A German’s Take on American Religiosity

Here’s an entertaining quote about American religiosity from a book by Hans-Dieter Gelfert entitled Typisch amerikanisch: Wie die Amerikaner wurden, was sie sind (17):

Europeans must see American religiosity as naïve, if not primitive. Here, the educated are helped primarily by enlightened theologians who reinterpret Christian doctrine for everyday use, but at the same time for philosophically abstract ethics. At the same time there are pastors who believe that they can get by without mentioning God’s name. It’s quite different in America, where the Bible is still the Word of God.

Those stupid Americans.


2 responses to “A German’s Take on American Religiosity

  • L. Lindbergh

    You obviously don’t get the irony in Gelfert’s characterization of the oh-so-enlightened but entirely bloodless academic theoloy. Perhaps this is due to a mistranslation of ‘bei der Stange halten’ as ‘helped’. Gelfert’s contrast between vigorous American literalism and the watered-down version of religion in Europe (think Anglican Church) is quite apt and to the point. If you had read a bit more of the book you would have realized that Gelfert’s books is in large part a defence of American ideals and American thought. Then again, charity in interpretation may not be your thing.

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      Thanks for the response. I did not read Gelfert’s entire book. Someone pointed me to the quote in a discussion, and I’ll be the first to admit that my German’s not what it should be. I am happy to take the correction, although I don’t there’s a need for personal insults.

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