Today's Religion Dispatches features a few of my thoughts on the God in America series which premiered last week: "The Brutality of the American Eden: From the Underside of the Millennium." As the post makes clear, I enjoyed and appreciated the series, but wanted to raise some questions about freedom and authority in American history:
But I do want to ask what this series would look like if we also understand American religious history to be about coercion and authority? Most of God in America is about the white Protestant majority in American history. In a series on religion and public life, that is fair enough; they have dominated religion and public life. But what if we make coercion,establishment, and repression as central to our narrative as freedom, disestablishment, and expression? What if this is a show in which Americans’ self-understanding as derived from Exodus is more critically examined than celebrated?
Read the full post here, and I'd love to hear your thoughts either at Religion Dispatches or here.
Oh, and while you're at it, catch Matt Sutton's take on the series here, also at Religion Dispatches. Matt defends the series against professorial carping, praises its success in reaching a broader public, and points out how much we all engage in our own forms of condensation and simplifying to get across a few basic points.