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Jesus in America and Other Stories from the Field

Jesus in America and Other Stories from the Field

Claudia Gould
Foreword by Lee Haring
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 140
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  • Book Info
    Jesus in America and Other Stories from the Field
    Book Description:

    Drawing on ethnographic field work she conducted among Christians in her home state of North Carolina, Claudia Gould crafts stories that lay open the human heart and social complications of fundamentalist belief. These stories and the compelling characters who inhabit them draw us into the complex essence of religious experience among southern American Christians.

    eISBN: 978-0-87421-760-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. Foreword
    (pp. 1-6)
    Lee Haring

    Readers of novels won’t let fiction be fiction; they want it to give them fact. The most degrading habit of radio or television interviewers is urging some novelist like Philip Roth to admit that his characters are “really” disguised versions of characters he has known. We first use novels, of course, to find out whether there’s anybody else out there, but our second, lifelong use for them is anthropological. Novels and short stories are windows through which we observe other people’s “manners, customs, observances, superstitions” (W.J. Thoms’s constituents of folklore). Conversely, when readers think, anthropology should be anthropology, they mean...

  4. Jesus in America
    (pp. 7-28)

    Jesse lived with his mother and his father took an interest. Or that’s what his mother said. “He cain’t be here all the time, honey, but he takes an interest.” When Jesse was little, he used to wish that he took more of an interest. He saw his father sometimes. “He never just high-tailed it out, like some men would ‘a done.” No, Dan, Jesse’s father, turned up every so often at the door, and he always seemed real glad to see them, and usually he brought a present. Some kind of a present.

    But… What Jesse used to wish...

  5. A Red Crayon
    (pp. 29-34)

    Well, my brother-in-law was sayin’ how you have to teach the younguns to behave, and I think he’s right. Well, I know he is, up to a point. You can’t leave ‘em to run wild. That’s not doing them a favor.

    But I know how he teaches his kids. Ooh, don’t you think he tears them up! Now, I’m not one of these people who thinks you mustn’t lay a hand on a child—your own child, I mean—I think I’d kill anybody else who hit a kid of mine. These people who say you mustn’t spank a kid,...

  6. The Mountains of Spices
    (pp. 35-62)

    Ruth knew that she had an important name. Almost as early in her life as she had learned to point to herself and say “Ruth!”—or, in those days, Rut’—she knew that her name was in the Bible. Ruth had a book to herself in the Old Testament and she was the grandmother of David, who played on a harp and killed a giant when he was still a little boy and grew up to be king, and she was the great-great-many greats-grandmother of Jesus. She knew that Ruth had declared, “Whither thou goest I will go. Thy people...

  7. Personal Storage
    (pp. 63-72)

    It was Sunday morning. Warm autumn weather sat on the low hills of North Carolina; sunshine poured through clear windows and lay thick as butter on the wooden floor and the wooden table and caressed the shoulders of every single member of the Sunday school class and Bible study group at Calvary Hope Baptist Church. And mine too.

    The wave of prayers and petitions came round the table, sweeping toward me. It was moving, and surprising, how much people were able to say, how much sorrow they dared expose. The young man across from me lifted a scared face when...

  8. A Moment of Rapture
    (pp. 73-84)

    The dogs had been barking for a good two hours since Jeff started listening. Who knows how long before that. Sounds didn’t leak into the house. Jeff and Laurel always went to bed with the windows and doors closed and locked. Closed for the air conditioning. Locked for security. But tonight had been so balmy, so full of smells and summer sounds, that Jeff had hesitated when they came indoors. He had a sense that in a minute he would remember something, recognize something not quite forgotten. But there was only the soft heavy air and the smell of grass....

  9. Jack at the Mercy Seat
    (pp. 85-108)

    Jack was born in 1926, just too late for the fizz and frivolity of the Roaring Twenties. Not that there was much fizz, frivolity, or roaring in High Ridge, North Carolina. But the tannery was doing good business and reliably hiring the fourteen year olds who came out of school unqualified to do anything else. And the mills were working, turning out stockings (full fashioned, with seams) and tricot and bolts of printed dress cottons and upholstery damasks and artificial silk. The furniture factories kept men and women busy making and finishing suites of maple, beech, and oak, which were...

  10. Afterword
    (pp. 109-118)

    My experience of western North Carolina falls into three epochs. The first, extended but diffuse, was in my childhood. The second was the three years I spent there as an anthropologist, participating and observing with my husband and young family. Finally, in 2000, I took a plunge, short and intense, into the place to refresh my fieldwork and begin writing about it.

    I was born in Washington DC, the first northern or the last southern city, depending on how you approach it. It was the city to which my father had come, in flight from small-town life in North Carolina,...

  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 119-119)