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The New Holy Wars: Economic Religion Versus Environmental Religion in Contemporary America Hardcover – December 7, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Pennsylvania State Univ Pr (Trd) (December 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0271035811
  • ISBN-13: 978-0271035819
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,237,330 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Nelson compellingly argues that religion is a powerful force in economic and social life, . . . even if that fact is seldom recognized by most academics and policy makers. The dominant religious influences are secularized versions of Catholicism and Protestantism, not because the leading scholars are piously trying to advance their faith by other means, but because their intellectual horizons have been shaped by world-views that have framed their consciousness. He convinces me that unless these presuppositions are acknowledged, examined, broadened, and revised, the economic and ecological crises that the world now faces will not be understood or met at their deeper levels. --Max L. Stackhouse, Princeton Theological Seminary

Nelson makes an overwhelmingly persuasive case that in our times the leading secular religion was once economics and is now environmentalism. . . . Out of that utterly original idea for scholarly crossovers--good Lord, an economist reading environmentalism and even economics itself as theology!--come scores of true and striking conclusions. . . . It's a brilliant book, which anyone who cares about the economy or the environment or religion needs to read. That's most of us. --Deirdre McCloskey, University of Illinois at Chicago

Robert Nelson argues that environmentalism is a religion. . . . This provocative thesis raises hard and embarrassing questions about the bases of environmentalism that every serious student of the subject must confront. ----Dan Tarlock, Chicago-Kent College of Law

Anyone who wants to understand twenty-first-century politics should begin with The New Holy Wars, which makes clear the fundamental conflict between how economists and environmentalists see the world. --Andrew P. Morriss, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Though one might quibble with details here and there, the central contentions of The New Holy Wars are largely convincing. Its central thesis is incontrovertible. It should be required reading for orthodox religious believers so that they may know where the real challenges to their faiths lie. --Gerard Casey, Journal of Faith and the Academy

In a time of deep disagreement about environmental issues, such as climate change and regulation of the oil industry, and a time of religious divisiveness, Nelsons work is a timely invitation both to understand the roots of the struggle between environmentalists and economists, and to think more deeply about the relationship between society and nature that we envision. --Marisa B. Van Saanen, The Review of Faith and International Affairs

This book is a good read for economists of all backgrounds and persuasions, including Christian economists, for several reasons. . . . the overall theme and theses of the book provide stimulating food for thought and insights into the possible ethical and philosophical drivers underlying the economic growth and environmental protection advocacy positions, movements, and policies in contemporary America. --John C. Bergstrom, Faith and Economics

This book should be of interest to a wide variety of audiences, not only to scholars of religion, but also to economists, environmentalists, and the general public interested in religion. It is highly readable and touches on many relevant and controversial issues in contemporary society, and concludes (most likely to the chagrin of economists and environmentalists) that these are religions like any other. For scholars of religion, it reminds us to reconsider the social movements of our time . . . many of which are not 'secular' at all, but are saturated with adapted versions of traditional religious beliefs and practices. --Justin Farrell, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion

Nelson convincingly argues that economics and environmentalism are two new secular religions that require theological understanding. . . . To engage the issues Nelson raises, theologians and pastors will need to devote more time to reading sociology, economics, and theology and less to studying psychology and spirituality. That might be thought of as the opportunity cost of doing God s business in the early 21st century. ----Stephen Healey, Christian Century

Robert Nelson argues that environmentalism is a religion. . . . This provocative thesis raises hard and embarrassing questions about the bases of environmentalism that every serious student of the subject must confront. --Dan Tarlock, Chicago-Kent College of Law

About the Author

Robert H. Nelson is a professor at the School of Public Policy of the University of Maryland and a Senior Fellow of The Independent Institute. Among his previous books is Economics as Religion: From Samuelson to Chicago and Beyond (Penn State, 2001).

