In Search of the City on a Hill
by Richard Gamble
Since at least the 1980s, Americans have been accustomed to hearing their country referred to as the “city on a hill,” the beacon of freedom illuminating an oppressed world. Most would trace this phrase to Ronald Reagan, but in this book Richard Gamble uncovers the full history of its use from the Puritans and John Winthrop down through Reagan and to today. More importantly, Gamble shows how a religious – indeed, biblical – metaphor has morphed from a statement of purpose for a small group of persecuted Christians to a national slogan, one that is used to justify the exercise and expansion of American power. Gamble’s analysis concludes with a plea to American Christians to resist the attempts of the state to co-opt the language of their faith.
Praise for In Search of the City on a Hill
“…Richard Gamble took it upon himself to reveal and prove the insidious and particularly American historical tendency to employ religion for political purposes – indeed, to subordinate matters of faith to populist publicity, to enhance the latter by the former. This is a lone cry in the midst of a deafening wilderness, but one enriched with a most serious scholarly amassing of historical evidence.” – John Lukacs, author of Five Days in London
“This concise masterpiece of historical detection blew my mind. It will also blow the circuits of misguided conservatives, neoconservatives, and evangelicals who have been duped (or duped others) into an idolatrous interpretation of their nation, their history, and themselves.” – Walter McDougall, professor of history, University of Pennsylvania
“Gamble is at pains…to insist that the original city on a hill was a biblical image, not a political symbol. It was not a physical place at all but the Christian church itself, conceived of as the community of believers wherever they may be found. The Christian community, Gamble insists, ought to be outraged at the secular appropriation of one of its most arresting images.” – Tom Woods, author of Rollback
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