Religion in America

Religion in America

Religion in America

Religion in America

Excerpt

I have found it a little difficult to decide on a pattern for this book, which might be, variously, a history, a volume of statistics, a social study, an apologia. No single one of these possible plans for its organization seemed promising. Therefore the reader who is concerned solely with history or theology or sociology or apologetics will feel that his concern is not given full recognition here.

I finally decided that the book had best be an implied conversation between myself here in America and you in England. At the risk of seeming at times to understand the English situation better than is possible for one who is not himself an Englishman, I have assumed that we are more or less acquainted and ought to be still fiurther acquainted. Therefore I have made constant use of the gambits 'you' and 'we', 'yours' and 'ours', in introducing one subject after another.

The book is, therefore, informal in its style, and its faults of style are to this extent deliberate. If, at times, serious matters seem to be treated lightly, that impression must be charged against my desire to avoid pedantry or a dispassionateness so studied that it might seem to suggest a lack of personal identification with the subject. I do not profess to be a disinterested observer and critic of the facts which are my theme. And I have assumed that those who have spent a lifetime with churches and religious movements will not misunderstand the rather intimate tone in which one speaks of matters for which one has a deep affection. Moreover, America is an informal country, and these pages would be a wholly false transcript of our life if they were too formally dressed up to 'go abroad'. I have come to you therefore in our everyday clothes, rather than in Sabbath-day garb.

One other note of explanation should be added by way of warning. A disproportionate amount of space in the pages which follow has been given to the small sects in America. They do not in fact bulk as large as their mention here might seem to . . .

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