|"Scenes in a Camp Meeting in McHenry Co., Ill.," 1853
Methodist camp meetings in the 19th century could be raucous affairs, with emotional preaching and energetic expressions of worship in which verbal and physical behavior that would be unusual in ordinary life was felt to be a sign of the spirit of God. Such meetings thrived in areas of recent settlement, where many could have considered themselves "outsiders." To some, however, these ecstatic meetings were an opportunity for crowd-watching entertainment, and offered a way to define their own more sober style of religiosity by contrast.
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