From Publishers Weekly
Popular evangelical writer Guinness (The Call
) worries that the culture wars are destroying the United States. If Americans don't find a way of living with our deepest differences, the republic will decline. He forcefully defends religious liberty, noting that it was crucial for the founding generation and should be just as crucial today. To that end, he calls Christians to rethink their enthusiasm for government-sponsored faith-based initiatives, and to remember that evangelicals were the victims of earlier church-state establishments. The religious right—whose discourse of victimization, says Guinness, is silly and anti-Christian—comes under fire. Nor is Guinness a fan of the nascent religious left—he prefers a depoliticized faith. For all Guinness's rhetorical vim, his proposals ultimately feel anodyne: his boilerplate conclusion is that in order to restore civility we need leadership and a remarkable articulation of vision. Furthermore, although Guinness notes that he is a European, the book is oddly marked by the old rhetoric of American cultural imperialism. Echoing JFK, Guinness wants his essay to be taken as one model for fostering civility around the world and helping make the world safe for diversity. Many readers may prefer Charles Marsh's lively, provocative manifesto Wayward Christian Soldiers
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From the Back Cover
“How do we live with our deepest differences, especially when those differences are religious and ideological?” The place to begin to search for answers is the United States. Not because the problem is worse here than elsewhere--on the contrary--but because America has the best resources, and therefore the greatest responsibility to point the way in answering the deepest questions. The Case For Civility is a proposal for restoring civility in America, as one model for fostering civility around the world and helping to make a world safe for diversity.
Guinness makes a passionate plea to put an end to the culture wars that--rather than creating a public space for real debate--threaten to reverse the very principles our founders set into motion that have long preserved liberty, diversity, and unity in this country. Guinness argues that we must:
•Say “No!” to the sacred public square-we cannot privilege one religion over another; the Christian Right has it wrong
•Say “No!” to the naked public square-public expressions of faith must remain legal; intolerance in the name of tolerance by the secular left is equally wrongheaded
The world is watching how Americans behave and, in the eyes of the world, we are failing to live up to our own ideals. Rich with historical anecdotes that unlock the genius of the American experiment, Guinness also takes on the contemporary threat of both the religious right and the secular left to construct a new way forward in the midst of the buildup to the Fall 2008 presidential elections.