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Document Details :
Title: Flaws in the Protestant Code
Subtitle: Some Religious Sources of America's Troubles
Author(s): BELLAH, Robert N.
Journal: Ethical Perspectives
Volume: 7 Issue: 4 Date: December 2000
I want to argue that in the modern world national cultures are distinctly different from one another, and although not homogeneous, are homogenizing: that is, each national society has a culture that, while allowing for difference, nonetheless presses in the direction of a single dominant profile. This is to put in more abstract terms the argument of Habits of the Heart that America has a first language, composed of two complementary aspects, utilitarian and expressive individualism, and also second languages, namely biblical and civic Republican languages that have tended to get pushed to the margins. Already in the Introduction to the new paperback edition of Habits, my coauthors and I suggested that the individualism which is America's dominant cultural orientation was not solely derived from 18th century Utilitarianism and 19th century Romanticism, but had roots in both of our second languages as well. In my November, 1997, address to the American Academy of Religion, “Is There a Common American Culture?” I took the argument a step further, reaching almost to the point from which I want to start this paper. There I argued that beyond the homogenizing effect of television, education, and consumerism, and deeper even than utilitarian and expressive individualism, there was a still, small voice, a tiny seed, from which our current cultural orientation derives.