The Politics of Heaven: America in Fearful Times

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An unsettling account of the events, ideas, and minds behind the nameless political movement that governs America today.
The movement transcends political parties, has no formal structure, no acknowledged leaders, and no sworn loyalty except to God, whose will it interprets according to its fears and desires. Yet it is not an abstraction. It elects our presidents and legislatures and informs their decisions while in office.The movement started at the end of World War II when ...

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Overview

An unsettling account of the events, ideas, and minds behind the nameless political movement that governs America today.
The movement transcends political parties, has no formal structure, no acknowledged leaders, and no sworn loyalty except to God, whose will it interprets according to its fears and desires. Yet it is not an abstraction. It elects our presidents and legislatures and informs their decisions while in office.The movement started at the end of World War II when nuclear weapons, the Holocaust, and then the Cold War led to the fear of mass death that infected American views of justice, ethics, and global politics. It gradually replaced the New Deal.As conversations with religious and political leaders, churchgoers, and pollsters make clear, after 9/11 the nation became increasingly pessimistic. Americans more than ever embraced simplistic, self-serving solutions to questions of personal and national destiny.To regain the best in the American character, we must recognize the existence of a new national movement, define it, and learn how it grows. This book is a first step.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Curmudgeonly view of how America got to where it is today. Shorris (The Life and Times of Mexico, 2004, etc.) proposes that a vast political movement has come to power in America. The movement-which he does not name, but does attempt to define-is most closely associated with political conservatives and religious fundamentalists, but it spreads beyond party and religion. He traces the history of the movement as a series of "confluences," and indeed his work is a collection of interwoven arguments leading up to a description of the movement itself. Basically, the movement is based on fear, pessimism and preoccupation with death. It is largely religious in nature, but according to Shorris, displays the worst sides of religion. He contrasts it again and again with the "social gospel" politics which found its highest fulfillment in FDR (about whom Shorris admits, "[as a small child] I thought he was holy"). The current movement, born out of the atomic age, Cold War and terrorism, is characterized by "fear, death, racism, and capitalism," and is "an affiliation of the fearful, each group expressing its fears in a different form." Shorris' style is laced with ad hominem attacks (Grover Norquist is a pi-ata in this work) and condescension toward neoconservatives, people of faith and the "uneducated," such as Ronald Reagan and Tom DeLay. Though he condemns the movement for its pessimism, there is little optimism in Shorris' own message. He does conclude with a sense that the spirit of FDR will prevail, and that the current movement will someday die out just as others have, but the rest of the book is simply depressing. Shorris' erudition is without question, and several threads are of interest(such as the Straussian underpinnings of the Bush administration), but his invective stands out above his arguments. Well-read ramblings of a bitter man.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393059632
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/6/2007
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Earl Shorris (1936–2012) is the author of many works of both fiction and non-fiction including Latinos, Under the Fifth Sun, In the Language of Kings, and Riches for the Poor. He was awarded a National Humanities Medal by President Clinton for his founding of the Clemente Course in the Humanities®, Inc.

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Table of Contents


Prologue     3
Confluence     5
Death     17
Dinosaurs     32
Silence     48
Protestants     75
Sects     86
Apocalypse     102
Philosophers     139
Safety     167
Rivers     206
Pessimism     255
Method     275
Americans     304
Optimism     325
Epilogue     345
Acknowledgments     349
Index     353
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