Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
on December 9, 2007
While I disagree with R. Laurence Moore's underlying premise that religion is and should be a private matter (he is most interested when it "trespasses" into the public square which suggests that the private is normative and preferred) he does offer some quality insights into the peculiarities of religion and America.
As a secularist, Moore is particularly adept at pointing out the ironies or blurring of Thomas Jefferson's wall of separation. One poignant example is Christmas. All seem to be willing to overlook the Christian roots of this national holiday because of its economic influence. He states, "He suggests that American Protestants had thrown out the holiday of Christmas because it was a Roman Catholic creation. And yet, Christmas slowly eased back into the American consciousness through the practice of giving gifts. Moore states, "American commerce saw a way to make money. American gift giving recalled less the visit of the three magi to the Christ child than the visit of St. Nicholas (later the jolly American Santa Claus)...[which with department stores] transformed Christmas in America into an economic necessity. American prosperity from year to year stands or falls on the success of sales during the holiday season. No imaginable Supreme Court is going to create obstacles to this consumer juggernaut. Nor is any Jewish group or Islamic group likely to finance a test case to bring down Christmas. They too are merchants" (p. 28-29).
Even though I disagree with Moore's private/public divide, he does offer some profound insights in the peculiarities of religion in the American context which the church should be aware of.