God and the Atlantic: America, Europe, and the Religious Divide

Paperback | January 21, 2013

byThomas Albert Howard

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Since the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, the United States and Western Europe's paths to modernity have diverged sharply with respect to religion. In short, Americans have maintained much friendlier ties with traditional forms of religion than their European counterparts. What explains thistransatlantic religious divide? Accessing the topic though nineteenth and early twentieth-century European commentary on the United States, Thomas Albert Howard argues that an 'Atlantic gap' in religious matters has deep and complex historical roots, and enduringly informs some strands of European disapprobation of the UnitedStates. While exploring in the first chapters 'Old World' disquiet toward the young republic's religious dynamics, the book turns in the final chapters and focuses on more constructive European assessments of the United States.Acknowledging the importance of Alexis de Tocqueville for the topic, Howard argues that a widespread overreliance on Tocqueville as interpreter of America has had a tendency to overshadow other noteworthy European voices. Two underappreciated figures here receive due attention: the ProtestantSwiss-German church historian, Philip Schaff, and the French Catholic philosopher, Jacques Maritain. While the transatlantic religious divide has received commentary from journalists and sociologists in recent decades, this is the first major work of cultural and intellectual history devoted to thesubject.

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Since the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, the United States and Western Europe's paths to modernity have diverged sharply with respect to religion. In short, Americans have maintained much friendlier ties with traditional forms of religion than their European counterparts. What explains thistransatlantic religious divide? Accessing t...

Thomas Albert Howard currently holds the Stephen Phillips Chair in history and is director of the Jerusalem and Athens Forum at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusettes. He is the author of Religion and the Rise of Historicism and Protestant Theology and the Making of the Modern German University, winner of the Lilly Fellows Program B...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.68 inPublished:January 21, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199671303

ISBN - 13:9780199671304

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Table of Contents

1. IntroductionPart I2. The Traditionalist Critique: A "Ranting and Raving Tumult"3. The Secularist Critique: "A Certain Backwardness of Thought"Part II4. Philip Schaff: Herr Doktor Professor in the American Frontier5. Jacques Maritain: A French Thomist and the New World6. Conclusion: The Double Helix and the Dialectic

Editorial Reviews

"For breadth of research, depth of historical insight, and timeliness of publication, God and the Atlantic is an unusually fine work. Its careful cataloguing of European responses to religion in the United States shows that perspectives from the conservative Right and radical Left share acommon rigidity and even sometimes nearly identical judgments. By contrast, European savants who traveled extensively in the United States have sometimes seen things more clearly, and with more nuance, than even America's homegrown observers. The book is a pathbreaking exploration."' --Mark A. Noll, University of Notre Dame. Author of America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln