God Is Back: How the Global Revival of Faith Is Changing the World

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A landmark examination of the resurgence of faith around the globe

The Editor in Chief of The Economist and its Lexington columnist show how the global rise of religion will dramatically impact our century in God Is Back. Contrary to the popular assumption that modernism would lead to the rejection of faith, American-style evangelism has sparked a global revival. On the street and in the corridors of power the authors shine a bright light on a vast yet until now hidden world of religion.

Twenty-first-century faith is being fueled by a very American emphasis on competition and a customer-driven attitude toward salvation. Revealing how the religion boom is destabilizing politics and the global economy, God Is Back concludes by showing how the same American ideas that created our unique religious style can be applied to channel the rising tide of faith away from volatility and violence.
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About the author

Both John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge were educated at Oxford and went on to work for The Economist. John Micklethwait has overseen the magazine's Los Angeles and New York bureaus and is now its U.S. editor. Adrian Wooldridge has served as West Coast correspondent, social-policy correspondent, and management editor, and is currently Washington, D.C., correspondent. Together, they have coauthored three books, The Witch Doctors, A Future Perfect: The Challenge and Hidden Promise of Globalisation, and The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea.

Both John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge were educated at Oxford and went on to work for The Economist. John Micklethwait has overseen the magazine's Los Angeles and New York bureaus and is now its U.S. editor. Adrian Wooldridge has served as West Coast correspondent, social-policy correspondent, and management editor, and is currently Washington, D.C., correspondent. Together, they have coauthored three books, The Witch Doctors, A Future Perfect: The Challenge and Hidden Promise of Globalisation, and The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Penguin
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Published on
Apr 2, 2009
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Pages
416
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ISBN
9781101032411
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Modern / 21st Century
Religion / Religion, Politics & State
Social Science / Sociology of Religion
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Since the late 1980s sociologists have been drawing our attention to an international surge in the public visibility of religion. This has increasingly challenged two central aspects of modern western European culture: first, the assumption that as we became more modern we would become more secularised and religion would disappear; and secondly, that religion and politics should occupy radically differentiated spheres in which private conviction did not exert itself within the public realm. The new visibility of religion is not simply a matter of what Keppel famously called 'The Revenge of God', that is, the resurgence of Christian, Islamic and Jewish fundamentalism. Religion is permeating western culture in many different forms from contemporary continental philosophy, the arts and the media, to the rhetoric of international politicians.

This collection of essays brings together a unique collection of voices from theology, aesthetics, social and political science, philosophy and cultural theory in an exploration of four major aspects of this new visibility of religion: the revision of the secularisation thesis, the relationship between religion and violence, the new re-enchantment of reality and the return of metaphysics. The exploration is conducted through essays by and interviews with figures at the forefront of reflecting upon this major cultural shift and its implications. It is distinctively multidisciplinary, examining the phenomenon of the rise of religion in Western Europe from a number of interrelated perspectives.
A nuanced exploration of the part that religion plays in human life, drawing on the insights of the past in order to build a faith that speaks to the needs of our dangerously polarized age.
 
Moving from the Paleolithic age to the present, Karen Armstrong details the great lengths to which humankind has gone in order to experience a sacred reality that it called by many names, such as God, Brahman, Nirvana, Allah, or Dao. Focusing especially on Christianity but including Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Chinese spiritualities, Armstrong examines the diminished impulse toward religion in our own time, when a significant number of people either want nothing to do with God or question the efficacy of faith. Why has God become unbelievable? Why is it that atheists and theists alike now think and speak about God in a way that veers so profoundly from the thinking of our ancestors?

Answering these questions with the same depth of knowledge and profound insight that have marked all her acclaimed books, Armstrong makes clear how the changing face of the world has necessarily changed the importance of religion at both the societal and the individual level.  Yet she cautions us that religion was never supposed to provide answers that lie within the competence of human reason; that, she says, is the role of logos. The task of religion is “to help us live creatively, peacefully, and even joyously with realities for which there are no easy explanations.” She emphasizes, too, that religion will not work automatically. It is, she says, a practical discipline: its insights are derived not from abstract speculation but from “dedicated intellectual endeavor” and a “compassionate lifestyle that enables us to break out of the prism of selfhood.”


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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