'You Have Stept out of Yo

File Name: 0003.FEM

  Msg#: 624                                          Date: 05-26-98  04:06
  From: Grant Karpik                                 Read: Yes    Replied: No 
    To: All                                          Mark:                     
  Subj: 'You Have Stept out of Yo
@MSGID: 1:153/831.2 56a77a23
@PID: timEd 1.10.y2k
Published by H-AmRel@msu.edu (May 1998)

Susan Hill Lindley. _"You Have Stept Out of Your Place:" A History 
of Women and Religion in America_.  Louisville, Kentucky: 
Westminster John Knox Press, 1996.  xi + 500 pp. Notes and index. 
$25.00 (cloth), ISBN 0-664-22081-9.

Reviewed for H-AMREL by Carolyn J. Lawes , Old 
Dominion University.

Forgotten what Antinomianism was (if you ever really knew)?  On 
shaky ground when it comes to Pentecostalism or the Deaconness 
movement? Susan Hill Lindley can help.

Lindley's _"You Have Stept Out of Your Place:" A History of Women 
and Religion in America_ is a survey of U.S. history from the 
Puritans to the present that highlights women's role in religion 
and religion's role for women.  Anyone teaching U.S. religious 
history, U.S. women's history, or for that matter just plain U.S. 
history stands to benefit from Lindley's clear and cogent 
descriptions of important individuals and beliefs.  It is as well 
an obvious choice for use in undergraduate courses.

Lindley offers a graceful synthesis of an enormous body of 
literature. She unites the numerous changes over time with the 
theme of religious women stepping out of their place, that is, of 
religious women implicitly and explicitly challenging and changing 
gender restrictions in the churches and in society.  Thus the study 
begins with the Puritans and moves chronologically across the 
centuries to end with a discussion of feminist theology. Most of 
the major individuals and religious developments receive due 
attention, and while the book focuses on the various permutations 
of American Protestantism, Lindley makes an effort to be inclusive, 
devoting a chapter apiece to the distinctive historical experiences 
of Native American, African American, Roman Catholic, and Jewish 

The bulk of the study, nearly half, is dedicated to the nineteenth 
century.  To be sure, these were  particularly fertile years for 
religious women to "step out of their place," and as a 
nineteenth-century historian, the distribution made sense to me.  
Others might not find it as congenial.

Colonial America is dispatched in under fifty pages and does not do 
justice to the richness of the field despite the author's 
first-rate discussions of Puritans and Quakers.  The coverage of 
the twentieth century is better though still abbreviated, and is 
centered upon the theme of women's leadership.  Lindley concludes 
with a brief but important discussion of contemporary tensions 
within feminism and the further expansion of religious pluralism, 
topics that will no doubt spark lively student debate.

The book is clearly intended for classroom use and this is its area 
of greatest appeal.  Throughout the text Lindley reveals an 
experienced teacher's sensitivity to the areas of likely confusion 
among students.  Indeed, she anticipates questions students are apt 
to pose and answers them clearly and concisely.  Particularly 
strong is the way the author draws connections between specific 
religious developments and larger social concerns, and she 
demonstrates an impressive ability to maneuver through complex 
issues without getting bogged down or oversimplifying.  Footnotes 
are kept to a minimum, which some may find an asset.  The book does 
not, however, include a bibliography, a surprising and 
disappointing omission considering its intended audience.

Lindley's study does not present a new or revised interpretation of 
American women's religious history but relies upon the standard 
paradigm of separate gender spheres, without which the notion of 
stepping out of one's place makes no sense.  Lindley is sensitive 
to the historic inconsistencies of the paradigm; indeed, that is 
one of the major themes of the book. Still, the analytical 
usefulness of the oft-repeated title phrase "You Have Stept Out of 
Your Place" is limited if it applied equally to Anne Hutchinson as 
to Aimee Semple McPherson.  Indeed, one wonders at what point, if 
ever, religious women stopped stepping out of their place.  But 
revising the paradigm of women's history is not the purpose of this 
book. Telling a story is, and this it does extremely well.

In sum, Susan Hill Lindley's _"You Have Stept Out of Your Place:" A 
History of Women and Religion in America_ is a well-written and 
persuasive overview of an important body of literature of great 
value to students and teachers alike.

  Copyright (c) 1998 by H-Net, all rights reserved.  This work
   may be copied for non-profit educational use if proper credit
   is given to the author and the list.  For all other permission,
   please contact H-Net@h-net.msu.edu.


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                   Grant {Internet: karpik@sprint.ca}

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