AN American Gospel: On Family, History, and the Kingdom of God

AN American Gospel: On Family, History, and the Kingdom of God

by Erik Reece


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594484452
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/02/2010
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 480,698
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Erik Reece was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and teaches English and writing at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. His work appears in Harper's and the Oxford American, among other places.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

I First Shot 11

Open Eyes 13

Accommodation 27

William Byrd's New World 37

The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson 57

II Walt Whitman at Furnace Mountain 81

III The Kingdom of God 141

The End of Religion 179

Sources 219

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AN American Gospel: On Family, History, and the Kingdom of God 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
paulrwaibel44 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
The Sad Story of an Anti-ConversionAmerican Gospel: On Family, History, and the Kingdom of God (New York: Riverside Books, 2009) is a well-written, but very sad story of an ¿anti-conversion.¿ It is the personal account of Erik Reece¿s quest to find an explanation for the existence of evil and, failing to do so, his escape from reality into a religion of his own creation, which he calls the ¿American Gospel.¿ When Erik Reece turned thirty-three, his life began to unravel. His father, who suffered from bipolar disorder, committed suicide at thirty-three. Jesus Christ was crucified when he was thirty-three. Since Erik¿s father was a Southern Baptist preacher, as was his father before him, Erik felt there was a relationship between his father¿s tragic death and his father¿s Christian faith. If Christianity was what it claimed to be, Reece reasoned, then why was it not sufficient to provide his father with a reason to live? Was it possible that it was the teachings of the Christian ¿religion¿ as found in the institutional churches that drove his father to take his own life? Was the Christian faith, as Erik Reece knew it, a false gospel? And if it was, then where might he find a religious faith or spiritual experience that could provide for him what Christianity could not provide for his father ¿ that is, a reason to live?Erik Reece found his answers in the American Gospel. It is a patchwork religious philosophy made up of elements Reece gleaned from Thomas Jefferson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, William James, John Dewey, more than just a little Zen Buddhism for flavor, and the so-called Gospel of Thomas. The last is a Gnostic document employed by Reece to judge the authenticity of the four Gospels in the New Testament. The American Gospel as constructed by Reece bears no meaningful resemblance to historic Christianity. It has much in common with Enlightenment Deism. There is, so Reece seems to imply, a creator of some sort who created what matter exists, but that is all. He, she, or it is not currently involved in that creation. There was no Fall, hence no original sin and no need for a savior, or as Reece bluntly states it: ¿There never was a Fall, and therefore, we do not need to be saved by a sacrificial martyr¿ [emphasis in the original]. The Savior who is the centerpiece of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, was only ¿a Mediterranean street preacher named Yeshua, or Jesus . . .¿ The American Gospel calls upon its followers to accept the world as it is, to seek to be at peace with it and with oneself, neither of which is fallen. Here we can detect a bit of Zen Buddhism.By the time we have finished reading this admittedly well-written personal testimony of Erik Reece¿s pilgrimage away from Christian faith, which this reviewer would argue he never possessed, to a ¿new¿ religion that is actually a synthesis of age-old heresies, I feel sad for Reece. His father¿s death was tragic, but it was caused by a medical condition that is treatable today, not by a failure to find the answer to his bipolar illness (manic depression) in his Christian faith. Reece¿s father died secure in a hope that was unseen, but certain. His son, Erik, has put his faith in a philosophical religion of his own creation. He is, therefore, without hope. And that, I submit, is truly sad.-Paul R. Waibel
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book provides an interesting perspective, especially for someone whose background is in fundamentalist evangelical Christianity. Sometimes it seems a bit of a stretch as the author attempts to establish relationships between the views of the various authors and philosophers that he cites. Nevertheless, the discussion raises good questions worthy of further consideration.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I actually liked this book better than Lost Mountain. In it, Erik Reece describes his upbringing in a strict fundamentalist home where his minister father committed suicide when Erik was a teenager. He then goes on to describe his quest for faith and how a truly American Gospel has already been written by the likes of Thomas Jefferson and others. This gospel is one that is tied directly to a love and connection to nature and steers clear of the Christian fundamentalist notion that Jesus is the only way to know God.