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Saving God: Religion After Idolatry

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  49 Ratings  ·  7 Reviews
In this book, Mark Johnston argues that God needs to be saved not only from the distortions of the "undergraduate atheists" (Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris) but, more importantly, from the idolatrous tendencies of religion itself. Each monotheistic religion has its characteristic ways of domesticating True Divinity, of taming God's demands so that th ...more
ebook, 216 pages
Published July 11th 2011 by Princeton University Press (first published July 1st 2009)
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Jul 07, 2011 Joe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It seems this book was largely written for the author’s academic peers, which is fair enough. However, it did mean that long stretches are quite dense as he builds his philosophical arguments. Despite this there are sections of greater lucidity in which he launches some blistering attacks on theistic notions of a personal God who intervenes in the lives of us mere mortals. Interesting to read that he has little time for the new atheists either and opts for a Panentheistic position.

This is certai
Maughn Gregory
"To comprehend one's own religion is not just to comprehend its dogmas and rituals. It involves bringing into clear view the religion's characteristic ways of resisting the Divine." (24)

This is one of the most intelligent books on religion and the meaning of life I have ever read. Johnston understands idolatry as the "attempt to domesticate the experience of Divinity, to put it to some advantage in a still unredeemed life" - something that all monotheist religions - which make idolatry a concern
Scriptor Ignotus
Mar 25, 2015 Scriptor Ignotus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Mark Johnston here applies the monotheistic critique of various forms of pagan idolatry to the monotheistic traditions themselves.

The likes of Yahweh and Allah began as one God to be worshipped among many others. Gradually, as the other cults were brushed aside and the Gods of the Abrahamic religions gained preeminence, they became the sole and universal objects of worship, while the "pagan" gods were denounced as mere idols. As Johnston points out, however, even after becoming the sole God of
Nov 13, 2016 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When 81 percent of white evangelicals and born-again Christians cast their ballots for Donald Trump, and 60% of white Catholics did the same, this turns out not just to be a really good book, but a really timely one, as well.

That Mr. Trump's religious supporters see no conflict between the faith they profess and a vote for that pettiest of nihilists--that some of them even insisted that vote was a religious obligation--seems like it would have to be a telltale of the real object of their worshi
Jul 29, 2011 Devin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An accounting of religion and God that asks the question "if there is a God, what must he be like?" To Johnston, the major monotheistic religions are guilty of a fundamental idolatry (by their own terms), creating versions of God and religious sensibility that are forged from human acquisitiveness, and a desire for worldly salvation ("spiritual materialism") that God can't satisfy. "God", here, is the continuous outpouring of existence: There is no contradiction between God and the nature of the ...more
Alan Cooke
Feb 11, 2010 Alan Cooke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating book about "natural religion" (religion without all the supernatural bits) by a philosopher and logician from Princeton. I loved this book while I was reading it, but then couldn't remember why I was so excited just a few weeks later. I'm going to tackle the companion piece "Surviving Death" next week.
Had to put this aside for awhile. It's tough going.
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“To organize one’s life around these motives, to dedicate oneself to the placation of power, is to live a childish and reactive life. Worse than that, to have such an organizing principle is to reinforce in oneself the psychology of a generalized moral duplicity. One will take a different attitude to the powerful and to the lowly, depending on the respective capacity of such persons to confer advantage. That is a reliable sign of being base.” 0 likes
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