She Glanceth from Earth to Heaven: The Phenomenon of Love Mysticism among Women in Antebellum Virginia and Maryland

By Kellison, Kimberly R. | The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, October 1, 1999 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

She Glanceth from Earth to Heaven: The Phenomenon of Love Mysticism among Women in Antebellum Virginia and Maryland


Kellison, Kimberly R., The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography


She Glanceth from Earth to Heaven: The Phenomenon of Love Mysticism Among Women in Antebellum Virginia and Maryland. By LAURA HOBGOOD-OSTER. New Orleans: University Press of the South, 1998. ix, 199 pp. $49.95.

LAURA HOBGOOD-OSTER'S She Glanceth from Earth to Heaven: The Phenomenon of Love Mysticism Among Women in Antebellum Virginia and Maryland explores the effects of love mysticism on the lives of three evangelical women living in the Upper South between 1820 and 1850. Judith Lomax, Caroline Homassel Thornton, and Letitia Grace McCurdy came from wealthy families, although two of the three women experienced serious financial problems during their lifetimes. Thornton and McCurdy married, while Lomax remained single. A strong belief in evangelical Christianity united these women, and as part of her religious conviction each kept a "Sabbath journal," a diary revealing each woman's innermost emotions toward God (p. 12). The professions of love found in these journals, Hobgood-Oster shows, extended beyond old-fashioned praise and adoration. So enamored with their Savior did Lomax, Thornton, and McCurdy become that they entered into a "mystical" union with the divine, one in which they transformed themselves into sexual and physical mates of Christ. Viewing themselves as literal spouses of God provided these evangelicals a sense of power and selfunderstanding that enabled them to assume greater leadership roles in the religious community. Although recognizing that their gender permitted them only certain privileges in the southern evangelical church, an understanding of their spiritual roles allowed Lomax, Thornton, and McCurdy to "rise above the gender identities of the world to new subjectivities" (p. 170).

In recent years historians have made important strides in exploring the fundamental ways religious experience affected American women. Hobgood-Oster's work adds to that body of research by suggesting that evangelical experience in the Old South may have been more complex and nuanced than previously documented. Yet this work raises more questions than it answers. The most serious problem with Hobgood-Oster's hypothesis-that through love mysticism evangelical women fashioned a new sense of self-arises from the limited scope of her study.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

She Glanceth from Earth to Heaven: The Phenomenon of Love Mysticism among Women in Antebellum Virginia and Maryland
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?