|BOOK ♊ Christian Nation ☮ eBooks or Kindle ePUB free

I'm not sure I can give any book I found so riveting less than four stars, even though this doesn't seem particularly artful as a novel It is a counterfactual history of a future theocratic America, written as the memoir of one of the leaders of the resistance It departs from real life when John McCain wins the 2008 election and dies soon thereafter, vaulting Sarah Palin to the presidency From there, a series of increasingly openly religious laws are passed, culminating with The Blessing, a document that essentially supersedes the Constitution with a series of fifty statements like A principal task of public education shall be to teach obedience to God's will Greg, the author of the memoir and a former lawyer, is writing in 2029; has superficially and involuntarily been saved; and works at what used to be NYU's Bobst Library as an indexer, i.e he tags any publications that challenge the Bible or The Blessing to be destroyed.Big swaths of this book read like the transcript of some hypothetical NPR show, with Greg and his friend Sanjay expounding on various legal theories and political ideas There aren't even many characters: the two I just mentioned, Greg's girlfriend (minor), the friend who urges Greg to write the memoir (minor), and then various real or imagined political and religious figures, viewed from afar That is what makes this book not feel particularly novelistic; it is masquerading as nonfiction almost too well Since I like talking about law and politics, I still found it quite readable.As I read, I found myself getting preoccupied with whether the book is fair I have read Left Behind, and didn't find it fair; it is peopled by straw men, like abortion doctors who love killing babies so much, they're gnashing their teeth when all the fetuses are raptured Compared to Left Behind, this book is actually scrupulously fair in that it doesn't target religion itself and is quite complimentary to leaders of various faiths and religious people who don't foist their beliefs on others Sam Harris would never approve.Theobvious comparison is The Handmaid's Tale, a work of greater literary merit, but the big difference (based on my limited memory of Atwood's book) is that Rich is showing the development of the theocracy, not opening with it as a fait accompli For that reason, I found the first half of this bookthe parts rooted in real events or proposed legislation chilling, even though things like abortion restrictions or outlawing gay adoptions are less extreme than the civil war that follows The pacing is incremental so that no single development seems utterly implausible, even if the end result is a 1% chance of a 1% chance, etc Clearly the author's goal is to offer a vision so terrible that it forces us to take the opening stepsseriously.This book made me mad, and I kept saying to myself This could never happen (. or could it?) I read it almost in one sitting Even if the characters don't come to life, it is thoughtprovoking.Review copy received from Edelweiss. This is ridiculous leftwing trash It's also intellectually dishonest The American citizen has never had fewer civil liberties or lived in anything so close to the police state than it does now, living in a dystopia where only 47% of adults have a full time job as the President tells you daily what a swell job he's doing This is absurd. When I first read the synopsis for Christian Nation, I was excited It sounded like a fantastic alternate history/future dystopian novel, built around a premise farplausibly terrifying than aliens, zombies, or vampire plagues What I found in its pages is really two books, both of which are deeply flawed, but which combine to provide a whole that'sfascinating than the sum of its parts.As a novel, as a narrative work of fiction, this is a rather weak tale It's told as a series of personal recollections, framed by the act of writing a forbidden memoir While that kind of framework has its uses, and has certainly been done successfully before, Rich makes a mistake (in my mind) of never straying far from the physical detachment of memoir There's very little action or excitement, no insights into the thoughts or emotions of those populating the tale, and a distinct lack of urgency It's a very clinical telling, and one that does little to endear readers to the narrator/protagonist, making it difficult to become emotionally invested in the tale.It bothered me that so much of the story depended upon coincidences and welltime accidents, but it bothered me eventhat government sanctioned murder was required to enable significant turning points in history Those murders really strained the credibility of it could really happen here At the same time, I had an issue with the the narrowminded focus on the evils of homosexual sin, especially in a world where it's a second 9/11 type terrorist attack that polarizes the average citizen into supporting the establishment of a theocratic government Similarly, the complete lack of interest in foreign affairs is troubling, not so much in their lack of interference, but in following through on Palin's platform of retribution against the Islamic terrorists.As a borderline scifi novel, there are some really interesting concepts in Christian Nation, but I'm not sure if they're flawed, or just not fully developed For instance, the Purity Web certainly has the potential to behorrifying that Big Brother, and should leave you secondguessing yourself every time you go online It has the potential