cover of book

God-Fearing and Free
by Jason W. Stevens
Harvard University Press, 2010
eISBN: 978-0-674-05884-2 | Cloth: 978-0-674-05555-1
Library of Congress Classification BR526.S74 2010
Dewey Decimal Classification 277.3082

This challenging work argues for the importance of spirituality in Cold War America. It was the first period when the nation, teetering between patriotism and doubt about the global future, became a superpower. It was also the last period during which America’s leaders and ministers regularly proclaimed that the nation was not free of sin. Stevens traces two movements in the culture of this time. The first is a recoiling from the alleged innocence of the 1930s-- the Red Decade-- and the formation of a Cold War sensibility in the late 1940s-50s. This sensibility was grounded in sobriety, in the rejection of utopia, in a neo- Judeo-Christian image of human nature tainted by sin and in the tacit or explicit support for a pro-American anti-communism. The second movement is the fragmentation of this early Cold War sensibility and its passing into obsolescence by the 1960s. Covering a wide selection of narrative and cultural forms – including theology, fiction, film noir, journalism, and confessional biography –Stevens demonstrates how writers, artists, and intellectuals-- the devout as well as the non-religious-- disseminated the terms of this cultural dialogue, disputing, refining, and challenging it.

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