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The Gospel According to America: A Meditation on a God-blessed, Christ-haunted Idea
Westminster John Knox Press / 2005 / Paperback
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Under a broad pop-culture umbrella, using icons from music, literature, film, the media, and politics, David Dark hopes to provide fodder for lively conversation about what it means to be Christian and American in this "weird moment" in which we live. It is a moment when we are increasingly polarized along political and religious lines, a moment when we are too busy forming our response to listen to the one who is speaking. And yet we claim more than ever to be one nation, under God. What does this mean? The end result, he hopes, will be a better understanding that "there is a reality more important, more lasting, and more infinite than the cultures to which we belong," the reality of the kingdom of God.
"This well-read interpreter of popular culture probes the spiritual resonances of American culture from Hawthorne and Melville to Bob Dylan and David Lynch. Nearly every page has something to make readers pause, laugh, think, or pray,"---Publishers Weekly
Using icons from music, literature, film, and politics, David Dark hopes to provide fodder for lively conversation about what it means to be Christian and American in this day and age. The end result of this conversation, Dark hopes, will be a better understanding that "there is a reality more important, more lasting, and more infinite than the cultures to which we belong," the reality of the kingdom of God.
Readers of Dark's book Everyday Apocalypse know that this high school English teacher is a passionate, articulate, absurdly well-read interpreter of popular culture. But even the forewarned may be astonished by this latest effort. Dark's skill at probing the spiritual resonances of American culture-in forms high and low, from Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville to Bob Dylan and David Lynch-is matched by his uncanny ability to select telling moments from America's common story. Whether it's Elvis taking a shotgun to his television sets, Dylan confessing a sense of common humanity with Lee Harvey Oswald or George Washington treating British prisoners of war with unprecedented civility, Dark excavates a series of witnesses who speak prophetically to what he sees as our media-saturated overconfidence in our own righteousness. Moreover, he offers a convincing and unsettling account of the gospel itself-the "Jewish Christian" story of forgiveness and human dignity that, Dark argues, has animated America's ideals even as it has continually critiqued America's practices. Dark's Southern heritage is evident in his literary allusions (the subtitle echoes Flannery O'Connor) and in his affection for egalitarian conversation. Nearly every page has something to make readers pause, laugh, think or pray; perhaps most amazing is Dark's skill at burying layers of meaning for the reader to discover. It's hard to imagine a better tonic for our age than this unblinkingly honest exercise in faithful patriotism. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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