This chapter describes the importance of refinement to everyday religious life. Taking advantage of the new market-revolution economy, congregations eagerly pursued gentility by purchasing an abundance of goods and spending freely on their buildings. Refinement, however, transcended purchasing power. Improved music, for example, was a high priority for many congregations, and Gettysburg’s new rural cemetery was a self-conscious attempt at refinement with bucolic landscaping and assumptions about special knowledge acquired on the edge of this world and the next. The quest for refinement consumed much energy and passion in congregations, including the task of paying for it, which was difficult and created tension. Victorians nevertheless pursued refinement in their churches just as they did at home, making refinement deeply ingrained in all of American life, not just in matters of faith. In this regard, Gettysburg religion informs about large American trends.
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