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God Is Back: How the Global Revival of Faith Is Changing the World

Tekijä: John Micklethwait, Adrian Wooldridge

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2214124,778 (3.82)16
On the street and in the corridors of power, religion is surging worldwide. From Russia to Turkey to India, nations that swore off faith in the last century--or even tried to stamp it out--are now run by avowedly religious leaders. This book examines this new world, from exorcisms in São Paulo to religious skirmishing in Nigeria, to televangelism in California and house churches in China. Since the Enlightenment, intellectuals have assumed that modernization would kill religion--and that religious America is an oddity. As these authors argue, religion and modernity can thrive together, and America is becoming the norm. The failure of communism and the rise of globalism helped spark the global revival, but, above all, 21st century religion is being fueled by a very American emphasis on competition and a customer-driven approach to salvation, and its destabilizing effects can already be seen far from Iraq or the World Trade Center.--From publisher description.… (lisätietoja)
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I was reading this book more or less alongside "[Stealing Jesus]", and it was a most odd experience. Often the two books were covering the exact same ground and yet their perspectives were vastly different.

This book, however, is less concerned with questions of the merit of faith as to describing what is actually happening on the ground. As such it was an extremely interesting read, from authors who are not particularly wedded to any of the world views they are describing.

The fundamental thesis is that the assumption that modernity leads to secularism is in fact incorrect - that as countries are developing, they are becoming more religious, and that Europe here is an exception. What is more there is a thesis as to why this should be the case. The argument is made that US style separation of church and state, and the resulting pluralism this produces creates a need for religions to compete in a religious marketplace. This commoditisation of religion is well described, with historical examples of how churches have become more outward focussed and keyed into the winning of converts as they have found themselves unable to rest on the laurels of state establishment.

The result is a kind of tailored religion that people such as Bruce Bawer have clearly reacted against, and yet has proved incredibly durable. The result is that religion has prospered.

The book looks at issues for the future. It also discusses how some policy makers have radically misunderstood the place of faith in foreign policy, and also deals with issues of tension in the major religions themselves.

All in all this is an excellent work - not least because it avoids any triumphalism in the information it presents. This book is about numbers, but it is fundamentally an analysis of the current situation. It nowhere propounds a view that a numbers game is actually what the issue should be all about, and this then lends credence to the findings.

The analysis is so wide ranging it is going to be wrong in places. I detected a few places where I felt the authors had simplified issues (for instance in the summary of Robert Pape's work in "[Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism]". But read with an open mind, I think this book provides a convincing thesis. ( )
2 ääni sirfurboy | Jun 10, 2009 |
Written by the editor-in-chief (John Micklethwait) and the Washington bureau chief (Adrian Woolridge) of The Economist.

The Western European view over the past several decades has been that religion is irrelevant and an embarrassment, and far more trouble than it is worth. Both the theocracies of Saudi Arabia and Iran, matched by the theocracies of the Bush administration and Israel, have brought more conflict on this planet than anything since Europe's Thirty Years War.

This has been echoed by Sam Harris in The End of Faith and Christopher Hitchens in God is Not Great.

Well, God is Back. And yes, religion is a crucial element in understanding the politics of the Middle East, Africa, India, and the U.S. But this is perhaps not a terrible thing. Maybe there is a way out of this Clash of Civilizations, and it requires an understanding of the role of religion in the world today.

And that is the point of God is Back. ( )
  bodhisattva | May 24, 2009 |
Biography And History > Culture and Institutions > Religious institutions > Social Sciences > Social Sciences, Sociology, Anthropology
  FHQuakers | Feb 13, 2018 |
näyttää 4/4
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia (1)

On the street and in the corridors of power, religion is surging worldwide. From Russia to Turkey to India, nations that swore off faith in the last century--or even tried to stamp it out--are now run by avowedly religious leaders. This book examines this new world, from exorcisms in São Paulo to religious skirmishing in Nigeria, to televangelism in California and house churches in China. Since the Enlightenment, intellectuals have assumed that modernization would kill religion--and that religious America is an oddity. As these authors argue, religion and modernity can thrive together, and America is becoming the norm. The failure of communism and the rise of globalism helped spark the global revival, but, above all, 21st century religion is being fueled by a very American emphasis on competition and a customer-driven approach to salvation, and its destabilizing effects can already be seen far from Iraq or the World Trade Center.--From publisher description.

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