Whitefield was a staunch Calvinist. His central theme -- what must I do to be saved? -- was not new. His preaching style was. Ministers traditionally wrote sermons in longhand and read the text out loud in a dull monotone. The effect was often soporific. Drawing on his youthful foray into drama, Whitefield memorized his sermons, spoke without notes, varied the timbre of his voice and gestured with abandon. He drew freely on his own emotions, crying out, "My Master! My Lord!" It was said that he could utter the word "Mesopotamia" so that the entire crowd wept. The effect was electric. Crowds responded with outpourings of emotion. People cried, sobbed, shrieked, swooned and fainted. All of New England, it seemed, was seized by a spiritual convulsion.