The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat

 Politics, meet the water’s edge. One sense of the old phrase “politics stops at the water’s edge” is that it’s one thing for foreign affairs to impact politics and it is another thing entirely for political considerations to dictate strategy. The foolishness of politics-as-strategy is the central theme of Vali Nasr’s The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat. Formerly special advisor to the late Richard Holbrooke, U.S. special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan … [Read more...]

The New Privacy: How the NSA Protects Our Right to Be Isolationists

  Constant surveillance by an impersonal power preserves a modern society more autonomous and secretive than any that came before. You have never been watched more than you were today. The parking meter you paid with a credit card, the camera at the café’s door, the gift card you used to buy your coffee, the emails you sent from your laptop, and the status you posted on Facebook have tracked you, tagged you, placed you, recorded you, spotted you. Your information has … [Read more...]

Breaking News: Pope Francis is a Christian

 Some of the headlines about Pope Francis' recently-released Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium would have you believe that the Pope's central message is about decentralizing the Church, affirming populism, denouncing libertarian economics, or condemning capitalism as tyrannical. The Pope himself seemed to anticipate such reactions when he said in the Exhortation, "In today's world of instant communication and occasionally biased media coverage, the message we preach runs greater ri … [Read more...]

The Juvenilization of American Christianity

 This book review originally appeared in the Fall 2012 issue of Fare Forward. There is ample evidence that American churches are failing to spiritually train mature Christians. Surveys reveal that Christians in America are just as likely as their non-Christian peers to engage in premarital sex, give a meager 3 percent of their income to charity, and are perceived by nonbelievers as more judgmental than loving. The prevailing theology among American Christians might best be … [Read more...]

On Yeezus and Jesus

 My morning devotional the day of the Kanye West concert came from the eleventh chapter of Matthew where Jesus asks the crowds, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see?” As odd as it may seem this might be a good question to ask yourself before attending a date on the Yeezus Tour. What are you setting out to hear? Merely a rapper? A genius? A conflicted egotistical moron who happens to make good music? Or as our President has called him, a ‘Jackass’? Any answer might be good, but … [Read more...]

The Unsettling Emergence of Marilynne Robinson as Environmentalist

Marilynne Robinson's three novels are gentle, compassionate, wonderful in the strict sense, and haunting. However, none of these adjectives describe Mother Country, her 1989 tirade against nuclear pollution and English civilization. You can imagine her writing the novels – Housekeeping, Gilead, and Home – from a desk by the bright east window in a quiet house. But Robinson herself provides the image for Mother Country: “the unsettling emergence of lady novelist as petroleuse.” (What a chanteuse i … [Read more...]

Suburbia and the American Dream

 This article originally  appeared in Fare Forward’s third issue.“To put it bluntly, President Obama would like to abolish the suburbs… Moving to a suburb in pursuit of the American dream… looks to Obama and his [community] organizing mentors like selfishly refusing to share tax money with the urban poor.”So begins Spreading the Wealth by Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Written before President Obama’s re-election, Kurtz’s book—whose prose r … [Read more...]