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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Stephen Prothero's American Debate

(King's "I Have a Dream" speech)
Calling his anthology of America's inspiring words The American Bible was bound to elicit strong responses from Prothero's readers.  And Prothero didn't stop there.  He not only called his overall book a "Bible," but also named each section after biblical books such as
Genesis, Lamentations, and the Gospels.

Prothero then matched the "core texts" of America's "de facto public canon" with his self-proclaimed biblical categories.  His "Lamentations" section begins with Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address," and his "Gospels" section includes Jefferson's and FDR's inaugural addresses. 

King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" matches up with "Epistles," as does Jefferson's 1802 "Letter to the Danbury Baptists."  "Psalms" such as "God Bless America" and "This Land Is Your Land" help to round out the selections, as do "Prophets" such as Eisenhower (per his military-industrial-complex farewell address) and King (per his "I Have a Dream" speech). presents a spectrum of reader responses to this "American Talmud" of a book.  On the plus side, five-star reviewer John L. Murphy calls this "an affordable, thoughtful and balanced collection" - "a logical follow-up" to Prothero's 2007 Religious Literacy study.  Far less enthusiastic was one-star reviewer "music lover."  She or he found "the whole idea of this book" to be "offensive" because its author "hijacks the history of this multicultural nation for the service of a highly subjective Christian world view…"


Copyright October 2, 2012 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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