Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The American Religion

Awhile back on a now forgotten thread on BrothersJudd I announced that if I had to name my religion it would be Americanism. Well, great minds think alike, it seems, because David Gelernter has just published a book on that very topic titled "Americanism:The Fourth Great Western Religion". Here is the book description from Amazon (emphasis mine):
What does it mean to “believe” in America? Why do we always speak of our country as having a mission or purpose that is higher than other nations?
Modern liberals have invested a great deal in the notion that America was founded as a secular state, with religion relegated to the private sphere. David Gelernter argues that America is not secular at all, but a powerful religious idea—indeed, a religion in its own right.
Gelernter argues that what we have come to call “Americanism” is in fact a secular version of Zionism. Not the Zionism of the ancient Hebrews, but that of the Puritan founders who saw themselves as the new children of Israel, creating a new Jerusalem in a new world. Their faith-based ideals of liberty, equality, and democratic governance had a greater influence on the nation’s founders than the Enlightenment.
Gelernter traces the development of the American religion from its roots in the Puritan Zionism of seventeenth-century New England to the idealistic fighting faith it has become, a militant creed dedicated to spreading freedom around the world. The central figures in this process were Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson, who presided over the secularization of the American Zionist idea into the form we now know as Americanism.
If America is a religion, it is a religion without a god, and it is a global religion. People who believe in America live all over the world. Its adherents have included oppressed and freedom-loving peoples everywhere—from the patriots of the Greek and Hungarian revolutions to the martyred Chinese dissidents of Tiananmen Square.
Gelernter also shows that anti-Americanism, particularly the virulent kind that is found today in Europe, is a reaction against this religious conception of America on the part of those who adhere to a rival religion of pacifism and appeasement.
A startlingly original argument about the religious meaning of America and why it is loved—and hated—with so much passion at home and abroad.

Poor Orrin, he still thinks that Christianity is the religion of America.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does this mean anti-Americanism is the work of the Devil?

April 24, 2007 5:49 PM  
Blogger Mike Beversluis said...

“How Convenient.”

April 24, 2007 10:10 PM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

Yes, anti-Americanism is the work of the Devil.

One can righteously be opposed to specific American actions or policies, but to be opposed to America qua America is to embrace either anarchy or oppression.

American society often fails to live up to the American ideals, but it hits those marks far more frequently than does almost any other society, and has been doing so for far longer than any other society.

April 25, 2007 9:15 AM  
Blogger Brit said...

It seems that Orrin still thinks all the same stuff he used to think, which must be dull for him.

April 26, 2007 3:42 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

I noticed that in the Post-Judd Alliance days his posts draw a lot fewer comments than they used to.

April 26, 2007 4:53 AM  
Blogger Brit said...

As Woody Allen said to Annie Hall of their relationship: it's like a shark, it has to keep moving forward or it won't survive - and what we have on our hands here is a dead shark.

April 26, 2007 5:18 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


Please shoot an email to me at jeffguinn-at-comcast.net.

I discovered a couple days ago that my laptop works best with the smoke still in it.

April 26, 2007 6:01 PM  
Blogger David said...

These appear to be the American religion posts at BrothersJudd: 1, 2.

April 27, 2007 5:49 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Thanks for finding those threads. It reminded me about how good some of those old discussion threads were. Also how long we've been at this racket.

April 27, 2007 11:03 AM  

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