Your Sunday Brunch (Not a Mother’s Day Post) Special, #12: Sermons, Their Impact, and Joseph Smith

No, not a Mother’s Day post. Just some thinking out loud here. Ignore without peril.

Preaching in America during the long eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and more especially the antebellum period, makes a fascinating study (says I). Gauging the impact of those sermons among listeners and downstream is especially interesting. However, doing that can be challenging and requires considerable detective work especially in considering immediate impact. Ideally, there would be surveys to consult, reported interviews with listeners and so on. But those instruments were not really known in the sense that we use them today. There are a few items that can give us a peek at what people thought about their preachers. However, with one or two exceptions, these are not massive contemporary collections of data. Instead, we have personal accounts in diaries, memoirs, and the like. Pursuing such things for the occasional brief comment on one or another preacher can consume years and those discoveries rarely cluster around one particular minister. Given all the surviving texts of early American sermons it is rather startling how little we know about how they were received.[1]
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