Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Harper's on Fundamentalism

Through a Glass, Darkly: How the Christian right is reimagining U.S. history
We don’t like to consider the possibility that [fundamentalists] are not newcomers to power but returnees, that the revivals that have been sweeping America with generational regularity since its inception are not flare-ups but the natural temperature of the nation. We can’t conceive of the possibility that the dupes, the saps, the fools—the believers—have been with us from the very beginning, that their story about what America once was and should be seems to some great portion of the population more compelling, more just, and more beautiful than the perfunctory processes of secular democracy. Thus we are at a loss to account for this recurring American mood.

Updated: Chapter Three of The Authoritarians is out. (Yesterday. I'm slow. Sue me.)

Update 2: My other reader[1] James F. Elliot suggests the following articles:

Let There Be Markets: The Evangelical Roots of Economics by Gordon Bigelow

Soldiers of Christ:
Feeling the hate with the National Religious Broadcasters by Chris Hedges

Inside America's most powerful megachurch with Pastor Ted Haggard by Jeff Sharlet

[1] Other than my wife


  1. In the May, 2005 issue, Gordon Bigelow wrote an essay called "Let There Be Free Markets," about the fundamentalist evangelical roots of economics and free-market capitalism. It's probably the best magazine essay from this decade that I've read. Also in that issue were articles by Chris Hedges and Jeff Sharlet collectively called "Soldiers of Christ," about the National Religious Broadcasters and megachurches (Ted Haggard featuring prominently) respectively.

  2. Is "The Authoritarians" any good? I couldn't get past the introduction; the guy's writing style drives me nuts.

  3. Personally, I like Dr. Bob's breezy style. But even if you don't like his style, don't be fooled. Altemeyer is a top-notch scientist, with a scientific and statistical methodology as rigorous as any physicist.

    The Authoritarians is not good. It's not very good. It's damn good, and it has important and profound conclusions about the psychology of authoritarian followers.

  4. Sorry - you'll have to count me as as a reader too, now.

    Hoo boy am I looking forward to reading "Authoritarians", that's a subject my minister's-son partner and I talk about more than occasionally. Alas, I need to work through a few of the books I *already* have in process (I always have at least two concurrent reads).

    BW, on my desk, nightstand and favorite chair-side-table right now and which I can reccommend are:
    1. Paul Bloom's "Descarte's Baby" which, for me, does a much better job of killing Cartesian dualism than...
    2. John Searle, "Mind, A Brief introduction"

    But then, I am *such* a materialist reductionist.

    3. Jerry Fodor, "the mind doesn't work that way" Just getting started on this one, so I should retract my earlier endorsement.

    Rorty's "Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth" is on deck.

    Is it any wonder I haven't gotten around to kick-starting my planned "CuringReligion" blog?

  5. I took your advice and read the first three chapters of The Authoritarians. It was very readable once I got going and chock full of interesting conclusions predicated on solid research.

  6. Peter,

    Thanks for reading, and thanks especially for commenting. I hope you find my work enlightening, or at least entertaining.

    I have little patience for Searle; I much prefer Daniel Dennett, who also hammers a few nails of his own in Cartesian Dualism's coffin.


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