Author: Susan Jacoby
Publisher: Metropolitan Books
An authoritative history of the vital role of secularist thinkers and activists in the United States, from a writer of "fierce intelligence and nimble, unfettered imagination" (The New York Times) At a time when the separation of church and state is under attack as never before, Freethinkers offers a powerful defense of the secularist heritage that gave Americans the first government in the world founded not on the authority of religion but on the bedrock of human reason. In impassioned, elegant prose, celebrated author Susan Jacoby paints a striking portrait of more than two hundred years of secularist activism, beginning with the fierce debate over the omission of God from the Constitution. Moving from nineteenth-century abolitionism and suffragism through the twentieth century's civil liberties, civil rights, and feminist movements, Freethinkers illuminates the neglected accomplishments of secularists who, allied with liberal and tolerant religious believers, have stood at the forefront of the battle for reforms opposed by reactionary forces in the past and today. Rich with such iconic figures as Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Clarence Darrow—as well as once-famous secularists such as Robert Green Ingersoll, "the Great Agnostic"—Freethinkers restores to history generations of dedicated humanists. It is they, Jacoby shows, who have led the struggle to uphold the combination of secular government and religious liberty that is the glory of the American system.
Author: Susan Jacoby
Chronicles two centuries of secularism in the United States, exploring this rich thread in American life and history and speculating on its continual role in society.
NATIONAL BESTSELLER The prescient and now-classic analysis of the forces of anti-intellectualism in contemporary American life--updated for the era of Trump, Twitter, Breitbart and fake news controversies. The searing cultural history of the last half-century, The Age of American Unreason In A Culture of Lies focuses on the convergence of social forces--usually treated as separate entities--that has created a perfect storm of anti-rationalism. These include the upsurge of religious fundamentalism, with more political power today than ever before; the failure of public education to create an informed citizenry; the triumph of internet over print culture; and America's toxic addition to infotainment. Combining historical analysis with contemporary observation and sparing neither the right nor the left, Susan Jacoby asserts that Americans today have embraced "junk thought" that makes almost no effort to separate fact from opinion. At today's critical political juncture, nothing could be more important than recognizing the crisis described in this impassioned, tough-minded book, which challenges Americans to face the painful truth about what the flights from reason has cost us as individuals and as a nation.
Author: Susan Jacoby
In a groundbreaking historical work that focuses on the long, tense convergence of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam with an uncompromising secular perspective, Susan Jacoby illuminates the social and economic forces that have shaped individual faith and the voluntary conversion impulse that has changed the course of Western history--for better and for worse. Covering the triumph of Christianity over paganism in late antiquity, the Spanish Inquisition, John Calvin's dour theocracy, American plantations where African slaves had to accept their masters' religion--along with individual converts including Augustine of Hippo, John Donne, Edith Stein, Muhammad Ali, George W. Bush and Mike Pence--Strange Gods makes a powerful case that nothing has been more important in struggle for reason than the right to believe in the God of one's choice or to reject belief in God altogether.
The Great Agnostic
Author: Susan Jacoby
Publisher: Yale University Press
A biography that restores America's foremost 19th-century champion of reason and secularism to the still contested 21st-century public square.
Books on Whittaker Chambers and Alger Hiss abound, as countless scholars have labored to uncover the facts behind Chambers's shocking accusation before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in the summer of 1948, that Alger Hiss, a former rising star in the State Department, had been a Communist and engaged in espionage. In this work, the author turns her attention to the Hiss case, including his trial and imprisonment for perjury, as a mirror of shifting American political views and passions.
Author: Leigh Eric Schmidt
Publisher: Princeton University Press
A much-maligned minority throughout American history, atheists have been cast as a threat to the nation's moral fabric, barred from holding public office, and branded as irreligious misfits in a nation chosen by God. Yet, village atheists—as these godless freethinkers came to be known by the close of the nineteenth century—were also hailed for their gutsy dissent from stultifying pieties and for posing a necessary secularist challenge to majoritarian entanglements of church and state. Village Atheists explores the complex cultural terrain that unbelievers have long had to navigate in their fight to secure equal rights and liberties in American public life. Leigh Eric Schmidt rebuilds the history of American secularism from the ground up, giving flesh and blood to these outspoken infidels, including itinerant lecturer Samuel Porter Putnam; rough-edged cartoonist Watson Heston; convicted blasphemer Charles B. Reynolds; and atheist sex reformer Elmina D. Slenker. He describes their everyday confrontations with devout neighbors and evangelical ministers, their strained efforts at civility alongside their urge to ridicule and offend their Christian compatriots. Schmidt examines the multilayered world of social exclusion, legal jeopardy, yet also civic acceptance in which American atheists and secularists lived. He shows how it was only in the middle decades of the twentieth century that nonbelievers attained a measure of legal vindication, yet even then they often found themselves marginalized on the edges of a God-trusting, Bible-believing nation. Village Atheists reveals how the secularist vision for the United States proved to be anything but triumphant and age-defining for a country where faith and citizenship were—and still are—routinely interwoven.
Never Say Die
Author: Susan Jacoby
The author of the best-selling The Age of American Unreason presents an impassioned critique of modern practices by pharmaceutical companies, lifestyle gurus and scientific businessmen who are promoting morally questionable and expensive illusions of thriving longevity. Reprint.
