Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory

Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory : A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America

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The televangelists may be the most conspicuous element of the evangelical subculture in America, and the bizarre antics of some of the most prominent figures-Oral Roberts, Jim Bakker, or Jimmy Swaggart-make for amusing film clips on the evening news. But as Randall Balmer reveals in this vivid and colorful narrative, these men make up only a small part of a strikingly diverse religious movement; in fact, the Falwells and the Bakkers are marginal figures, of only moderate importance to the many fundamentalist, charismatic, and pentecostal believers in the United States. When it was first published in 1989, it was universally hailed as a sensitive, moving, and enlightening account of a religious phenomena little understood and often ridiculed. Now the companion volume to a forthcoming PBS television series hosted by Balmer, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory criss-crosses the country-from Oregon to Florida, from Texas to North Dakota-to take readers on a journey into the heart of evangelical America.In an evenhanded, reflective series of New Yorker-style profiles, Balmer gives one the sense of what it is like to sit in on classes in the Dallas Theological Seminary or to accompany evangelical activists as they mobilize support for Pat Robertson and Jack Kemp at the 1988 Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. We visit an old-fashioned holiness camp meeting in St. Petersburg, Florida, an Indian reservation in the Dakotas, a huge trade show for Christian booksellers, and a fundamentalist Bible camp in the Adirondacks. In addition, the expanded edition includes a profile of the Multnomah School of the Bible, a fundamentalist Bible institute in Portland, Oregon; tells the story of the pentecostal congregation in Valdosta, Georgia that decided to join ranks with the Episcopal Church; and offers an account of Billy Graham's recent crusade that brought tens of thousands into New York's Central Park. Throughout, Balmer fills in the theological and historical background-on the Jesus Movement in California, for instance, or Protestant missionary work among Native-Americans-creating in effect a capsule history of evangelicism.And while Balmer acknowledges a certain sympathy with evangelicism, he doesn't gloss over its failings-the combativeness and exclusivity that permeate much of its teachings, or the pervasive theology of prosperity which Balmer deplores as "the sanctification of American consumerism." But perhaps what stands out most in this book is the people Balmer meets on his journey, ranging from the evangelical filmmaker Donald Thompson to pentecostal faith healers to fervent young evangelists working the beaches of southern California. It is through their eyes that we see into the heart of American evangelicism, that we understand the genuine appeal of the movement and thereby arrive at a more accurate and balanced portrait of an abiding tradition that, as the author argues, is both rich in theological insights and mired in contradictions. For this 10th-anniversary edition, Balmer has added two new chapters, one offering a fascinating profile of disgraced TV evangelist Jimmy Swaggart, and the other a behind-the-scenes portrait of a Christian rock band on tour.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 346 pages
  • 136.1 x 203.5 x 20.3mm | 317.52g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Revised
  • 3rd Revised edition
  • 0195131800
  • 9780195131802

Review quote

"A sensitive, informed, often moving account of lifestles and belief systems that coexist with--but are usually set apart from--secular mainstream America....Provides a carefully crafted portrait of religious diversity that is both generous and critical but never patronizing....We can all read this book with profit."--Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography"A fascinating, loving book."--The Des Moines Register"Fascinating....This is a wonderful book....Fair, insightful and respectful....Balmer understands what he sees, but has enough distance from his subject to be analytical. Outsiders will learn much from his carefully nuanced insights; nad insiders will frequently have to nod their heads in agreement: this man knows what he is talking about."--Church Historyshow more

About Randall H. Balmer

Randall Balmer is professor of American Religious History at Barnard College, Columbia University and a visiting professor at Yale Divinity School. An editor-at-large for Christianity Today magazine, his commentaries on religion in America have appeared in newspapers across the country, and he regularly lectures at colleges, universities, and at such venues as the Chautauqua Institution and the Smithsonian Associates. Dr. Balmer was nominated for an Emmy Award for writing and presenting the PBS version of this book.show more

Rating details

238 ratings
3.84 out of 5 stars
5 29% (70)
4 37% (89)
3 23% (55)
2 8% (19)
1 2% (5)
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