The following post comes from regular guest and RIAH blogger Mark Edwards. He is author of The Right of the Protestant Left: God’s Totalitarianism (Palgrave, 2012).
In case you missed it, the New York Times recently highlighted new works in the field of liberal/mainline/ecumenical American Protestantism, including books by David Hollinger, Elesha Coffman, and (the now-award-winning!) Matthew Hedstrom. Another recent book that could have been mentioned, as it deals extensively with the mainline within its 800+ pages, is Andrew Preston’s Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith (Anchor, 2012). Preston’s book is a monumental achievement in the field of religion and politics—testified to by its winning of Canada’s Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Nonfiction. In many ways, Sword represents the capstone on if not completion of the “religious turn” in Diplomatic History. For several years now, Preston has been leading those of us scholars trying to convince historians of foreign relations (SHAFR) that faith matters (see Cara Burnidge’s important recent post on religion and SHAFR here). Sword is so successful at tracking religious presence in U. S. foreign policy traditions that it is forcing me to ask a different question: Why is there so much secularism in the diplomatic discourse of the American Century? Continue reading