Magazine April 30, 2012, Issue

Heterodox Nation

(Fred Greaves/Reuters)
Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics, by Ross Douthat (Free Press, 352 pp., $26)

This book is at once subtle and bold. Ross Douthat — op-ed columnist for the New York Times and film critic for National Review — seeks to move beyond the rutted secularist-vs.-religionist terms of the culture wars. Americans today are apt to speak about “religious,” “non-religious,” and “anti-religious” worldviews, and largely eschew the language of “orthodoxy” and “heresy.” But Douthat insists that our problem is not too much or too little religion, but rather bad religion: “the slow-motion collapse of traditional Christianity and the rise of a variety of pseudo-Christianities in its place.”

Bad Religion traces this fall and rise, and

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