The Relevance of Religion: How Faithful People Can Change Politics  -     By: John Danforth
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The Relevance of Religion: How Faithful People Can Change Politics

Sentinel / 2015 / Hardcover

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Product Description

Former U.S. Senator and Ambassador to the United Nations John Danforth offers a fascinating, thoughtful, and deeply personal look at the state of American politics today - and how religion can offer a way out of today's bitter partisan politics.

In an era when 75% of Americans say that they cannot trust their government, and 50% of young Americans identify as Independents, The Relevance of Religion is a heartfelt plea for compassion and faith-based values - on both sides of the political spectrum, for both sides of the political spectrum - and a call to arms.

Today's politics runs on partisanship, on creating combat between competing interests in order to energize supporters. The result of this divisive strategy is an extreme version of the party spirit George Washington warned against in his Farewell Address in which commitment to the common good collapses.

Now, former Senator John Danforth - an Episcopalian priest as well as a former Attorney General and former Ambassador to the United Nations - blends the personal and the political to argue that a sense of religion can lead us out of the embittered, entrenched state of politics today. A lifelong Republican, Danforth calls his own party to task for their part in creating a political system where the loudest opinions and the most rambunctious personalities hold sway. And he suggests that such a system is not only unsustainable, but unfaithful to our essential nature. We are built to care about other people, and this inherent altruism - something science says we crave because of our neurobiological wiring, and something the Bible teaches is part of our created natures - is a crucial part of good government.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 288
Vendor: Sentinel
Publication Date: 2015
Dimensions: 8.25 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 0812997905
ISBN-13: 9780812997903

Publisher's Description

Former United States senator and ambassador to the United Nations John Danforth offers a fascinating, thoughtful, and deeply personal look at the state of American politics today—and how religion can be a bridge over our bitter partisan divide.

In an era of extreme partisanship, when running for office has become a zero-sum game in which candidates play exclusively to their ideological bases, Americans on both sides of the political aisle hunger for the return of a commitment to the common good. Too often, it seems, religion has been used as a wedge to divide us in these battles. But is it also the key to restoring our civic virtue?

For more than a decade, John Danforth, who is also an ordained Episcopal priest, has written extensively on the negative use of religion as a divisive force in American politics. Now he turns to the positive, constructive impact faithful religious believers have and can have on our public life. The Relevance of Religion is the product of that period of reflection.

In the calm and wise voice of the pastor he once aspired to be, Senator Danforth argues that our shared religious values can lead us out of the embittered, entrenched state of politics today. A lifelong Republican, he calls his own party to task for its part in creating a political system in which the loudest opinions and the most polarizing personalities hold sway. And he suggests that such a system is not only unsustainable but unfaithful to our essential nature. We are built to care about other people, and this inherent altruism—which science says we crave because of our neurobiological wiring, and the Bible says is part of our created nature—is a crucial aspect of good government.

Our willingness to serve more than our self-interest is religion’s gift to politics, John Danforth asserts. In an era when 75 percent of Americans say they cannot trust their elected leaders, The Relevance of Religion is a heartfelt plea for more compassionate government—and a rousing call to arms for those wishing to follow the better angels of our nature.

Praise for The Relevance of Religion

"Using well-supported arguments deriving from his ministerial as well as legal background, Danforth asserts that traditional religious values of sacrifice, selflessness and a commitment to the greater good can and should have prominent roles in America’s politics. . . . Danforth’s arguments are staunchly supported and clearly explained. . . . For anyone who is faithful as well as political, he provides much food for thought."St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"John Danforth does his country another service after many. His book is both a serious critique of politicized religion and a strong defense of religion’s indispensable role in our common life. He talks of faith as an antidote to egotism, as a force for reconciliation, and as a source of public virtue. His case is illustrated through autobiography, in an honest, winsome, and sometimes self-critical tone. Danforth speaks for civility, collegiality, and useful compromise—and is compelling because he has demonstrated all those commitments himself over the decades."—Michael Gerson, columnist, The Washington Post

"In this wise and urgent book, John Danforth stands in the company of our great public theologians—Paul Tillich, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the brothers Niebuhr—as he envisions both religious and political practices that enable our better selves. Political participation, pursued well, cultivates generosity and patience, and is good for the soul. What better remedy for mending our broken politics?"—Charles Marsh, Commonwealth Professor of Religious Studies, University of Virginia

Author Bio

John Danforth graduated from Princeton University, Yale Divinity School, and Yale Law School. He practiced law in New York City and St. Louis before serving as attorney general of Missouri, United States senator from Missouri, and United States representative to the United Nations. An ordained Episcopal priest, he is the author of Faith and Politics and Resurrection: The Confirmation of Clarence Thomas. He lives in St. Louis.

Author Bio

John Danforth was born in St. Louis. After graduating from Princeton University he attended Yale University Law School. He practiced law in New York City before serving as attorney general of Missouri from 1969-1976. Elected as a Republican to the United States Senate in 1976, he represented Missouri from 1976 to 1995. He served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from 2004-2005 and is an Honorary Board Member of the charity Wings of Hope.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for The Relevance of Religion
 
"Using well-supported arguments deriving from his ministerial as well as legal background, Danforth asserts that traditional religious values of sacrifice, selflessness and a commitment to the greater good can and should have prominent roles in America’s politics. While much of his tone is positive, Danforth doesn’t refrain from criticizing modern politicians, far-right Christian activists and what he calls a coarsening, increasingly self-centered society. . . . Danforth’s arguments are staunchly supported and clearly explained. . . . For anyone who is faithful as well as political, he provides much food for thought."St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"In The Relevance of Religion, John Danforth does his country another service after many. His book is both a serious critique of politicized religion and a strong defense of religion’s indispensable role in our common life. He talks of faith as an antidote to egotism, as a force for reconciliation, and as a source of public virtue. His case is illustrated through autobiography, in an honest, winsome, and sometimes self-critical tone. Danforth speaks for civility, collegiality, and useful compromise—and is compelling because he has demonstrated all those commitments himself over the decades. The Relevance of Religion summarizes the lessons of a life of service, and makes an urgent plea for the humane values that often come from faith. It is an admirable book rooted in an admirable life."—Michael Gerson, columnist, The Washington Post

"In this wise and urgent book, John Danforth stands in the company of our great public theologians—Paul Tillich, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the brothers Niebuhr—as he envisions both religious and political practices that enable our better selves. Political participation, pursued well, cultivates generosity and patience, and is good for the soul. The Relevance of Religion will surely become a permanent fixture in my courses on religion and politics. What better remedy for mending our broken politics?"—Charles Marsh, Commonwealth Professor of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
 
Praise for John Danforth’s Faith and Politics
 
"Few Americans bring more experience in both religion and politics to the table than Danforth, an Episcopalian priest and a former senator, ambassador to the United Nations, and special envoy to Sudan, where he helped broker the accord ending a long civil war that had taken on overtones of a Christian-Muslim religious conflict. His current book is both a plea and a warning."—Foreign Affairs
 
"Essential reading for Americans trying to move beyond the corrosive standoff between the religious right and the secular left."—The Washington Post
 
"Danforth brings exceptional insight to the debate about the political use of religion and the separation of church and state. . . . This incredibly thoughtful book will give pause to readers of all political and religious beliefs."—Booklist (starred review)
 
"Danforth, a Missouri Republican as well as a lawyer and Episcopal minister, tended to avoid nasty partisan politics during his three terms in the U.S. Senate. . . . Danforth comes across as a welcome paragon of virtue."—Publishers Weekly

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