The Magazine

Heavenly Rewards

That business of God and Mammon.

Nov 4, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 08 • By PATRICK ALLITT
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Bowler is relieved to discover among her friends at the Victorious Faith Center a subterranean current of resistance to official teachings. Sick members often help each other out without passing judgment. They comfort the bereaved, rather than berating the departed for lack of faith. They sometimes slip out of church early to accomplish practical tasks or to look after their children. But even while contradicting their church’s teachings, they continue to invoke them as ideals for themselves and for one another. 

Researching and writing Blessed could not have been easy, and the author, if anything, understates her own tribulations. Nevertheless, she has emerged with a historically and anthropologically convincing account of this central trend in contemporary American Christianity, in equal parts informative, amusing, and horrifying.

Patrick Allitt, professor of history at Emory University, is the author, most recently, of The Conservatives: Ideas and Personalities Throughout American History.