Where is that confounded bridge?

June 04, 2004

I am a fast reader with good retention. This is normally a good thing.

It is a bad thing at times, however, because it means that I never developed good study habits in high school or even as an undergraduate. I struggled my first few years in grad school because I did not know how to take reading notes. Heck, I still don't take very good reading notes.

That lack of note-taking has bitten me in the butt in the past, it is getting me again this week. Sometime in the mid to late 1990s I read several items that suggested that low-church evangelicals competed with educated ministers coming out of the Congregational/Presbyterian/Episcopal tradition by arguing about who was best equipped to combat "infidelity" - Painite freethinkers. The educated men argued that they had the background to refute appeals to the Bible; they had the languages to talk about source texts; they could confound any appeals to authority. The low-church folks argued that they spoke the vernacular; they could respond to a quick critical attack on revelation with a quick response in the same idiom; they were common folks and could talk to common folks in language that would be easily understood.

I hit that basic premise several times, enough times that I thought it was common knowledge that did not require footnoting or careful records. And, of course, it is not common knowledge -- far from it. Most of the historiography on the low-church guys focuses on their appeal to Democratic values and individual conscience, or on the theological controversies that dominated the American religious scene from the 1790s through the 1830s.

And so, after a couple of days of checking my notes, my photocopies, and my personal library, I had to write the embarrassing footnote that says, in effect, "I know I read this but I don't know where."

Posted by Red Ted at June 4, 2004 09:44 AM | TrackBack

Have you done a google search yet to see if you can find the source?

Posted by: Ursula at June 4, 2004 12:16 PM

This is not stuff that has been entered on the web - it is either copyrighted modern history texts or obscure journals published in the 1820s and 1830s.

Web sources are great for advocacy and hobby materials, dangerously empty for the things you get from reading manuscripts, pamphlets, and short-print-run booklets.

Posted by: Red Ted at June 4, 2004 12:33 PM
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