America and Other Fictions
If America or God didn't exist it would be necessary to invent them. Let's start.
At a moment of cultural and political crisis, with forces of reaction seemingly ascendant throughout the West, it's fair to ask what use does anyone have for America, God, or any other similar fictions? What use does theological language have for the radical facing the apocalypse? Among the subjects considered: the need for an Augustinian left, legacies of American violence, speaking in tongues, the humanities facing climate change, the maturity of realizing that you will die, how to sail towards Utopia, and witches.
'Ed Simon’s essays help readers to understand how we got to this complicated moment in American religious history. Deft, thoughtful, and creatively told.'
Kaya Oakes, author of Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture
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In this book you'll rediscover America, the enchanted and cursed. For an age haunted with reactionary nostalgia, Ed Simon haunts readers with an American greatness that is both lovely and perverse, through masterfully told tales that look their subjects' original sins straight in the eye. His America is more than a country, more than an idea or a history or a code of laws; it's a system of worship, hitherto little-known as such to its own devotees. ~ Nathan Schneider, author of God in Proof: The Story of a Search from the Ancients to the Internet
Ed Simon's powerful, searching essays are conversant with a startling range of subject matter: Augustine and Whitman, Bob Dylan and Thomas Paine, Catholicism and Cathars, Cotton Mather and Martin Luther. Simon's mind goes, quite simply, everywhere. His goal as an essayist is a kind of secular reenchantment of the old, dead creeds—to acknowledge, and cherish, truths that go deeper than mere belief. Most remarkable of all is how often he succeeds. ~ Tom Bissell, author of The Disaster Artist and Apostle
From dusty reliquaries to Walt Whitman’s odes, from Tomas Paine to Thomas Moore and all across the persistently stubborn landscape of the American religious imagination, Ed Simon’s essays help readers to understand how we got to this complicated moment in American religious history. Deft, thoughtful, and creatively told, this book reaches across the divides between left and right, popular and academic, into something greater and more significant: the American imagination. ~ Kaya Oakes, author of Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture and Radical Reinvention: An Unlikely Return to the Catholic Church