Children of Light
Children of Light is, on the surface at least, a book of history, the history of a small religious sect-the True Light Church of Christ-- found in North and South Carolina. The story of its founding in 1874 by a man claiming to be the third angel mentioned in Revelation 14, an account of its practices and beliefs-remaining apart from the world, expectations regarding the return of Christ, church Elders who have figured prominently in the church's history, locations of the "societies" (originally seven in number) comprising the church, the split that occurred in 1969 that left the church divided internally , with each faction claiming to be the true church, and the episodes of "disfellowshipping" (excommunication) that occur periodically.
The book is also a work in the sociology of religion, covering a diversity of topics. These include: the consequences of an oral tradition for a religious organization; the technique of "testifying" in a church in which God continues to speak to man; the role that clan-like family structures play in religious groups of this kind; "charisma" and its relationship to the concepts of dead instrument and dispensation of the gospel;the return of Christ as contingency, and adaptations made to the failure of prophecy; and the lower limits of size in a religious elect.
Children of Light is a sort of experimental book within the academic field. The voice of the author is not dominant. The narrative is very largely in the words of the subjects themselves. The questions are not known in advance; the end is not prefigured at the beginning. A personal and subjective line is interwoven in the text also-a pilgrimage that serves to guide the inquiry and provide a framework of meaning.