On my last day at the AHA/ASCH conferences, I attended a Conference on Faith and History session in the morning on Darren Dochuk's recent book, From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservativism. Daniel Williams of the University of West Georgia and Molly Worthen of UNC-Chapel Hill commented on Dochuk's book, offering high praise for this groundbreaking piece of scholarship.
Williams pointed out how Dochuk has opened the door for further scholarship and analysis of lesser-known 20th-century evangelicals, besides the usual suspects of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and James Dobson. Williams further highlights that Dochuk has shifted the study of 20th-century fundamentalism from beyond the Midwest and South to include the role of Southern California. Worthen, for her part, pondered why Dochuk did not spend much time analyzing the theology of evangelicalism at any great length, wondering if he should have summarized specif beliefs such as premillennial dispensationalism and Holiness teachings.
While both commentators had the opportunity to critique From Bible Belt to Sunbelt, Dochuk himself provided the harshest criticism of his book. He submitted that the final chapters were not as thorough as his earlier chapters, and that he perhaps should have interacted with the small, but important, rising contingent in the evangelical left. It was a good session, and I enjoyed talking with other CFH members before the panel discussion at the breakfast reception.
The second and final session I attended was the presidential address for the ASCH conference given by Laurie Maffly-Kipp of UNC-Chapel Hill on "The Burden of Church History." Laurie challenged the society to expand its membership beyond white Protestants to include Catholics and Mormons, as well as non-American scholars. I look forward to hearing Bruce Hindmarsh's presidential lecture next year.