 18th century well-to-do Virginia families. Many of these families were the owners of plantations and as such, exerted some influence over the lives of those who worked on their plantations. However, the influence did not always extend to the slaves as other groups such as the Baptists were more welcoming in sharing their services with those of color and even allowing them to serve as delegates. We see the influence extending from such things as embroidered samplers to meals and diet influenced by the church calendar to prayer life and even to the recording of genealogical information in Bible or other religious books. Probably my favorite part of the book was the discussion of the recording of genealogical information. Winner did extensive research for the volume, and it is well-documented. I intend to go through her extensive bibliography to locate sources I may find useful in my genealogical research. The biggest flaw of the book is in its readability, or lack thereof. This is not problematic for academics, genealogists looking for social history background to incorporate in their narratives are likely to ignore it. This is a book I intend to keep for reference.

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