America and Other Fictions

America and Other Fictions

On Radical Faith and Post-Religion

If America or God didn't exist it would be necessary to invent them. Let's start.


At a moment of cultural and political crisis, with forces of reaction seemingly ascendant throughout the West, it's fair to ask what use does anyone have for America, God, or any other similar fictions? What use does theological language have for the radical facing the apocalypse? Among the subjects considered: the need for an Augustinian left, legacies of American violence, speaking in tongues, the humanities facing climate change, the maturity of realizing that you will die, how to sail towards Utopia, and witches.

'Ed Simon’s essays help readers to understand how we got to this complicated moment in American religious history. Deft, thoughtful, and creatively told.'
Kaya Oakes, author of Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture


A brilliant collection of Essays spanning across different topics within the American society. Simon takes us on a journey of discovery and suggestion, This is a very dense read, undoubtedly produced for long term thought and not a light hearted afternoon sit down. The deep discussions on religion and politics and it’s intertwining roots within America has produced essays of profound richness. ~ Mycal Amber Burgess , NetGalley

America and Other Fictions is a collection of essays with topics ranging from politics, history and religion, right up to Bob Dylan. While the topics seem vastly different at times, the collection does put America at its heart. This is not an easy or lightweight read, but it is a rewarding one, I thought. Simon gives the reader a lot to think about throughout this collection. I found his focused, and on occasion fiery anger that makes appearances from time to time, to be refreshing and authentic. I personally enjoyed his take on John Knox and other historical figures, although I'm not sure I agreed with a few of the points he made. Anyway, this one of the surprise reads of the year for me, as I wasn't expecting it be nearly as thought provoking as it was. Highly recommended. ~ Kat Munro, NetGalley

Simon writes a complex mix of subject matter and thoughts. It is not a light afternoon read but something that needs to be thought upon and processed. The information is densely packed and takes much from philosophy, religious and otherwise, to present a picture of America and Christianity without combining the two. A thought-provoking and interesting study of the two ideas. ~ Evil Cyclist,

In this book you'll rediscover America, the enchanted and cursed. For an age haunted with reactionary nostalgia, Ed Simon haunts readers with an American greatness that is both lovely and perverse, through masterfully told tales that look their subjects' original sins straight in the eye. His America is more than a country, more than an idea or a history or a code of laws; it's a system of worship, hitherto little-known as such to its own devotees. ~ Nathan Schneider, author of God in Proof: The Story of a Search from the Ancients to the Internet

Ed Simon's powerful, searching essays are conversant with a startling range of subject matter: Augustine and Whitman, Bob Dylan and Thomas Paine, Catholicism and Cathars, Cotton Mather and Martin Luther. Simon's mind goes, quite simply, everywhere. His goal as an essayist is a kind of secular reenchantment of the old, dead creeds—to acknowledge, and cherish, truths that go deeper than mere belief. Most remarkable of all is how often he succeeds. ~ Tom Bissell, author of The Disaster Artist and Apostle

From dusty reliquaries to Walt Whitman’s odes, from Tomas Paine to Thomas Moore and all across the persistently stubborn landscape of the American religious imagination, Ed Simon’s essays help readers to understand how we got to this complicated moment in American religious history. Deft, thoughtful, and creatively told, this book reaches across the divides between left and right, popular and academic, into something greater and more significant: the American imagination. ~ Kaya Oakes, author of Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture and Radical Reinvention: An Unlikely Return to the Catholic Church

Ed Simon
Ed Simon Ed Simon is an Editor-at-Large with The Marginalia Review of Books, a channel of the Los Angeles Review of Books. A specialist in early mode...
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