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Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of…
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Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics (originale 2012; edizione 2012)

di Ross Douthat

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446842,020 (4.13)1 / 7
Traces the decline of Christianity in America since the 1950s, posing controversial arguments about the role of heresy in the nation's downfall while calling for a revival of traditional Christian practices.
Titolo:Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics
Autori:Ross Douthat
Info:Free Press (2012), Hardcover, 352 pages
Collezioni:La tua biblioteca

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Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics di Ross Douthat (2012)

Aggiunto di recente damtdock, rothwell, IntegrisMedLib, ejmw, Bryan_Kendrick, MarijanPrsa, Susansbooksandgifts, BohdiCave
Biblioteche di personaggi celebriTim Spalding
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Abandoned very early on. The author's premise seems to be that there is a "good religion" from which greedy people have strayed. I'm not interested in such an idea. Religion is religion, some greedier and crazier than others, but all equally fictitious. If people subscribe to more humanist religions it's probably better, but I'm not interested in reading about which myth you should make your own.
  Citizenjoyce | Jan 14, 2019 |
Sick of endless talking heads calling down damnation on anyone who believes people in a rich country should have more-or-less free access to more-or-less quality health care? Aghast at how so much religion is little more than a spray-tanned set of pearly-whites selling, selling, selling, selling redemption? Are you an atheist who struggles (even if only relatively lately) with the narrow ideology, dismissiveness, and ignorance of popular/New Atheism? Then "Bad Religion" is for you.

While I can't imagine a universe where I'd personally be religious, I realize that for many people faith is a deep (and deep-rooted) calling. Douthat makes a compelling case that the hijacking of the answers to that calling, and the abandonment of 'principled' (my word) or 'complete' (my word) or 'orthodox' (his word) faith systems, has created a raft of social and political (and religious) ills. I find his analysis compelling, even if I found a couple of points weak (I'm not sure e.g. that Obama was 'deified' quite to the extent he tries to claim, or that what messianism there was was as damaging as the more 'conservative' forms under e.g. Bush Jr. and Reagan... but that is an argument that, at a high level, doesn't refute Douthat's overall point.)

Because I am an atheist and the last several decades have left me with a deep, deep distrust of religion in both society and politics, it is a bit hard for me to hear his call for a return to more orthodox forms of Christianity without... my toes curling, my jaw setting. But. I understand his argument, and I've got to say, it might be right. That might lead to a more 'responsible' religion in the public sphere, which might be more 'rational' and more open to political engagement... and prevent the colonization of the political sphere by more 'unorthodox' religious movements.

Thought-provoking, in any case. ( )
  dcunning11235 | Aug 28, 2017 |
An exploration into the current state of Christianity in America by exploring its recent history suggesting the downfall of Christian institutions and the prevalence of heresies are responsible for many of the challenges being experienced by Christianity today.

Douthat begins with the last moment of full strength of Christianity in America immediately after WWII. He then chronicles the two types of responses to the events of the past 60 years: accommodation and resistance. He does well at showing how liberal Protestantism has become what it is on account of the accommodationist impulse, and chronicles how Evangelicals and conservative Catholics have found themselves surprising allies in a movement of resistance against certain cultural trends.

He then goes on to discuss a broad range of the particular heresies he has in mind. He begins with the scholarly affection of All Things Gnostic and the Quest for the Historical Jesus and shows well that most of the results end up looking a lot like the liberal Protestant accommodationism of the past 40 years. He exposes the Prosperity Gospel for what it is, idolatrous and heretical Christianity. He turns to the God Within a la Oprah, Chopra, and others, perhaps the more culturally acceptable form of the prosperity gospel, and shows how it cannot reflect historic Christianity. He then does well at showing how American nationalism has become its own sort of religion: both sides of the debate expect the government to be the solution above all solutions, and both parties have their share of both messianic and apocalyptic expectations of accomplishment. It's no longer "God and Church" but "God and America" in the USA, for quite a lot more effort is being expended in promoting a certain political ideology or cause than the Gospel of Christ. Douthat concludes with his hopes for a sort of resurgence of historic Christianity, political without being partisan, with healthy institutions.

Douthat is Roman Catholic and that particular frame of reference is evident throughout the work; I would not be as sunny about the value of institutions as he would be, and would also question whether the trends he notes are only 50 or so years old. It would seem that as long as there has been an America there has been a tendency toward some heresy or another; for that matter, in whatever "good ol' days" one would like to explore, odds are that most had more heretical views than would be imagined.

