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Seminar 4:
The American Way of Religion

The American Way: The Inventiveness of American Christianity as a Model for Australia

This session will explore how American Christians have pioneered new variants of an old faith. While growing up as an Episcopalian in Boston, Massachusetts I became aware of the invention in my city of Christian Science, the popularity of Spiritualism, and the presence of Mormons. The latter two religions had originated a few hundred miles away among Protestants in upper New York State between 1820 and 1850. Even more weighty is the contribution of African-American churches. It was African-Americans in Los Angeles who launched the pentecostal movement in 1906, and the Civil Rights Movement of Martin Luther King grew out of the black churches.

What are we to make of this profusion of new starts for Christianity? These examples remind us that from its beginning Christianity has been highly inventive of new forms. Viewed from the United States it seems just wrong to regard Christianity as either stolid, conservative, or incapable of self-renewal. How then might the inventiveness of American Christians inspire Christians in Australia?

Date Wednesday 14 April
Time 7.30 - 9.30 pm
Venue St Peter's hall, Eastern Hill
Cost $15 (concession: $12)
Conductor Dr William Johnston
Dr Johnston studied at Harvard University, and he taught European cultural history and the history of world religions at the University of Massachusetts. He now teaches the history of Christianity at the Yarra Theological Union.

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