Saturday, May 30, 2009

Uncle Ben's Book Blog: The Peculiar Life of Sundays

I just began this book yesterday. The April Atlantic had a synopsis of it, and I found it in the Greenville County Library. After two introductory chapters; the first a sort of thematic reflection, the second on Sunday in antiquity, it surveys the history of Sunday in England and the USA over the last three centuries or so. It does this by looking at how Sundays were practiced (or not) in the lives of observant Christians, such as Samuel Johnson and William Law; non-observant Christians, such as John Ruskin and Oliver Goldsmith; and lapsed Christians, such as Henry David Thoreau and Robert Lowell. 

I've read the first chapter, from which I got two useful bibliographical references. The first is Alexis McCrossen, Holy Day, Holiday: The American Sunday, Cornell U. Press, 2000. The second is Craig Harline, Sunday: A History of the First Day from Babylonia to the Super Bowl, Doubleday, 2007.

I've obviously not yet read far enough to know what the difference is between non-observant and lapsed Christians.

1 comment:

millerste said...

I am the author of The Peculiar Life of Sundays. The distinction you point to between lapsed Christians and non-observant Christians is a fuzzy one. By lapsed Christian I mean someone who has publicly moved away from Christianity; by non-observant Christian I mean someone who doesn't go to church but never declares that he has left the church. Gosse, Emerson, Thoreau, and Stevens were raised as Christians but stated that they no longer considered themselves to be Christian, so I call them lapsed Christians. I hope this is helpful. Sincerely, Stephen Miller