What then were the strengths and limitations of

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What then were the strengths and limitations of evangelical spirituality for women? While it is difficult to generalize about women's religious experience in any period, the complexity and variety of religious life in the Victorian era, as already noted, makes this hazardous ground. In at University of British Columbia Library on February 10, 2016 cal.sagepub.com Downloaded from
36 EMILY GRIESINGER addition to differences between those who attended only the established church and those who occasionally or regularly worshipped in Methodist or other "dissenting" chapels, there were differences between women of the aristocracy, who often built their own chapels, Anglican or Methodist, women of the emerging middle class, and women who lived and worked among the rural and urban poor. Obviously, there were differences between the religious lives of single and married women. I cannot untangle these strands of spirituality here except to say that Christian women in Victorian England, whether married or single, rich or poor, educated or illiterate were exposed to and, to a greater or lesser extent, participated in the evangelical movement. According to Earl Kent Brown, women in the established Church had a clearly defined role. "They attended service. They listened to the sermons men preached. They prayed for their sons and husbands and for their own needs. They raised their children in the true faith, insofar as they were able; and they sent some of their sons into the ministry" (3-4). Although they made up a clear majority of those attending worship on any given Sunday, there were few women leaders and then only in subordinate leadership to men. Brown concludes: "Women were citizens of the Anglican Christian commonwealth, but they were second class citizens who lived in proper subordination to their Lords and Masters" (4). Evangelicalism challenged this view by opening a space for spirit-filled women to serve first their true master, Jesus Christ. On the positive side, a "religion of the heart" appealed to women because it validated intense emotion and passionate feeling as ways to know God. Evangelical worship evoked strong physical and emotional response in men as well as women, which theoretically opened a way to get beyond gender stereotypes in the church and in society generally. Evangelical religion opposed formalism, a type of spirituality that favored outward forms, decent and orderly, over inward "heart faith" where "the Spirit" could not be easily contained and often spilled over. In her study of the phenomenology of religious experience from Wesley to James, Ann Tavescharts the emotional range of this kind of faith. "The Puritan tradition to which the eighteenth- century awakening was heir expected individuals to undergo a process of conversion. From a distance, this process can be understood as one in which individuals internalized basic Calvinist doctrines and thereby were transformed both internally and in relation to God" (21). In the classic conversion account, according to Taves, the soul first moves "downward" as individuals recognize their sinful condition apart from God. "Fears of

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