Sunday Night Odds and Ends

Here are a few things online that caught my attention this week:

Alec Baldwin interviews David Letterman

Robert Darnton rides off into the sunset

Jeremy Adelman reviews three new books on the history of capitalism

Remembering William Zinsser

New churches in public schools

Michael Kazin reviews Kevin Kruse, One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America

What is Joseph Ellis reading?

Mark Bauerlein and Dana Gioia discuss the Catholic writer in America

Johan Neem on Mark Bauerlein’s “What’s the Point of the Professor

An 1826 Freemason mystery

Lauren Winner reviews Lisa Wilson, A History of Stepfamilies in Early America

Robert Putman talks about Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis.  Nicholas Lemann reviews the book here.

The 40th anniversary “Born to Run” poster is here.

2015-2016 OAH Distinguished Lecturers

Wilfred McClay makes a case for the liberal arts

Chris Gehrz break down the Pew Religious Landscape Study

Balancing old books and new books in the classroom

2 thoughts on “Sunday Night Odds and Ends

  1. Thx for the pleasantly surprising Kazin review of the contentiously-titled “One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America.”

    Despite the argument Kruse makes beginning with his subtitle, “corporate America” played no significant role in conceiving any of these initiatives — although the hotelier J. Willard Marriott did persuade fellow businessmen to finance Honor America Day. Devout lawmakers like Dirksen and preachers like Graham were quite capable of mustering a God-fearing constituency by themselves. And Graham was not the stalwart right-winger that Kruse, echoing many of his contemporary critics, describes. As Grant Wacker reveals in his excellent new biography of the man, “America’s pastor” admired and was as close to President Lyndon Johnson, an archliberal, as he was to the wily Republican who succeeded him.

    Kruse tells a big and important story about the mingling of religiosity and politics since the 1930s. Still, he oversells his basic premise.

    Americans easily accepted placing God’s name on their currency and in the oath children recite every school day because similar invocations were already routine in public discourse — from the Declaration’s reference to the “unalienable Rights” endowed by the “Creator” to the official chaplains who have opened sessions of the House and Senate with a prayer since 1789. Following the attacks of 9/11, we’ve added the ubiquitous “God Bless America” to bumper stickers, to the ends of political speeches and to many a seventh-inning stretch. As features of what the sociologist Robert Bellah called “civil religion” (a term he borrowed from Rousseau), the familiarity of these practices comforts some without making particular demands on anyone else. Even back in the age of Eisenhower, the A.C.L.U. understood that.


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