He has made everything beautiful in His time

yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end

Slide 1

How did we get here?

I am studying the intersection of revivalism, conservative ideology, and white supremacy in the Twentieth century.

Who am I?

I grew up a faithful independent fundamentalist Baptist. I went to the “best” (read: most strict) fundamentalist schools, attended the “best” (read: most connected) fundamentalist churches, and, I must confess, worked for the “best” (read: most politically obnoxious) fundamentalist university. I was as invested as a person could be, and I was a good girl too, even earning only eleven demerits during my entire four undergraduate years.

How did I get here?

That all ended when I found my voice as a scholar and a mother and a person. I could say, as I have previously in a peer-reviewed academic journal, that publishing my dissertation annoyed my employer and lead to my forced resignation. I could say that, after enduring three miscarriages and one full-term stillbirth, giving birth to two “screamers” and choosing to respond on cue and decisively refusing to spank them as infants, equally annoyed my employer. I could say a host of issues normally outside an employers’ purview motivated their ultimatum: “shut up or you’re fired.” But quite simply, finding my own voice as a human being pushed me far outside that very oppressive ideology.

Where am I headed?

So I am working on telling the story of fundamentalism in the Twentieth century, most specifically the strain that has dominated my first 40 years. Most hagiographies start with Bob Jones’ humble beginnings as a Primitive Bapti-Methodist in the Alabama Wiregrass, son of a dirt farmer, reading Alliance papers, singing Sacred Harp songs, and over-hearing the evils of the Gold Standard at the corner drug store. They describe how he lived to bury everyone in his immediate family, including his “sister” (who was actually his niece) and his first wife. That is all true, but the documents I have found tell a larger story—about poor boy with no family heritage who married very well and who used his second wife’s inheritance to whip bootleggers into submission. About a preacher who conducted revivals, not in “urban centers” like his biographers claim, but in mid-size manufacturing towns where labor unrest motivated the business interests to hire a “law-and-order” revivalist to guilt their employees into obedience. About a father who was so worried about his trouble-maker son that he started a high school out of a “tabernacle” to keep tabs on him. About a local celebrity who became a victim of corporate greed, selling land at revival-like meetings for the railroad tycoon who gave “banana republics” their sinister reputation. . . . And that’s just before 1925.