Yesterday, I had my review of George Marsden’s book The Twilight of the American Enlightenment published on the Web/Email Forum Public Discourse. Public Discourse is concerned about many things, but one of them is religion in public life. This review gave me a chance to reflect on this topic.
Also, publishing with Public Discourse was fun, for two reasons. First, George was my graduate school advisor, so I was happy to promote his book, as well as ask some probing questions of it–and about American life. Second, during my time in Princeton I had a chance to get to know the folks at Public Discourse. It seemed a natural fit to send this piece their way.
Read the whole piece, but the nutshell is that this is an interesting book both as a history of the “middlebrow” ideas and religious sensibilities of the 1950s and as a reflection on how American culture today should deal with religious differences. Marsden is inspired by Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper and the vision of “principled pluralism.” Generally, I think this could be promising, but it would also require lots of people to buy in–something I don’t see happening at this time.