cover image The American Religion: The Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation

The American Religion: The Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation

William Golding, Author, Harold Bloom, Author Simon & Schuster $21.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-67997-2

Without knowing it, American worshipers have moved away from Christianity and now embrace pre-Christian Gnosticism, asserts Bloom ( The Book of J ). In his most controversial book to date, the Yale professor defines ``the American Religion'' as a Gnostic creed stressing knowledge of an inner self that leads to freedom from nature, time, history and other selves. Every American, he writes, assumes that God loves her or him in a personal, intimate way, and this trait is the bedrock of our national religion, a debased Gnosticism often tinged with selfishness. The core of this odd, ponderous book focuses on Pentecostals, Christian Scientists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists and especially Mormons and Southern Baptists--the two denominations Bloom believes will dominate future American religious life. He argues that mainline Protestants, Jews, Roman Catholics and secularists are also much more Gnostic than they realize. He identifies African-American religion, mystical and emotionally immediate, as a key element in the birth of our home-grown Gnosticism around 1800. Bloom is not likely to win many converts to his viewpoint. First serial to Yale Reviewok ; BOMC and QPB alternates. (May)