Author: Susan Jacoby
Traces the history of Western attitudes towards revenge and justice, looks at sexual revenge, capital punishment, and the U.S. criminal justice system, and considers the portrayal of revenge in popular novels and movies
Doubt: A History
Author: Jennifer Hecht
Publisher: Harper Collins
In the tradition of grand sweeping histories such as From Dawn To Decadence, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and A History of God, Hecht champions doubt and questioning as one of the great and noble, if unheralded, intellectual traditions that distinguish the Western mind especially-from Socrates to Galileo and Darwin to Wittgenstein and Hawking. This is an account of the world's greatest ‘intellectual virtuosos,' who are also humanity's greatest doubters and disbelievers, from the ancient Greek philosophers, Jesus, and the Eastern religions, to modern secular equivalents Marx, Freud and Darwin—and their attempts to reconcile the seeming meaninglessness of the universe with the human need for meaning, This remarkable book ranges from the early Greeks, Hebrew figures such as Job and Ecclesiastes, Eastern critical wisdom, Roman stoicism, Jesus as a man of doubt, Gnosticism and Christian mystics, medieval Islamic, Jewish and Christian skeptics, secularism, the rise of science, modern and contemporary critical thinkers such as Schopenhauer, Darwin, Marx, Freud, Nietzsche, the existentialists.
How to Be Secular
Author: Jacques Berlinerblau
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Argues that a return to a more secular America will promote religious diversity and freedom, and help eliminate the widening divide between religious conservatives and staunch atheists.
Robert Ingersoll (1833—1899) is one of the great lost figures in United States history, all but forgotten at just the time America needs him most. An outspoken and unapologetic agnostic, fervent champion of the separation of church and state, and tireless advocate of the rights of women and African Americans, he drew enormous audiences in the late nineteenth century with his lectures on “freethought.” His admirers included Mark Twain and Thomas A. Edison, who said Ingersoll had “all the attributes of a perfect man” and went so far as to make an early recording of Ingersoll’s voice. The publication of What’s God Got to Do with It? will return Robert Ingersoll and his ideas to American political discourse. Edited and with a biographical introduction by Pulitzer Prize winner Tim Page, this new popular collection of Ingersoll’s thought – distilled from the twelve-volume set of his works, his copious letters, and various newspaper interviews – promises to put Ingersoll back where he belongs, in the forefront of independent American thought.
Author: Susan Jacoby
Since childhood, Susan Jacoby, the New York Times bestselling author of The Age of American Unreason, was sure that her father was keeping a secret. At age twenty, just before beginning her writing career as a reporter for the Washington Post, she learned the truth: Robert Jacoby, a Catholic convert with a Catholic wife, was also a Jew. In Half-Jew, Jacoby grapples with the hidden identity cloaked by the persona of a successful accountant and member of St. Thomas Aquinas Church in East Lansing, Michigan—and with the secrets and lies that had marked her family’s history for three generations on two continents. Beginning in 1849 when her great-grandfather arrived in America as a political refugee, Jacoby traces her lineage through the lives of her great-uncle Harold, the distinguished astronomer whose map of the constellations is etched on the ceiling of Grand Central Terminal; her uncle, the bridge champion Oswald Jacoby, her aunt Edith, also a Catholic convert and eventually a reformer within the church; and, of course her father himself. At the core of story is the psychic damage that accrues across generations when people conceal their true ethnic and religious origins. Featuring a new afterword, Half-Jew is a meticulously researched, emotionally poignant examination of the dark legacy of European and American anti-Semitism as well as a tender-hearted account of a daughter coming to understand her father, herself, and her family’s true legacy.
Author: Joseph O. Baker, Buster G. Smith
Publisher: NYU Press
A rapidly growing number of Americans are embracing life outside the bounds of organized religion. Although America has long been viewed as a fervently religious Christian nation, survey data shows that more and more Americans are identifying as “not religious.” There are more non-religious Americans than ever before, yet social scientists have not adequately studied or typologized secularities, and the lived reality of secular individuals in America has not been astutely analyzed. American Secularism documents how changes to American society have fueled these shifts in the non-religious landscape and examines the diverse and dynamic world of secular Americans. This volume offers a theoretical framework for understanding secularisms. It explores secular Americans’ thought and practice to understand secularisms as worldviews in their own right, not just as negations of religion. Drawing on empirical data, the authors examine how people live secular lives and make meaning outside of organized religion. Joseph O. Baker and Buster G. Smith link secularities to broader issues of social power and organization, providing an empirical and cultural perspective on the secular landscape. In so doing, they demonstrate that shifts in American secularism are reflective of changes in the political meanings of “religion” in American culture. American Secularism addresses the contemporary lived reality of secular individuals, outlining forms of secular identity and showing their connection to patterns of family formation, sexuality, and politics, providing scholars of religion with a more comprehensive understanding of worldviews that do not include traditional religion. Data Analyses Appendix Instructor's Guide
Author: David Niose
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
A new group of Americans is challenging the reign of the Religious Right Today, nearly one in five Americans are nonbelievers - a rapidly growing group at a time when traditional Christian churches are dwindling in numbers - and they are flexing their muscles like never before. Yet we still see almost none of them openly serving in elected office, while Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and many others continue to loudly proclaim the myth of America as a Christian nation. In Nonbeliever Nation, leading secular advocate David Niose explores what this new force in politics means for the unchallenged dominance of the Religious Right. Hitting on all the hot-button issues that divide the country – from gay marriage to education policy to contentious church-state battles – he shows how this movement is gaining traction, and fighting for its rights. Now, Secular Americans—a group comprised not just of atheists and agnostics, but lapsed Catholics, secular Jews, and millions of others who have walked away from religion—are mobilizing and forming groups all over the country (even atheist clubs in Bible-belt high schools) to challenge the exaltation of religion in American politics and public life. This is a timely and important look at how growing numbers of nonbelievers, disenchanted at how far America has wandered from its secular roots, are emerging to fight for equality and rational public policy.