Reading – March 30, 2005

A little browsing. First, following up on my summary of Dr. Vitz’s article “Pyschology in Recovery“, the article is now on line here.
I found several other articles that related to things I have been thinking and writing about. The common threads are rationalism & the Enlightenment, religion, and faith. I haven’t worked out what I want to say about them and I wanted to park the links.

Yesterday, through Art & Letters Daily, I found this book review by Keith Windschuttle in the New Criterion. The book in question is by Gertrude Himmelfarb, “The Roads to Modernity: The British, French, and American Enlightenments”. It seems to relate to what I was working out when I reviewed Francis Wheen’s book “Idiot Proof” on whether atheism is the only rational position, and whether atheists have their own mythology or religious culture. It seems to me that atheists have a great deal of faith in things they can’t prove, and that many atheists are emotional and dogmatic about their ideas. It also relates to “The Deist Minimum” an article in First Things by Cardinal Dulles, the Jesuit theologian about Deism, the Enlightenment in America, and religious tolerance.
Having landed on the New Criterion, I followed a link about a special issue or reprint of the summer 2004 issue on Religion, Manners and Morals in Great Britain and the US. That brought me to an article by Marc Arkin called “A Democratic and Republican Religion” which looks at how American cultural values – capitalism, consumerism, choice, emotionalism, entertainment – have influenced religious culture and contributed to the shapes of modern socially conservative fundamentalist churches, and liberal, gnostic New Age spirituality.
The next jump was a Google search of Professor Arkin, which brought me to a couple of other articles. One was a review of Harold Bloom’s book, “The American Religion” in the New Criterion. I have been looking for the book, which is in deep storage while the main branch of the Winnipeg Public Library is being rebuilt, and inaccessible.
I also found a republication of Arkin’s paper on “A Democratic and Republican Religion” at a website devoted to Greek Orthodox commentary called OrthodoxyToday.
That brought up an index, and I found this paper by an Orthodox Archbishop which contains a blistering attack on Protestant Fundamentalism and on the continuing promotion of superstition in the Catholic Churches. I also found a copy of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s 1978 Harvard Commencement address which is worth reading.