This chapter explains how this book came about. It grew out of a question: If, as one might safely say, nineteenth-century American culture distinguished itself by being tremendously sentimental and relentlessly violent at the same time, what was it about Christianity in particular—as the locus of both America's national sense of justice and its commitment to pursue that justice to its most aggressive ends—that allowed this apparent contradiction to flourish? In the aftermath of 9/11, critical questions of America's investment in the redemptive logic of violence have surfaced with a vengeance, and, perhaps usefully, these questions return us to America's roots of war. It is argued here that one of the dilemmas is the use of violence in the cause of ending it.
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