The American Culture of Despair

The Sacred, Secularity, and the Test of Time

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Richard K. Fenn
  • Cambridge, England: 
    Cambridge Scholars Publishing
    , December
     181 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Troy Milkanovich forthcoming.


Recent developments have made many social scientists and commentators wonder whether the United States is still a relatively modern, secular, and democratic society. Instead, America shows signs of the cultural despair that preceded the rise of fascism in Nazi Germany.

Taking a careful look at such critical moments as the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the Depression, the assassination of President Lincoln, and the eves both of the Civil War and of the American Revolution, this book shows that Americans have long shown authoritarian and even fascist tendencies: signs of despair that the nation is running out of time. In these critical moments, it finds evidence of a regressive cycle consisting of crisis, followed by the sanctification of central authority, and further crisis.

With its deep roots in Anglo-American culture, the current crisis awaits decisive resolution.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Richard K. Fenn has been contributing to the sociology of religion since he first entered the field in the 1960s. For many years, he held the Upson Chair of Christianity and Society at the Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey. His work on the theory of secularization has appeared in several books, including Beyond Idols and The Persistence of Purgatory. In Key Thinkers in the Sociology of Religion, he showed that, over the last one hundred years, sociologists have increasingly considered the study of the sacred as a subject independent of religion itself.

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