Rule by Good Men

Since Heather’s post on Karen Armstrong I’ve heard her a lot on the radio hawking her new book, The Case for God. From what I can gather her arguments are mostly relevant to religious people; those of us who are irreligious tend not to be particularly invested in the ideological details of religions so much as its material consequences (I am, to be honest, a bit more curious about ideological issues mostly because the religious people I meet tend to be intelligent). Armstrong’s strenuous objection to the vulgar nature of the fundamentalist ascension in the modern age, and rise of scientism, is fine as it goes, but it is ultimately a matter of academic interest. The populations of developed nations can read the Bible, and so will. Additionally, democratic populism is such that the moral authority of credentialed priestly castes have been sharply limited. If religion qua religion was defined by the goings-on at Princeton Theological Seminary then the world would be a different place indeed. But it isn’t. Religion in the contemporary world is far more often a vehicle for what during the Enlightenment was termed “enthusiasm.”

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