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Church People and Others

Church People and Others

Chapter:
(p.170) Chapter 8 Church People and Others
Source:
After Cloven Tongues of Fire
Author(s):
David A. Hollinger
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691158426.003.0008

This chapter presents the author's account of the intensely Protestant atmosphere in which he had grown up. He calls attention to a methodological and ethical concern that he picked up from a youthful encounter with the work of the sinologist Joseph R. Levenson. His describes how Levenson had projected so much of his own preoccupations onto China that his interpretation of Chinese history, for all its architectural and prose grandeur, was highly idiosyncratic and often simply wrong. This cautionary tale has stayed with the author and was especially on his mind when writing about American Protestantism and about the post-Protestantism of which he is an example. He asks: When does a personal frame enable a historian to see historical realities that others might not see, and when does it become, instead, a bias?

Keywords:   ecumenical Protestant, American Protestantism, Joseph R. Levenson, historians, post-Protestantism

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