It’s been a busy week, and there’s been lots of content I haven’t had a chance to comment on. So here’s some of the best content I’ve read or listened to, for your edification.
Let me offer a counter theory. When I first came to Washington, I hung around in very similar circles of young eager-beavers. I may not have been as smart as many of them, but I was just as determined to get my articles published and make my mark. We had many gripe sessions conversations about how hard it was to break-in at places like NR, the Weekly Standard, the Wall Street Journal etc. But, because Al Gore hadn’t gotten around to inventing the internet yet, there was no place for me to vent these complaints in print, never mind work them up into a meta-narrative about the decrepit state of conservatism.
I’ve got a chapter in the book he mentions, and am one of those younger conservatives you’ve never heard of.
VanHoozer’s lecture has justifiably received most of the buzz, but don’t forget Richard Hays’ critique of NT Wright.
I’ve never written about N.T. Wright in public (no need to be unnecessarily redundant), but Hays articulates well some of the central problems of his project and explains (I think) why Wright is prone not simply to ignore church history, but misread it.
What Berry wants, to put it at its plainest, is for Americans to adopt the discipline of sustained ethical reflection, by which we come to understand what constitutes health for our particular communities (without which, Berry argues in Aristotelian fashion, the idea of individual health is simply meaningless) and the disciplines needed to achieve it. We should take inspiration from the past, but we are always left with the hard work of discerning what is appropriate and possible for us.
This is one I hope to say more about later, but meantime, read the whole thing. The same sentence applies, without qualification, to Andy Crouch’s excellent review of James Davidson Hunter’s new book:
A truly cultural agenda, putting our power to deeper and better use than the rehearsal of ressentiment, is one of the most important callings Christians could possibly embrace. Hunter offers a crucial alternative to the political and anti-political camps of Right, Left, and Yoder. But such a movement will require partners. Dismissing most of your potential allies is no way to build a movement. And there is a deeper concern as well. To his credit, Hunter is keenly aware that cultural power brings with it the corrosive quest for status. “The social dynamics of status,” he observes in a brief but penetrating section, “are really fundamentally about the dynamics of exclusion.” It is hard not to sense these dynamics at work in Hunter’s selective sketch of the scholarly and cultural landscape. If there is any difference between the élite-driven world he sketches in essay one and the beloved community he describes in essay three, it must involve generosity even toward those one sees as mistaken. One can only hope that whatever cultural power Hunter gains from this book will lead to the kind of intentional and sacrificial friendship that he so eloquently commends as elements of faithful presence.
If you have an hour and change, Mahler’s second symphony is well worth your attention.
Finally, meta-linking: 33 Things is still one of my favorite posts of the week, as I always find curiosities and treasures I’d miss otherwise. I have no doubt you will as well. And if you don’t, check back here tomorrow as we read the hymns together.