An open frontier imagined by restless pioneers. A bleeding back punished by Lenten mortification. A troubled soul leaning over the anxious bench. John Corrigan's groundbreaking book looks over the wide landscape of American religious history with a new dialectic in mind: empty and full. Emptiness is not simply felt but nurtured, imagined, mourned, inculcated, and even welcomed as an individual and communal experience. After his wide-lens introduction of the feeling of emptiness from settlement to the present, he concludes, “In America, the regulation of the feeling of emptiness, the management of that feeling, is accomplished through performance of a multifaceted social drama involving ongoing positioning and repositioning of the Christian in-group vis-à-vis groups perceived as competitors or opponents. The regulating of the feeling of emptiness as a part of the broader dynamics of social differentiation can be observed in groups representing a wide range of Christian ideas and behaviors.” This book then is not only a history of an emotion, but a complex account of group identity and boundary-making, a kind of Rorschach test in which a form of truth emerges in interpreting the shape of darkness against the light.