Bible-Carrying Christians: Conservative Protestants and Social Power

Bible-Carrying Christians: Conservative Protestants and Social Power

Bible-Carrying Christians: Conservative Protestants and Social Power

Bible-Carrying Christians: Conservative Protestants and Social Power

Synopsis

David Watt draws on years of fieldwork to present an elegant reinterpretation of the way that conservative Protestants influence American politics and culture. This is a concise and lively book that sheds new light on the way that Bible-carrying Christians influence the way that people in America think--and avoid thinking--about social power.

Excerpt

For nearly two millennia, followers of Christ have been forming themselves into congregations, which have performed a wide variety of functions. They have distributed food to people who are hungry, cared for the sick, and buried the dead. They have provided excitement to people who were bored and tranquility to people who were in turmoil. They have created buildings in which God's praises could be sung and in which God could be asked to pour out blessings upon the human race.

The congregations created by Christians have also, of course, devoted a good deal of attention to catechism. in Christian congregations, people have learned stories about God's chosen people and about the relationships between them and their God. They have learned formulas that purport to give hints about what God is like. They have learned how to sing. They have learned how to pray.

They have also learned a great deal about which sort of human power relationships are [natural] and which are not. Is it natural for people who do not know Latin to defer to those who do? For emperors to defer to bishops? For slaves to defer to the free? For people who are sexually active to defer to those who are celibate? For the ignorant to defer to the learned? For the uncivilized to defer to the civilized? For people who are rich to defer to people who have taken vows of poverty? For the young to defer to the middle-aged? For the middle-aged to defer to the ancient? For people who are not Jewish and who do not follow the Torah to defer to those who are and do?

The process of teaching people the answers to such questions is, of course, an ancient one. Traces of it can be found in the Christian Scriptures and in the writings of the church fathers. They can be found, too . . .

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