the historyof american christian practice project
Funded by the Lilly Endowment.

bibliography
definitions
initiatives
participants
rationale

Click here for information about our final conference from October 21-23, 2004!

The History of American Christian Practice Project is an integrated, multilayered academic project aimed at bringing Christian practice to the center of current discussions of American religious life.   The Project will encourage historical reflection and conversation among mid-career and junior scholars, as well exchange between historians and practical theologians, thereby making more explicit the links between historical scholarship and the issues of practicing Christians.  Activities include the convening of an ongoing working group of scholars, whose collaborative discussions over a three-year period will culminate in a collection of essays on changing Christian practices in America and a closing public conference in which we will present our efforts and encourage dialogue with interested clergy and laity.

The Project intellectually builds on three strands of contemporary academic research:
 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Andy Warhol, The Last Supper, 1986
First, the participating scholars will attempt to reconsider the present theories of practice as defined in such theoretical considerations as Pierre Bourdieu's Outline of a Theory of Practice (1977), Michel de Certeau's The Practice of Everyday Life (1984), and Pierre Hadot's Philosophy as a Way of Life (1995) in order to construct a theory of practice pertinent to the study of American Christian history.
 
 

     Norman Rocwell, Save Freedom of Worship, 1943

 
 

Second, we will evaluate work in American religious history directed towards the study of Christian practice.  Contemporary projects on this topic include the Material Christianity and Lived Theology projects.  The studies conducted by David Hall (World of Wonder, Days of Judgment, 1989; Lived Religion in America, 1997), Colleen McDannell (Material Christianity, 1995), and Charles Hambrick-Stowe (The Practice of Piety, 1982) form the groundwork for our historical investigations.
 
 
 
  


William Congdon, Ascensione, 1961


Third, the Project will integrate these historical and theoretical considerations with the work of such students of contemporary Christian spirituality as Dorothy Bass (Practicing Our Faith, 1997; Practicing Theology with Miroslav Volf, 2001), Wade Clark Roof (Spiritual Marketplace, 1999), and Robert Wuthnow (After Heaven, 1998; Rediscovering the Sacred, 1992).  Together, these three strands of scholarship will encourage and inform our attempt to bridge the historical study of American Christian practice with the experience of contemporary religious practice.
 
 

   Photograph of El Santuario de Chimayo, New Mexico

Use this website
to explore the various facets of this project.  Included are descriptions of the Project rationale, initiatives, and participants, as well as definitions and a bibliography on practices studies and American Christian history.

For more information
on the History of American Christian Practice Project, contact the Project coordinator and Webmaster, Kathryn Lofton, at klofton@email.unc.edu.
 
 
 

rationale
initiatives
participants
bibliography
definitions
final conference