Spirit and Flesh
Life in a Fundamentalist Baptist Church
By James M. Jr Ault
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780375702389, 448pp.)
Publication Date: September 13, 2005
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In an attempt to understand the growing popularity and influence of Christian fundamentalism, sociologist and documentary filmmaker James Ault spent three years inside the world of a Massachusetts fundamentalist church.Spirit and Flesh takes us into worship services, home Bible studies, youth events, men’s prayer breakfasts, and bitter conflicts leading to a church split. We come to know the members of the congregation and see how the church acts as an extended family that provides support and security along with occasional tensions. Intimate and rigorously fair-minded, Spirit and Flesh will help non-religious readers better understand their fellow citizens, and will allow devout readers to see themselves through the eyes of a sympathetic outsider.
James M. Ault, Jr. was educated at Harvard and Brandeis universities. After teaching at Harvard and at Smith College, he made his first film, Born Again, a portrait of this fundamentalist Baptist congregation, which won a Blue Ribbon at the American Film Festival and was broadcast in the United States and abroad in 1987. He has since produced and directed a variety of documentary programs for the Lilly Endowment, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Episcopal Church Foundation, and other organizations. He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.
“The best single-volume explanation of why American fundamentalist Christianity thrives among certain people, what needs it fulfills and why it will not die out.” –The Washington Post Book World“An absorbing, groundbreaking, and intimate tale. . . . An ethnographic study that often reads like a novel.” –The Christian Science Monitor“Not just a first-rate piece of sociological journalism. Ault weaves his own story into the book, and . . . gives Spirit and Flesh a warmth and humanity that set it apart.” –The San Francisco Chronicle“This brilliant book is essential for anyone who wants to better understand fundamentalism — or for fundamentalists who desire to understand how they are viewed by others.” –Christianity Today