Review of American Gospel

American Gospel:

Authored by Jon Meacham

The American Gospel

At this time in our nation's history, two-hundred thirty years and counting, there is a great debate raging on. In many peoples' eyes our country has made a turn for the worse. We have thrown our Forefather's to the wayside, and there belief in strong Christian influence along with it. To them all could be solved if we merely "re-instituted" the Christian morals and teachings that this country was founded on. On the other hand, there are many who are calling for the complete and utter extraction of all Christian and other religious beliefs from public life and governmental law. To these individuals nothing good and beneficial can ever come from religion. Both of these belief structures are sadly flawed to their very core. But where is the middle ground and why haven't we been able to find it. This is precisely where Jon Meacham's American Gospel shines like no other. If nothing else Meacham's book is an answer to the times. American Gospel covers religion, philosophy, and ideology that shaped American law and thought from the birth of our rich and diverse nation to the time of the Reagan presidency.

Where would a good book be without great characters? In this regard Meacham does not disappoint. George Washington is shown in such a realistic way that it makes the man seem more legendary than all the stories and exaggerations. Thomas Jefferson is shown as a two sided coin. At first he is completely objected to "irrational religious babble", but on his deathbed he calls out many of the things he objected (Meacham 15). Benjamin Franklin comes across as an accepter of all and one of the greatest fighters for religious equality. Abraham Lincoln is shown as not only a man of great thought and conviction, but also one who greatly understands the balance of religion and government. F.D.R. is shown as both a great good and an unintentional evil. And finally Ronald Reagan cast the image of being the one to eradicate the separation of the Church from the State. Of course there are also many sub characters, such as Andrew Jackson, Jim Crow, Billy Graham, and so on. Even though they may not be as essential to the book as the primary characters, these men and women are explored to satisfying ends.
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