I’ve been talking with some colleagues here at Trinity Christian College about this project. One was surprised that I would have any questions about the nature of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Christian faith. When I described what had prompted my questions, we realized that she was thinking about how much faith was part of the 1970s television series “Little House on the Prairie.” I had to admit that I have never watched the television series. In fact, I did not read the Little House books until I was married and my wife got me to read them.
At any rate, it is my understanding that the TV series (which ran from 1974 to 1983) was the vehicle of Michael Landon and shaped by his vision of the west, the family, and faith. The 1970s were a decade when western and/or rural cultural products were still very much mainstream. “The Waltons” (1971-1981) was popular, and one could buy wood products to put on the outside of your house to make it look like a log cabin. At any rate, on television, the Ingalls family lives in Minnesota for the entire series, and there are hundreds of events that were not recorded in the books. It is not my plan to draw on their depictions of Wilder’s faith.