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The Gospel according to America: A Meditation on a God-blessed, Christ-haunted Idea Paperback – February 19, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Readers of Dark's book Everyday Apocalypse know that this high school English teacher is a passionate, articulate, absurdly well-read interpreter of popular culture. But even the forewarned may be astonished by this latest effort. Dark's skill at probing the spiritual resonances of American culture - in forms high and low, from Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville to Bob Dylan and David Lynch - is matched by his uncanny ability to select telling moments from America's common story. Whether it's Elvis taking a shotgun to his television sets, Dylan confessing a sense of common humanity with Lee Harvey Oswald or George Washington treating British prisoners of war with unprecedented civility, Dark excavates a series of witnesses who speak prophetically to what he sees as our media-saturated overconfidence in our own righteousness. Moreover, he offers a convincing and unsettling account of the gospel itself - the "Jewish Christian" story of forgiveness and human dignity that, Dark argues, has animated America's ideals even as it has continually critiqued America's practices. Dark's Southern heritage is evident in his literary allusions (the subtitle echoes Flannery O'Connor) and in his affection for egalitarian conversation. Nearly every page has something to make readers pause, laugh, think or pray; perhaps most amazing is Dark's skill at burying layers of meaning for the reader to discover. It's hard to imagine a better tonic for our age than this unblinkingly honest exercise in faithful patriotism. (Mar.)
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About the Author
David Dark is a member of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and is the author of Everyday Apocalypse: The Sacred Revealed in Radiohead, The Simpsons, and Other Pop Culture Icons and The Sacredness of Questioning Everything. He has also written for Books and Culture and Christianity Today.
Top customer reviews
David challenges the parties' visions of the "haves" vs the "have-nots" and what we should do about the inequities that America has produced. He is unmercifully critical of the inability of God-fearing people to settle down and have a reasonable discourse without name-calling and self-proclamation that they are the only ones protecting the country from evil. Throwing no undeserved punches at either the Democrats or Republicans, David calls for a re-look at how America views itself through history and into the crystal ball of its future. With the looming impasse of the "fiscal cliff", every politician should take a deep breath and read David's book--perhaps they will be able to sit down and see America through new eyes; the eyes of their enemy and foe whether that be a different political party or a foreign country.
David asks us to expand our reach as Americans spreading the Gospel to the world instead of using it to condemn the world and each other.
Highly recommended reading for the holiday!
As a pastor in a church that recognizes our struggle to understand the need for corporate confession on a nation-state and church institutional level I have been using this as a Sunday school curriculum that proved very fruitful and sparked an engaging and faithful conversation.
While the vast scope of Dark's material from Moby Dick and the Scarlet Letter to Radiohead, folk music and Bob Dylan will at times seem overwhelming - there is always a good bit of wisdom and more questions offered for stimulating a healthy communal awareness.
Living faithfully means engaging with all that is around us, lifting up that which is worthwhile and working to transform that which is dehumanising. Dark looks for that which is distinctive about the american experience and casts a critical yet loving look at that broad cross-section. Scattered with analogy, reflection and a deep appreciation of music, film and literature, this is the sort of engagement that should be making headlines and has the power to change lives.
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