But the book is a good meditation on how we got here and what it means that we're here now. Christianity will survive; it always does; but how it must look in order to maintain faithfulness before God is quite the open question. ( )
  deusvitae | Sep 30, 2016 |
This is a remarkably well written book, even when one does not agree with every strain of analysis. He surveys the post World War II religion in the United States, looking at the 1950's growth of main-line religion followed by a major decline that continues today (the "locust years"). He then surveys the accommodationist ethic tht exists all about, partiuclrly in regard to sexual ethics. Then the resistance in Roman Catholic and Evangelical circles.

Prt two of the book is the Age of Heresy, where he takes up scolarly fascination with apocryphal literature, sometimes raising it up to canon for themselves. He followes with the waywardness of the prosperity gospel. Then the people who seek a very individualist practise, which they call spirituality while dismissing religion. Beyond this are those who mix up political culture with their religion. At the end, he tries to rationaalize all this, not quite successfully ( )
  vpfluke | Dec 26, 2014 |
Douthat's book is a brief look at the state of Christianity, today. He argues that heresy has always been a part of the Christian religion and has often helped orthodoxy to strengthen its stance; but that now, heresy has taken over and orthodox religion has taken a back seat. Most of his focus seems to be on Christianity in America over the last 60 or so years.

Some of the things he labels and lumps under heresy are actually more like New Age, and have only a shallow connection to Christianity. While it's true that some of these, as he calls them, "God Within Apostles" do borrow words from the Christian Bible and they do use a Jesus, even if he's not the same as the one in the New Testament, they don't call themselves Christian. These belief-systems still falls into the group of heresy, I guess, because they use the term 'God' outside of the orthodox idea of Christianity.

I did enjoy his chapter titled "City On a Hill" about what has been called by many writers as the American Religion. I especially liked when he said, "Jesus never said that the gates of Hell would not prevail against the United States of America." That probably sounds like heresy to some people.

My opinion on the orthodox/heterodox issue isn't important, here, but I will say this: it is my thinking that most people have seen the leaders of orthodox Christianity do stupid things and suffer no sudden judgment, so they don't see why they should be orthodox. Add to that that most people don't care for the prohibitions and stringent demands of orthodox religion. It seems that they want (to paraphrase Bonhoeffer): cheap grace and easy forgiveness. And why not, right?

One thing that I didn't like about the book was the lack of an actual bibliography, though the notes are extensive. This makes it difficult to track down the books he refers to and quotes from. It's not impossible, but it is time consuming to have to skim back through the notes to find the first reference to a particular book, in order to get all the publication information. This may just be a personal peeve, but there it is.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Christian history, esp. in America. Also, anyone interested in religion in general and the way it seems to be going, particularly Christianity. I was familiar with orthodoxy and heterodoxy from previous study, but this book reminded me of many of the ideas that I had not thought about in a while.

All I can really say is: read it and see what you think. ( )
  homericgeek | Apr 8, 2014 |
Too much of the book is simply a culture-war text gussied up in a chasuble. Douthat is extremely bothered by people who claim to seek enlightenment from a "God Within," and outside the framework of preferred ecclesiastical constructs. ... he's drunk deeply of Michael Novak's neoconservative Catholic capitalist malarkey, which is how Sister Gilbert, and Father Chopra, and Pope Oprah I get blamed for the irreligious consumerism of American society.
ROSS DOUTHAT’S ANALYSIS of religion in America is more sophisticated than the analysis of, say, Rick Santorum—but not by much. There are many ways to be simplistic and coarse. In contending against what he sees as an America afflicted with too many heresies, Douthat’s book, like Santorum’s speeches, is riddled with mistakes of fact and interpretation that would make any learned person blush.


My problem with Douthat’s book is not that his opinions differ from my own. My problem is that he does not seem to have any idea what he is talking about. In the West, there has been no universally accepted authoritative voice on orthodoxy since the Reformation. “What am I to do when many persons allege different interpretations, each one of whom swears to have the Spirit?” asked Erasmus in 1524. But Douthat does not see the larger picture that he aims to explain, and his treatment of his subject is so pitifully mistaken in things large and small that what we are left with is a meandering, self-serving screed. The book has the same reliance on private judgment that anyone who was really concerned with heresy would recognize as part of the problem, not part of the solution.
On the left, he maintains, American Christianity is beholden to a self-centered, Oprah-fied spirituality, and, on the right, Christianity is too often represented by a jingoistic, wealth-obsessed evangelicalism. Mainline Protestantism is disappearing, and a beleaguered Catholicism is running out of priests. (The author ignores Jews and other non-Christians, who should be grateful to slip his noose.)
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Traces the decline of Christianity in America since the 1950s, posing controversial arguments about the role of heresy in the nation's downfall while calling for a revival of traditional Christian practices.

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