DO IT…BUY THE BOOK

Among the books I’ve owned for some time and not found time (until now) to read is one which convincingly illuminates how America has evolved (some might say retrogressed, in the case of our politicians) over the years.

When I say “evolved,” most people (at least, those who don’t regard it as a dirty word) think of it in the Darwinian sense as gradual development from primitive to more adaptive or advanced stages….as, to take a human example, from very brutish to veddy British — or, from restive barbarians to festive Bavarians. But one would have to be blind not to see that human evolution isn’t a straight forward, rising-tide-lifts-all-boats proposition. In other words, what you sea is what you get (even my puns have their ups and downs).

Then there’s the history of rights withheld, an early example being what American colonists determined to address. The British, loathe to let go, weren’t there yet…and neither are many of us there yet when it comes to the rights of others — speaking of which (for illustrative purposes), here’s a clip with reference to California’s 2008 ballot Proposition 8 denying same-sex couples the right to marry (an issue of no concern to me whatsoever except as it pertains to ‘affairs’ which some people — especially religious conservatives — can’t bear the thought of, even though it’s no skin off their nose):

Coincidentally, 2008 is the same year the book I referred to at the start (THE AGE OF AMERICAN UNREASON by Susan Jacoby) was published. Here is a review of that book:

http://www.dialoginternational.com/dialog_international/2008/05/i-admired-susan.html

Though I’m in tune with that review for the most part, I take issue with the reviewer’s belief that “Jacoby is overestimating the role of religion in America in the decline of Enlightenment rationalism.” Furthermore, the reviewer states that “the number of true fundamentalists is probably not that significant: she [Jacoby] conflates fundamentalism with evangelism” — a contention which leads me to question whether the reviewer did more than skim through Chapter 8 (THE NEW OLD-TIME RELIGION), which takes pains to differentiate between the two — including such distinctions as The main difference between fundamentalists and evangelicals….is that not all evangelicals regard the Bible as literally true but all fundamentalists do. That chapter, detailing the role of evangelism and fundamentalism in America past and present, is alone worth the price of erudition….eminently readable erudition, I might add.

If you want to add to your understanding of the forces and factors that have created THE AGE OF AMERICAN UNREASON, do it….buy the book.

 

 

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12 comments on “DO IT…BUY THE BOOK

  1. painkills2 says:

    Gay marriage cannot save the economy. But, it might save the institution of marriage. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mistermuse says:

    That reminds me of the old joke “Marriage is a wonderful institution….but who wants to live in an institution?”

    Liked by 2 people

  3. linnetmoss says:

    I agree about the fundamentalist/evangelical distinction. Too many in the media have no idea what they’re talking about and use “evangelical” as a euphemism for “fundamentalist.” That said, there seem to be far fewer socially liberal evangelicals than in the past. Either that or they are far less vocal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse says:

      Good point about the media, which comes in for its fair share of criticism in Jacoby’s book; e.g. “the simplistic slogans of junk thought are perfectly suited to modern mass media, which must fixate on novelty in order to catch the eyes and ears of a public with an increasingly short attention span.” And that was written 8 years before Trump’s campaign for the GOP nomination!

      Liked by 1 person

      • linnetmoss says:

        I think this problem dates to the advent of television (or was made worse by it). Even today, I notice that radio news is much more nuanced and detailed. But ‘click bait’ has also been around for the long time, in the form of sensationalist tabloids.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Don Frankel says:

    You know how much I love polls. I wouldn’t say they make these things up as they go because that would sound like a conspiracy theory but they make these things up as they go. Besides people have been writing about the decline of America since well the place started. You can look it up.

    But accepting the fact that it’s all over, well what can I do but once again quote Riddick from the Chronicles of Riddick. “It’s gotta end sometime.”

    Like

  5. mistermuse says:

    Not to worry, Don. If America meets its end when and if The Donald becomes President, “IT’LL BE GREAT” (he has promised everything else he does will be great, so why should that be an exception).

    Like

  6. Don Frankel says:

    Muse maybe it won’t be so great but it will be YUUUUGGGEEEE and spectacular.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Interesting post. I agree that fundamentalist and evangelist have become almost synonymous in the media, though politically they don’t seem to be that far apart when it comes to social reforms and politics is where the “news” focuses today. Prop 8 – The Musical was great. Now they need to make one for the Great Bathroom Debate.

    Liked by 1 person

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