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Vol. III, Under God, Indivisible, 1941-1960

by Martin E. Marty

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-226-50898-6
Publisher: Univ. of Chicago

 An excellent history by one of the most distinguished American religious scholars of our time. Marty is a professor at the University of Chicago and editor of the Christian Century. In this third installment in his Modern American Religion series, he explores the volatile wartime and postwar years, when American Protestantism enjoyed its renaissance and the Eisenhower administration saw fit to insert ``under God'' in the nation's Pledge of Allegiance. Marty calls recent revisionist scholarship to task by reminding us that while there were important dissenting groups during the 1950s, there was also a predominant WASP cultural landscape that dissenters were reacting against. Protestant hegemony was still very real, especially as Americans tried to unite themselves spiritually in the face of two historical crises: WW II and the Cold War. To achieve this unity, ecumenism was the spirit of the age, resulting in the rise of the World Council of Churches and other cooperative institutions. This study is impressively researched and the writing is free of jargon, though at times a bit dry. Scholars will appreciate the depth of detail that Marty offers here; not content to provide surface explanations for persons or events, he may have bent too far in the other direction by providing readers with a thorough background of every organization, theological position, and pivotal figure in the book. However, such thoroughness makes the volume a useful reference and will provoke important discussions on this oft-neglected period in American religious history. As Marty notes, it is often more difficult for Americans to understand their recent history than to grasp the more distant past. His volume will be an important link to retrieving the elusive America of McCarthy, the Cold War, and the Niebuhrs. (illustrations, not seen)