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Getting Religion

Cover of Getting Religion

Getting Religion

Faith, Culture, and Politics from the Age of Eisenhower to the Era of Obama
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"In this thoughtful book, Ken Woodward offers us a memorable portrait of the past seven decades of American life and culture. From Reinhold Niebuhr to Billy Graham, from Abraham Heschel to the Dali Lama, from George W. Bush to Hillary Clinton, Woodward captures the personalities and charts the philosophical trends that have shaped the way we live now." –Jon Meacham, author of Destiny and Power
Impeccably researched, thought-challenging and leavened by wit, Getting Religion, the highly-anticipated new book from Kenneth L. Woodward, is ideal perfect for readers looking to understand how religion came to be a contentious element in 21st century public life.

Here the award-winning author blends memoir (especially of the postwar era) with copious reporting and shrewd historical analysis to tell the story of how American religion, culture and politics influenced each other in the second half of the 20th century. There are few people writing today who could tell this important story with such authority and insight. A scholar as well as one of the nation's most respected journalists, Woodward served as Newsweek's religion editor for nearly forty years, reporting from five continents and contributing over 700 articles, including nearly 100 cover stories, on a wide range of social issues, ideas and movements.

Beginning with a bold reassessment of the Fifties, Woodward's narrative weaves through Civil Rights era and the movements that followed in its wake: the anti-Vietnam movement; Liberation theology in Latin America; the rise of Evangelicalism and decline of mainline Protestantism; women's liberation and Bible; the turn to Asian spirituality; the transformation of the family and emergence of religious cults; and the embrace of righteous politics by both the Republican and Democratic Parties.

Along the way, Woodward provides riveting portraits of many of the era's major figures: preachers like Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell; politicians Mario Cuomo and Hillary Clinton; movement leaders Daniel Berrigan, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Richard John Neuhaus; influential thinkers ranging from Erik Erikson to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross; feminist theologians Rosemary Reuther and Elizabeth Schussler-Fiorenza; and est impresario Werner Erhardt; plus the author's long time friend, the Dalai Lama.

For readers interested in how religion, economics, family life and politics influence each other, Woodward introduces fresh a fresh vocabulary of terms such as "embedded religion," "movement religion" and "entrepreneurial religion" to illuminate the interweaving of the secular and sacred in American public life.

This is one of those rare books that changes the way Americans think about belief, behavior and belonging.
"In this thoughtful book, Ken Woodward offers us a memorable portrait of the past seven decades of American life and culture. From Reinhold Niebuhr to Billy Graham, from Abraham Heschel to the Dali Lama, from George W. Bush to Hillary Clinton, Woodward captures the personalities and charts the philosophical trends that have shaped the way we live now." –Jon Meacham, author of Destiny and Power
Impeccably researched, thought-challenging and leavened by wit, Getting Religion, the highly-anticipated new book from Kenneth L. Woodward, is ideal perfect for readers looking to understand how religion came to be a contentious element in 21st century public life.

Here the award-winning author blends memoir (especially of the postwar era) with copious reporting and shrewd historical analysis to tell the story of how American religion, culture and politics influenced each other in the second half of the 20th century. There are few people writing today who could tell this important story with such authority and insight. A scholar as well as one of the nation's most respected journalists, Woodward served as Newsweek's religion editor for nearly forty years, reporting from five continents and contributing over 700 articles, including nearly 100 cover stories, on a wide range of social issues, ideas and movements.

Beginning with a bold reassessment of the Fifties, Woodward's narrative weaves through Civil Rights era and the movements that followed in its wake: the anti-Vietnam movement; Liberation theology in Latin America; the rise of Evangelicalism and decline of mainline Protestantism; women's liberation and Bible; the turn to Asian spirituality; the transformation of the family and emergence of religious cults; and the embrace of righteous politics by both the Republican and Democratic Parties.

Along the way, Woodward provides riveting portraits of many of the era's major figures: preachers like Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell; politicians Mario Cuomo and Hillary Clinton; movement leaders Daniel Berrigan, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Richard John Neuhaus; influential thinkers ranging from Erik Erikson to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross; feminist theologians Rosemary Reuther and Elizabeth Schussler-Fiorenza; and est impresario Werner Erhardt; plus the author's long time friend, the Dalai Lama.

For readers interested in how religion, economics, family life and politics influence each other, Woodward introduces fresh a fresh vocabulary of terms such as "embedded religion," "movement religion" and "entrepreneurial religion" to illuminate the interweaving of the secular and sacred in American public life.

This is one of those rare books that changes the way Americans think about belief, behavior and belonging.
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About the Author-
  • KENNETH L. WOODWARD, edited Newsweek's Religion section from 1964 until his retirement in 2002. He remained a writer-at-large at Newsweek until 2009. He is the author of Making Saints: How the Catholic Church Determines Who Becomes a Saint and Who Doesn't and The Book of Miracles: The Meaning of the Miracle Stories in Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 19, 2016
    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.

  • Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times bestselling author of Destiny and Power "In this thoughtful book, Ken Woodward offers us a memorable portrait of the past seven decades of American life and culture. From Reinhold Niebuhr to Billy Graham, from Abraham Heschel to the Dali Lama, from George W. Bush to Hillary Clinton, Woodward captures the personalities and charts the philosophical trends that have shaped the way we live now."
  • James Martin, SJ, New York Times bestselling author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage. "For decades, Kenneth Woodward covered religion like no one else in the field: with a keen intellect, an open mind, a big heart, and most of all, the inability to write a dull sentence. In his new memoir, which mixes his own religious upbringing with a typically clearheaded analysis of the times in which he lived (and on which he reported), he takes us on a fascinating journey of what he rightly calls the most volatile religious period in American history. You may open the book for the historical tour, but you'll stay with it because of your brilliant guide."
  • John L. Allen Jr, editor of Crux and author of A People of Hope "No American journalist has patrolled the borders of that often-troubled relationship between faith and culture longer or better than Kenneth Woodward. He's a reporter of the old school, taking the time both to get the story right and to be artful about how he crafts his prose. As Woodward says himself, "being there matters," and in this book, you'll find the wisdom of someone who's just flat-out been there. This is a superb book."
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Getting Religion
Getting Religion
Faith, Culture, and Politics from the Age of Eisenhower to the Era of Obama
Kenneth L. Woodward
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