to be aweinspiring, menacing on an unprecedented level, but it ends up being downplayed That, for me, is one of the story's biggest failings Even if you can't make the reader care for your characters, you should be able to make them fear for themselves.Finally, it must be said that this is also a rather linear tale, one with a ending that's never in doubt, which makes it impossible to generate any sort of suspense The cast of main characters is small, and none of them are every really defined beyond their faith, their politics, and their career It's almost as if they are merely props with which to explore a philosophical idea which, of course, is precisely what they are.As a philosophical treatise, this is a somewhat narrowminded, but wellintentioned tale Ultimately, it is an intriguing read, and possibly even (to borrow an overused term) an important one It's not a great work of fiction, but it is a good work of speculative fiction in that it makes you think, ponder, and really consider the possibilities.Originally reviewed at Beauty in Ruins This book is, to my mind, a mustread for anyone who cares about our country, our traditions, our freedom, and the ideals of tolerance and justice.It's been clear for a long time that the Republican party is the agent of fundamentalist evangelical Christians and is, therefore, all too often an agent of intolerance and of the pernicious idea that one religious ideology should trump this country's commitment to a democracy based on reason.Frederic Rich's book, while fictional, plausibly explores what could happen if the nation were to entrust the power of the presidency to a politician committed to dominionism and if economic and other crises were to slacken Americans' willingness to guard their freedom.One of the true ironies of modern times is the use of the word liberty by the political right to stand for monopolies in the marketplace, religious dogma as the basis of law, and the rejection of science and, indeed, all knowledge Mr Rich's novel frighteningly shows, and in a quite plausible manner, what may well happen to this country, the world's bastion of freedom, if the misguided zealots who think that is what liberty means ever have the chance to do what they have, indeed, said they want to do.Read it Then vote for politicians who stand for the freedom of conscience, the constitutional rights our forefathers secured for us and our ancestors died to protect, and the vital separation of all things religious from the governance of this nation. Many reviewers have likened this book to The Handmaid's Tale, and they're not wrong Personally, I'd call it a cross between 1984 and World War Z :)This book kept me awake at night and not just because of the shudders every time I read the words Palin administration What part of this book is implausible? That a Republican president with a filibusterproof majority would replace Ruth Bader Ginsberg with Roy Moore? That he (or she) would propose the most savage attack on personal freedom in the country’s history and call it “The Blessing?” Christian fundamentalists are champing at the bit to do all that andI hope people read this book and recognize the danger before we have to move it to the nonfiction shelf. I was intensely curious about Christian Nation from the moment it was first brought to my attention I do like a enjoy a good alternate what if? history novel, but I was farinterested in this as a book of ideas As a reader who is apparently destined to be persecuted on multiple fronts in Rich's theocratic state, I was interested to see how he would develop his ideas and justify his conclusions.Oh my gosh I mean no offense to my friends south of the border, but this is a quintessentially American novel full of arrogance, selfimportance, and return to thoughts of manifest destiny The political and religious leaders of Rich's novel not only believe that the establishment of America as a pure Christian Nation is required for the secondcoming, but that they were granted the land by God for that sole purpose There is some lip service provided to the idea of supporting a Jewish state in Israel but, for the most part, the new rulers of America don't give a damn about anybody outside their borders The Bible may not have been written by them but, by God, it sure as sin was written for them.Along the same lines, the new rulers are not content to merely accept the will of God and rule their country according to the literal dictates of the Bible The 10 commandments are a great inspiration, but in America you go big or you go home, and it takes 50 new commandments , in the form of The Blessing, to get things done I really don't know whether Rich was being satirical in so wholeheartedly embracing the worst stereotypes outsiders have of America, but he plays just about every card in the deck The Blessing has to be the ickiest part of the novel, several pages of racist, sexist, homophobic that just makes you queasy to think of anybody buying into.It's not just American stereotypes at work here, however, but misogynistic religious ones as well In the new Christian Nation, it's homosexual men who are the enemy, and sodomy that is the world's greatest sin Islamic terrorists loading rocket launchers around airports are bad, but Rich's theocratic leaders would run right past them to stop two young men from loading something far smaller, and far less lethal, into one another His is a world where single men over a certain age are legally assumed to be homosexual, and where gay sex is grounds for