Wednesday, October 1, 2003
From Rich Barlow's review of Alan Wolfe's new book, The Transformation of American Religion: How We Actually Live Our Faith:
American culture is the world's teenager, vibrantly exuberant if often crass. It has remade all in its path, homogenizing everything from the food we eat to the TV we watch to foreigners' clothing and movie tastes. No wonder God never had a chance against this juggernaut.
. . . This most modern of nations has reshaped the most ancient of faiths, from Judaism to Buddhism, says Wolfe; a country of multiple ethnicities, multiple opinions, multiple get-rich-quick schemes, multiple marriages, and, for numerous converts, multiple religions sees God as a celestial Stuart Smalley, a benign figure reassuring believers that they're good enough, they're smart enough, and doggone it, people like them.
There's another part of Wolfe's message that may discomfort secular progressives. If most believers are not bug-eyed fanatics, the liberal intelligentsia nevertheless clings to that outmoded image, and Wolfe addresses them: Believers' "views may be different from yours on abortion or prayer in school, but we expect people in a democracy to have different views on major questions of public policy. As modern Americans with distinctly tolerant sensibilities, you pride yourselves on your willingness to change, yet religious believers, even the most conservative among them, have adopted themselves to modern society far more than you have changed your views about what they are really like. You have made the whole country more sensitive to the inequalities of race and gender. Now it is time to extend the same sympathy to those who are different in the sincerity of their belief."
("'Transformation' a thoughtful analysis of US culture's impact on religion," Rich Barlow, Boston Globe 10.1.03)
Copyright © 2003 by Philocrites | Posted 1 October 2003 at 8:30 AM