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Taming the Gods: Religion and Democracy on Three Continents
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Taming the Gods: Religion and Democracy on Three Continents

3.45  ·  Rating Details ·  91 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews

For eight years the president of the United States was a born-again Christian, backed by well-organized evangelicals who often seemed intent on erasing the church-state divide. In Europe, the increasing number of radicalized Muslims is creating widespread fear that Islam is undermining Western-style liberal democracy. And even in polytheistic Asia, the development of democ
Hardcover, 132 pages
Published February 28th 2010 by Princeton University Press (first published 2010)
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Sep 04, 2011 Juha rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone, and especially Americans.
In this short and reasoned treatise, Ian Buruma addresses a central issue of democracy, namely the separation of church and state, from a historical, social and political perspective.

The book is divided into three main parts. In the first, Full Tents and Empty Cathedrals, Buruma juxtaposes the experiences in Europe and in America, providing an insightful analysis of what separates—and unites—the old and the new continent, including the role of born-again evangelical Christians in American polit
Patrick McCoy
Oct 20, 2011 Patrick McCoy rated it really liked it
Taming The Gods: Religion And Democracy On Three Continents Ian Buruma's latest book is a short treatise that looks at the relationship between democracy and religion in America, Europe, Japan, and China. In recent years, Bururma has written about the attitude of east with the west in Occidentalism and has investigated the clash between liberal Holland and Muslim fanatics in Murder In Amsterdam:The Death of Theo Van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance. I think these experiences have inspired him to ...more
Steve Greenleaf
Aug 27, 2014 Steve Greenleaf rated it liked it
Shelves: hx, religion
Ian Buruma’s Taming the Gods: Religion and Democracy on Three Continents (2010)(132 p.) is a collection of three essays about the intersection of religion and politics. One essay focuses on the U.S., one on China and Japan, and the last on Islam in Europe. Buruma draws upon a careful review of the history of all three areas to show how complex and historically rich the interaction has been between religion and politics since the advent of the modern period. In the U.S., we’ve always had a cultur ...more
Aug 12, 2011 Ivan rated it did not like it
If one is sufficiently acquainted with historical ideas on democracy it would be entirely possible to skip the first two thirds of the book. The basic premise follows Alexis de Tocqueville in that democracy is a fruit of Divine morality, present and extolled in the Christian Faith, as witnessed by the 'greatest' nation on Earth:)

The analysis of religion and democracy in China is very shallow, literally ignoring all, but the reign of the Qin Shi Huangdi and last 200 years of Chinese history. The
Dec 04, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it
Brief and interesting comparative analysis of the role of religion in three different regions of the world: Christianity in the United States, Confucianism and other religions in East Asia, and Islam in Europe, especially in France and the Netherlands. This book serves as a great introduction to the complex issues of the relationship between religion, personal identity, secularism, and the role of the state in our daily lives. Mostly I just wish the book was longer and focused more on the compar ...more
Nov 24, 2015 Marc rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: islam
Moedig van Buruma dat hij dit heikele thema bij de horens vat. Wat mij betreft is vooral het derde essay het leerrijkst, omdat het rechtstreeks ingaat op de "hot issues" van het moment. Zijn eigen standpunt bekoort door zijn evenwichtigheid en duidelijkheid, als een nieuwe invulling van het tolerantiebegrip. Het eerste essay (westerse denkers over staatkunde en de plaats van religie daarin) en het tweede (over de dubieuze rol van religie in China en Japan) zijn best interessant, maar nogal acade ...more
May 09, 2013 Svarnyp rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy, history
A quite good essay on the relation of democracy and religion. Focusing strongly on Islam, but without any attacks on the religion itself. Accompanied also with a suitable amount of comments and references. If you want to study the problem deeper, this presents a good introduction. Also if you want to stay on the surface of the relation between government and religion, then you can read Buruma and stop there as he does not present a too simplistic picture and gives you enough insight to let you f ...more
Matthew Newton
Jan 12, 2014 Matthew Newton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Generally quite interesting, particularly the middle section on China/Japan/Asian values/religions.
It was interesting to read Buruma's (short) discussion on Confucianism, and also about the Taiping Rebellion and Boxer Rebellion. He certainly made clear how it is quite plausible to see links between those events and contemporary China and the attitudes of the current Chinese government to cults and popular religious(/political) movements.
The other parts of the book were good, but not quite as int
Sep 17, 2010 Lauren rated it liked it
This is a slim 125 pager that’s a dense combination of political theory and current events. Definitely gave me some food for thought regarding the relationship between religion and politics, but I found the writing style too rooted in academic language and analysis for my taste. Quasi-recommended.
Dec 27, 2012 Jess rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
ahhh. not what i expected. some good points once in awhile but a lot of random information thrown together.
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Ian Buruma is a British-Dutch writer and academic, much of whose work focuses on the culture of Asia, particularly that of 20th-century Japan, where he lived and worked for many years.
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