More About the Author

Dr. Nelson is the author of many book chapters and journal articles and of eight books: The New Holy Wars: Economic Religion versus Environmental Religion in Contemporary America (Penn State University Press, 2010); Private Neighborhoods and the Transformation of Local Government (Urban Institute Press, 2005); Economics as Religion: From Samuelson to Chicago and Beyond (Penn State University Press, 2001); ); A Burning Issue: A Case for Abolishing the U.S. Forest Service (Rowman & Littlefield, 2000); Public Lands and Private Rights: The Failure of Scientific Management (Rowman & Littlefield, 1995); Reaching for Heaven on Earth: The Theological Meaning of Economics (Rowman & Littlefield, 1991); The Making of Federal Coal Policy (Duke University Press, 1983); and Zoning and Property Rights (MIT Press, 1977). The New Holy Wars was the 2010 Winner of the Grand Prize of the Eric Hoffer Book Award for the best book of the year by an independent publisher; and also silver medal winner for "Finance, Investment, Economics" of the 2010 Independent Publisher Book Awards (the "IPPYs"). Dr. Nelson has written widely in publications for broader audiences, including Forbes, The Weekly Standard, Reason, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Denver Post. He worked in the Office of Policy Analysis of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior from 1975 to 1993. He has served as the senior economist of the Congressionally chartered Commission on Fair Market Value Policy for Federal Coal Leasing (Linowes Commission) and as senior research manager of the President's Commission on Privatization. He has been a visiting scholar at the Brookings Institution, visiting senior fellow at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, research associate at the Center for Applied Social Sciences of The University of Zimbabwe; visiting professor at Keio University in Tokyo; visiting professor at the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires; and visiting professor at the School of Economics of the University of the Philippines in Manila. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University (1971).

Areas of Writing and Research:

Dr. Nelson is a nationally recognized authority in the areas of (1) local zoning and property rights to housing in the United States; (2) the use and management of the public lands owned by the federal government in the American West; and (3) the normative foundations of economics and environmentalism and their often clashing ways of thinking about the world. He is a member of the environmental policy specialization of the School of Public Policy.

Customer Reviews

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Quite an engaging read.
Michael J. Whelan
The New Holy Wars is a truly pioneering and seminal book that re-orients our entire thinking about the modern world and the presumptions that are so commonly made.
Mary L. G. Theroux
This part of the book is very interesting.
Waterlogged

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. Ballor on June 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Nelson's book has its flaws. It is very expansive in scope and therefore often relies on too much secondary material to cover and summarize. His claims sometimes go beyond what can be supported and his depictions of religious traditions are often caricatures (e.g. his use of "Calvinism").

Even so, his basic analytical perspective is sound and worthy of study and emulation. For too long social and natural scientists have occupied an elite and unchallenged position in the public square. By showing economics and environmentalism to be secular religions, and how they have and must continue to engage in public debate, Nelson has done a great service to map the varieties of contemporary civil discourse. He summarizes with great clarity and comprehensiveness both specific voices of influence as well as broader traditions, explicitly religious as well as secular, who will continue to influence the course of the American public policy debate.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Whelan on January 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Quite an engaging read. Nelson's thesis is imaginative and intriguing. You may not agree with all of the dots he connects to make it stand, but enough of them connect convincingly to create a an arresting argument. And for a non-economist like me, his language when he deals with his own field economics is refreshingly un-academic.

On his premise that environmentalism has roots in libertarian Protestantism and dogmatic Catholicism, he's done his homework. I have a backround and a degree in theology, having been at one time in a Catholic religious order, and I found his overview of the nuances of the Catholic and Protestant religious thinking to be a delight to read - an accessible and wide ranging primer of theological traditions. Though he's stepped out of his field of economics, he makes his way impressively through this dimension of the work. For this alone, the book is fun to read. My question, however, is whether the similarities he contends between modern day environmentalists and American and European religious history are genetic creedal chains. Nonetheless, much food for thought on the issue. I definitely recommend this book.

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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Sunde on August 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
We have all argued or debated with someone who resists facts and resorts to emotional or idealistic rhetoric. Conversely, we have all found ourselves in positions where we want to ignore the real-world implications of our beliefs for the sake of some perceived justice or goodness.

Whether we're talking about the foods we eat, the medicines we take, or the public policies we support, we all have a tendency to get religious about the material.

For Robert H. Nelson, author of The New Holy Wars: Economic Religion vs. Environmental Religion in Contemporary America, these examples represent various forms of secular religion. If you look close enough into somebody's core ideology, Nelson argues, you will surely find parallels to the holy books, priesthoods, and dogmas typically found in "regular" religions.

Nelson acknowledges that there are plenty of competing secular religions in the public sphere; however, he believes that two religions in particular have engaged in what is now the most prominent conflict in American society -- namely, economic religion and environmental religion.

But why these religions, and why now?

Nelson argues that both religions emerged during the nineteenth century as a result of the Industrial Revolution. During this time, technological innovation boomed, living standards soared, and access to education expanded.

As Nelson explains:

"For the first time ever, one of earth's creatures -- human beings -- had literally acquired the capacity to remake `the creation'...Astonishingly enough, human beings had now acquired knowledge and powers previously reserved for God.
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