Religion on the Walls
The paradigm of “means” and the energy it drew from the interplay between inward feeling and outward influences and actions prompted evangelicals not only to make use of nature and urban spaces, but the home. Pottery, needlework mottoes, and print decorations all became a form of moral technology. Through these objects, evangelicals sought to prompt conversion and good behavior, to emplot their lives into salvation history, and to stimulate pious thoughts and feelings. A consideration of the actual decorations in evangelical homes, alongside middle-class evangelical anxiety about how the lower classes adorned their walls, demonstrates the persistence of an evangelical mind-set that informed the British culture of domestic decor well into the mid-century. Examining evangelical decorations uncovers the fact that these objects had additional meanings in the home beyond signaling their owners’ religious belonging. They were intimately tied to the notion of moral “character.”
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