Modern American Religion, Volume 2: The Noise of Conflict 1919–1941,by Martin E. Marty (University of Chicago Press, xiv + 464 pp.; $27.50, hardcover). Reviewed by John G. Stackhouse, Jr., who teaches modern Christianity in the Department of Religion of the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.
There are at least two Martin Martys. There is the public, popular figure, the “Media Marty.” This one writes the widely read books and articles on contemporary and historic Christianity, captivates audiences in keynote addresses, and holds the title of Most Quotable Pundit on Religion in America.
The second figure is the professorial one, the “Master Marty.” Those who expect to encounter Media Marty suddenly furrow their brows and stare hard, blinking, as Master Marty gets into his exposition. The kindly teacher who bent over so far to accommodate his general audience now stands up straight to speak to his peers. It is the second Marty who presents this latest book in his projected four-volume series on religion in modern America.
One of the most notable qualities the two Martys share is the ability at making maps, at surveying a bewilderingly varied landscape and suggesting helpful ways of discerning its major contours. The task in this series is not, as one might guess, to provide an introduction to the full range of American religious experience in this century. Marty is well aware of the complexity of this task; he chooses instead to trace the changing public faces of religion.
This will disappoint some who share the contemporary interest in “grassroots,” “bottom-up” cultural history. But the highly public Marty, much of whose previous writing is preoccupied with religion in the public sphere, surely can be allowed to continue ...1
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