Indianapolis, IN (PRWEB) October 08, 2013
With the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy fast approaching, people over 50 are likely to get back in touch with their experience of having and losing Kennedy. This book can help that process. Writes Robert N. Bellah, Professor of Sociology, Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley, author of Religion in Human Evolution: “The assassination of a president has been a deeply traumatic event in American history, perhaps above all in the case of Lincoln. However, much closer to our own time, the assassination of John F. Kennedy shook the nation to its foundations. Such an event opens up levels of meaning that are well below the surface most of the time. Wolfe helps us in this book, which is about Kennedy's life as well as his death, to understand the depth dimension of the nation in which we live.”
JFK’s civil religion was largely archaic, somewhat modern, mildly historic. Archaic civil religion, which deifies the state, is seen in an Inaugural Address that stresses sacrifice, asking what you can do for your country, paying any price for the survival and success of liberty. In a modern vein, Kennedy’s pragmatism pursues whatever works in a world where every individual has his own values. Kennedy started with little historic civil religion, which is swayed by transcendent values, but it expanded. After the Cuban missile crisis, he engaged in an historic quest for peace starting with a Test Ban Treaty, and when the civil rights movement heated up, he became a passionate advocate for it, values finally meaning more to him than votes. The assassination weekend was largely archaic as people mourned the loss of a sacred king and pictured Kennedy as hero and martyr.
The book draws on a wide range of sources: social scientists, religious commentators, preachers, poets, memorial picture books and interview materials involving truck drivers, kitchen helpers, and school children.
James S. Wolfe holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Oberlin College, an M.Div. in Theology from Union Theological Seminary in New York, and a PhD in Religion and Society from Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. Jim teaches religious studies and sociology at Indianapolis universities.
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