God and the Atlantic

America, Europe, and the Religious Divide

By Thomas Albert Howard
(Oxford University Press, USA, Paperback, 9780199671304, 256pp.)

Publication Date: January 2013

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Description
Since the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, the United States and Western Europe's paths to modernity have diverged sharply with respect to religion. In short, Americans have maintained much friendlier ties with traditional forms of religion than their European counterparts. What explains this transatlantic religious divide?
Accessing the topic though nineteenth and early twentieth-century European commentary on the United States, Thomas Albert Howard argues that an 'Atlantic gap' in religious matters has deep and complex historical roots, and enduringly informs some strands of European disapprobation of the United States. While exploring in the first chapters 'Old World' disquiet toward the young republic's religious dynamics, the book turns in the final chapters and focuses on more constructive European assessments of the United States. Acknowledging the importance of Alexis de Tocqueville for the topic, Howard argues that a widespread overreliance on Tocqueville as interpreter of America has had a tendency to overshadow other noteworthy European voices. Two underappreciated figures here receive due attention: the Protestant Swiss-German church historian, Philip Schaff, and the French Catholic philosopher, Jacques Maritain.
While the transatlantic religious divide has received commentary from journalists and sociologists in recent decades, this is the first major work of cultural and intellectual history devoted to the subject.



About the Author
Thomas Albert Howard is Associate Professor of History at Gordon College, in Wenham, Massachusetts, and the founding director of the Jerusalem & Athens Forum, an undergraduate honors program. He completed his Ph.D. in European intellectual history at the University of Virginia. He is also the author
of Religion and the Rise of Historicism (Cambridge University Press, 2000).
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