The Culture of Disbelief: How American Law and Politics Trivialize Religious Devotion

Journal of Religious Ethics 25 (2):367-392 (1997)

Cornel West
Harvard University
Recent critics have called attention to the alienation of contemporary academics from broad currents of intellectual activity in public culture. The general complaint is that intellectuals are finding a professional home in institutions of higher learning, insulated from the concerns and interests of a wider reading audience. The demands of professional expertise do not encourage academics to work as public intellectuals or to take up social, literary, or political matters in imaginative and perspicuous ways. More problematic is the relative absence of religion in the writings of those who aspire to work as public intellectuals. This essay reviews recent attempts by William Dean, Cornel West, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Stephen Carter, and Robin Lovin to remedy the problem of academic alienation and to address the place of religion in American life
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