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Religion and American Life

Religious liberty and immigration have given the United States a diverse religious experience. This section of the web site will chronicle this experience, with exhibits on various religious traditions, their theology and practices; religious expression in literature, music and art; American utopianism and millennialism; the development of new religions and sects; fundamentalism and religious liberalism; and religion and political violence; among other topics.

Reflecting the Divine in American Art

Our first art piece comes from the collection of the Memorial Hall Museum, Deerfield, Massachusetts, and reflects the central religious motif of the American Revolution, the vine and fig tree of Micah 4: 3-4.

Our second artwork, Religion, is one of a series of murals painted by Millard Owen Sheets for the Department of Interior Building in Washington, D.C. on African-American culture. 

The Search For the Divine in American Poetry

We begin with two poems by the early New England poet Edward Taylor: Upon A Wasp Chilled With Cold and Huswifery. In both, Taylor brings the perspective of a faithful Christian to bear upon relatively mundane aspects of everyday life with surprising results.

Next, we have a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: The Jewish Cemetery at Newport. In it, Longfellow reflects on the long history of the Jewish people, focusing especially on their experience in diaspora.

In honor of the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor, Karl Shapiro’s “Elegy for a Dead Soldier,” one of the most quoted and most admired poems to come out of World War II.

And a modern extension of a traditional Appalachian hymn, I Wonder as I Wander, by folklorist John Jacob Niles.

 

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