Launch

This is my first entry for “The Faith of Laura Ingalls Wilder.”

I am a history professor at Trinity Christian College, a Christian liberal arts college in the Reformed tradition. This means that we take faith seriously, and we seek to teach all subjects from a Christian perspective. I have done some previous writing and speaking about Wilder, and I have been interested in Laura’s faith for the last several years.

I’m not sure that anyone has yet done a scholarly, article-length examination of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s faith, so I hope to write one myself. By far the most scholarly biography of Wilder is John Miller’s Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Miller describes Laura as “devout” and asserts that her “abiding religious faith” that was an “indispensable part of her life.” (p. 62, 253, 261)  However, the last time I read the Little House books, I was thinking that there were enough negative comments about the local church and Christianity to make it not quite that simple.

A Google search turns up a number of different takes on Wilder’s faith. In my opinion, the best is by Rebecca Brammer. Many bloggers seem to confuse Wilder’s faith in God with her faith in other things – herself, her family, the future.

At any rate, it is my hope this spring semester to read one of the Little House books each week and write a blog entry about what I observe from that book. That means that Little House in the Big Woods will be my goal for next week.

I am familiar with the list that Wilder wrote in her Bible with passages to read for different purposes (“In facing a crisis, Psalm 48; Lonely or fearful, Psalm 27, etc.).  I am also familiar with Stephen Hines’s book Saving Graces: The Inspirational Writings of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I will get to them after I’ve worked through the Little House books.

I’d be glad for people to give their comments about Wilder and her faith, including things that you think that I should read.

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Author: johnfry2013

Chair, Department of History, Trinity Christian College, Palos Heights, IL

3 thoughts on “Launch”

  1. I recommend that you read Pioneer Girl, Laura’s more original manuscript edited by Pamela Smith Hill. What Laura wrote about her first experience “feeling the presence of God” and her comments about the privacy of religious faith could probably shed some light on some of your questions.

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    1. Thanks much for your suggestion. I plan to read Pioneer Girl with Wilder’s faith in mind after I finish the Little House books. I read it last year in order to write a book review; Pamela Smith Hill and the folks at the South Dakota State Historical Society did a wonderful job with it.

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  2. I am coming to this blog a bit late, but am enjoying it. I would recommend that you read “LIW: Farm Journalist; writings from the Ozarks” edited by Stephen W. Hines. This is the collection of Wilder’s articles published in “The Missouri Ruralist” before the LH books were conceived or written. Also, Wilder biographer William Anderson has a newly released book, “The Selected Letters of LIW” which give a further glimpse into her perspective and life experience.

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