Professor Authors Chapter in New Book on Faith and Capitalism

Pehl's New Book

In a series of books focused on the working class in American history, "Pew and the Picket Line: Christianity and the American Working Class" focuses on faith and capitalism through essays written by modern scholars of religion and history. Augustana's own assistant professor of history Dr. Matthew Pehl contributed to the book with his chapter on the "Detroit Industrial Mission."

"[They were] a group of middle-class Protestant ministers who, in the 1950s, took jobs in auto plants in order to get closer to the working class," Pehl said.

His chapter describes "the difficulties of DIM's ministers in coming to terms with what they considered to be the very different religion norms of ordinary workers."

Pehl's involvement with the book started after he shared his passion for studying the role of religion in working-class culture with the book's three editors. All had been working on individual projects and decided a book with multiple authors "could provide a great state-of-the-field perspective," according to Pehl. 

"The book is the realization of a nearly two generations' worth of scholarly thinking and research on the theme of working class religion. I think it will mark the jumping-off point for much future scholarship. It also makes for fascinating reading."

Having written his dissertation on working class culture in 20th-century Detroit and publishing further articles on the subject, Pehl was thrilled to share his breadth of knowledge as a contributor to "Pew and the Picket Line."

"I'm very interested in the ways in which ordinary people use ethical and cultural systems to create meaningful frameworks for the work they do every day," he said.

"Pew and the Picket Line" will be published March 30, 2016, but is available now for pre-order on Amazon.

Currently, Pehl is working on a short essay exploring the impact of feminism on South Dakota politics during the 1970s. He plans to present his research at the Dakota Conference in April 2016.

Publisher's Book Description

The Pew and the Picket Line collects works from a new generation of scholars working at the nexus where religious history and working-class history converge. Focusing on Christianity and its unique purchase in America, the contributors use in-depth local histories to illustrate how Americans male and female, rural and urban, and from a range of ethnic backgrounds dwelt in a space between the church and the shop floor. Their vivid essays show Pentecostal miners preaching prosperity while seeking miracles in the depths of the earth, while aboveground black sharecroppers and white Protestants establish credit unions to pursue a joint vision of cooperative capitalism. Innovative and essential, The Pew and the Picket Line reframes venerable debates as it maps the dynamic contours of a landscape sculpted by the powerful forces of Christianity and capitalism. Contributors: Christopher D. Cantwell, Heath W. Carter, Janine Giordano Drake, Ken Fones-Wolf, Erik Gellman, Alison Collis Greene, Brett Hendrickson, Dan McKanan, Matthew Pehl, Kerry L. Pimblott, Jarod Roll, Evelyn Sterne, and Arlene Sanchez Walsh.