- Civility & Rhetoric (53) : Discourse, Persuasion, Respect
- Activism & Revolt (16) : Making Change
- Family (1) : The Family
- Government, Law, Politics (57)
- War & Peace (31) : War & Peacemaking
- Journalism (10) : All that's fit to print
- Education (15) : Scholarship and Pedagogy
- History (11) : History and Method
- In/Tolerance (20) : Living With Differences
- Church & State (37) : God & Country
"Is the Religious Right Finished?" Christianity Today (September 6, 1999), pg. 54.
Christians are understandably dismayed that the culture has become unhitched from its Judeo-Christian roots. What many refuse to acknowledge is that, in a thousand ways, this unhitching was produced by a massive retreat by Christians from the intellectual, cultural, and philanthropic life of the nation. While evangelicals count millions of members among their grassroots political groups and are now, if anything, overrepresented in the legislative arena, the number of evangelicals at the top of America's powerful culture-shaping institutions could be seated in a single school bus! The watching world is understandably chagrined by the interest evangelicals have shown in power while simultaneously showing so little interest in the noncoercive arenas of society where one's only weapon is persuasion.
Tim Downs (Moody Publishers: August 1999), 192 pages.
In a world that’s growing more hostile to the gospel, what can Christians do? How can we communicate with our unbelieving friends and coworkers in a way that won’t seem pushy, intolerant, or judgmental? In a world that’s heard it all before and no longer seems to care, where do we begin? By sowing. In Finding Common Ground, Tim Downs reminds us of the forgotten biblical art of sowing and shows us practical and effective ways to: Bring up spiritual subjects with busy and distracted people; Use secular movies and book to talk about biblical ideas; Overcome prejudice and stereotypes in our listeners; Keep open doors of communication with even hostile opponents; Move everyone we meet a step closer to the gospel. ~ Back Cover
Michael S. Horton on Activism said...
"Blinded by Might?", World, May 15, 1999, p. 23.
[C]onservative Christian activism has been largely ignorant of and disinterested in a philosophy or theology to guide such action. In some circles it's more dangerous to disagree with Rush Limbaugh than with the Apostle Paul. Running roughshod over long-standing distinction between the "two kingdoms," Christian activism over the last few decades has been shallow, confused, reactionary, and narrowly focused on behavior almost to the exclusion of larger questions of justice, community, selfhood, duty, and so forth. We simply haven't given much thought to the theological framework.
J. Budziszewski on Just War said...
"Checklist for Kosovo";, World, April 17, 1999.
Beginning with the great church father Augustine (354-430 AD.), Christian thinkers have developed criteria for distinguishing justified wars from unjustified wars. What they really tell us is which hard judgments we need to make. First come criteria for when going to war is permissible. It isn't enough to honor most of them; all seven must be satisfied.
"Fight or Flight?" in World (March 27, 1999), pg. 31
And Christians should remember that the culture war is not going to be like Desert Storm, in which victory and defeat were settled in a matter of days. It will be more like the Thirty Years War. Or the Hundred Years War. If Christian are serious about waging a war for the culture, they must not be discourged by single defeats or unrealistically elated by single victories. They must be in it for the long haul.
"Fight or Flight?" in World (March 27, 1999), pg. 30
Actually, Christian have made inroads into many culture-making professions, but they are often too timid and too eager to be liked to be waging a war. Christian colleges have the potential to be a powerful resource for the church in the intellectual battles against unbelief. And yet, Christian academicians are often so eager to seem intellectually respectable to their non-Christian peers that they capitulate at the first sign of blood. Instead of entering into intellectual combat by trying to refute the untruths of today's intellectual establishment, many evangelical theologians are busy trying to find a way to make them compatible with a revised version of Christianity.
Mitchell Stephens and Others, for New York University (Mar 1999).
Sometime, somewhere, some anthropologist must have explored that tribal ritual: the greatest-hits list. These lists date back at least to the seven wonders of the ancient world. They reflect the importance of some area of tribal endeavor — monumental architecture, say, or rock-and-roll. And they establish hierarchies; how better to show your pre-eminence in the pecking order than to rank everyone else? Journalists, trained to make their value judgments in neat pyramid style, most important facts first, could hardly be expected to resist the millennial listing urge. If Modern Library can cause a stir with its list of 100 best novels and the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame can take abuse for its top 500, why shouldn't journalists share in the fun? ~ Felicity Barringer in the New York Times
David Heyd (Princeton University Press: July 1998), 280 pages.
If we are to understand the concept of toleration in terms of everyday life, we must address a key philosophical and political tension: the call for restraint when encountering apparently wrong beliefs and actions versus the good reasons for interfering with the lives of the subjects of these beliefs and actions. This collection contains original contributions to the ongoing debate on the nature of toleration, including its definition, historical development, justification, and limits. In exploring the issues surrounding toleration, the essays address a variety of provocative questions. Is toleration a moral virtue of individuals or rather a pragmatic political compromise? Is it an intrinsically good principle or only a "second best-solution" to the dangers of fanaticism to be superseded one day by the full acceptance of others? Does the value of toleration lie in respect to individuals and their autonomy, or rather in the recognition of the right of minority groups to maintain their communal identity? Throughout, the contributors point to the inherent indeterminacy of the concept and to the difficulty in locating it between intolerant absolutism and skeptical pluralism. Religion, sex, speech, and education are major areas requiring toleration in liberal societies. By applying theoretical analysis, these essays show the differences in the argument for toleration and its scope in each of these realms. ~ Product Description
Donald W. Shriver Jr. (Oxford University Press: Jan 15, 1998), 304 pages.
