The Republic of Many Mansions: Foundations of American Religious Thought

The Republic of Many Mansions: Foundations of American Religious Thought

The Republic of Many Mansions: Foundations of American Religious Thought

The Republic of Many Mansions: Foundations of American Religious Thought

Synopsis

Denise Lardner Carmody is Hanley Professor of Religious Studies at Santa Clara University. John Tully Carmody earned his doctorate in religious studies from Stanford University and subsequently taught at various colleges and universities across the country. He is a gifted writer whose most recent book, with Denise Lardner Carmody, Corn and Ivy: Spiritual Reading in Ruth and Jonah, is also Published by Trinity Press.

Excerpt

In this book we speculate about three ideas that arguably lie at the foundations of American religious thought: the Puritan conception of human nature, the Enlightenment conception of religious liberty (leading to the disestablishment of any church from a privileged position), and the pragmatic conception of truth. To speculate about each of these ideas, we begin with a representative figure. For Puritanism, we have chosen Jonathan Edwards. For the view of religion that the United States drew from the Enlightenment, the figure is Thomas Jefferson. Pragmatism is represented by William James. After exposing some of each thinker's views, we generalize to create a rough impression of what the idea in question meant to the American mainstream.

As a counterpoint to the mainstream, we have also examined what we call the margins. If the mainstream in American religious thought, and American culture at large, has been white, Protestant, and perhaps male, the margins have housed Jews, Catholics, African Americans, Asians, Protestant sectarians, and perhaps women. By reflecting on their senses of human nature, disestablishment, and pragmatism, we flesh out our analysis of all three notions and suggest further how they have cohered and what they have meant to the American population at large. We owe many thanks to Don Fehr of Paragon House Publishers for initiating this project and shepherding it through to production, and to the specialists in American religion whose writings have instructed us through the years.

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