Archive for December, 2011

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God and Man in Business, ca. 1930s

14 December 2011

Historical studies about American evangelicals in business can feel a little few and far between.  Outside of biographies of tycoons like Andrew Carnegie, few important works arise.  So I was happy to see that Church History published an article on R.G. LeTourneau, a New Deal era evangelical who tried to hold onto long-held ideals capitalistic Christianity during the expansion of the federal government.  Here’s the punchline:

Just as it would be a mistake to ignore LeTourneau’s conventionality within right-wing Depression and World War II-era business and politics, it would be misguided to minimize his distinctiveness as an evangelical.  He was God’s business man, not just any business man.  His answer to the New Deal was not simply a shrinking state, but a revival that would put a fallen nation back on good terms with its creator. . . . In this light, revivalism was not apolitical.  Revivalism was politics (Sarah R. Hammond, “‘God Is My Partner’: An Evangelical Business Man Confronts Depression and War, Church History 80:3 [Sept 2011]: 519).

 

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Men Less Likely to Be Cremated

9 December 2011

An interesting shift seems to be afoot in funeral culture.  Men led the numbers of cremations as the practice gained popularity in the twentieth century.  Stephen R. Prothero notes that men made up the majority of cremations then, even 76% in one area.  Not that men were the only ones interested in the practice.  Lisa Kazmier found that The Cremation Society of Great Britain’s membership consisted of 60% women (“Her Final Performance,” Mortality 6:2 [2001]).  Prothero also writes about women’s role in cremation activism, though he notes that these vocal exponents tended to be college-educated women, and thus very much in the minority.   Anecdotal evidence from the time suggests that women were more likely to protest cremation.  Primarily, men’s bodies were put to the pyre.

That statistic has changed.   Women’s bodies made up 52% of all cremated in 1996-97, according to the Cremation Association of North America.   A demographic study in Great Britain found that women showed the greater preference for cremation over decomposition in the ground (Davies and Shaw, 1995).   Does this general trend have more to do with women’s changing conceptions about the body?  Or does it have to do more with finances, with women’s higher levels of poverty?