execution Lesbians, however, merely have to be watched (I guess some things never change), and women merely have to be pleasant and obey their husbands who can, of course, demand any sort of kinkiness they desire I do have to give Rich credit for making a lovely, charismatic gay man one of his protagonists, though, even if he never gets kissed, much less sodomized, anywhere on the page.Whew Could it really happen the way Rich suggests? Could a theocracy take root in America, rise to absolute power, and then gleefully abuse that power until everything that made the country America is gone? I sure as hell hope not but, then again, he makes it clear the world felt the same way about Nazi Germany once upon a time As a cautionary tale and a philosophical exploration of what happens when the lines between church and state are erased, this is a fascinating read It's very dry, and full of long passages that I'm sure even lawyers and university professors will be tempted to skim, but it is interesting to see how easily we can be convinced to give our freedoms away. |BOOK ☯ Christian Nation ⚔ “They said what they would do, and we did not listen Then they did what they said they would do”So ends the first chapter of this brilliantly readable counterfactual novel, reminding us that America’s Christian fundamentalists have been consistently clear about their vision for a “Christian Nation” and dead serious about acquiring the political power to achieve it When President McCain dies and Sarah Palin becomes president, the reader, along with the nation, stumbles down a terrifyingly credible path toward theocracy, realizing too late that the Christian Right meant precisely what it saidIn the spirit of Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America, one of America’s foremost lawyers lays out in chilling detail what such a future might look like: constitutional protections dismantled; all aspects of life dominated by an authoritarian law called “The Blessing,” enforced by a reconfigured Internet known as the “Purity Web” Those who defy this system, among them the narrator, live on the edges of society, sustained by the belief that democracy will rise to triumph over such tyrannical oppression An interesting novel, for sure If I was simply rating the story, I may have opted for a 3 or 4 star review However, the author was unable to keep his own political biases out of the book From going out of his way to make Sarah Palin sound and seem like a total idiot to his obvious hatred of all things conservative or Republican, the author gets in the way of his own story The book would have been better if it had used madeup characters This would would have made it easier to focus on the story.*I was a first read winner on this site* I won this book through GoodRead's first read program.Mr Rich uses his novel as a platform for a meanspirited rant on evangelical Christians This leftwiing liberal attack is pasted to a flimsy story of McCain beating Obama for the presidency in 2008 and then suddenly dying, resulting in Sarah Palin becoming President She then uses her presidency and another attack led by terrorists on the US to get her right wing religious program through Congress Palin isn't the worst of it according to Rich (although his personal attack on Ms Palin is nasty) Her advisor and successor, Steve Jordan, is even worse When he becomes President evangelical Christians become Nazis Mr Rich writes this book with a very heavy New York City bias New York Ciy citizens are the only ones who understand Rich gushes in condescending verbige about the virtues of New Yorkers Manhattan contains the best and the brightest, New York City is truly the Capital of the world and a model for what the world could be Reading his egotistical myopic drivel made me want to vomit.He doesn't leave it at praising New Yorkers however He attacks other states citizens stating, for example, that an intelligent Iowa girl thought that WWII was a battle between the US and the Jews of the world He attacks other state too I just remember the Iowa attack since I live there.Rich is clearly an angry atheist whose attack on evangelical Christians is misguided Evangelical Christians are responsible for nearly 90% of all mission work to impovrished countries Evangelical Christians also do projects for the needy in the US Rich instead demonizes and attacks Christians insinuating they are just plain stupid in stating that the Christian's motto should be Down With Intelligence Don't waste your time reading this garbage Normally when I get done with a book I will give it to my local library to sell I am just going to toss this in the trash. I've had plenty of time to think about this book and I have plenty to say but for the sake of my tradition of keeping it pithy I narrowed it down to a couple comments and a single quote 1 This should be read as political literature The author uses an extreme brand of Christianity for his story but there is no shortage of nonreligious ideologies that could be just as dangerous 2 The problem with revolutions is that you don't always get what you want The Marxist movement and surprise theocratic takeover in 1979 Iran serves as an excellent example The author doesn't refer to this example but I couldn't stop thinking about it.Quote, page 166 The national government will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built up It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality and the family as the basis of national life.Speech by Adolf Hitler, February 1, 1933