by Howard Dorgan
University of Tennessee Press, 1987
Paper: 978-0-87049-666-0 | Cloth: 978-0-87049-541-0
Library of Congress Classification BX6337.D67 1987
Dewey Decimal Classification 264.0600975

In Giving Glory to God in Appalachia, Howard Dorgan explores the worship practices of Primitive, Regular, Old Regular, Union, Missionary, and Free Will Baptists. The worship practices of the denominations under consideration are varied and often exuberant, and Dorgan's writing is highly evocative, conveying in rich detail the joy and pathos of worship in these mountain churches.

As Dorgan states in the introduction, he is less concerned with academic theorizing and more concerned with presenting a vivid, first-hand account of all that he has seen and heard. And in the nearly fifteen years he spent researching his book, Dorgan saw quite a lot: spirited, vociferous sermons, creek baptisms, foot washings, home comings, dinners on the ground, and evangelistic radio broadcasts. Dorgan's prose is at its most enchaining when he presents tableaus of these phenomena: a foot washing precipitates the erasure of interpersonal turmoil between two women; a preacher uses his lively mode of sermonic delivery to orchestrate the rapturous shouts and "hollers" of a group of women; a radio evangelist exhorts a recent widower to except salvation. The wonderful pictures interspersed throughout the book and the transcription of sermons help to further reify the worship scenes that Dorgan describes.

At times, Dorgan's prose is intensely personal. Dorgan is always aware that he is writing about sets of shared values and worship practices that mean a great deal to the congregations he is studying, and Dorgan treats his subjects and their beliefs with tremendous sensitivity and respect. Ultimately, Dorgan is writing about people and the ways in which they invest their lives with meaning and purpose. This gives Giving Glory to God in Appalachia a universal appeal: even readers who find the religious settings in the book completely alien will be able to sympathize with the congregations' search for meaning.

To sum up: Dorgan has written a beautiful, enthralling book. Don't think--just buy. And while you're at it, you might want to consider Airwaves Of Zion: Radio Religion In Appalachia
(ISBN-10: 0870497979), also by Dorgan.

See other books on: Appalachian Region | Baptist | Baptists | Dorgan, Howard | Public worship
See other titles from University of Tennessee Press