Two decades ago, the critic Harold Bloom argued that, under the guise of various Christian denominations, the vast majority of Americans actually believe in a uniquely American faith that centers on finding the godliness within oneself. Ross Douthat revisits Bloom’s arguments in light of rapidly changing social mores:
[S]ocial liberalism simply would not be advancing so swiftly, on so many fronts, in our still-God-obsessed republic if it did not have a clear spiritual dimension as well. That dimension complicates the predictable attempts to analyze recent social trends in terms of “secular liberalism vs. conservative religion,” to say nothing of “science vs. faith.” . . .
Bloom’s book, written two decades ago, carried the subtitle “the emergence of the post-Christian nation,” which lets you know where he stood even back then, and his view of things is shared by many conservative Christians nowadays. Because I don’t think that a post-Christian point has arrived, my own preference is for the language of “heresy,” which captures American religion’s divergence from Christian tradition but also its continued dependence on Christian structures and habits and ideas. But that dependence clearly diminishes the further the advance of Americanization proceeds. So at some point, absent a snap-back or correction, Bloom’s subtitle will be fully justified, and the American religion will deserve a post-Christian name. But I won’t say that I hope to live to see it.