Chapter

Lay Suffering and Solace

Ronald K. Rittgers

in The Reformation of Suffering

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199795086
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950171 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199795086.003.0010

Series: Oxford Studies in Historical Theology

Lay Suffering and Solace

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This chapter surveys recent literature on lay religiosity in the early modern period, noting how it emphasizes resistance to these attempts, especially in the countryside. The chapter confirms that the pace of reform was quite slow in many areas of Germany but also argues that the recent literature has not done a good job of studying Protestant lay piety in its own right. It seeks to address this problem by focusing on burgher letters and autobiographies which provide rich insight into Protestant lay piety. These sources demonstrate that at least some early modern urban dwellers embraced the reformation of suffering that was promoted by their pastors, although these sources also show that burghers adapted the Protestant message about adversity to meet their own religious and emotional needs, part of burghers’ remarkable resourcefulness in the face of suffering. The chapter also examines evidence for book ownership among burghers and shows that lay people consoled clergy just as clergy consoled lay people.

Keywords: suffering; consolation; lay piety; burghers; lay piety; lay book ownership

Chapter.  11894 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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