Holy Hills of the Ozarks/Shopping for God

In 1739, Benjamin Franklin went to hear itinerant evangelist George Whitefield preach in Philadelphia. Whitefield was quickly becoming the greatest celebrity in colonial America, drawing crowds in the tens of thousands, and Franklin wanted to know why. In Whitefield he discovered a brilliant innovator who blended drama with faith, blurring the lines between religion and entertainment. “Every accent, every emphasis, every modulation” of Whitefield’s voice, Franklin observed, was “perfectly well tuned and well placed.” The feeling Whitefield evoked reminded him of the pleasure he experienced when listening to “an excellent piece of music.”

 

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