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Spirit and Flesh: Life in a Fundamentalist Baptist Church
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Spirit and Flesh: Life in a Fundamentalist Baptist Church

3.62  ·  Rating Details  ·  56 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
In an attempt to understand the growing popularity and influence of Christian fundamentalism, sociologist and documentary filmmaker James Ault spent three years inside the world of a Massachusetts fundamentalist church.Spirit and Flesh takes us into worship services, home Bible studies, youth events, men’s prayer breakfasts, and bitter conflicts leading to a church split. ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published September 13th 2005 by Vintage (first published 2004)
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Richard
I was pointed to this book by Weekly Sift Doug Muder's essay "Red Family, Blue Family", which invoked a very interesting concept: "obligated relationships vs. negotiated committments": http://www.gurus.org/dougdeb/politics...

It is included in a list from CivilPolitics.org in the list "To help liberals understand (and be civil to) conservatives:"
http://www.civilpolitics.org/understa...

Contemporary reviews:
NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/05/boo...
San Diego Reader: http://www.sandiegorea
...more
Erin
Apr 11, 2010 Erin rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, religion
After slogging through this long book, I wish I had just found a copy of Ault's documentary from the 80s and watched that instead. The book is a lengthier version of that film, but written some TEN YEARS later - Ault dismisses the time interval, indicating that since he was looking at the life of one small congregation, so there would be no major changes from a sociological standpoint. That's probably true, based on the personalities we see in the book, but it comes off as an attempt at some way ...more
Margie
Jul 27, 2007 Margie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
Really interesting look at a fundamentalist congregation.
Jeri Massi
James Ault lived as part of a Fundamentalist (IFB) church for two years, later producing a film and a book about the experience. His insights spurred other writers and researchers to lose the contempt they have been taught to feel for Fundamentalism and instead view the religious movement with the necessary prerequisite respect to understand it.

Ault did his study decades before allegations of child molesting in Christian Fundamentalism came to light. The church he selected (while Jerry Falwell w
...more
Megan
Jul 18, 2014 Megan rated it really liked it
Provided me with important insights into the faith and and appreciation for the way of life of fundamentalist Christians, with whom I largely disagree, but now understand better.
Julian
Nov 29, 2007 Julian rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was pretty interesting but not gripping enough to finish. The point is that fundamentalist church communities offer people the kind of interdependent community life that is often lacking in the secular/intellectual world. I didn't really want to see if the (secular/intellectual) author found Jesus at the end so I stopped. He spent most of the book making friends with the church people and finding out how their lives went, which seemed to be a lot of preaching about crap and giving mone ...more
Anne
Apr 22, 2014 Anne rated it liked it
Ethnography of a fundamentalist Baptist church in the 1980s. Why published in the 2000s? Read it for a project, learned a lot, but not a must read.
Stuart
May 18, 2013 Stuart rated it really liked it
A good look at a particular IFB church in the 70s. Some of it is a bit foreign (for instance, the "weird ones" are those who are KJV-Only and forbid pants on women, when in my experience, that is far and away the norm), but it helps understand the close-knit fundamentalist communities, and the power struggles and rhetoric employed, very well. I really want to hunt the documentary this was based on now. This book would be much different if it was chronicling a church that had a few more decades b ...more
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