Synopses & Reviews
“Berlinerblau mounts a careful, judicious, and compelling argument that America needs more secularists—not only among nonbelievers but among believers as well. It will change the way we think and talk about religious freedom.”
—Randall Balmer, author of Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts Faith and Threatens America
Weary of religious conservatives urging “defense of marriage” and atheist polemicists decrying the crimes of religion? Sick of pundits who want only to recast American life in their own image? Americans are stuck in an all-or-nothing landscape for religion in public life. What are reasonable citizens to do?
Seen as godless by the religious and weak by the atheists, secularism mostly has been misunderstood. In How to Be Secular, Berlinerblau argues for a return to Americas hard-won secular tradition; the best way to protect religious diversity and freedom lies in keeping an eye on the encroachment of each into the other.
Berlinerblau passionately defends the virtues of secularism, reminds us what it is and what it can protect, and urges us to mobilize around its cause, which is for all Americans to continue to enjoy freedom for—and from—religion. This is an urgent wake-up call for progressives in and out of all faiths.
“Theres something delicious (for nonbelievers, anyway) about the implacable, dispassionate way that Ehrman reveals how the supposedly “divine truth” of Christianity was historically constructed.” Salon.com
“Ehrmans ability to translate scholarship for a popular audience has made the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill a superstar in the publishing world” IndyWeek
“For both scholars and the masses who read about religion, Bart D. Ehrman needs no introduction . . . He adds the personal to the scholarly for some of his works, detailing how he went from a Moody Bible Institute-educated fundamentalist evangelical to an agnostic . Durham Herald-Sun
“How to Be Secular
serves as an important reminder that, as I have noted in the past, we protect our rights to our personal beliefs by preserving the rights of our neighbors to believe otherwise. I agree wholeheartedly with Berlinerblaus argument and highly recommend this powerful book.”
—Mario M. Cuomo, Former New York State Governor
“As someone whose faith is an important part of his life, I highly recommend this book and Berlinblaus defense of religious freedom. With great insight and clarity, he explains why it is important to protect and preserve secularism as a philosophy and he then lays out a twelve step program to revive it.”
—Ambassador Dennis Ross, Counselor to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and former U.S. peace envoy to the Middle East
“In this new look at church-state relations in America, Berlinerblau manages to be serious and sprightly in equal measure. This is a call to reject extremism of any sort and return to the American genius for accommodation of our differences—even, indeed especially, our differences over the role of religion in our public life.”
—Elliot Abrams, former Deputy National Security Advisor
“This book brought tears to my secular Jewish eyes, it was so good. Berlinerbau is not just an astonishing secular thinker; he knows how to turn a phrase, and he knows how to keep the pages turning. Now put that down that tefillin and read it!”
—Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story, among others
“As the nasty strife has heated up between religious leaders who intrude their particular values into public life on the one side and noisy atheists who insist that religiously-inspired voices should be banned from the public square on the other, I have looked for a book that sorts all this out in a reasonable and convincing manner. This is that book. Well-informed, even handed and crafted in a readable, engaging style, it shines a clear light into the murkiness.”
—Harvey Cox, professor of divinity at Harvard and author of The Future of Faith
“This insightful book is not designed to convince you of the non-existence of God or the afterlife; it exists to convince both the non-theistic and the religious that if we don't find a way to work together, we will all pay a heavy price. Berlinerblau makes a compelling, urgent case, with rigorous regard to history as well as a keen eye for the relevance of today's many new variations of fundamentalism.”
—Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State
“Jacques Berlinerblau mounts a careful, judicious, and compelling argument that America needs more secularists—not only among nonbelievers but among believers as well. The authors argument merits a wide hearing and will change the way we think and talk about religious freedom.”
—Randall Balmer, author of Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts Faith and Threatens America, among others
“Passionately arguing secularism as essential for observance of the First Amendments religion clauses, Berlinerblau eloquently divorces it from absolute separation and atheism, traces its history, emphasizing the mid-twentieth-century period of its greatest influence and the expansion of civil rights that abetted, and advocates its revival.”
“Berlinerblau offers a solid history of secularism in America and a defense of its virtues at a time when conservative Christians attack it as a moral evil and advance the 'flawed' idea that one cannot be both religious and secular...An impassioned argument for 'a firm and dignified defense of the imperiled secularish virtues and moderation, toleration, and self-criticism.'”
“Berlinerblau succeeds in making concrete the current threats to secularism and offers a reasoned blueprint for an organized secular movement to regain its political power.”
Picking up where Bible expert Bart Ehrman's New York Times
bestseller Misquoting Jesus
left off, Jesus, Interrupted
addresses the larger issue of what the New Testament actually teaches—and it's not what most people think. Here Ehrman reveals what scholars have unearthed:
- The authors of the New Testament have diverging views about who Jesus was and how salvation works
- The New Testament contains books that were forged in the names of the apostles by Christian writers who lived decades later
- Jesus, Paul, Matthew, and John all represented fundamentally different religions
- Established Christian doctrines—such as the suffering messiah, the divinity of Jesus, and the trinity—were the inventions of still later theologians
These are not idiosyncratic perspectives of just one modern scholar. As Ehrman skillfully demonstrates, they have been the standard and widespread views of critical scholars across a full spectrum of denominations and traditions. Why is it most people have never heard such things? This is the book that pastors, educators, and anyone interested in the Bible have been waiting for—a clear and compelling account of the central challenges we face when attempting to reconstruct the life and message of Jesus.
The "New York Times"-bestselling author of "Misquoting Jesus" reveals how books in the Bible were actually forged by later authors and that the New Testament itself is riddled with contradictory claims about Jesus--information that scholars know but the general public does not.
The problems with the Bible that New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman discussed in his bestseller Misquoting Jesus—and on The Daily Show with John Stewart, NPR, and Dateline NBC, among others—are expanded upon exponentially in his latest book: Jesus, Interrupted. This New York Times bestseller reveals how books in the Bible were actually forged by later authors, and that the New Testament itself is riddled with contradictory claims about Jesus—information that scholars know… but the general public does not. If you enjoy the work of Elaine Pagels, Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan, and John Shelby Spong, youll find much to ponder in Jesus, Interrupted.
Equally tired of faith tests for politicians and atheist polemics about the crimes of religion? In HOW TO BE SECULAR, Jacques Berlinerblau issues a rousing defense of America's secular roots as our nation's best way of protecting religious freedom for all
About the Author
Bart D. Ehrman is one of the most renowned and controversial Bible scholars in the world today. A master explainer of Christian history, texts, and traditions, his work continues to drive debate among supporters and detractors alike. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and is the author of more than twenty books, including the New York Times bestselling Misquoting Jesus; God's Problem; Jesus, Interrupted; and Forged. Ehrman has appeared on Dateline NBC, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, CNN, the History Channel, and top NPR programs, and he has been featured in Time, the New York Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and more.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Is Secularism Dead? xv
What Secularism Is and Isnt
What Is Secularism? (The Basic Package) 3
Were the Founders Secular? 20
Does Secularism Equal Total Separation of Church and State? 35
Does Secularism Equal Atheism? 53
How Not to Be Secular 69
The Very Peculiar “Rise” and Fall of American Secularism
The Rise of American Secularism and the “Secularish” 85
The Fall of American Secularism 103
Are Democrats Secularists? 120
The Christian Nation and the GOP 137
Reviving American Secularism
Who Could Be a Secularist? 155
How to Be Secularish (In Praise of “Secular Jews” and “Cafeteria Catholics”) 171
Tough Love for American Secularism 190