Item description for Thumpin' It: The Use and Abuse of the Bible in Today's Presidential Politics by Jacques Berlinerblau...
Overview In one of the most insightful, provocative, and witty books yet to explore the fascinating relationship between the Bible and American politics, author Jacques Berlinerblau looks at how the left, right, and everyone in between have used and misused the Bible to advance their political causes and careers. The Bible s raw power is surging into American politics with an intensity perhaps not equaled since the nineteenth century, Berlinerblau writes in his introduction. Politicians, especially those seeking the presidency, know the importance of having, as Berlinerblau calls it, a good Scripture game. And no longer do Republicans have a grip on this; blue-state Democrats have begun quoting Scripture, employing religious advisors, and telling their own faith stories in an effort to court the religious vote. In this engaging book Berlinerblau looks at the recent history of how Scripture has influenced public policy debates about the environment, abortion, stem-cell research, and foreign policy; how recent U.S. presidents have employed the Bible; and how each of the major candidates in the 2008 presidential elections is using and often misusing the Bible in his or her race for the White House. He concludes that politicians would do well to invoke Scripture with caution because, as he says, too often it can be used to argue both sides of a position. It is an abuse of the Bible to claim that the answer to highly nuanced and complex modern problems simply sits on its pages. . . . It is a cynical business, politics is. It becomes no less so when public servants and interest groups get it into their heads that God Himself provided proof texts for their policy initiatives two thousand years ago.
In one of the most insightful, provocative, and witty books yet to explore the fascinating relationship between the Bible and American politics, author Jacques Berlinerblau looks at how the left, right, and everyone in between have used and misused the Bible to advance their political causes and careers. In this engaging book, Berlinerblau looks at the recent history of how Scripture has influenced public policy, including debates about the environment, abortion, stem cell research, and foreign policy. Berlinerblau also pays close attention to how recent U.S. presidents have employed the Bible, and he examines how each of the major candidates in the 2008 presidential elections used and often misused the Bible in his or her race for the White House.
From Publishers Weekly Georgetown University professor Berlinerblau (The Secular Bible) makes the unoriginal argument that American politicians on the left and right use Scripture in their speeches, and that policy wonks on both sides of the aisle draw on the Bible to defend positions on the environment, stem-cell research and foreign policy. Berlinerblau finds politicians' use of Scripture to be shallowthey offer poor and tendentious readings, throwing in a verse here or there and failing to acknowledge Scripture's internal diversity and contradictions. A few of Berlinerblau's sweeping historical assertions are questionabledid the U.S. really undergo a thoroughgoing secularization in the first 75 years of the 20th century? A wealth of scholarship on the persistence of conservative religion and the extent to which religion shaped liberal agendas such as feminism would suggest not. His tone has the faint veneer of sarcasm (Enter, as if on cue, the Evangelical Climate Initiative), so when he gives speechwriters tips about using Scripture effectivelybe vague, avoid theological depthit is hard to tell if he is being sincere or snide. Two concluding chapters assess the ways leading presidential candidates, from Clinton to McCain, present their religious bona fides. (Jan.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Citations And Professional Reviews Thumpin' It: The Use and Abuse of the Bible in Today's Presidential Politics by Jacques Berlinerblau has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Library Journal - 04/15/2008 page 89
Publishers Weekly - 12/03/2007 page 68
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Studio: Westminster John Knox Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.5" Width: 5.62" Height: 0.47" Weight: 0.62 lbs.
Release Date Jan 1, 2008
Publisher PRESBYTERIAN PUBLISHING #86
ISBN 066423173X ISBN13 9780664231736
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More About Jacques Berlinerblau
Jacques Berlinerblau is Professor and Director of the Center for Jewish Civilization at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He is the author of How to be Secular.
Jacques Berlinerblau has an academic affiliation as follows - Hofstra University, New York.
Jacques Berlinerblau has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Thumpin' It: The Use and Abuse of the Bible in Today's Presidential Politics?
Breezy, concise, insightful, unconventional Feb 19, 2008
Berlinerblau's slim volume is one of the best guides to religion and presidential politics around today.
Berlinerblau is exactly right that the Bible has come back into our politics because politicians are aggressively targeting the evangelical vote. At the same time they are carefully ignoring the substantial (and growing) secular voting bloc. His discussion of secularism in America today is more nuanced and balanced than anything I have read on the subject.
Chapters 2, 3, 4 talk about how the candidates justify their ideas on issues like the stem cell research, the environment and Middle Eastern foreign policy. Chapters 5, 6, 7 give very balanced portraits of the religion strategies of all the 2008 candidates and Bush and Bill Clinton. The sections on Giuliani and Obama are excellent. This book will be an important resource for those trying to understand Obama's religious influences. Inexplicably, Berlinerblau leaves out any discussion of the evolution/ intelligent design controversy--the only significant weakness in an otherwise authoritative overview of the contemporary political-religious terrain.
Berlinerblau concludes that even though there is a lot of religion in American politics it still has little actual influence on governmental decisions. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and appreciated the author's sense of humor and his refusal to take sides. If he has an axe to grind, there is no hint of it in the book.