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The American Religion Paperback – October 25, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0978721008 ISBN-10: 0978721004 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 305 pages
  • Publisher: Chu Hartley Publishers Llc; 2nd edition (October 25, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0978721004
  • ISBN-13: 978-0978721008
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #422,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Harold Bloom, Sterling Professor of the Humanities at Yale University, is the author of more than thirty books, including The Anxiety of Influence, The Western Canon, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human and How to Read and Why. His many honors include a MacArthur Award, the Gold Medal for Belles Lettres and Criticism from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the International Prize of Catalonia, the Alfonso Reyes Award of Mexico, and the Hans Christian Andersen Prize of Denmark.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By sdone on December 26, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Harold Bloom, Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University is always an interesting read, regardless of his subject. He is among the best read individuals in America. It is pleasant to read such a work about the coming forth of the religions spawned by the great American experiment. In this book he documents his own bias as a cultural non-believing Jew which does not seem to color his opinion of the Christian faiths he observes. His is an interesting critique of the rise of these American religions including: Pentecostalism, Mormonism, Seventh-day Adventism, Christian Science, Jehovah's Witnesses, Southern Baptism and Fundamentalism, and African American spirituality.

He seems to treat each fairly and justly as one from a background in literature and humanities, one with such an intellect and critical mind would do. History must judge each of these religious movements without the jaundiced eye of one who wants desperately to defend or equally angrily to defame the groups about which they write. Thus, this work is refreshing in the fairness with which it treats each. No religious movement is without its problems. Their founders and promulgators are always men and women who, even if they claim to be representing Deity or the Son of Deity, are mere mortals like ourselves. They are subject to foibles as well as we and few claimed to be perfect.

Among the numerous books that seek to defame many of these religions, particularly the Mormons or LDS, it is refreshing to see a fair appraisal by one who has nothing to gain nor to lose. Objectivity is something that is often missing in books such as this. Professor Bloom deserves praise for looking at an interesting, but not an easy subject to critique with an unbiased eye.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Roger Green on September 1, 2012
Format: Paperback
I have read and re-read this for years, starting with the first edition, and I have bought and loaned more copies than I can count. Many of them I didn't get back but I always figured that was in a good cause. Anyone who wants to understand the present-day American religious scene should have this basic understanding of the history of how America changed religions which came from Europe and how America invented new ones. When the Jehovah's Witnesses knock at your door, when a devout Mormon runs for President, and when a Southern Baptist preacher waves the bible at you but doesn't seem to know it very well - do you wonder where all that came from? Well, read this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Nano FishMan on October 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I once watched Sarah Palin say this at a campaign rally: "What this country needs is more divine intervention in the White House." I think she meant "inspiration." Still, the crowd went wild with applause. Her quote illustrates one of the theories of Bloom's book, that for many Americans the only politics they know is religion. God would be right there with Palin in the White House as her chief adviser. And her fans loved it.

Bloom makes his case that this new American Religion is an entirely personal experience of God(or Jesus), uncontaminated by scripture or exegesis. It claims to be a submission of will; in effect it is an apotheosis of the self. Its method is to invite God into one's own mind. Enthusiasm, that is Happiness and Joy, are the payoff.

But is it Christian? No, says Bloom. It is Gnosticism, or something very like it. Once engulfed by the Spirit, one's mind realizes that this material world is the present battle ground of Good vs. Evil. And that very soon the Apocalypse shall herald an End of Days. Yeah for the Apocalypse! Yippee!

Clearly Bloom intends the book to be a warning. America is the most religious of Western Nations. It is the most powerful on earth. And it has forged a religion of narcissism and self-righteousness that claims that this country is the new Jerusalem. And out there, were the Evil lurks, it will battle God's enemy. Meanwhile, out there, others are thinking the exact same thing about us.

I cannot fault the premise of the book, which is thoughtfully constructed. There is more to be found in it than criticism. True believers should stay away, nonetheless. While Bloom is careful to express his admiration, it can at times seem feint praise.

Given Bloom's profession, literary criticism, I thought he might prove to be a more compelling storyteller. Sadly, the book reads as one written by a professor. That explains the four-star rating.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Neil J. Simpson on December 13, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As an American & a Mormon it's quite interesting to read a pretty much honest, outsider's treatise on these religions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By G in Ohio on August 11, 2014
Format: Paperback
A very interesting thesis with a lot of truth, but the writing is florid, repetitive, and overwrought. Bloom is practically unhinged when he mentions fundamentalists and/or George Bush; makes a lot of assertions that he does not prove or explain (such as that Judaism and Christianity, even Protestant Christianity, are not really Biblical religions), and is remarkably dismissive of -- literally -- millions of people. I found it difficult to read because nearly every page was a mixture of insight and bizarre conclusions. If you, like Bloom, are a 'Gnostic Jew' or a secularist, you may find it a classic. If not, you may wonder what all the fuss is about.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By George T. Crisp on June 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
Our "religion-mad" culture in its present state seems endlessly confusing to the casual onlooker; the polar opposition and mutual contempt of Mormons and Southern Baptists suggests the complexity of our home grown religious traditions. Bloom surveys the American religious experience with the open and dispassionate mind of the literary critic.
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