Item description for The War for Righteousness: Progressive Christianity, the Great War, and the Rise of the Messianic Nation by Richard M. Gamble...
This line, the final one in G. K. Chesterton's poem, "The English Graves," serves for Richard as an interpretive key to a peculiarly important moment in American history: the time of the First World War, when progressive Christian leaders in America transformed themselves from principled pacifists to crusading interventionists. The consequence of this shift, says Gamble was the triumph of the idea that America has been destined by divine Providence to bring salvation to the less enlightened nations of the world. In The War for Righteousness, Gamble reconstructs the inner world of the social gospel clergy, tracing the evolution of the clergy's interventionist ideology from its roots in earlier efforts to promote a modern, activist Christianity. He shows how these clergy eventually came to see their task as world evangelization for the new creed of democracy and internationalism, and ultimately for the redemption of civilization itself through the agency of total war. World War I thus became a transcendent moment of fulfillment. In the eyes of the progressive clergy, the years from 1914 to 1918 presented an unprecedented opportunity to achieve their vision of a world transformed--the ancient dream of a universal and everlasting kingdom of peace, justice, and righteousness. American sacrifice was necessary not only to save the country, but to save the entire world. Vividly narrating how the progressive clergy played a surprising role in molding the public consensus in favor of total war, Gamble engages the broader question of religion's role in shaping the modern American mind and the development, at the deepest levels, of the logic of messianic interventionism both at home and abroad.This timely book not only fills a significant gap in our collective memory of the Great War, it also helps demonstrate how and why that war heralded the advent of a different American self-understanding.
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Choice - 07/01/2004 page 2107
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Richard M. Gamble is Assistant Professor of History at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he has taught in the history and honors programs since 1994. He is also a Visiting Scholar at St. Edmund's College, Cambridge University, and regularly returns to the Western Front to lead travel-study programs on the Battle of Verdun. His essays and reviews have appeared in Humanitas, the Journal of Southern History, Chronicles, the Independent Review, and Ideas on Liberty.
Richard M. Gamble currently resides in West Palm Beach, in the state of Florida.
Reviews - What do customers think about The War for Righteousness: Progressive Christianity, the Great War, and the Rise of the Messianic Nation?
Very well written. Nov 5, 2006
Richard M. Gamble's book is easy to read and engaging.
If I may, the topic is: Why would America, a nation who determined to stay out of foreign war entanglements (the constitution et al.), be so open and easily persuaded to go to war? Mr. Gamble has provided very strong evidence indicating that church leadership was captured by "progressives" (read: liberals) and then led the rank and file churches to support escatology which was extra-biblical. That is, they misled the churches into thinking that we were to establish heaven on earth -- and that theme was strong enough in those days to launch us into world War I. And, today, that theme is still strong enough to guide us into wars with the imaginings that it is our spiritual duty (destiny?)as a nation to establish stable governments where needed.
Mr. Gamble stayed on course with his theme and did an excellent job of it. I would like to see a detailed study which shows how the shift actually happened. Who did what, where and when - kind of thing. The change of national opinion in the early 1900's appears to be so abrupt including President Wilson's total reversal of positions. Why did the newspapers change positions so quickly. How does the Balford agreement interact with the social, political and religious themes present at this time?; also, this is a time of seminal changes in US monetary policy, taxing policy, immigration, how does that play on this theme?
Richard Gambles book provides us with another piece of the puzzle. Thank you Richard for your hard work and determination.
The Language of 'Progressivism'? Jan 16, 2006
The War for Righteousness: Progressive Christianity, the Great War, and the Rise of the Messianic Nation by Richard Gamble. The Social Gospel attitudes and actions of the progressive Christian clergy in 1910-1918 played a major role in drawing the U.S. into War World I. That situation sounds much like the attitudes and violent language of the fundamentalist right today. The complexities of Fundamentalism, then and now, seem often to draw upon concepts of "applied Christianity." Historically in our nation, says Gamble, applied Christianity uses the rhetoric of crusades, of a suffering Jesus as victim and disempowered, arather than as empowered enabler.
Gamble shows how the progressive, mainstream Protestant clergy in the late 19th Century and especially the first decade of the 20th Century provided the images and the language indispensable to waging the destruction that is war. Clearly there is more than this one compelling idea in the Gamble book. I found the idea compelling, especially because what today our culture frequently labels as conservative, fundamentalistic, absolutist, harsh, even unforgiving was in the early 20th Century the language of elite clergy and congregations identified with liberalism, progressivism, compassion, and reconciliation.
Jim Boushay of Resources Unlimited Foundation (Metro Chicago)
An appropriate History Feb 11, 2005
Dr. Gamble has done what is necessary. He has recognised the connection between progressive Protestantism and American Diplomatic History. While writing my own Ph.D. disstertaion I was troubled to read a review of Dr. Gamble's book in the Atlantic Monthly. Fearful that someone had stolen my thesis - I immediately ordered the book. It was not my thesis but it was an incredibly illuminating book. I would recommend it to any reader who wishes to know something of substance about the international politics of the progressive era.
Mixing politics and religion May 6, 2004
One of my favorite topics to contemplate and discuss is how religion and politics cannot be separated. What you believe about your Creator--or don't believe about him--will affect how you view your world and what you think it should become. This book is a tremendous testimony to the truth that ideas have consequences and that religious ideas and politics do mix with profound consequences. I found the book incredibly interesting and well documented. Even though the author mainly dealt with the religious influences in America up to and during World War I, I found parallels to other periods of history in this country as well---even up to the very present crusade to "rid the world of evil."
Useful, but not brilliant Jan 23, 2004
Although this book fills in a gap in our knowledge of American culture, and is therefore useful, the narrative becomes very boring to read. I thought I would scream if I read one more "as noted by," "as stated by," "as remarked by," as,as,as. Surely there is a more creative way of presenting the documentation. Because the perspective is on the changes in theological outlook among Calvinistic Protestants at the end of the 19th century which led to progressivism (the strength of the book), there is little mention of any other American self-understanding. This is a strength as well as a weakness: a strength because it keeps the focus very narrow and clear; a weakness because Protestantism is not the whole story of American identity no matter how much one may insist that it is. The author assumes that an orthodox Calvinism is the baseline of all Christianity, with no regard to the claims of either Catholicism or Orthodoxy, both of which maintain apostolicity and, in the case of Catholicism, whose magisterium has never changed. In fact, the book implicitly argues that the Protestant Reformation has failed because of the lack of historical authority among the various Protestant groups. He begs the question of Calvinism's primacy. Interestingly, there is no mention of Catholicism or of American Catholics in the index although the text contains several references to the Catholic Church. There are also an annoying number of typographical errors. I would have preferred an argument that locates the Protestant changes in the context of the emerging Catholic developments, especially since Dorothy Day was becoming a clear voice in opposition to the very movement toward righteous war against which Gamble himself argues.