God In America on PBS: Watch it! (Episode One)

I have only seen the first two edisodes, but I am loving it. I may do some commentary later, but here is the first episode. I would love to hear what you think.

Here is a link to the program website.

Episode One: A New Adam

Chapter One

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Chapter Two

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Chapter Three

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Chapter Four

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Chapter 5

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4 Replies to “God In America on PBS: Watch it! (Episode One)”

  1. I was interested in the programs discussion of how the “established” churches in the last half of the 1700’s and first quarter of the 1800’s lost ground to the new evangelical churches such as the Babtists , Methodists and Disciples.

    In the context of the rise of Mormonism this was fertile ground for the growth of new religions like Mormonism. Joseph Smith’s family history reflects this. His family had been members of the established Puritan/Congregation church throughout the 1600’s and most of the 1700’s. By the time they family reached New York in the 1810-1820 period his father and grandfather had Universalist leanings, his mother and a number of his siblings had joined the Prespyterian Church and Joseph himself was “investigating” the Methodist Church.

    The program discuss the role or revivals like the Cane Ridge Revivals in Kentucky in the second great awakening . Of course it was a revival or set of revivals that led to Joseph Smith’s religous experience that we have come to call the first vision.(Michale Quinn’s e-article in Dialogue a few years ago concusively showed that there were revivals in the Palmayra area in the 1819-1820 periond and how they could of led young Joseph to pray for religious enlightenment and have the experience he did).

    My own family’s religous history in this period illustrates the trends the program was talking about. In the 1600’s and early 1700’s the Willis’ were Anglicans in Middlesex County Virgina. Some were member of the Vestry in their parish (the vestry was a rought equivilant of a stake high council or ward council which also handled secular matters.)

    My branch of the family moved to Craven County North Carolina in early 1700’s and were instrumental in establishng the first Babtist Church in the area. A number of them became Ordained ministers in the Babtist Church( I was interested in the discussion of the ministry of George Whitfield on the program and did a bit of internet research and discovered he did preach in New Bern North Carolina in 1740 close to where the Willis family lived. It is very likely that my 7th great grandfather Joseph Willis heard him preach on that ocassion) .

    After a detour through Tennessee the Willis’ were living in Southern Illinois in the 1830’s. By that time the Willis’ appear to have had no denominaitional afiliation. A missonary Milton Holmes came to their area(Holmes had just finished participating in the march of Zion’s Camp was young, single and didn’t have anything better to do ,so he went on a mission. Wilford Woodruff had a similar experience. Holmes and Woodruff later became close friends and missionary companions) Holmes went to Hamilton County Illinois ,converted a number of Willis’ ,who were I think eagar for answers to religous questions and saw Mormonism as filling that need.

  2. Under the American Scripture section on the website the Book of Mormon doesn’t even get a mention. Unless I’m missing something that’s rather glaring.

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