S5:E18 Looking Backward
A socialist bestseller that got everything wrong
Now that we’ve read In His Steps together and discussed it, let’s talk about another work of fiction. Looking Backward was written by Edward Bellamy. That name may sound familiar! We talked about his cousin Frances Bellamy in the episode about the Pledge of Allegiance. Frances was a Christian socialist. Edward wrote his famous book looking forward to the year 2000. He predicted that the United States would be a socialist paradise. People would work hard, retire early, and equality would reign.
None of that came true.
We’re talking about it today in order to understand the zeitgeist in the late 1800s. This book sold over half a million copies in its first few years of publication. It is now over a million copies. That doesn’t happen without stirring something in society. As we’ll see, socialism was tied to the Social Gospel. The opposition to the Social Gospel is what would go on to create the Christian fundamentalist movement.
- What’s the Difference Between Communism and Socialism? – Episode of Truce from season 3
- A helpful New York Times article about Looking Backward
- How have fictional books you’ve read impacted your worldview?
- What do you think about Bellamy’s predictions?
- How does the fear of socialism and communism impact evangelicalism?
- What real threats were facing evangelicalism in the 1800s? How about now?