July 28th 2018


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY The Strange Case of the Vanishing Safe Schools Resources

EDITORIAL By-elections will test Shorten's 'politics of envy' strategy

ASIA-PACIFIC AFFAIRS A modest proposal for Australia's regional security

CANBERRA OBSERVED Odds are that Labor won't Albo Bill aside

TECHNOLOGY Wonder carbon material on cusp of commercialisation

ENVIRONMENT Electric vehicles still only for elitist planet savers

ENERGY SECURITY Steam rail backup could get us out of hot water

ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT NEG papers over crisis behind energy price hikes

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Beijing goes 'boo', Qantas gets in a flap

EUTHANASIA Death with dignity, or putting Death to death?

HUMOUR

MUSIC Aural wallpaper: The background hiss to our lives

CINEMA Ant-Man and the Wasp: Downsized superheroes

BOOK REVIEW Timely essays on religious freedom

BOOK REVIEW Fraudulent father of psychoanalysis

POETRY

LETTERS

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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