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Toward a Civil Discourse

Sharon Crowley (University of Pittsburgh Press: Mar 2, 2006), 256 pages.

Examines how, in the current political climate, Americans find it difficult to discuss civic issues frankly and openly with one another. Because America is dominated by two powerful discourses — liberalism and Christian fundamentalism, each of which paints a very different picture of America and its citizens’ responsibilities toward their country — there is little common ground, and hence Americans avoid disagreement for fear of giving offence. Sharon Crowley considers the ancient art of rhetoric as a solution to the problems of repetition and condemnation that pervade American public discourse. She investigates the cultural factors that lead to the formation of beliefs, and how beliefs can develop into densely articulated systems and political activism. Crowley examines numerous current issues and opposing views, and discusses the consequences to society when argumentative exchange does not occur. She underscores the urgency of developing a civil discourse, and through a review of historic rhetoric and its modern application, provides a foundation for such a discourse. ~ Product Description

Table of Contents

    • 1    On (not) arguing about religion and politics    1
    • 2    Speaking of rhetoric    24
    • 3    Belief and passionate commitment    58
    • 4    Apocalyptism    102
    • 5    Ideas do have consequences : apocalyptism and the Christian Right    133
    • 6    The truth is out there : acpocalyptism and conspiracy    165
    • 7    How beliefs change    189