Conversions Two Family Stories from the Reformation and Modern America Craig E. Harline

Series:
New Directions in Narrative History
Format:
Hardback
Publication date:
02 Sep 2011
ISBN:
9780300167016
Dimensions:
320 pages: 235 x 156 x 26mm
Illustrations:
3 black-&-white illustrations

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This powerful and innovative work by a gifted cultural historian explores the effects of religious conversion on family relationships, showing how the challenges of the reformation can offer insight to families facing similarly divisive challenges today. Craig Harline begins with the story of young Jacob Rolandus, the son of a Dutch Reformed preacher, who converted to Catholicism in 1654 and ran away from home, causing his family to disown him. In the companion story, Michael Sunbloom, a young American, leaves his family's religion in 1973 to convert to Mormonism, similarly upsetting his distraught parents. The modern twist to Michael's story is his realization that he is gay, causing him to leave his new church, and upsetting his parents again - but this time the family reconciles.

Recounting these stories in short, alternating chapters, Harline underscores the parallel aspects of the two far-flung families. Despite different outcomes and forms, their situations involve nearly identical dynamics and heart-wrenching choices. Through the author's deeply informed imagination, the experiences of a seventeenth-century European family are transformed into immediately recognizable terms.

More about this title

Finalist for the 2012 Mark Lynton History Prize sponsored by the Lukas Prize Project at Columbia University. The Lynton History Prize is awarded to a book length work of history on any topic that best combines intellectual distinction with felicity of expression.


Craig Harline is professor of history at Brigham Young University.

"'Once I started, I could not put it down. It is hugely compelling. All the narrative skills which are so apparent in Harline's earlier work are now bent towards a purpose which shows what history is for: illuminating present concerns through wise, informed, and serious reflection upon the past. A superb, important book."-Diarmaid MacCulloch, author of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years