Different books, writings, speeches, and expressions from Americans are subdivided into books of the Bible by the author. Within Genesis you will find John Winthrop's A Model of Christian Charity from 1630. Never heard of it? It's a sermon the minister gave to colonists who were at sea on their way to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, in it Winthrop referred to the New World as a "shining city upon a hill." Shortly before his inauguration, John F. Kennedy retrieved that phrase from obscurity. Ronald Reagan of course further popularized it during his presidency.
We hear from Kennedy and Reagan later in the Proverbs section of American Bible, Kennedy for "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country," Reagan for his term "Evil Empire." The Gipper is called in for an encore in Gospels for his groundbreaking "A Time for Choosing" speech for Barry Goldwater in 1964.
Within each American Bible entry is a forward from Prothero, comments on that selection from historical figures and present day pundits, along with footnotes, which makes this book something you probably want to read in chunks rather than straight through.
While I recommend this book as an intellectual exercise for denizens of both the left and right, I was disappointed in Prothero's forward to the segment on the Constitution, which of course has been the law of our land since 1788.
The Constitution itself has been described repeatedly as an American Torah--"our Ark of Covenant." [That phrase is footnoted.] And the "cult of the Constitution" remains strong today. In the twenty-first century, Tea Party politicians anointed themselves high priests of this cult after Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009, and many Republicans were sent to Congress in 2010 on the strength of promises to defend the Constitution from this "socialist" president.Whoah. As a tea partier I can tell you that I don't view my deep respect to the Constitution as "a cult." The Tea Party movement was inspired by Obama's unpopular and since failed-stimulus and the ObamaCare bill, which could be ruled as unconstitutional in the next few days.
Occupy Wall Street warrants a couple of mentions in The American Bible, which is unfortunate, since the group is fading away, albeit violently. If Prothero authors an update of his book ten years from now, I doubt that he'd feel compelled to include any Occupy references. The same won't be said of the Tea Party, which will be a potent force in the 2012 elections--and likely beyond.
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