Download American Babylon: Notes of a Christian Exile by Richard John Neuhaus PDF

By Richard John Neuhaus

Christians are by way of their nature a humans misplaced. Their actual house is with God; in civic lifestyles, they're alien electorate “in yet now not of the world.” In American Babylon, eminent theologian Richard John Neuhaus examines the actual fact of that ambiguity for Catholics in the USA today.Neuhaus addresses the basic quandaries of Catholic life—assessing how Catholics can continue their heads above water within the sea of immorality that confronts them on the earth, how they are often patriotic although their real kingdom isn't really during this global, and the way they may reconcile their tasks as voters with their dedication to God. Deeply discovered, often combative, and constantly eloquent, American Babylon is Neuhaus’s magnum opus—and may be crucial analyzing for all Christians.

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From these Puritan beginnings, American thinking about America would radically reverse the image of exile. In the Puritan view, the Church of The Letter to Diognetus and of Augustine, namely Catholicism, is now Babylon, and the foreign country, namely America, is now the Christian homeland. America is Jerusalem. And, in the more fantastical flights of theological imagination, America is something very close to the New Jerusalem. The eighteenth-century thinker Jonathan Edwards was a leading light of the astonishing spiritual revival called the “First Great Awakening,” and he is still today recognized as one of the great theological minds in our national experience.

Religious thinkers, too, have succumbed to the false-consciousness of having transcended the American experience, which is expressed, more often than not, in a typically American anti-Americanism that is relished and imitated by others, perhaps most notably European intellectuals. There are many and complex reasons why Americans may feel alienated from their country. John Paul may be excused for perceiving such a close connection between Poland and God’s purposes in history. After all, Poland is Poland, a country of middling influence whose very existence its neighbors, mainly Germany and Russia, have for centuries done their best to deny.

We hope for that gift not because others necessarily see us more accurately than we see ourselves, but because how we see ourselves is significantly informed by how we think others see us. Among American thinkers, and not least among American religious thinkers, one frequently encounters an attempt to escape one’s time and place, including one’s identity as an American. It is a very American thing to try to do. Such escapes are not necessarily attempted because one dislikes America and is uncomfortable with being identified as an American, although that is no doubt sometimes the case.

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