Jesus in America: Personal Savior, Cultural Hero, National Obsession

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9780060628741: Jesus in America: Personal Savior, Cultural Hero, National Obsession

Where else but America do people ask: What Would Jesus Do?
What Would Jesus Drive?
What Would Jesus Eat?

"This book is for believers and non-believers alike. It is not a book about whether one should believe in Jesus, but about how Americans have believed in and portrayed him."—from the Introduction

Jesus in America is a comprehensive exploration of the vital role that the figure of Jesus has played throughout American history. Written by one of our most distinguished historians, Richard Wightman Fox, this book provides a brilliant cultural history of Jesus in America from its origins to today, demonstrating how Jesus is the most influential symbolic figure in our history.

Benjamin Franklin understood Jesus as a wise man worthy of imitation. Thomas Jefferson regarded him as a moral teacher. The assassination of Abraham Lincoln, which occurred on Good Friday, was popularly interpreted as paralleling the crucifixion of Jesus . . . as one preacher put it, "Jesus Christ died for the world, Abraham Lincoln died for his country." Elizabeth Cady Stanton appropriated Jesus' message to champion women's rights. George W. Bush named Jesus as his favorite political philosopher—and several other GOP candidates followed suit—during the last presidential race. As we have seen in recent presidential elections, the name of Jesus is often thrust into the center of political debates, and many Americans regularly enlist Jesus, their ultimate arbiter of value, as the standard-bearer for their views and causes.

Fox shows how Jesus influenced such major turning points in American history as:

  • Columbus's voyage of discovery
  • The arrival of the English puritans and Spanish missionaries
  • The American Revolution
  • The abolition of slavery and the Civil War
  • Labor movements
  • Social and cultural revolutions of the sixties and beyond
  • The swelling tide of Christian voices in the politics and entertainment of today

Fox gives an expert, lively account of all the ways that Jesus is portrayed and understood in American culture. Extensively illustrated with images representing the multitude of American views of Jesus, Jesus in America reveals how fully and deeply Jesus is ingrained in the American experience.

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Review:

Historian Richard Wightman Fox casts a wide net over the role Jesus has played throughout American history. No question about it: Fox is thorough, insightful and well researched--qualities readers have come to expect from this established teacher and historian, now based at the University of Southern California. Starting with the early 1600s and the Puritan missionaries' determination to persuade Native Americans to convert to Christianity and moving on through the early 21st century, in which he references the influence of the bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code, Fox is an informed and intelligent narrator. But as a storyteller, Fox frequently falters. It appears Fox was victim to an over-researched and poorly contained project. His chapters are often vague in theme and tend to jump around in focus. This is unfortunate, because Fox, who masterfully wrote Trials of Intimacy, does have the capacity to set a strong scene and spin a riveting story. But this time his skills only shine in disjointed segments. His first-person narrative is especially strong, such as describing when he was an intern for the U.S. Senate in 1965 and saw the smartly dressed Billy Graham for the first time. Fox does have interesting information and viewpoints to add to the American interpretation of Christ. In lieu of the hubbub over Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, readers will particularly enjoy Fox's analysis of the American movie industry's interpretations of Christ, especially his take on Jesus Christ Superstar. Readers who are accustomed to theological discussions may find this a satisfying read, but the average reader looking for a more focused history lesson may be better off with American Jesus. --Gail Hudson

About the Author:

Richard Wightman Fox, Ph.D., has taught American intellectual and cultural history, with an emphasis on religion, at Yale, Reed, and Boston University. He recently returned home to Los Angeles to a prestigious teaching position in the history department of the University of Southern California. He is the author of Trials of Intimacy and Reinhold Niebuhr: A Biography.

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Book Description HarperOne, United States, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Where else but America do people ask: What Would Jesus Do? What Would Jesus Drive? What Would Jesus Eat? This book is for believers and non-believers alike. It is not a book about whether one should believe in Jesus, but about how Americans have believed in and portrayed him. --from the Introduction Jesus in America is a comprehensive exploration of the vital role that the figure of Jesus has played throughout American history. Written by one of our most distinguished historians, Richard Wightman Fox, this book provides a brilliant cultural history of Jesus in America from its origins to today, demonstrating how Jesus is the most influential symbolic figure in our history. Benjamin Franklin understood Jesus as a wise man worthy of imitation. Thomas Jefferson regarded him as a moral teacher. The assassination of Abraham Lincoln, which occurred on Good Friday, was popularly interpreted as paralleling the crucifixion of Jesus . . . as one preacher put it, Jesus Christ died for the world, Abraham Lincoln died for his country. Elizabeth Cady Stanton appropriated Jesus message to champion women s rights. George W. Bush named Jesus as his favorite political philosopher--and several other GOP candidates followed suit--during the last presidential race. As we have seen in recent presidential elections, the name of Jesus is often thrust into the center of political debates, and many Americans regularly enlist Jesus, their ultimate arbiter of value, as the standard-bearer for their views and causes. Fox shows how Jesus influenced such major turning points in American history as: Columbus s voyage of discoveryThe arrival of the English puritans and Spanish missionariesThe American RevolutionThe abolition of slavery and the Civil WarLabor movementsSocial and cultural revolutions of the sixties and beyondThe swelling tide of Christian voices in the politics and entertainment of todayFox gives an expert, lively account of all the ways that Jesus is portrayed and understood in American culture. Extensively illustrated with images representing the multitude of American views of Jesus, Jesus in America reveals how fully and deeply Jesus is ingrained in the American experience. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9780060628741

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