Prodigal Nation

Prodigal Nation : Moral Decline and Divine Punishment from New England to 9/11

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Description

America's supposed moral decline from an imagined golden age, and the threat of divine punishment for the sin of straying from the path of righteousness, have been consistent themes in its political and religious rhetoric. But why is this myth so compelling to Americans? In Prodigal Nation, Andrew Murphy investigates the jeremiad's historical roots and probes the ways in which it continues to illuminate larger themes and tensions in American social and political life. He examines its role in colonial New England, shows how it was employed during the Civil War, and demonstrates its continued power in today's political climate. Far from being simply a force for conservatism-the yearning for a return to "a simpler time"-the jeremiad has often been employed in favor of progressive causes. Americans of all political stripes-not just Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, but Abraham Lincoln and Robert Kennedy-have used the language of moral decline for political purposes. Murphy shows how Americans' powerful attachment to an idealized past, and the hope of a return to John Winthrop's imagined "City on a Hill," continue to shape public life.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 248 pages
  • 154.94 x 236.22 x 22.86mm | 544.31g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195321286
  • 9780195321289

Review quote

a wide-ranging and thoughtful meditation ... This book deserves an honored place among the oeuvre of work by political scientists and historians on the jeremiad. * Melissa Matthes, Politics and Religion *show more

About Andrew R. Murphy

Andrew R. Murphy is Associate Professor of Humanities and Political Philosophy, Christ College, the Honors College of Valparaiso University. He is the author of Conscience and Community: Revisiting Toleration and Religious Dissent in Early Modern England and America, the co-editor of Religion, Politics, and the American Identity: New Directions, New Controversies, and the editor of The Political Writings of William Penn.show more

Table of contents

PART I. THREE AMERICAN JEREMIADS; PART II. THE JEREMIAD IN AMERICAN CULTURE: NARRATIVE, HISTORY, AND POLITICSshow more

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