Spirit and Flesh: Life in a Fundamentalist Baptist Church
by James M. Ault Jr.
Alfred A. Knopf Publishers
448 pp., $27.95

Christian fundamentalism and the Religious Right have long puzzled liberals, including sociologist and documentary filmmaker James Ault. In an effort to understand New Right conservatism, Ault, who grew up the son of a Methodist minister (and as an adult, considered himself an atheist "if I thought about it at all"), set out to make a comprehensive film about fundamentalist Christianity.

For three years, Ault participated in the life of a Massachusetts fundamentalist church he calls "Shawmut River Baptist." He attended services and home Bible studies and shared meals with members. In the resulting book, Ault carefully portrays the fundamentalists he befriends with both honesty and sympathy—as people, rather than as caricatures.

In lucid prose, he unfolds the story of a growing but financially troubled church committed to helping restore traditional family values, even as it is riddled with conflict that eventually changes many lives.

Through it all, Ault slowly progresses toward a renewed faith. 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.

Related Elsewhere:

An excerpt from Spirit and Flesh is also posted today.

Spirit and Flesh is available from Christianbook.com and other book retailers.

More information is available from the publisher.

Reviews elsewhere include:

Welcome stranger | Liberal discovers friends in a fundamentalist church (Houston Chronicle, Sept. 24, 2004)
Getting down to fundamentals | 20-year study of working-class Christianity shuns cliché ...
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