- Paperback: 408 pages
- Publisher: Eerdmans (June 14, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0802828590
- ISBN-13: 978-0802828590
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,961,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Captain America and the Crusade against Evil: The Dilemma of Zealous Nationalism Paperback – June 14, 2004
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From the Back Cover
As immediate and relevant as todaybs headlines, this book sets forth a bold argument with direct implications for political life in America and around the world. Combining incisive cultural analysis and keen religious insight, Robert Jewett and John Shelton Lawrence maintain that American crusading -- so powerfully embodied in popular entertainments -- has striking parallels with Islamic jihad and Israeli militancy.
According to Jewett and Lawrence, American civil religion has both a humane, constitutional tradition and a violent strand that is now coming to the fore. The crusade to rid the world of evil and bevildoersb derives from the same biblical tradition of zealous warfare and nationalism that spawns Islamic and Israeli radicalism. In America, where this tradition has been popularized by superheroic entertainments, the idea of zealous war is infused with a distinctive sense of mission that draws on secular and religious images. These crusading ideals are visible in such events as the settling of the western frontier, the World Wars, the Cold War, the Gulf War, and Americabs present war on terrorism.
In exploring the tradition of "zealous nationalism," which seeks to redeem the world by destroying enemies, the authors provide a fascinating access to the inner workings of the American psyche. They analyze the phenomenon of "zeal" -- the term itself is the biblical and cultural counterpart of the Islamic concept of "jihad" -- and address such consequential topics as the conspiracy theory of evil, the problem of stereotyping enemies, the mystique of violence, the obsession with victory, and the worship of national symbols such as flags.
This critical book, however, is alsoimmensely constructive. As Jewett and Lawrence point out, the same biblical tradition that allows for crusading mentalities also contains a critique of zealous warfare and a profound vision of impartial justice. This tradition of "prophetic realism" derives from the humane side of the biblical heritage, and the authors trace its manifestations within the American experience, including its supreme embodiment in Abraham Lincoln. Isaiahbs bswords into plowsharesb image is carved on the walls of the United Nations building, thus standing at the center of a globally focused civil religion. Grasping this vision honored by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam alike includes recognizing the dangers of zealous violence, the illusions of current crusading, and the promise of peaceful coexistence under international law.
Instructive, relevant, and urgent, "Captain America and the Crusade against Evil" is sure to provoke much soul-searching and wide debate.
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Top customer reviews
second This book is objective, honest and full of hope. What it doesn't do is, preach sectarian, or spout political rhetoric like most politicians with their party biases and shallow uncritical claims. God bless brothers Jewett & Lawrence
Jewett and Lawrence avoid getting caught up in contemporary hysteria in response to real challenges to foreign policy and offer a tempered and level-headed look at the history of international relations and domestic patriotic sentiment, rooting it in what they have dubbed "The Captain America Complex." They rightly expose the complex as anemic and contra-biblical, arguing for a broader approach to international relations and a more biblically complete sentiment.
I found this book to be timely (though much has happened in the years since its publication that would provide for interesting additional material), balanced with historical examination and biblical perspective, and quite thorough. It was an engaging and provocative read that Christians and non-Christians can benefit from reading. They add a much-needed perspective from the Christian community in regards to the relationship between faith and politics in America.
OK, here's the disclaimer first. I am not saying we should not fight terrorism, nor am I denying that "jihad" is a term usually used in reference with making the "world of war" submit to the "world of Islam". That said, I still find the central points of this book very much worth considering, since it seems our nation's foreign policy is in some ways mirroring the jihadist's foreign policy.
The book's cases in point? OBL and Bush both have these commonalities in terms of foreign policy. One, both see God as blessing their worldviews. Two, both have enemies in grip of the devil (Great Satan is us for OBL, Iran etc and the Axis of Evil is OBL, NK, Iran, Iraq and everyone who doesn't help us). Three, victory is measured by killing or converting the Other. Thus four: violence is a means to do this, and God blesses it as in some way redemptive.
With much of the Republican Party being a wing of the conservative, pro-Israeli Christian movement (no longer interested in "Reaganesque" small government), Captain America is revived from the dusty pages of the comics to fly again, this time for the cause of God- are we not the city on the hill?
These and other points raised in the book should cause us to pause for a moment, and question both our real motives for our policies and to really think about their affect upon the rest of the world. This doesn't excuse terrorism's evil reality, but it may help us be more thoughtful in our response to the underlying causes of "why they hate us" so much, instead of a muscular, steroidal reaction which is actually playing right into the hands of the Islamist revolutionaries' playbook with a "see, I told you so" response leading to 1000 more OBLs.
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September 22, 2004
No. 3, Vol. 45; Pg.Read more