I’ve been consumed at work by my impending job change–today was my last day–so I haven’t had much chance to read up on conversations around the web.
But here’s what I plan on reading this weekend.
Christianity reoriented the relations of God and politics. Christians thought every one should submit to Christ, including Caesar. In place of the superficial veneer of sanctity with which paganism covered Roman politics, Christianity “theorized and systematized” the relation of politics to religion. Because of Christianity, Caesar would no longer be allowed to carry on picking and choosing gods as he pleased. Veyne argues that “God began to weigh heavily upon Caesar and Caesar was now obliged to render to God whatever was his due. Christianity would now expect from princes something that paganism had never demanded: namely, that they ‘make their power a servant to the divine majesty, to spread the worship of God far and wide’” (the quotation is from Augustine).
Incidentally, Leithart’s provocative book Against Christianity is available online at Google Books in its entirety. While a bit too hostile toward evangelicalism for my tastes, he still manages to articulate many of my worries about contemporary expressions of the faith.
What happens if one injects an uncompromising critique of rights, individualism, and liberalism into this national machinery? The product may not be Red Toryism, but more executive secrecy, deficit spending, war, torture, and disempowerment of civil society. No wonder, then, that for all our national-greatness conservatives laud Benjamin Disraeli, they never sound like Tories. They are instead in the tradition of Caesar and Napoleon, of mass democracy and militarism.
This via E.D. Kain, whose response I also look forward to considering further.
Samuel Gregg on “Hans Kung’s Neo-Malthusian Moment“:
There was, however, one claim in Küng’s letter worth further scrutiny. This was his assertion that Africa – and, by extension, the developing world – is suffering from an “over-population” problem, and that, by implication, Catholicism’s 2,000 years of unbroken teaching on the subject of contraception is dooming millions to poverty and starvation.
It’s hardly a secret that many people disagree with Catholicism’s position on contraception. But Küng’s claim of an “overpopulation” problem in the developing world shows just how much he remains an unreconstructed creature of the 1960s. (HT: Craig Carter)
The neo-Malthusian worry of over-population is enormously popular among younger evangelicals. Unfortunately, it often gets conflated with a proper emphasis on conservation of resources.
DeYoung takes on a “missional misfire“:
Admittedly, this emphasis is probably owing somewhat to the position of the early church as a powerless, tiny minority. They were just trying to survive, struggling to avoid the dangers of syncretism, factionalism, legalism and libertinism. Paul wasn’t thinking about Corinth being transformed. He just wanted the church there to make it. In a place like America, we have more options and more influence. So it is right that we would try to harness our resources and efforts, in some ways, toward the common good. But this must not be at the expense of the mission Jesus gave his disciples, which is, to put it simply: make more disciples (Matt. 28:18-20). I am certainly not asking that Christians stop trying to help people. I only ask that we stop making biblical texts say what they don’t really say.
There’s no evidence that they constitute a vast, ignored center. If you look closely at ideological fissures within the electorate — Pew’s “Beyond Red and Blue” survey does this very deeply — it’s clear that the far larger cohort is the opposite of Penn: pro-government social conservatives. That’s actually the cohort that’s being ignored, both by the Democrats, who are more socially liberal than their base, and the Republicans, who are far more economically conservative.
I’m sure I missed a lot, but for one weekend, that’s what I plan on reading.