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Very Good Book, Slightly Misleading Advertising,
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This review is from: Fading Faith: The Rise of the Secular Age (Paperback)
On the basis of the comments of the editor at Gustav Broukal Press, listed on this book's webpage at Amazon.com, I bought it expecting to receive a scholarly or at least a semi-scholarly examination of the rise of secularism in American culture. And it is true that the lead and end essays in the book give brief treatments of some aspects of this phenomenon. However, this particular theme only concerns two essays in what is actually a collection of reprints of articles written by the author for such periodicals as Free Inquiry, American Atheist, Secular Humanist Bulletin, and even the Charleston (WV) Gazette, which the author served for many years as editor. Also included are transcripts of one or two talks given by the author to sundry gatherings of the Unitarian Universalist Church (to which he belongs) in Charleston. The only thing the pieces truly have in common are a general pro-freethought slant, rather than the single theme of rising secularism, though I must say it's refreshing to discover an Appalachian Mountain freethinker. Would that I'd've come across his writing years ago; it's sort of ironic that I haven't, since he only lives about a hundred miles from me.
Now that said, not only would I love to see another book from this author concentrating in more specific detail on the rise of secularism, but one more, the subject of which is merely treated all too briefly in one essay entitled "Agog Over Gog and Magog" (pp. 55-57). It concerns a claim made by former President George W. Bush to French President Jacques Chirac in early 2003: that "Iraq must be invaded to thwart Gog and Magog, the Bible's satanic agents of the Apocalypse." Chirac subsequently stated that Bush actually used this appeal to their "common faith" to ask for French support and French troops in Gulf War II, and that he himself (Chirac) referred the matter to a Swiss academic theologian to help him figure out what Bush was talking about. James Haught is no tabloid journalist. His Charleston newspaper is, by his account, the only one to report on this bizarre event, but in order to print it at all he certainly must have had to confirm its details according to the basic principles of honest and responsible journalism. To think that the leader of our country actually almost made that ancient prophecy, or whatever it may have been, self-fulfilling for the sake of himself and Donald Rumsfeld and America's Religious Right... I would say "God help us," but that's who Bush actually thought he was following. It's certainly time to give good old plain common horse sense another look as a viable life philosophy.