I’m currently writing an essay for my Early American history class on how transcendentalism and the Second Not-So-Great Awakening furthered the individualization of the American concept of “freedom.”
It’s especially interesting to trace the idiosyncrasies of the Christianity of the 2nd Awakening through subsequent American history. During the Awakening, expression of a true Christianity came to be identified with temperance in relation to (i.e., intolerance of) alcohol, advocating for social causes, and supporting social programs & institution building funded by the state as an extension of the church to act to fulfill the church’s mission. These ideas were uniquely put in the place of the church’s identify and mission during the time of the Awakening, so much so that to be Christian was to practice thusly.
These cultural phenomena continue to exist in various forms in the church today. I’m hoping to do further research in the future tracing this development of religious thought in American Christianity from the Colonial era through to today.
(hint: the same cultural factors and the driving economic factors that lead to such ideas as these in American Christianity also led to, in another not-so-unrelated sphere, Mormonism, for example)