You don’t have to look far to see fractures in American society. Rightly or wrongly, nearly every move by the new Trump administration has been met with steep opposition. From the Dakota Access Pipeline, to Black Lives Matter and transgender rights protests, our political, economic, and cultural divides run deep. In view of this moment in history, Yuval Levin’s The Fractured Republic (2016) is a timely book diagnosing what ails our divided America and why this moment is unique.
Regardless of what you think about President Trump’s travel ban (suspended, thanks to multiple judges, as of February 9, 2017), we should all admit that there is something very good about a president trying to protect his people. My real concern is that almost everyone is overlooking the real elephant in the room: The vast majority of Islamic radicals in the USA are being radicalized after they come to the USA.
Should outsiders try to change others’ cultural practices? Academic anthropologists have long boomed a resounding “No!” And not a few Christians have swayed along to the beat of a cultural relativism that preserves cultural practices in the name of liberation from Western colonialism and cultural superiority.
Nobel prize-winner Angus Deaton has some really bad news, especially so in this Christmas season of giving: Most international aid not only does not work, but it is harmful to countries who receive it. Before you slam shut your checkbooks and stuff the credit cards back in your wallets and build an emotional moat around your Christmas-giving heart, let me explain why he is right but also what he misses (hint: The Good News).
Here in Northeast India, as I watch Indian commentators try to make sense of the “shocking” election of Donald Trump, the question asked by my international student friends is “How did this happen, and what does it mean for nations around the world?”
Ask any of the one million or so international college students what describes their host country, USA. The word that leaps out of their mouths is “freedom.” They relish it as much as their American classmates. But something is perilously wrong in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave: heightened racial discord, a nonstop epidemic of illegal drugs, increasingly fragmented families and communities (especially amongst those without college degrees), and political corruption fueling a 2016 presidential election train wreck. Is freedom failing?
In last week’s blog, I noted the Economist attributed post-truth politics, in part, to antiauthoritarianism. And while I’m still persuaded that the root problem behind post-truth politics is the rise of postmodern thought, I wonder if some Americans are yearning for divine help to bring order out of our cacophony and chaos.
The September 10, 2016 cover story in one of the world’s most widely-read magazines, the Economist, is about “post-truth politics.” The article argues that the main contenders in our torturous 2016 US presidential campaign have stunningly sacrificed truth with reckless abandon. I highly recommend the article, but with a major caveat: The writers fail to satisfactorily answer the question: “How did we get to the place where truth is at best a literary doormat for those bent on power and conquest?” The answer to this question is the real story that will linger long after the presidency is decided in November.
More than six months ago, the Academy's Executive Director Dr. Bob Osburn was commissioned by the Center of the American Experiment's founder Dr. Mitch Pearlstein to join several dozen other essayists in addressing the question, "Specifically, What Must We Do to Repair Our Culture of Massive Family Fragmentation?" Dr Osburn's essay (scroll down about 75% of the way to page 43, past brilliant essays by the likes of Dr. Heather MacDonald, who is currently famous for her new book on race and policing) is titled "Helping Others Join Us on the Social Escalator." Like some of the other essayists, he is convinced that family fragmentation, in all its forms, is one of America's greatest challenges, but one that also provides an enormous opportunity for the Gospel of the Kingdom to be proclaimed and lived by those who aspire to be redemptive change agents right here in the USA.
Last Wednesday, police fatally shot Philando Castile just over three miles, or a leisurely 30-minute jog, from our home. Triggered by that shooting, along with another in Baton Rouge, a black man then killed five Dallas police officers whose families now also ache with emptiness and loss.
As the Lutheran bishop of the Mayo-Belwa Diocese of the Lutheran Church of Christ, Musa explained that setting up camps for refugees, or internally displaced people, was out of the question. So, their church (and churches in other denominations) had all agreed that the refugee crisis would be addressed by having their members open their homes to those who had lost theirs to Islamic radicals.
The storyline, or narrative, of Islamic tolerance is largely false, as is much of the narrative concerning Christians and the Crusades. Boiled down to its essence, the idea that early medieval Christians were hopeless knaves and that Muslims were a scientifically advanced civilization known for its tolerance is a fabrication.
When I travel in East Asia this summer and in South Asia this Fall, I will be asked, incessantly, about the one US Presidential candidate who has stunned and astounded Americans who either love or revile him.
Whittaker Chambers was a deeply-embedded spy with the American Communist Party during the 1930s. After converting to Christianity, he left the Party, and, when he did, he wrote: “I know that I am leaving the winning side for the losing side, but it is better to die on the losing side than to live under Communism." So, what ought an evangelical to do when, by all appearances, we are on "the losing side" (at least in 2016)?
Are Westerners misanthropists? A few, perhaps. But, the dramatic contrast in the way we respond to human fetal suffering versus animal suffering unveils a striking dilemma that most secularists, the vast majority of whom are materialists of some kind (whether naturalists, existentialists, nihilists, or postmodernists), would rather not think about.
What always made me uneasy with this neat, clean distinction between the intolerance of the religious and the cheerful tolerance of secular Enlightenment thinkers was this question: From whence did Enlightenment philosophers derive their concepts of tolerance? Joseph Loconte is the latest scholar to offer a clear answer to that question in God, Locke, and Liberty: The Struggle for Religious Freedom in the West (2014).
It had been over 50 years since I last entered the doors of Tipton Community Church, a rural Michigan congregation whose building testifies to the influence of its New England Congregationalist roots. Around the time I graduated from elementary to junior high school in 1963, our family had drifted away. The pressures of part-time farming, on top of full-time factory work, were too much for my father. The fact that the church hired a theologically liberal Congregational pastor was incidental to our departure.
I must acknowledge the truth: I am not always a law-abiding driver, even though I should be. But, there are occasions when I do become a law-abiding driver. I’ve noticed that when these particular occasions arise, all the cars ahead of me suddenly hit their brakes: It looks like Christmas with all those red lights lit up.
I first met Christian Overman in 1999 at a Colorado Springs conference organized by Chuck Colson. (I also ran into an old college friend whom I hadn't seen for 28 years since we had studied the Bible together in our dorm on the University of Michigan's North Campus. He has since gone on to be become the editor of Touchstone magazine, a wonderful publication. That's another story.) Anyway, meeting Christian, hale, hearty, and enthusiastic, was like meeting another old friend, except that we had never met before. We have since become very good friends, and I want you to become his friend as well. The work he does with Worldview Matters is terribly valuable. His guest blog introduces his work that "brings meaning to life."
Our good friends at William Carey International University, founded by the late Dr. Ralph Winter, recently carried an article about the work of Wilberforce Academy on their website. One of our earliest and oldest mentees, Kisongo Mbeleulu of Congo, is highlighted, in particular because he has recently graduated with his Masters degree from WCIU.