Sunday, December 03, 2006

America's Real War

by Rabbi Daniel Lapin

This book is not one that would be likely to make my reading list, but it was recommended by a friend. Rabbi Lapin is an Orthodox rabbi and, among other pursuits, a spokesman for the conservative side of American politics. In America's Real War, he gives his take on the political landscape. The central concept of the book, is that the real conflict in American politics is between those who want America to be a secular society and those who don't. He quickly recasts that into a conflict between those who believe in God and those who don't. The book covers why he believes that America is a Christian nation, how it has drifted from its roots in the last forty years or so and why it needs to retrace its steps if its going to remain a strong nation. (Intertwined with this is his justification for siding with conservative Christians and his condemnation of the actions of many liberal Jews.) In the beginning of the book, I was mildly surprised to find myself agreeing with him. Even though I'm theologically conservative, I don't necessarily apply theology to my politics. So while I'll disagree with a candidate's position on, say, abortion, I'll never try and evaluate the religious base of their position, nor if their beliefs would lead them to make other decisions with which I disagree. Whether I need to start doing so is something I'll have to mull over. But that was the extent of my agreement with Rabbi Lapin. As he moved from the initial definition of the problem, I realized that our definition of the two sides of the tug of war differed. About halfway through the book, he started using the word "Democrats" instead of "secular liberals", and "Republicans" instead of "religious conservatives". Had I read this book when it was published, in 1999, I might have accepted that switch better. But given some of the actions of the second Bush administration, I was not willing to accept such an equation. It also brought to light another failing in the book: Rabbi Lapin does not address any failings on the side of the religious conservatives. Perhaps that is due to his religion. Mine would demand admission that we're all sinners and so I would have to confess the failings of the "good guys". Anyway, the book left me wondering what Rabbi Lapin might have to say on some other issues, such as the Iraq War and the rampant government spending it incurred. I suppose I should, then, recommend that folks check this one out. It is an interesting and well written read, though it failed to move me to enlist on either side of the conflict.
LibraryThing link


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