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Whither Big-Thinking Public Liberals? Marsden’s The Twilight of the American Enlightenment

I recently had the opportunity to listen to Al Mohler’s fascinating interview with Dr. Marsden on Thinking in Public. The two spoke about Dr. Marsden’s latest book, The Twilight of the American Enlightenment: The 1950s and the Crisis of Liberal Belief (Basic Books, 2014), a study that sheds light on the present state of public Christian discourse. In the 1950s Christian scholars could present large-scale views (dare I say integrated worldviews?). While liberal thinkers were unable to offer a satisfactory response to the socio-cultural, political, and religions issues of the post-WWII era, conservative scholars did not exactly rise to the occasion either. The two scholars discuss the lack of such public figures today (or at least the lack of those capable of garnering a significant hearing) and the forces of change that have occurred over the last half-century. Listen to the interview and take a look at this interesting new title.

From the publisher:

In the aftermath of World War II, the United States stood at a precipice. The forces of modernity unleashed by the war had led to astonishing advances in daily life, but technology and mass culture also threatened to erode the country’s traditional moral character. As award-winning historian George M. Marsden explains in The Twilight of the American Enlightenment, postwar Americans looked to the country’s secular, liberal elites for guidance in this precarious time, but these intellectuals proved unable to articulate a coherent common cause by which America could chart its course. Their failure lost them the faith of their constituents, paving the way for a Christian revival that offered America a firm new moral vision—one rooted in the Protestant values of the founders.

A groundbreaking reappraisal of the country’s spiritual reawakening, The Twilight of the American Enlightenment shows how America found new purpose at the dawn of the Cold War.


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