American Civil Religion

American Civil Religion : What Americans Hold Sacred

3.33 (3 ratings by Goodreads)
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The United States has never had an officially established church. Since the time of the first British colonists, it has instead developed a strong civil religion that melds national symbols to symbols of God. In a deft exploration of American civil religious symbols ranging from the Liberty Bell and Vietnam Memorial to Mount Rushmore and Disney World, Peter Gardella explains how the places, objects, and symbols that Americans hold sacred came into being and how they have changed over time. In addition to examining revered historical sites and structures, he analyzes such sacred texts as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Gettysburg Address, the Kennedy Inaugural, and the speeches of Martin Luther King, and shows how five patriotic songs-"The Star-Spangled Banner," "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" "America the Beautiful," "God Bless America," and "This Land Is Your Land"-have been elevated into hymns.
Arguing that certain values-personal freedom, political democracy, world peace, and cultural tolerance-have held American civil religion together, this book chronicles the numerous forms those values have taken, from Jamestown and Plymouth to the September 11, 2001, Memorial in New York.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 384 pages
  • 154.94 x 236.22 x 27.94mm | 680.39g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 40 illus.
  • 0195300173
  • 9780195300178

Review quote

In this engaging work, Peter Gardella revives the concept of civil religion and gives it new life through a detailed tour of its specifics. Drawing on a variety of materials-documents, music, monuments, places, symbols-he takes materials with which we are all familiar and puts them in a theoretical context that is at once sophisticated and accessible. * Peter W. Williams, Distinguished Professor of Comparative Religion and American Studies (Emeritus), Miami University * Each chapter provides illuminating discussions of history and current status as well as Gardella's interpretation of the symbolism/sacred meaning of each topic...Recommended. * CHOICE * Gardella has a gift for linking many of the civil icons with structural counterparts in religion. * Anglican Theological Review * Deeply significant...a book such as Gardella's can do much to help orient Americans to their stated commitments to equality, peace, and cultural tolerance. Thus, Gardella's American Civil Religion promises to make a unique and valuable contribution to Americans' understanding of themselves and commitment to greater faithfulness to their most cherished ideals. * S-USIH *
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About Peter Gardella

Peter Gardella is Professor of World Religions at Manhattanville College.
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Table of contents

Acknowledgments ; 1. What Is American Civil Religion? ; 2. America: The Name, the Concept, and the Word ; 3. Jamestown and Its Anniversaries ; 4. The Mayflower Compact ; 5. Plymouth Rock, the Pilgrims and the Indians ; 6. City on a Hill: From Jesus to Winthrop, Kennedy, and Reagan ; 7. The Freedom Trail and Boston Common ; 8. The Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the Slave Quarters ; 9. The Flag ; 10. The Declaration of Independence ; 11. The Great Seal and the Dollar Bill ; 12. The Constitution ; 13. Washington, D.C.: The City, the Capitol, and the White House ; 14. The Star-Spangled Banner ; 15. The Washington Monument ; 16. The Battle Hymn of the Republic ; 17. Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Address ; 18. Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address ; 19. Arlington National Cemetery ; 20. The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island ; 21. America the Beautiful ; 22. The Lincoln Memorial ; 23. Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills ; 24. God Bless America ; 25. This Land Is Your Land ; 26. The Four Freedoms ; 27. Iwo Jima: The Picture, the Monuments, and the Battle ; 28. Disney Parks ; 29. The Kennedy Inaugural ; 30. King's Speeches: The Mall (1963) and Memphis (1968) ; 31. Vietnam Veterans' Memorial ; 32. Transforming the National Mall ; 33. Ground Zero, Martyrdom, and Empire ; 34. Conflict, Consensus, and the Future ; Index
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