Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pg. 99: Craig Harline’s "Conversions"

This weekend's feature at the Page 99 Test: Conversions: Two Family Stories from the Reformation and Modern America by Craig Harline.

About the book, from the publisher:
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 situations 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.
Learn more about Conversions at the Yale University Press website.

Craig Harline is the author of Sunday: A History of the First Day From Babylonia to the Super Bowl, and several other books from Yale University Press. He is Professor of History in the Department of History at Brigham Young University.

The Page 99 Test: Conversions.

--Marshal Zeringue