Prophetic Politics: Christian Social Movements and American Democracy (Paperback)David S. Gutterman (author)
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"In an era of military conflict and economic hardship, religious and political leaders adamantly speak in the language of crisis. Whether one attributes this public religious fervor to a response to the attacks of September 11, 2001, millennial hopes and fears, a sense of moral decay (generally based on either growing economic inequality or the 'breakdown of the American family'), or a sign of the normal progression of the stages of history, the discourse of religious revival is increasingly prominent. And, as is amply evident in the United States and throughout the world, devout declarations of religious belief in the public sphere can bring intractable passions to politics."-from Chapter 1
What are the relationships among religion, politics, and narratives? What makes prophetic political narratives congenial or hostile to democratic political life? David S. Gutterman explores the prophetic politics of four twentieth- and twenty-first-century American Christian social movements: the Reverend Billy Sunday and his vision of "muscular Christianity"; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Civil Rights movement; the conservative Christian male organization Promise Keepers; and the progressive antipoverty organization Call to Renewal.
Gutterman develops a theory based on the work of Hannah Arendt and others and employs this framework to analyze expressions of the prophetic impulse in the political narrative of the United States. In the process, he examines timely issues about the tense and intricate relationship between religion and politics. Even prior to George W. Bush's faith-based initiative, debates about abortion, family values, welfare reform, and environmental degradation were informed by religious language and ideas. In an interdisciplinary and accessible manner, Gutterman translates the narratives employed by American Christian social movements to define both the crises in the land and the path to resolving these crises. The book also explores the engagement of these prophetic social movements in contentious political issues concerned with sex, gender, sexuality, race, and class, as well as broader questions of American identity.
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Number of pages: 236
Weight: 369 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 14 mm
"Gutterman's... persuasive analysis will change your estimate of the Bible's flexible vitality as a source of calls to transformation. Gutterman, a political scientist at Linfield College with an ethical bent, is concerned about the compatibility between religious discourse and democratic practice-and this defines his book's timely relevance.... As much as any book I know, Gutterman's succeeds in clearly disarming stereotypes that relate to biblical story telling and democratic values. Its Exodus-focused analysis of four movements breaks new ground in telling us how to listen to political messages. Prophetic Politics belongs in every library that covers religious studies or American culture."* Journal of American Culture *
"In this timely and well-researched book, Gutterman examines the role of Christianity in American political life with a particular focus on four Christian social movements in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.... With a highly commendable approach that is respectful of differing positions, Gutterman stresses the 'sacred story' of Exodus as a common thread running through American history."* History News Network *