Rally the Scattered Believers

Rally the Scattered Believers

Northern New England’s Religious Geography
Shelby M. Balik
Distribution: World
Publication date: 05/30/2014
Format: Hardback 3 b&w illus., 9 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-01210-4
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Winner, 2014 Phi Alpha Theta First Book Award

Northern New England, a rugged landscape dotted with transient settlements, posed challenges to the traditional town church in the wake of the American Revolution. Using the methods of spatial geography, Shelby M. Balik examines how migrants adapted their understanding of religious community and spiritual space to survive in the harsh physical surroundings of the region. The notions of boundaries, place, and identity they developed became the basis for spreading New England's deeply rooted spiritual culture, even as it opened the way to a new evangelical age.

Author Bio

Shelby M. Balik is Assistant Professor of American History at Metropolitan State University of Denver.


“In this beautifully written and richly researched work, Shelby Balik shows how the travels of early nineteenth century Methodists, Universalists and freewill Baptist itinerant missionaries and congregations recreated the geography of New England Protestantism, setting in motion (literally) a tension between religious rootedness and religious uprootedness, center and periphery, that endures to today. Early American religious history in Balik’s retelling of it is one of bodies in constant movement in and out and around the city on the hill. The delight Balik takes in maps and journeys is infectious. This is a wonderful addition to American religious historiography.”
 — Robert Orsi, Northwestern University

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Catherine L. Albanese and Stephen J. Stein
A Note on Places
Introduction: Churching the Northern Wilds
1. No Schism in the Body: The Town Church in Crisis
2. Zion Travels: The Itinerant Enterprise
3. Scrambling for the Right: Disestablishment and the Town Church
4. ’Tis All on Fire: Landscapes of Religious Community
5. Fairly Missionary Ground: The Congregationalist Turn to Itinerancy
6. A City Set on a Hill: Northern New England’s New Religious Geography
Conclusion: A Place of Paradoxes

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