Getting Religion

Kenneth L. Woodward. Convergent, $30 (448p) ISBN 978-1-101-90739-9
Woodward, the staunchly Catholic religion editor at Newsweek for 40 years, looks at the post-WWII American religious experience through his personal lens, though very little space is devoted to the 21st century. His tone sometimes reads like a slightly cranky grandpa talking about the past and complaining about “kids these days,” but he also effectively teaches 20th-century American religious history, with provocative discussions on Catholicism, the suburban migrations’ influence on religiosity, and the interplay between religion and issues of social justice such as the civil rights movement. He also has intriguing thoughts on the Catholic Church’s birth control stance, the connection between right-wing politics and fundamentalism, and how Hillary Clinton’s Methodism informs her politics, but Woodward’s Catholicism colors what he writes about other Christian denominations. Methodists are considered by Woodward to be know-it-alls; yes, many an evangelical preachers has fallen from grace, but Woodward appears a little too gleeful about it. Woodward runs out of steam before his book ends, which may explain why he fails to mention the Jewish connection to neoconservatism, and why he raises new arguments in his epilogue. Even so, his knowledge base and erudition make this an important resource. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/19/2016
Release date: 09/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 480 pages - 978-1-101-90741-2
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio

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