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John Hall Snow was professor of pastoral theology at the Episcopal Divinity School and considered preacher-in-residence at Christ Church, Cambridge, Massachusetts, for over eighteen years. In this previously unpublished manuscript, Snow outlines his critique of American culture building on America's adoption of Herbert Spencer's social theory known as "survival of the fittest." The unconscious acceptance of his theory has reduced us to "winners" and "losers," leading us to disfigure language and truth. Snow writes, "We lie to others, and ourselves, basically, because we believe that lies facilitate whatever it is that we want to do. The basic untruth of human existence is that we can control reality by making it over in the image that we want it to be by words. And since words are all we have to define reality, everything we do and think is touched by untruth. Even the best, as well as the worst of us do this. The best withhold the truth; the worst distort it. The overriding priority is the goal, not the truth. The idea seems to be that what we have built with words will become reality."

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781498200622
Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers
Publication date: 01/13/2016
Pages: 170
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Frederick Stecker is an Episcopal minister and a student of religion and culture. He holds doctorates from Bangor Theological Seminary and from the Institute for the Study of Violence of the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. He is the author of The Podium, the Pulpit, and the Republicans: How Presidential Candidates Use Religious Language in American Political Debate (Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2011; Pbk 2015).

Table of Contents

Foreword Harvey H. Guthrie ix

Preface xv

Acknowledgments xxiii

Abbreviations xxv

1 Social Darwinism and Its Bequest: Winning and Losing as the Basis of America Culture 1

2 Education and the New Social Darwinism 21

3 Social Darwinism and Racial Justice 39

4 Social Darwinism and the Institution of Marriage 65

5 The Language of Institutional Life 79

6 The Social Limits of a Sustainable Society 91

7 Death and the Possible Rebirth of Love 113

Afterword 131

Selected Bibliography 137

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Kudos to editor Rick Stecker for bringing this volume to print because, God knows Snow's kind of savvy cultural critique and compassionate wisdom is welcome sustenance for the journey."

—Marvin M. Ellison, Willard S. Bass Professor Emeritus of Christian Ethics, Bangor

Theological Seminary; Director of Alumni/ae Relations, Union Theological Seminary

"Snow's work represents a thoughtful, provocative, and problematic reflection on a basic American, and probably human, paradox: We must compete with others while also taking care of them. [H]is insights . . . will be relevant to a wide variety of contemporary readers."

—Craig Greenman, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Colby-Sawyer College

"This book belongs in every preacher's study."

— A. Robert Hirschfeld, Bishop of the Episcopal Church of New Hampshire

"If there is anyone left out there who really cares to discover the roots of the deep trouble in which we find ourselves these days, both as a culture and as a Christian community, this book is serious help of the first order."

—Thom Blair, Jr.

"John Snow's sharp analysis of achievement and class is a profound moment in human relationships."

—John L. Hooker, Sometime Professor of Liturgy, Homiletics, and Music, Episcopal Divinity School

"Snow's . . . gift for articulating deep truths makes this previously unpublished work every bit as current as when it was first penned."

—Alan M. Gates, Episcopal Bishop of Massachusetts

"This is a bracing and inspiring book."

—Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, Missioner for Creation Care, Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts

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