First “Chat”-based Discussion – March 26, 2020

Thanks for giving this a try. I expect that there will be some technical difficulties, but we’ll work through them as best as we can. I’ll be available via email and on Canvas’s “Chat” function to help troubleshoot any issues and to answer questions you may have.

If not everyone from your group has joined after about 1:03pm CDT, go ahead and get started.

I know this may be difficult (and it doesn’t need to be perfect), but please do your best to preserve a record of who said what. Again, feel free to take this chat into another app – I think Google Hangouts’ text-based chat function is ideal.

  1. If you feel like it, take a minute to check in and talk about what life and school are like in the midst of a global pandemic.

  2. Please look over #relpol225 and respond (in the chat) to anything you think is interesting, provocative, or weird.

  3. What were some of the ways that American citizens experienced “religion” differently than Soviet citizens?

  4. Despite the divergences, Herzog argues that Soviet and American approaches to religion were not so different. What does he mean by this?

  5. What does Herzog mean by “the spiritual-industrial complex?”

  6. Herzog argues that the U.S. (unlike, say, France) was a “covenant nation.” What does this mean?

  7. Who was J. Edgar Hoover, and what does his 1960 article in Christianity Today (the country’s most prominent evangelical publication) have to do with the “spiritual-industrial complex?”

  8. What do you think about Hoover’s article, “Soviet Rule or Christian Renewal?” Do parts of this sound right to you? Do parts sound kind of insane?

  9. I’d like to encourage you to think about the ways that Eisenhower’s essay, “What Faith in God Means to Me,” in terms of some of the key concepts we’ve been using in the course, namely American Civil Religion and Collective Memory. This is less of a question than something that I want you to take away from this, but Eisenhower’s formulation of “faith in God” as fundamental to being American was a significant departure from how previous politicians conceived of the role of religion and politics. It also was part of an enormously successful effort to redefine the nation in religious terms, as in the use of the phrase “In God We Trust.” If you could discuss this a bit and work through how this reshaping of collecive memory actually worked, that would be fantastic.

  10. I’m not sure how much time you’ll have left, but I’d like to encourage you to watch and discuss this video, “How To Lose What We Have” from 1950.