Synopses & Reviews
From Oregon to Florida, and from Texas to North Dakota; from the tens of thousands Billy Graham's recent crusade brought to New York's Central Park to the evangelical activists who mobilized support for Pat Robertson and Jack Kemp at the 1988 Iowa caucuses, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory crisscrosses the country to take readers on a journey into the heart of evangelical America. We visit an old-fashioned holiness camp meeting in St. Petersburg, Florida, an Indian reservation in the Dakotas, a huge trade show for Christian booksellers, and a fundamentalist Bible camp in the Adirondacks. But what stands out most in this book is the people Balmer meets on his journey, ranging from the evangelical filmmaker Donald Thompson to Pentecostal faith healers to fervent young evangelists working the beaches of southern California. It is through their eyes that we see into the heart of American evangelicalism, that we grasp the genuine appeal of the movement, and thereby arrive at a more accurate and balanced understanding of an abiding tradition that, as the author argues, is both rich in theological insights and mired in contradictions. For this edition, Balmer has added two new chapters, one offering a fascinating profile of disgraced TV evangelist Jimmy Swaggart, and the other a behind-the-scenes portrait of a Christian rock band on tour.
"A professor of American religious history at Barnard and Columbia, Balmer wrote this book because he had a 'suspicion that many Americans, and certainly the media, really did not have much of a clue about who evangelicals were, what they believed, or what motivated their forays into the political arena.' Fifteen years after the book was published, and with the gap between evangelicals and other Americans still yawning, the book offers a tour of evangelical enclaves throughout the country."--The Washington Post
"Randall Balmer takes readers through evangelical America, and it's a surprisingly lively and light ride. Balmer isn't a preacher, but a fine reporter, curious and respectful about the vitality and diversity of evangelicalism."--The New York Daily News (on previous edition)
"A sensitive, informed, often moving account of lifestyles and belief systems that coexist with--but are usually set apart from--secular mainstream America.... Provides a carefully crafted portrait of religious diversity that is both generous and critical but never patronizing.... We can all read this book with profit."--Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (on previous edition)
"Fascinating.... This is a wonderful book.... Fair, insightful and respectful.... Balmer understands what he sees, but has enough distance from his subject to be analytical. Outsiders will learn much from his carefully nuanced insights; and insiders will frequently have to nod their heads in agreement: this man knows what he is talking about."--Church History (on previous edition)
"This compelling account makes Randall Balmer the William Least Heat Moon of American evangelicalism. Just as Blue Highways opened up an ordinary America beyond the bright city lights, so Balmer goes beyond media stars like Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham, and Jimmy Swaggart to illuminate the local realities of evangelical life. The worlds of Protestant conservatives are complex--filled overfull with the eccentric and the authentic, locked tightly in the grip of kitsch as well as the grip of grace. In describing that world from Oregon to New Hampshire, Des Moines to Phoenix, Mississippi to North Dakota--Balmer doesn't miss a nuance or a beat."--Mark A. Noll, Wheaton College
"Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory is a book about the sawdust trail that glitters like angel dust. It is witty, lively and richly informative--written with real style and sophistication, and a delight to read."--Frederick Buechner
"Easily the best participant-observer study of the evangelical landscape in contemporary America. He combines the insight of the trained historian with the deft instincts of the birthright insider. The product is at once a critical, painfully funny, warmly sympathetic exploration of the multiple subcultures of a sprawling religious tradition that is all too easily stereotyped--and dismissed--as monolithic fundamentalism."--Grant Wacker, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
"American evangelicalism is as diverse as the nation's landscape. Balmer's book is an extraordinary religious travelogue through that complicated subculture....After reading [his] book, popular stereotypes of 'evangelicals' and 'fundamentalists' will never again be quite so clearly focused."--David E. Harrell, Jr., University of Alabama, Birmingham
"A powerful examination of those ingredients hat constitute the very essence of the phenomenon called American evangelicism. Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory is absolutely essential for anyone who wishes to understand the religious landscape of contemporary America."--Lewis V. Baldwin, Vanderbilt University
Randall Balmer's Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory
is an insightful and engaging journey into the world of conservative Christians in America. Originally published fifteen years ago and the basis for an award-winning PBS documentary, this timely new edition arrives just as recent elections have left an ever-growing number of secular Americans wondering exactly how the other half thinks.
From Oregon to Florida, and from Texas to North Dakota, Balmer offers an immensely readable tour of the highways and byways of American evangelicalism. We visit a revival meeting in Florida, an Indian reservation in the Dakotas, a trade show for Christian booksellers, and a fundamentalist Bible camp in the Adirondacks.
For this fourth edition, Balmer adds two chapters, one on the phenomenally popular "Painter of Light," Thomas Kinkade, and one on Rick Warren, author of The Purpose-Driven Life. Through the eyes of these and other people Balmer meets on his journeys, we arrive at a more accurate and balanced understanding of an abiding tradition that, as the author argues, is both rich in theological insights and mired in contradictions. Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory offers readers a genuine insight into the appeal that the evangelicals movement holds for thousands of Americans.
About the Author
is professor of American Religious History at Barnard College, Columbia University and a visiting professor at Yale Divinity School. An editor-at-large for Christianity Today
magazine, his commentaries on religion in America have appeared in newspapers across the country, and he regularly lectures at colleges, universities, and at such venues as the Chautauqua Institution and the Smithsonian Associates. Dr. Balmer was nominated for an Emmy Award for writing and presenting the PBS version of this book.
Table of Contents
1. California Kickback
2. Dallas Orthodoxy
3. On Location
4. Phoenix Prophet
5. Adirondack Fundamentalism
6. Georgia Charismatics
7. Bible School
8. Campaign Journal
9. Mississippi Missions
10. Bible Bazaar
11. Episcopal Indians
12. Camp Meeting
13. City Crusade
14. Oregon Jeremiad