John Hall Snow was professor of pastoral theology at the Episcopal Divinity School and considered preacher-in-residence at Christ Church, Cambridge, Massachusetts, for over eighteen years. In this previously unpublished manuscript, Snow outlines his critique of American culture building on America's adoption of Herbert Spencer's social theory known as "survival of the fittest." The unconscious acceptance of his theory has reduced us to "winners" and "losers," leading us to disfigure language and truth. Snow writes, "We lie to others, and ourselves, basically, because we believe that lies facilitate whatever it is that we want to do. The basic untruth of human existence is that we can control reality by making it over in the image that we want it to be by words. And since words are all we have to define reality, everything we do and think is touched by untruth. Even the best, as well as the worst of us do this. The best withhold the truth; the worst distort it. The overriding priority is the goal, not the truth. The idea seems to be that what we have built with words will become reality."
About the author
Frederick Stecker is an Episcopal minister and a student of religion and culture. He holds doctorates from Bangor Theological Seminary and from the Institute for the Study of Violence of the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. He is the author of The Podium, the Pulpit, and the Republicans: How Presidential Candidates Use Religious Language in American Political Debate (Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2011; Pbk 2015).
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