The author, president emeritus of Union Theological Seminary, has produced a work that deserves close scrutiny. The casual reader is likely to conclude that Shriver is addressing, in some flight of fancy, the oxymoronic. After all, political forgiveness seems patently absurd, especially given the history of the 20th century-not to mention our contemporary culture of violence. However, while recognizing that forgiveness is a morally complex concept, Shriver argues that it reaches beyond the realm of the personal to the arena of political ethics. He contends that forgiveness is (or at least should be seen as) an indispensable element in politics and that it is an essential ingredient in our attempt to construct a proper political ethics. Not everyone will be persuaded by Shriver's attempt to make forgiveness the cornerstone of a political ethic; nonetheless, his argument should not be ignored. ~ Library Journal
Thomas Nagel on Subjectivism said...
The Last Word (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), p. 6.
The worst of it is that subjectivism is not just an inconsequential intellectual flourish or badge of theoretical chic. It is used to deflect argument, or to belittle the pretensions of the arguments of others. Claims that something is without relativistic qualification true or false, right or wrong, good or bad, risk being derided as expressions of a parochial perspective or form of life, not as a preliminary to showing that they are mistaken whereas something else is right, but as a way of showing that nothing is right and that instead we are all expressing our personal or cultural point of view. The actual result has been a growth in the already extreme intellectual laziness of contemporary culture and the collapse of serious argument throughout the lower reaches of the humanities and social sciences, together with a refusal to take seriously, as anything other than first-person avowals, the objective arguments of others.
Love God With All Your Mind (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1997), p. 37.
Once the existence of knowable truth in religion and ethics is denied, authority (the right to be believed and obeyed) give way to power (the ability to force compliance), reason gives way to rhetoric, the speech writer is replaced by the makeup man, and spirited but civil debate in the culture wars is replaced by politically correct special-interest groups who have nothing left but political coercion to enforce their views on others. While the Christian faith clearly teaches that believers are to be involved as good citizens in the state, nevertheless, it is obvious why so many secularists are addicted to politics today because political power is a surrogate for a Higher Power.
Colleen McDannell (Yale University Press: Jan 24, 1996), 328 pages.
It's tough to be devout and kitschy at the same time, but Colleen McDannell strikes that delicate balance with admirable poise in Material Christianity: Religion and Popular Culture in America. Her book is an argument that "American Christians ... want to see, hear, and touch God. It is not enough for Christians to go to church, lead a righteous life, and hope for an eventual place in heaven." This argument is amply defended by smart essays about family Bibles, gravestone design, and Lourdes Water, as well as hundreds of illustrations of vestments, churches, portraits of Jesus, rapture T-shirts, and backyard statues of Our Lady. Where Material Christianity gets really interesting, however, is in its assertion that "Christian material culture does not simply reflect an existing reality. Experiencing the physical dimension of religion helps bring about religious values, norms, behaviors, and attitudes." For example, the warmth and intimacy of Warner Sallman's painting "Head of Christ," which hung in almost every Protestant Sunday School classroom in America until the 1960s, was probably every bit as influential as any given phrase from the Sermon on the Mount in determining the personal nature of Protestants' relationships with Jesus. Material Christianity covers a lot of ground — from Mormonism to fundamentalism — and every chapter is as theologically wise as it as aesthetically astute. ~ Amazon.com
Miroslav Volf (Abingdon Press: 1996), 336 pages.
Life at the end of the twentieth century presents us with a disturbing reality. Otherness, the simple fact of being different in some way, has come to be defined as in and of itself evil. Miroslav Volf contends that if the healing word of the gospel is to be heard today, Christian theology must find ways of speaking that address the hatred of the other. Reaching back to the New Testament metaphor of salvation as reconciliation, Volf proposes the idea of embrace as a theological response to the problem of exclusion. Increasingly we see that exclusion has become the primary sin, skewing our perceptions of reality and causing us to react out of fear and anger to all those who are not within our (ever-narrowing) circle. In light of this, Christians must learn that salvation comes, not only as we are reconciled to God, and not only as we "learn to live with one another," but as we take the dangerous and costly step of opening ourselves to the other, of enfolding him or her in the same embrace with which we have been enfolded by God.
Robert Neelly Bellah, Richard Madsen, William M. Sullivan, Ann Swidler, Steven M. Tipton (University of California Press: May 1, 1996), 410 pages.
