Buck, Pearl S.
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Time Period
6/26/1892  - 3/6/1973
Pearl Buck was born to Presbyterian missionaries. Living in China with her parents, Buck was taught to accept the Chinese as equals. This perspective influenced both her personal theology and her award-winning novels, including The Good Earth (1931).

However, her religious views garnered criticism. She rejected the conservative Christianity of her parents and emphasized "brotherly love" instead of doctrinal certainty. And, despite serving as a Presbyterian missionary in China from 1914 to 1932, she thought that foreign missions should focus more on economic/agricultural development in foreign countries instead of evangelism. She accused Christian missionaries of being both ignorant and arrogant in foreign relations. After her views were published in Harper’s Magazine in 1933, J. Gresham Machen, a prominent conservative Presbyterian, called for resignation as a missionary. She conceded and focused the rest of her career on her writings.

Despite winning both the Pulitzer Prize (1932) and becoming the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (1938), her place in American religion is one embroiled in controversy.
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Women and Religion
Presbyterian Religious Events and People in American History
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Women and Religion in American History
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Pearl Buck portrait- Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-10297

Pearl Buck receiving the Nobel Peace Prize- Wikimedia Commons

Pearl Buck talking with the Kennedys- Cecil Stoughton. White House Photographs. John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston

Pearl Buck portrait- photo from the Dutch National Archives via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Pearl Buck with actor-producer Dev Anand- Flickr- photo by US Embassy New Delhi (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Book/Journal Source(s)
Smylie, James , 2004. Pearl Buck's "Several Worlds" and "Inasmuch" of Christ. Theology Today 60: 540-554..
Web Page Contributor
Benjamin T. Gurrentz
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in Sociology

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