Literary scholar Karen Swallow Prior is kind enough to credit me for mentoring her through graduate school. I’m proud to see that she has become a “public intellectual,” writing regularly for both Christianity Today and The Atlantic. You have got to read her essay about how the whole mindset of the hipster is captured in T. S. Eliot’s “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock.” [Read more…]
Many have been saying that America is in decline, that our political, cultural, and economic contributions are slipping. China, some say, is the up-and-coming nation. Others say that the age of the dominant world power is over.
But an op-ed piece by former General David Petraeus and Brookings Institute researcher Michael O’Hanlon say that the United States, in partnership with Canada and Mexico, has economic and demographic advantages over all comers that may make for a “North American Century.” [Read more…]
Rev. Matthew Harrison, the president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, discusses a letter President James Madison sent to a Lutheran pastor in 1821 upon reading one of his sermons:
It is a pleasing and persuasive example of pious zeal, united with pure benevolence and of a cordial attachment to a particular creed, untinctured with sectarian illiberality. It illustrates the excellence of a system which, by a due distinction, to which the genius and courage of Luther led the way, between what is due to Caesar and what is due God, best promotes the discharge of both obligations. The experience of the United States is a happy disproof of the error so long rooted in the unenlightened minds of well-meaning Christians, as well as in the corrupt hearts of persecuting usurpers, that without a legal incorporation of religious and civil polity, neither could be supported. A mutual independence is found most friendly to practical Religion, to social harmony, and to political prosperity.
President Harrison then goes on to give a very clear and perceptive explanation of the Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms, which Madison was picking up on, which gives an alternative both to the view that the church should try to rule the world and the view that Christians should withdraw from that world. [Read more…]
The liberal Catholic columnist E. J. Dionne says that the old culture wars are fading, but that a new culture war is taking shape. The new one has to do with battles over immigration and poverty. Complicating those controversies, he says, is that the Roman Catholic church of Pope Francis takes “liberal” positions on immigration and poverty, while still taking “conservative” positions on the old culture war issues of abortion and sex. [Read more…]
Christianity Today has announced its 2015 Book Awards. Two titles are recognized in the categories of Apologetics/Evangelism, Biblical Studies, Christianity & Culture, Christian Living, The Church/Pastoral Leadership, Fiction, History & Biography, Missions/Global Affairs, Spirituality, Theology/Ethics, Her.Meneutics. See the list and a little about each title here.
In my experience, this is usually a very good list, alerting me each year to some titles worth reading. I was a judge, actually, and I was glad to see that my top two choices in the culture category were chosen. You can see those after the jump. But go ahead to the main site for the entire list.
The descriptions of these two book are excerpted from longer reviews. Later, I’ll post my full reviews so that you can see why these books are so good. [Read more…]