The author: Susan Ridgely ’96 graduated from Princeton with a B.A. in religion and received her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a visiting associate professor of American religions at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Ridgely’s research focuses on the importance of age in analyzing religion and she published her first book When I was a Child: Children’s Interpretation of First Communion (University of North Carolina Press) in 2005.
Opening lines: “‘All over this country little children are reaching for fathers who are not there.’ That was Dr. James Dobson’s diagnosis of America’s ills. He offered it in a 1981 television special called ‘Where’s Dad?,’ which was intended to be his introduction the American mainstream. Among certain segments of the population, however, he was already a household name.”
Reviews: Kathryn Lofton, a Professor of Religious Studies and American Studies at Yale University, says, “Through her thoughtful engagement with a range of informants, Ridgely decodes evangelical extremism and finds within it more flexibility and virtuosity than previously understood. After reading Practicing What the Doctor Preached, there can be no doubt: parenting is the lived religion of political life.”