December 14th 2019


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY A myriad transformations effected by one birth

VICTORIAN POLITICS Andrews hacks away at another way of life and source of jobs

CANBERRA OBSERVED Labor must own up to why it took the thrashing it got

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Hong Kong voters reject Beijing and its proxies

LIFE AND FAMILY On the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, how are we doing?

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Brexit: Quintessentially British party politics

OBITUARY Fr Paul Stenhouse: The thoughtful editor for the 'ordinary' reader

OBITUARY Vale David Milne, paragon of loyalty and perseverance

ASIAN AFFAIRS Taiwan and Hong Kong: Pawns in a bigger game

U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS How and why the U.S. should stop financing China's bad actors

HUMOUR You can't stop the music, Paddy

MUSIC 2020 foresight: A musical odyssey

CLASSIC CINEMA North by Northwest: The immaculately produced nightmare

BOOK REVIEW Truncated truths for post-truth times

BOOK REVIEW Food for a summer immersion program

POETRY

LETTERS

THE QUEEN V PELL: A blight on the whole of the criminal justice system

Books promotion page

BAD RELIGION:
How We Became a Nation of Heretics

Ross Douthat

$25.00


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by Ross Douthat

(Free Press, New York, 2012)
Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN: 9781439178331
Price: AUD$25.00

 

Book description

In Bad Religion Ross Douthat offers a masterful and hard-hitting account of how American Christianity has gone off the rails – and why it threatens to take American society with it.

Writing for an era dominated by recession, gridlock, and fears of American decline, Douthat exposes the spiritual roots of the nation’s political and economic crises. He argues that America’s problem isn’t too much religion, as a growing chorus of atheists have argued; nor is it an intolerant secularism, as many on the Christian right believe. Rather, it’s bad religion: the slow-motion collapse of traditional faith and the rise of a variety of pseudo-Christianities that stroke our egos, indulge our follies, and encourage our worst impulses.

These faiths speak from many pulpits – conservative and liberal, political and pop cultural, traditionally religious and fashionably “spiritual” – and many of their preachers claim a Christian warrant. But they are increasingly offering distortions of traditional Christianity – not the real thing. Christianity’s place in American life has increasingly been taken over, not by atheism, Douthat argues, but by heresy: debased versions of Christian faith that breed hubris, greed, and self-absorption.

In a story that moves from the 1950s to the age of Obama, he brilliantly charts institutional Christianity’s decline from a vigorous, mainstream, and bipartisan faith – which acted as a “vital centre” and the moral force behind the civil rights movement – through the culture wars of the 1960s and 1970s to the polarising debates of the present day. Ranging from Glenn Beck to Barack Obama, Eat Pray Love to Joel Osteen, and Oprah Winfrey to The Da Vinci Code, Douthat explores how the prosperity gospel’s mantra of “pray and grow rich”, a cult of self-esteem that reduces God to a life coach, and the warring political religions of left and right, have crippled the country’s ability to confront its most pressing challenges and accelerated American decline.

His urgent call for a revival of traditional Christianity is sure to generate controversy, and it will be vital reading for all those concerned about the imperiled American future.

 

About the author

Ross Douthat is a columnist for The New York Times. He is the author of Privilege and Grand New Party. Before joining the Times he was a senior editor for The Atlantic. He is film critic for National Review, and he has appeared regularly on television, including Charlie Rose, PBS Newshour, Real Time, and The Colbert Report.


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