Book Review: John Calvin’s American Legacy – Introduction

In his Introduction, Davis provides just the right amount of up-front information regarding both the history of and the current state of affairs for Calvin’s influence and reputation in America . The result: the reader is well-informed, and is so without being over-whelmed or buried in editorial waxing-eloquent. The book’s aim is threefold, a straightforward examination of Calvin’s influence on (1) American society, (2) American theology, and (3) American letters (both fiction and nonfiction). These categories are broad, however, they are not exhaustive, and this prompts one to wonder: why does this volume limit the study of the breadth of Calvin’s influence to these three denoted spheres? It is unfortunate, but Davis does not provide the rationale for demarcation. The absence of which is the only shortcoming of the Introduction.

“While it is funny that Garrison Keillor can declare in one of his standard mock commercials for A Prairie Home Companion–”Mournful Oatmeal! The breakfast cereal of Calvinists”–it is also interesting that the people in the audience get the joke and laugh” (11).