An indispensable study of Christianity in America.

WHITE TOO LONG

THE LEGACY OF WHITE SUPREMACY IN AMERICAN CHRISTIANITY

A scholar and commentator raised in the Southern Baptist Church clearly demonstrates “how intractably white supremacy has become embedded in the DNA of American Christianity.”

Growing up amid a religious tradition that believed “chattel slavery could flourish alongside the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Jones approaches his subject matter from both a personal and historical perspective. His book—a concise yet comprehensive combination of deeply documented religious history, social science research about contemporary religion, and heartfelt memoir—traces a path that began in the narrow world of Macon, Georgia, and other Jim Crow–infested Southern towns. He received a master of divinity degree from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, but it wasn’t until he entered the doctorate program at Emory University that he understood “the brutal violence that white Christians deployed to resist black enfranchisement after the Civil War.” As Jones points out, those Christians were not limited to the Baptist faith. The author located race hatred embedded in the doctrines of other Christian churches, including Methodist, Episcopalian, Catholic, and countless other heavily white congregations. Even though he was shocked and disgusted by his discoveries, Jones held back from sharing those disturbing realizations widely, first conducting studies through his work at the organization he founded, the Public Religion Research Institute. Those consistently illuminating studies, mentioned throughout the book, paint a damning portrait. One example: “For all white Christian subgroups,” writes the author, “there is a positive relationship between holding racist attitudes and white Christian identity among both frequent (weekly or more) and infrequent church attenders.” The most hopeful case study focuses on his hometown of Macon, where there are efforts between white and black Baptist churches to pull together. As Jones has sought various paths out of the morass, he has often turned to the writings of James Baldwin about "the white problem" in U.S. society.

An indispensable study of Christianity in America.

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-2286-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

THE WAR ON THE WEST

A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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