Stephen Prothero

  • The Sense of an Ending

    Sociologist Peter Berger is right to see academe, alongside law and media, as one stronghold of “Euro-secularity” in a sea of American faith. Not so long ago, theology was academe’s queen. Today, God talk is largely verboten in American universities, even inside religious-studies departments like my own.

    Yet hard-core believers still exert a powerful hold over the imaginations of many of us charged with making sense of American religious history. For some, born-agains provoke fears of political campaigns amped up into moral crusades. For others, the God-besotted trigger nostalgia for a way of

  • A Not-So-Common Faith

    We Americans are a narcissistic bunch. The French, who understand themselves in light of ancient inheritances of language, ethnicity, and culture, have long possessed a swagger born of confidence in who they are as a nation and a people. Americans swagger, too. We may even swagger more, because we are constitutionally confused about who we really are. To be an American is to be vexed about what it means to be an American. It is to gaze at our collective navel and to wonder aloud what our country is, has been, and will become.

    Still, Americans have managed on occasion to conjure up more or less

  • Moral Hazards

    There are more Christians in the United States than in any other country in world history, but much of Christianity makes us queasy. Many of our megachurch preachers choke on the word sin, and when politicians talk of “evildoers” they seem to be speaking a dead language. It’s easy to forget, in this sunny state of theological affairs, that for most Anglo-American believers the concept of evil was once as close at hand as a taxicab on Fifth Avenue or Piccadilly Circus. We hailed it not only to navigate the twists and turns of war and crime but also to reckon with our personal calamities. Evil