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Americanism: The Fourth Great Western Religion

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  42 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
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 religi
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published June 19th 2007 by Doubleday (first published January 1st 2007)
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Aug 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
The author, a Jew, argues that a belief in America, and in a set of American ideals or creed, has become a religion in itself in America and worldwide. Based largely on Old Testament conceptions of America as a new Israel, a second Promised Land, and the Puritans especially as a Chosen People, the religion gained strength from the revolutionary era up until the Civil War. Lincoln, the author argues, was the greatest priest of this religion, and his speeches have the emotional resonance of sermon ...more
Charlene Mathe
Jul 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this book, and now I need to read it again; because I forgot so much in it! Gelernter's point though, is very important, so I wish everyone would read it. There is a founding faith in America that is not doctrinaire, as all human religions had been until the reformulation of historic political and religious thought in our Constitution. So we see the Tea Party defending our national "scriptures;" while progressives advocate the long leash of a "living document" that morphs with the times.
Feb 23, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
While the scholarship behind this book is impeccable, I disagree with the basic premise behind it - that Americanism is, essentially, a Biblical religion and America a Biblical republic. I have often said that Americanism is my religion for precisely the opposite reason - it is a secular philosophy and a secular republic. Even so, this one is definitely worth a glance.
Sean Mcdermott
Nov 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Great book.

Woodrow Wilson was a Progressive bastard though.
Nathan Duffy
Dec 23, 2016 rated it liked it
This bizarre book acutely, perceptively traces the Puritan lineage of what the author describes as Americanism, from the founders up through Abraham Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. In that journey, Puritanism is transmogrified into Americanism, or 'American Zionism', which is a new biblical religion.

Americanism is Christian, but with a particular emphasis on the Old Testament and ancient Israel, its adherents seeing in America a new Israel, a new chosen people.

Sep 02, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: finished
This book gets two stars for a few nice turns of phrase and an enjoyable smattering of quotations from dead presidents on the subject of religion. But, based on the book jacket, I thought I was about to enjoy a detached, anthropological investigation and analysis of cultural phenomena such as people chanting "USA!" at September 11 memorials or hanging signs that say "I love Jesus" next to American flags. I couldn't have imagined anyone could write a manifesto in favor of so-called American Zioni ...more
What sort of a fool writes that there can be no morality without religion? This was a pompous, wandering, dissappointing book that had a good title. A good title is not enough to get even one star. He goes on and on about how the US is secular (which it so obviously isn't) and then contradicts himself in other meandering rants. And he throws around the word "zionist" like it isn't scary. And he plays favorites among the major religions as if one is any wackier and more dangerous than another. I ...more
Will Conley
Aug 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
This book speaks the truth about the fact that America should be thought of as a religion first and foremost. The problem with the book is that it is written from the perspective of a devout neoconservative Americanist who feels at liberty to browbeat the reader into worshiping as he does. I couldn't finish this book, because despite the author's obvious intelligence, it was full of willfully ignorant calls to blind faith. In short, the author is correct in his basic assumptions, but he is a typ ...more
Brian Olson
Jun 26, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: my-library
I was somewhat disappointed by this. Its a good idea: casting American Creed as a kind of religious faith, one that is compatible with Judeo-Christian beliefs, but I felt that he didn't write it very well, and failed to explore the idea with sufficient depth or clarity.
Douglas Wilson
Jan 14, 2009 rated it did not like it
This book was good in parts and appalling throughout.
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David Hillel Gelernter (born March 5, 1955) is an artist, writer, and professor of computer science at Yale University. He is a former national fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and senior fellow in Jewish thought at the Shalem Center, and sat on the National Endowment for the Arts. He publishes widely; his work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, LA Times, Weekly Sta ...more
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