Christian Fundamentalism and the Culture of Disenchantment
Within the familiar clash of religious conservatism and secular liberalism Paul Maltby finds a deeper discord: an antipathy between Christian fundamentalism and the postmodern culture of disenchantment. Arguing that each camp represents the poles of America's virulent culture wars, he shows how the cultural identity, lifestyle, and political commitments of many Americans match either the fundamentalist profile of one who cleaves to metaphysical and authoritarian beliefs or the postmodern profile of one who is disposed to critical inquiry and radical-democratic values.
Maltby offers a critique that operates in both directions. His use of the resources of postmodern theory to contest fundamentalism's doctrinal claims, ultra-right politics, anti-environmentalism, and conservative aesthetics informs his engagement with contemporary fundamentalist painting, spiritual warfare fiction, dominionist attitudes to nature, and a profoundly undemocratic interpretation of Christianity. At the same time, Maltby identifies some of fundamentalism’s legitimate spiritual concerns, assesses the cost of perpetual critique, and exposes the deficit of spiritual meaning that haunts the culture of disenchantment.
Armed with philosophical and methodological savvy together with an outsider's perspective, Paul Maltby has produced a most impressive study of fundamentalism in the United States. Christian Fundamentalism and the Culture of Disenchantment helps us understand the counterintuitive appeal of fundamentalism and also proposes a constructive response.
Paul Maltby has written a sophisticated, original study contrasting postmodernism and fundamentalism as antithetical currents in contemporary American culture. Writing from the perspective of the culture of disenchantment, and bringing together scholarship from a broad range of disciplines, Maltby offers a persuasive and original critique of Christian fundamentalism in America.
Paul Maltby is Professor of English at West Chester University and the author of The Visionary Moment: A Postmodern Critique.