My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A good survey of the subject matter with more recent scholarly conclusions than some I had learned earlier in my career.
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Much ink has been spilled about "Evangelical" hypocrisy when it comes to Trump. Of course these are not real Evangelicals but a version of Fundamentalism--I digress. Here's a column from Michael Gerson contrasting Billy Graham's reaction to Nixon's scandals with Graham's son's open embrace of Trump.
But the best explanation I have yet read is this one which identifies the roots of this form of American religion in the slave-holding South and a break-away from actual Evangelicalism which was abolitionist. Excerpt:
patriarchal amoralism, not the Bible, not Christian teachings, is the foundation of this Evangelical sect. After slavery, it justified the lynching of blacks, segregation, and the vile hatred that we see being fanned today in such churches. Being patriarchal and authoritarian, it has never in America’s history supported nor nurtured the values of democracy. Thus Its “religious” leaders convey the theological values needed to prepare its communities for fascist rule. This thread has always existed within American society. It is not new. It is not superficial. It will not disappear. America made a moral compromise at the beginning of its existence. Every century or so, the reality of it gets thrown like acid into our faces.
You often hear that Islam needs something like western Christianities Reformation. This good article from The Atlantic disagrees. It reminds us that the 16th century Ottoman Empire was more religiously tolerant than most of the European Christian states. And its analysis is that the current state of the Muslim world is closer to that of post-Reformation Europe, when there has been great division leading to sectarian violence. The article argues that what Islam needs is a John Locke or a Moses Mendelssohn, not a Martin Luther, its own version of the Enlightenment.
Here is the closing paragraph:
If the Protestant Reformation teaches us anything, it is that the road from religious fracturing to religious tolerance is long and winding. The Muslim world is somewhere on that road at the moment, and more twists and turns probably await us in the decades to come. In the meantime, it would be a mistake to look at the darkest forces within the current crisis of Islam and to arrive at pessimistic conclusions about its supposedly immutable essence.
I was reading the New Yorker article on her latest book. The author referenced a 1993 profile in the Times by Michael Kelly which discussed Hillary's theological worldview (a profile she didn't like). So I googled the article, which is quite revealing.
One of the great puzzles of the last quarter century is how a basically devout woman got portrayed as something else. She is a social justice Methodist who was deeply affected by her experiences in youth group. While in Arkansas she developed close ties with many in religious communities. This article also discusses how she used to preach and the influence upon her thinking of Paul Tillich and Reinhold Niebuhr. Also how her political liberalism is at root a religious liberalism. This latter I knew.
What she seems to have not liked about the article is how it presented her crusade to make the world a better place as a kind of benevolent paternalism. This aspect of the Clinton's (most obvious in the 1996 Democratic convention) is something I haven't liked about them. Though I now read her moral warnings and defense of virtue as another time when she was warning about something before it became obvious to the rest of (and clearly one reason she is so galled by Donald Trump). In fact, many of the things she says in the 1993 profile sound like recent David Brooks. Another puzzle how this left of center person with many ideas in common with the right was so villainized by the right.
An interesting piece on Angela Merkel's father, who was a pastor. The piece is well written, leaving me wanting a longer, more in-depth profile. The closing image of the article is profoundly moving.
This essay argues that it was not philosophical ideas that gave rise to religious liberty but the changing nature of the political state which made society open to toleration.
A point from the conclusion:
Finally, the history of how religious freedom came to be is a reminder that commitment to liberal values alone is not enough for liberalism to flourish. It requires a suitable political and economic foundation.
This author thinks there is a line of development between Luther's proclamation of sola fides and white evangelical embrace of Trump.