God's Man for the Gilded Age

God's Man for the Gilded Age : D.L. Moody and the Rise of Modern Mass Evangelism

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At his death on the eve of the 20th century, D.L. Moody was widely recognized as one of the most beloved and important of men in 19th-century America. A Chicago shoe salesman with a fourth grade education, Moody rose from obscurity to become God's man for the Gilded Age. He was the Billy Graham of his day--indeed it could be said that Moody invented the system of evangelism that Graham inherited and perfected. Bruce J. Evensen focuses on the pivotal years during which Moody established his reputation on both sides of the Atlantic through a series of highly popular and publicized campaigns. In four short years Moody forged the bond between revivalism and the mass media that persists to this day. Beginning in Britain in 1873 and extending across America's urban landscape, first in Brooklyn and then in Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, and Boston, Moody used the power of prayer and publicity to stage citywide crusades that became civic spectacles. Modern newspapers, in the grip of economic depression, needed a story to stimulate circulation and found it in Moody's momentous mission. The evangelist and the press used one another in creating a sense of civic excitement that manufactured the largest crowds in municipal history. Critics claimed this machinery of revival was man-made. Moody's view was that he'd rather advertise than preach to empty pews. He brought a businessman's common sense to revival work and became, much against his will, a celebrity evangelist. The press in city after city made him the star of the show and helped transform his religious stage into a communal entertainment of unprecedented proportions. In chronicling Moody's use of the press and their use of him, Evensen sheds new light on a crucial chapter in the history of evangelicalism and demonstrates how popular religion helped form our modern media culture.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text | 239 pages
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • 1423756843
  • 9781423756842

Review quote

"For students desiring an introduction to the ways that religion and 'mass' culture met in nineteenth-century America, this is a highly suggestive case study." --Religious Studies Review"This book should attract a wide readership, both from Moody admirers and from more nearly objective observers of the phenomenon of mass evangelism"--The Historian"No one has so thoroughly described Moody's crusades...nor has anyone so meticulously examined Moody's symbiotic relationship with the press in both America and Britain...his study helps illuminate the reasons for Moody's success, his contribution to the rise of modern mass evangelism, his role in helping create the modern newspaper, and why many considered him God's man for the Gilded Age." --Journal of American History"This study does for Moody's ministry what Harry Stout's work has done for the ministry of George Whitefield....[Evensen's] writing style is a great strength of the book, weaving effortlessly in and out of narration and evaluation. Bruce Evensen and Oxford University Press have provided historians with a valuable study of the impact of the mass media on organized mass evangelism...it is unreservedly recommended as an important monograph for those interested in the life of Moody, the story of American revivalism, or the history of American print media."--Faith & Mission"God's Man for the Gilded Age is an exemplary achievement. It is the best study available of Moody's rise to fame--and of his struggle to deflect the adoration of admirers, keeping them focused not on himself but on his lifeboat."--he Journal of Religion."..well written and splendidly researched..."--Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology"An important chapter in the history of American revivalism as well as that of American journalism.... This book merits a wide readership."--American Historical Review"masterfully recounts both how the newspapers elevated Moody to celebrity status and how
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About Bruce J Evensen

Bruce J. Evensen is a Professor in the Department of Communication at DePaul University where he teaches courses on journalism and journalistic history. A former journalist himself, he is the author of Truman, Palestine and the Press: Shaping Conventional Wisdom at the Beginning of the Cold War (1992), The Responsible Reporter (1995), and When Dempsey Fought Tunney: Heroes, Hokum and Storytelling in the Jazz Age (1996).
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