Habits of the Heart is required reading for anyone who wants to understand how religion contributes to and detracts from America's common good. Describes the social significance of faiths ranging from "Sheilaism" (practiced by a California nurse named Sheila) to conservative Christianity. It's thoroughly readable, theologically respectful, and academically irreproachable. ~ Michael Joseph Gross • First published in 1985, Habits of the Heart continues to be one of the most discussed interpretations of modern American society, a quest for a democratic community that draws on our diverse civic and religious traditions. In a new preface the authors relate the arguments of the book both to the current realities of American society and to the growing debate about the country's future. With this new edition one of the most influential books of recent times takes on a new immediacy.
First Knight, Lorne Cameron and David Hoselton, writers (Columbia Pictures: 1995) 00:56:26 mark.
You know the law we live by. And where is it written beyond Camelot live lesser people, people too weak to protect themselves, let them die? Malagant: Other people live by other laws, Arthur. Or is the law of Camelot to rule the entire world. King Arthur: There are laws that enslave men, and laws that set them free. Either what we hold to be right and good and true is right and good and true for all mankind, under God, or we're just another robber tribe. Malagant: Your words are talking you out of peace and into war. King Arthur: There's a peace you only find after war. If that battle must come. I will fight it!
Robert P. George, ed. (Oxford University Press: December 1994), 371 pages.
Natural law theory is enjoying a revival of interest in a variety of scholarly disciplines including law, philosophy, political science, and theology and religious studies. This volume presents twelve original essays by leading natural law theorists and their critics. The contributors discuss natural law theories of morality, law and legal reasoning, politics, and the rule of law. Readers get a clear sense of the wide diversity of viewpoints represented among contemporary theorists, and an opportunity to evaluate the arguments and counterarguments exchanged in the current debates between natural law theorists and their critics. Contributors include Hadley Arkes, Joseph M. Boyle, Jr., John Finnis, Robert P. George, Russell Hittinger, Neil MacCormick, Michael Moore, Jeffrey Stout, Joseph Raz, Jeremy Waldron, Lloyd Weinreb, and Ernest Weinrib. ~ Product Description
The Quotable Bertrand Russell, Lee Eisler, ed. (Prometheus, 1993), p. 106.
It is the things for which there is no evidence that are believed with passion. "Nobody feels any passion about the multiplication table or about the existence of Cape Horn, because these matters are not doubtful. "But in matters of theology or political theory, where a rational man will hold that at best there is a slight balance of probability on one side or the other, people argue with passion and support their opinions by physical slavery imposed by armies and mental slavery imposed by schools.
Richard J. Mouw (Intervarsity: Jul 1992), 173 pages.
Richard Mouw wrote this short and simple book a dozen years ago, but it is, perhaps, even more timely today than when it first appeared. The last several presidential elections indicate that our country and our churches are badly divided over a broad range of important issues like gay rights, abortion, stem cell research, the place of America in the world, global economics, health care, and the list goes on. Many people employ a military metaphor to describe our so-called "culture wars." In a war, to state the obvious, you have friends and foes, enemies and allies, the goal being for Good (that would be "our" side) to defeat Evil ("their" side). Sharp, partisan and demonizing rhetoric about these issues divides us even further. One is left to exasperate with Rodney King, "why can't we all just get along?" Mouw shows how and why Christians should not only be people of conviction, but people of compassion and civility. We are, he reminds us, to "pursue peace with everyone" (Hebrews 12:14), and to "show every courtesy to everyone" (Titus 3:2). Civility does not mean we have to like everyone we meet or forfeit our convictions to a relativistic perspective. Rather, it means caring deeply about our civitas and its public life. After defining the nature and parameters of Christian civility, Mouw investigates its implications for our speech, attitudes, pluralistic society, sexual mores, other religions, and leadership in a fallen world. He explores the limits of civility, when there is no "on the other hand." In his final two chapters he cautions against our tendencies to triumphalism, and trying to usher in the kingdom of God right now, as opposed to appreciating the ways and means of a patient, slow-moving God who loves His creation deeply and longs to redeem it. ~ Daniel B. Clendenin
War in the Twentieth Century (Westminster John Knox Press: 1992), p.259.
The initial relevance of the traditional doctrine [of just war] today lies in its value as the solvent of false dilemmas. Our fragmentized culture seems to be the native soil of this fallacious and dangerous type of thinking. There are,first of all, the two extreme positions, a soft sentimental pacifism and a cynical hard realism. Both of these views, which are also "feelings," are formative factors in the moral climate of the moment. Bot of them are condemned by the traditional doctrine as false and pernicious. The problem is to refute by argument the false antinomy between ware an morality that they assert in common, thought in different ways. The further and more difficult problem is to purify the public climate of the miasma that emanates from each of them and tends to smother the public conscience.
Signed by 100 national signers on June 25th, 1988, the 200th anniversary of Virginia's call for a Bill of Rights. The breadth of political and religious belief among the signers is impressive.
Keenly aware of the high national purpose of commemorating the bicentennial of the United States Constitution, we who sign this Charter seek to celebrate the Constitution's greatness, and to call for a bold reaffirmation and reappraisal of its vision and guiding principles. In particular, we call for a fresh consideration of religious liberty in our time, and of the place of the First Amendment Religious Liberty clauses in our national life.
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