Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Protestant Mainline Makes a (Literary) Comeback

From Religion Dispatches-

The Protestant mainline, by whatever name, was bound to make a comeback—at least as a subject of academic discourse.

The “mainline” is usually identified with seven Protestant denominations, it was always a small group, and shortly after it acquired its name, it began to shrink. After the shrinking began, journalists lost interest in liberal Protestantism, except to retell the story of mainline decline, and the academy lost interest in it, except to sneer that “liberal religion” is oxymoronic and no match for the fundamentalist Right.

Now, as the New York Times recently noted, the books on liberal Protestantism and liberal religion are coming fast. Some are about the overlooked legacy of liberal Protestantism and some are about varieties of liberal religion in the United States. As a social ethicist and theologian I have a stake in both subjects, and a track record of worrying that make-up-your-own-religion yields shallow and self-absorbed spiritualities.

But the new books rightly emphasize that liberal Protestantism played a sizable role in creating the spiritual-but-not-religious sensibility that pervades the North American middle class, and they do so with a mostly appreciative attitude.

More here-


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