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Americanism: The Fourth Great Western…
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Americanism: The Fourth Great Western Religion

by David Gelernter

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A fascinating little book that makes the argument that the USA is a biblical republic and has been since 1619. There are two results to this assumption: 1) there is an American Creed of "liberty, equality, and democracy", and 2) American Zionism, the idea that the USA is the new Promised Land requires that we spread and defend that Creed around the world. Note: This is not a book advocating more invasions like Iraq. Simply, the USA, unlike most every other nation, is a nation of principles, not ethnicities, and, collectively, we have always held that our principles should be held by all and we should promote them any way we can.

The subtitle is "The Fourth Great Western Religion," but I think a more apt one would have been "American Exceptionalism Explained." The idea that America is a special country with special obligations is nothing new, but considered "old fashioned" in many circles today. This little book should remind people that there are historical roots that we forget at our own peril.

He also combats the idea that the Founders were secularists and that their desired legacy was a government free from religion. Gelertner instead believes the American Creed is biblically based and everyone at the time understood that the nation they were creating was in line with their vision of America as the new Israel.

All in all, a very intriguing book, that will certainly teach you something worth knowing. ( )
  sergerca | Feb 17, 2008 |
American Enterprise Institute fellow Gelernter argues that America is a biblical republic and Americanism a biblical religion encompassing an American Creed with three political ideals (liberty, equality, and democracy) and a doctrine, American Zionism, incorporating the biblically derived ideas of a chosen people in a promised land. Americanism is global. There's no need to be American, or to believe in God, to subscribe to it. Still, to understand Americanism, you need to understand America. Gelernter discusses the emergence of Americanism through several crucial events in American history: the Puritan exodus from England, the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War I, the cold war, and Islamic terrorism. He insists that his book is neither history nor group portrait but instead "an essay in folk philosophy." Not everyone will agree with Gelernter's conclusions (e.g., "If there is to be justice in the world, America must create it"), but he offers fascinating food for thought. Sawyers, June
  Spudbunny | Nov 2, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385513127, Hardcover)

What does it mean to “believe” in America? Why do we always speak of our country as having a mission or purpose that is higher than other nations?
Modern liberals have invested a great deal in the notion that America was founded as a secular state, with religion relegated to the private sphere. David Gelernter argues that America is not secular at all, but a powerful religious idea—indeed, a religion in its own right.
Gelernter argues that what we have come to call “Americanism” is in fact a secular version of Zionism. Not the Zionism of the ancient Hebrews, but that of the Puritan founders who saw themselves as the new children of Israel, creating a new Jerusalem in a new world. Their faith-based ideals of liberty, equality, and democratic governance had a greater influence on the nation’s founders than the Enlightenment.
Gelernter traces the development of the American religion from its roots in the Puritan Zionism of seventeenth-century New England to the idealistic fighting faith it has become, a militant creed dedicated to spreading freedom around the world. The central figures in this process were Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson, who presided over the secularization of the American Zionist idea into the form we now know as Americanism.
If America is a religion, it is a religion without a god, and it is a global religion. People who believe in America live all over the world. Its adherents have included oppressed and freedom-loving peoples everywhere—from the patriots of the Greek and Hungarian revolutions to the martyred Chinese dissidents of Tiananmen Square.
Gelernter also shows that anti-Americanism, particularly the virulent kind that is found today in Europe, is a reaction against this religious conception of America on the part of those who adhere to a rival religion of pacifism and appeasement.
A startlingly original argument about the religious meaning of America and why it is loved—and hated—with so much passion at home and abroad.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:48 -0400)

What does it mean to "believe" in America? Why do we speak of our country as having a higher purpose? Author Gelernter traces the emergence of America as the embodiment of a powerful religious idea. Americanism begins with the Puritan settlers in New England who saw themselves as the new children of Israel and whose faith-based ideals of liberty, equality, and democratic governance had a greater influence on the nation's founders than the Enlightenment. These concepts were gradually transformed into a secular religion of freedom, with followers throughout the world. Its adherents have included oppressed peoples everywhere--from the patriots of the Hungarian Revolution to the martyred Chinese dissidents of Tiananmen Square. Americanism is a powerful reminder of America's dedication to spreading freedom--surely one of the most profound and beautiful religious ideas the world has ever known.--From publisher description.… (more)

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