All Faithful People: Change and Continuity in Middletown's Religion

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U of Minnesota Press, 1983 - Social Science - 378 pages
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All Faithful People was first published in 1983. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

In 1924 Robert and Helen Lynd went to Middletown (Muncie, Indiana) to study American institutions and values. The results of their work are the classic studies Middletown (1929) and Middletown in Transition (1937). In the late 1970s a team of social scientists returned to Middletown to gauge the changes that have taken place in the fifty years since the Lynds' first visit. The Middletown III Project, by replicating the earlier work, in some cases by using the same questions, provides an unprecedented portrait of a small American town as it adapts to changing times. Its first report, Middletown Families, was published by Minnesota in 1982.

This book explores the role of religion in the life of Middletown. Using the Lynds' magnificent cache of empirical data as a base, social scientists on the Middletown III Project attempted to gauge how religious beliefs and practices have changed. For the most part, their findings show that the current perception of a trend toward a more secular society is not true. In Middletown, religion seems to be more important than ever.

All Faithful People also covers the history of Middletown's churches, the differences between the town's Protestants and Catholics, religious participation among young people, and the role in Middletown life of private devotions and public rituals. In conclusion, the authors of All Faithful People evaluate Middletown as a representative community. They attempt to explain the myth of the death of organized religion, and briefly compare religion in America to religion in other Western countries.

Fifty years after the Lynds first made Middletown famous, a team of social scientists returned to find out how American values have changed. This, their second report, focuses on religion. What does religion mean to Middletown today? Has America become a secular society? Those are some of the questions discussed in All Faithful People.

  

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Contents

Religion in Middletown
3
From Simpson Chapel to Grace Baptist
39
Changes in Religious Observance
71
Changes in Religious Sentiment
87
Changes in Denominational Identity
109
Middletowns Rituals 19241980
128
Private Devotions
146
Catholics and Protestants
163
Youth and the Church
217
Middletowns Clergy
243
Cooperation Among the Churches
267
The Future of Middletowns Religion
280
Notes
343
Bibliography
355
Published Middletown Papers
363
Subject Index
369

Christmas and Easter
182
The Difference It Makes
199

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About the author (1983)

Dwight Hoover is Professor Emeritus of History and former director of the Center for Middletown Studies at Ball State University.

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