Never have so many missionaries been sent to save so many Christians as is the case in the Southern Uplands. The area has long been perceived by American Christians in contradictory ways: on the one hand, as an unchurched area; on the other, as part of the Bible Belt, packed with small breakaway fundamentalist churches and wild-eyed believers.
Here one of Appalachian religion's most eloquent spokesmen reveals a people devoted to and thoughtful about their religion and profoundly influenced by it. In their own voices these people describe their beliefs, their churches, and their lives, exposing a deep conviction tempered with humanity and humor.
Jones, retired director of the Appalachian Center at Berea College, brings years of research and experience to this study of the Uplands religion, offering primarily quotes, interviews, and sermons by local people collected over a 30-year period. He presents the mountain people's religious ideas on everything from God to the human condition in their own words. Jones, whose own roots are in Appalachia, takes issue with scholars and missionaries who misunderstand Upland people and their beliefs. Though he is not blind to its problems, Jones feels the Upland religion has its own life-affirming elements that should not be ignored. His comments and conclusions help bring the reader an appreciation for this obscure area. Of special interest is his chapter on Upland hymnody and its vivid imagery. An excellent book by an expert insider; highly recommended for academic and public libraries.--C. Robert Nixon, M.L.S., Lafayette, IN