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Home > New Book by Professor Lantzer, PHC Adjunct

New Book by Professor Lantzer, PHC Adjunct

April 14th, 2009

By Josiah Helms

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 338-8727

New book by PHC adjunct professor

Patrick Henry College Distance Learning Professor Jason Lantzer has published a new book, entitled Prohibition is Here to Stay.  Based in the early part of the 20th century, the book rescues the legacy of a powerful man from the dustbin of history.  Reverend Edward Shumaker, a Methodist preacher long forgotten, was the leading crusader in Indiana against alcohol abuse from before World War I to the mid-1920s.  His life opens a peephole into the rise and fall of Prohibition and the influence of Christianity on politics at the time.  And despite what conventional wisdom says, Lantzer argues that Shumaker’s crusade, and the larger movement that it bolstered, was largely successful.

The temperance movement succeeded in its day by curbing alcohol abuse that left women and children impoverished when their breadwinners took paychecks straight from work to the bar. It also succeeded by raising awareness of the dangers of drunkenness.  Today, we have organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous thanks to the temperance movement and advocates like Edward Shumaker.

Professor Lantzer never thought he would be writing a story on Shumaker.  He just knew he felt called to shed more light on the connection between the Prohibition, churches, politics, and the Ku Klux Klan.  In the process, he uncovered the Indiana Anti Saloon League, its use as a major instrument in politics, and the man behind it all.  The narrative that unfolded weaved into the fight against racial violence and the larger movement of Progressivism.

Lantzer, an adjunct professor at Butler University as well as a Distance Learning professor for several colleges including PHC, first put his pen to the paper because he had to write his doctoral dissertation.  That was ten years ago.  Today, as he stares at his personal copy of the book that just arrived through UPS, he cannot believe that his name graces the cover.  But his was the determination that excavated several volumes of writings and archives from various sources as the story came together.  Lantzer studied the culture of 1920s America very closely in order to discover whether Shumaker’s work was the aberration or reflection of his time period.  He concluded that it was the reflection.

Professor Jason Lantzer

Lantzer got his hands on copies of Shumaker’s sermons, sermon topics, and pastor’s notes via a friend who took Lantzer into a dusty attic full of the relics.  “He said that his father was the head of the Indiana Temperance League,” Lantzer recalls with residual wonder from the first time he heard those words.  Shumaker’s own son, by the providence of God, had led Lantzer into the discovery of a lifetime.

“What made Shumaker attractive from a biographical standpoint was his importance,” he explains.  “This is a guy who put together one of the first state-level organizations in the early 20th century to advocate for anything, let alone Prohibition.  And he’s a man who firmly believed he’d been called to this task from God, never wavering in the notion that what he was doing was right.  It’s easy to write about somebody who has the sort of moral certitude about himself.”

Lantzer is a husband and father of two who lives on the north side of Indianapolis, Indiana.  His work was recently praised by political scientist Ann-Marie Szymanski, as well as by reporter Russ Pulliam, who reviewed his book in the Indianapolis Star. A copy of Prohibition Is Here to Stay (scheduled to hit bookshelves May 15) is available to pre-order from Amazon.com. A paper edition is also available for immediate download from the publisher, University of Notre Dame Press, at their website, www.UNDPress.nd.edu.