There were several things that really interested me about this reading. For one, the evolution of Christianity and how it broke into different groups and denominations is really interesting in that it was very much influenced by the circumstances that surrounded it. Which is always really cool to see, how history shapes a religion just as much as a religion shapes history. The expansion of the frontier, for example was interesting in that it very much changed Christianity into something not so much based on an institutionalized church so much as something centered around the individual. Two things about this that I really found interesting. First of all, the person who centered around the evangelical revival, Charles Finney, “understood revival to be the controlled manipulation of religious phenomena”. This really struck me, that someone knew how powerful religion could be, and knew how to twist it around in order to push onwards his agenda (because at this point, I can only assume he had one).
Another thing was that just as religion became centered around the individual, it also became very homebased. As a result, women very much became central figures in the practicing of Christianity, which influenced the more “emotional” aspects of the religion. I don’t think this is because women are “more emotional” as a whole, but because, as Christianity became more influenced by domesticity and households, it developed a more personal and intimate view of Jesus and Christ than it had when it was mostly centered around churches and denominations as institutions. The fact that Christianity was soon marked by preachers as becoming too “effeminate” and therefore weak is sort of ironic to me, considering that so much of that feminine influence on Christianity is one of its most defining characteristics in various denominations- having a personal relationship with Christ and seeing Christ as a close friend and not just as a Father and/or Savior figure are two examples. In fact, the whole mantra that Christianity “is a relationship not a religion” seems to have definitely stemmed from these roots. What so many preachers deemed as “weak” actually became a central point in much of Christianity.
Of course, it’s troubling to me that people have always belittled the feminine as being weak, but that’s a post for another time.