About the author: John C. Waldmeir is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, where he directs the Bishop Daniel W. Kucera Center for Catholic Studies and edits the series “Spiritual Life in the Upper Mississippi River
2002 0-7734-7261-4 A wealth of social Christian novels, poetry, and visual images came together during the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century to help Americans imagine new roles for God in a changing society. More “immanent” than “other,” God came to life in such imaginative works, and through elements of creative expression writers and artists demonstrated the ways that human drama provides believers with meaningful images of the divine. Many ministers and theologians read or viewed these works and responded with a social Christian vocabulary rich in figurative language. The ensuing dialogue produced an extraordinary moment in the history of modern American religion. To date scholars have examined only one side of the conversion, emphasizing the extensive influence social Christian theory and practice had upon popular literature and art. This works demonstrates that the creative impulse motivated almost all who participated in the movement, and it argues that the ambiguities of poetry, prose fiction, and the visual arts have helped social Christianity endure.