The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

race relations, the value of the book remains its preservation of the per-
sonal testimonies of these eleven Texas sheriffs that would have been
otherwise lost.
Commerce, Texas JAMES CONRAD
Masters and Slaves in the House of the Lord: Race and Religion in the Ameri-
can South, .740-1870. Edited by John B. Boles. (Lexington: Uni-
versity Press of Kentucky, 1988. Pp. 257. Introduction, notes, in-
dex. $25.)
Masters and Slaves probes perceptively the controversial topics of race
and religion in the South from the Great Awakening through Recon-
struction. Editor John Boles gives a succinct introduction to eight essays
that address black and white perceptions of and reactions to religious
experiences in biracial churches. The scholarship is consistently sound,
often meticulous, and smooth transitions lend unusual cohesion to the
collection.
Alan Gallay effectively reiterates his claim that the Great Awakening
exerted more influence in the South than has heretofore been recog-
nized. Evangelicals anticipated their nineteenth-century predecessors
in the supposition that Christianity would serve as a means of reform-
ing slavery and as a method of social control. Less convincing is the
contention that the roots of paternalistic ideology stretch back to the
Great Awakening. Explanations are too glib, ignore too much that
came before, and disregard too many recent assaults upon the pater-
nalistic ethos.
Using scantly tapped church records, the essays of Larry James,
Robert Hall, and Randy Sparks analyze the nature of biracial fellow-
ship in evangelical churches. They capably demonstrate that religious
experiences reflected the hierarchical nature of southern society, and
yet, often transcended the normal barriers between bondsmen and
masters. Blacks found in their spiritual lives a sense of temporary
equality and a spirit of community-a spirit strengthened by the spec-
ter of white control. Appropriately, Blake Touchstone's essay reveals
that white perceptions of Christianity also fluctuated between altruism
and self-interest-between their Christian recognition of equality be-
fore God and the necessity of obedient servants and black inequality in
a racial slave society.
Randall Miller further examines the inherent contradictions between
Christianity and slavery and cogently conveys the particular difficulties
of the Catholic mission among slaves. The author's contention, how-
ever, that Catholicism bore the imprimatur of the master to a greater

41o

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101213/. Accessed April 19, 2014.