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Synopsis

A memorable new literary voice traces the story of American fundamentalism through the transcendent lens of his own family experience.
Brett Grainger's grandparents, members of the Plymouth Brethren, believed devoutly that Jesus would return and rapture them to Heaven; when he didn't, their lives collapsed. Grainger's father, having fled from his parents' extremism, underwent his own conversion in later life. Grainger himself journeyed away from faith, and yet, two decades later, found a different way back to the church, seeking a balance between extremes.
Using those family pathways as a catalyst, he offers a beautifully written, clear-eyed chronicle of fundamentalism in American history, revealing it to be far richer and more complex than the images the word evokes today. Grainger explores seven major themes, including the devotion to biblical literalism, an idea nourished by the writings of nineteenth-century preacher John Nelson Darby; the experience of sudden, personal transformation known as "getting saved"; and the paradox of creation science. Above all, he illuminates the unrelenting pursuit of purity that divides believers into separatists, who shun the sullied compromises of politics, and activists, who fight to bring society under the yoke of divine law-all in the name of being "in the world but not of it." Writing with a passion and conviction born of personal experience, Brett Grainger brings new insight into American history, and invaluable understanding for anyone interested in our country's religious tradition.

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