Prophesies of Godlessness: Predictions of America's Imminent Secularization from the Puritans to the Present Day

Prophesies of Godlessness: Predictions of America's Imminent Secularization from the Puritans to the Present Day

by Charles Mathewes, Christopher McKnight Nichols
     
 

ISBN-10: 0195342542

ISBN-13: 9780195342543

Pub. Date: 09/08/2008

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Prophesies of Godlessness explores the surprisingly similar expectations of religious and moral change voiced by major American thinkers from the time of the Puritans to today. These predictions of "godlessness" in American society — sometimes by those favoring the foreseen future, sometimes by those fearing it — have a history as old as America

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Overview

Prophesies of Godlessness explores the surprisingly similar expectations of religious and moral change voiced by major American thinkers from the time of the Puritans to today. These predictions of "godlessness" in American society — sometimes by those favoring the foreseen future, sometimes by those fearing it — have a history as old as America, and indeed seem crucially intertwined with it.

This book shows that there have been and continue to be patterns to these prophesies. They determine how some people perceive and analyze America's prospective moral and religious future, how they express themselves, and powerfully affect how others hear them. While these patterns have taken a sinuous and at times subterranean route to the present, when we think about the future of America we are thinking about that future largely with terms and expectations first laid out by past generations, some stemming back before the very foundations of the United States. Even contemporary atheists and those who predict optimistic techno-utopias rely on scripts that are deeply rooted in the American past.

This book excavates the history of these prophesies. Each chapter attends to a particular era, and each is organized around a focal individual, a community of thought, and changing conceptions of secularization. Each chapter also discusses how such predictions are part of all thought about "the good society," and how such thinking structures our apprehension of the present, forming a feedback loop of sorts. Extending from the role of prophesies in Thomas Jefferson's thought, to the Civil War, through progressivism, the Scopes Trial, the Cold War and beyond, Prophesies of Godlessness demonstrates that expectations about America's future character and piety are not an accidental feature of American thought, but have been, and continue to be, absolutely essential to the meaning of the nation itself.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195342543
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
09/08/2008
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
264
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.70(d)

Related Subjects

Table of Contents

Introduction Prophesies of Godlessness Christopher McKnight Nichols Nichols, Christopher McKnight Charles Mathewes Mathewes, Charles 3

1 Puritans and Revolution: Remembering the Origin; Religion and Social Critique in Early New England Wilson N. Brissett Brissett, Wilson N. 21

2 The Early Republic: Thomas Jefferson's Philosophy of History and the Future of American Christianity Johann N. Neem Neem, Johann N. 35

3 The Romantic Era: Emerson's Churches of One Matthew Mutter Mutter, Matthew 53

4 The Civil War: Redeemer President and Warrior Prophet: Abraham Lincoln, William T. Sherman, and Evangelical Protestantism Wayne Wei-siang Hsieh Hsieh, Wayne Wei-siang 75

5 After the Civil War: Auguste Comte's Theory of History Crosses the Atlantic Andrew Witmer Witmer, Andrew 95

6 The Gilded Age and Progressive Era: Mastery, Modern Doubt, and the Costs of Progress Christopher McKnight Nichols Nichols, Christopher McKnight 113

7 World War I and After: Godlessness and the Scopes Trial Kevin M. Schultz Schultz, Kevin M. 137

8 The Thirties to the Fifties: Totalitarianism and the Second American Enlightenment David Ciepley Ciepley, David 155

9 The Sixties: Secularization and the Prophesies of Freedom Slavica Jakelic Jakelic, Slavica 175

10 The Seventies and Eighties: A Reversal of Fortunes Joseph E. Davis Davis, Joseph E. David Franz Franz, David 191

11 From 11/9/1989 to 9/11/2001 and Beyond: The Return of Jeremiad and the Specter of Secularization Joshua J. Yates Yates, Joshua J. 209

Conclusion: Prophesies, in Retrospect and Prospect Christopher McKnight Nichols Nichols, Christopher McKnight Charles Mathewes Mathewes, Charles233

Index 241

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