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Gnostic America: A Reading of Contemporary American Culture & Religion according to Christianity's Oldest Heresy

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  48 ratings  ·  11 reviews
Gnostic America is a reading of current American culture, politics, and religious life according to the ancient movement known as Gnosticism. In it, Peter M Burfeind builds off the foundations of Hans Jonas, Denis de Rougement, Norman Cohn, William Voegelin, Carl Jung, and Harold Bloom, each of whom saw the effects of Gnosticism in contemporary American (and Western) life. ...more
Kindle Edition, 418 pages
Published September 9th 2014 (first published January 1st 2014)
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Fergus
May 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Have you noticed we’re now a virtual civilization - that we’re offloading our bodily oddities, physical quirks and aches and pains onto the Cloud, so we can play undisturbed in happy perpetuity, regardless of a dense and increasing plethora of physical obligations and responsibilities?

That’s Gnosticism. Mind over matter.

If only!

The Gnostic Heresy has its etymological root in the Greek Word GNOSIS - Knowledge. And that’s how it starts. Remember that long-ago day when you SAW how the world WORKS?

A
...more
Heidi Clark
Jul 04, 2015 rated it liked it
This book is broad and deep, it covers a fascinating concept and attempts to do so extremely thoroughly. Rev Burfeind weaves together history, art, literature, pop culture and philosophy to make his case: our contemporary American culture is the culmination of the heretical gnostic movement. I wanted to give this 5 stars for the unique and timely topic, and for the bold attempt to grapple with it so thoroughly. But I give it 3 stars because he desperately needed a better editor. In fact, it smac ...more
Steve
Mar 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The sub-title of this book is: A Reading of Contemporary American Culture & Religion according to Christianity’s Oldest Heresy. Peter Burfeind has accomplished that by identifying Gnostic traits and following the movement of this heresy as it was vigorously opposed and suppressed in the early church, through to emergence during the Reformation and Enlightenment, then coming to full bloom in modern manifestations both politically (fascism, communism, and nazism) and religiously (Liberalism and Ne ...more
Lisa
Jul 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christian, nonfiction
Check my book list to see how rarely I give 5 stars.
This is a must-read for everyone who thinks they've got it all figured, that they know what is right and what is wrong and why, for everyone who thinks they can explain what's wrong with the world and how to fix it, and for everyone who thinks they're smarter than everyone else for having figured all this out.
Surprise.
(However, if you insist upon Political Correctness walking, delicately, over eggshells, then you're probably too easily offended
...more
Don Incognito
I actually didn't get to finish this book before it needed to return to the library it came to me on ILL from, so you can consider it a review of what I finished (between two-thirds and three-quarters).

This book was the best explanation I had yet read or seen about the theology of ancient Gnosticism, and I came out with a much fuller understanding of Gnosticism than I had before. The rest of the book is tiresome and very much a chore to wade through. Only a relatively small proportion is dedicat
...more
t
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A Spiritual and Political Colonoscopy! Wow, this was a deep excursion on the history of the gnostic philosophy/religion and how it affects so many domains in our country today. This was not an easy read for me, it cut me deep in my thinking. For many years I have wondered about where progressive democracy may lead us, and this book help add flesh to my concerns. As a Christian, this book has challenged me to further my understanding of my faith journey and how that may inform my future choice of ...more
Richard Willsea
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, work
This is a very difficult read, especial for what in the LCMS passes for a "Missionary pastor". I've Seen throughout my career. People leave their (boring) main line church to join the fun glitzy warehouse church. Only I find a few years later, they have now left the warehouse church. Rather that coming back to what they know, they just stop going altogether. The neo Evangelicals (and so called emergent church) are acting as halfway houses to Gnosticism. A spiritual but not religious mix of nihil ...more
Becky F.
I was just starting to lean toward 4 stars, and then I read the concluding chapter. This book was in desperate need of a proofreader (I am here and willing!!) and I did not really appreciate the tone throughout. So I had to stick with 3 because of those things.

There's a lot of great and interesting information in this book, but it could have been presented in a more concise and organized way. I definitely understand gnosticism and its pervasive influence in society, though, and I can confidently
...more
Samuel Hubbard
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you think you know about gnosticism, read this book. You'll probably, like me, realize you're a lot more gnostic than you thought you were. No book is prefect. But this is the best thing I've read in a long time.
Leonard Carl
Oct 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Should Give It 2 Stars

Because of The Lie!
This panoramic view of American culture via Western history, the arts, politics and sciences staggered me. Most folks will be offended somewhere along the way and with a smattering of self-doubt readers will reflect on what and where we are headed in politics, culturally and as a country. I trust scholastic types will pick apart a smattering or three as that is how they do. The material covered applies whether one is 'religious' or not. After my Kindle re
...more
K B
Dec 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: vt-2017
the best book I've read all year! May be the best book I've read in a decade!! So well written, well-documented and educational/informative! HIGHLY Recommended Reading for all.
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Goodreads Librari...: Add cover 2 12 Jan 12, 2018 06:34AM  

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Peter Burfeind serves as pastor at Holy Cross Lutheran Church and Student Ministry at the University of Toledo. He is also a US Army Chaplain and publisher of children's educational materials (Pax Domini Press). He lives in Toledo, Ohio with his wife Jillian and four children.

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“To get to this point, the magician must know his subject, understand his yearnings and his loves. "Like a spy wanting to procure material for future erotic blackmail, the magician must collect all the indices that permit him to file his subject under some classification or other."17 Mass manipulation, easier than individual manipulation because more generalized, requires the manipulator to know the demographics of his subjects.” 1 likes
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