The Death of Satan

The Death of Satan

How Americans Have Lost the Sense of Evil

Book - 1995 | 1st ed.
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In a spiritual biography of America, Delbanco shows how writers of the past 3 centuries have depicted evil and how they have tried to defy and subdue it. He shows the strategies by which writers such as Cotton Mather, Jefferson and Lincoln, Emerson and Melville, Thoreau and Whitman, Niebuhr and Trilling, Rachel Carson and Susan Sontag, have recognized and done battle with evil. One way of talking about evil is to demonize and satanize it, understanding evil as something remote. But Satan is sometimes a symbol of our own deficient love, our potential for envy and rancor toward creation. We have always been engaged in a contest between these 2 ways of understanding evil.
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1995.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780374135669
Branch Call Number: 820.9 D344
Characteristics: 274 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.


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unbalancedbutfair Dec 14, 2012

A very interesting book. He looks at how our language and cognitions about evil/sin/suffering have changed. Specifically he examines America's change from a collection of religious colonies to a secular society. Satan has been all but expunged now, but he argues that we haven't replaced him with a sufficient metaphor for speaking of evil/sin/suffering. Our new causes of chance and disease lack the power to address these issues. We all feel the inadequacy. And we also don't want to return to what we were in the beginning of the country. So how do we deal with it? An excellent journey through how we have thought and expressed those thoughts over time. He's a little light on where we go from here, but at least he addresses it. I'll be re-reading this book at some point. I didn't grok it all.

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