How are Christians able to fulfill the Law of Love and be good neighbors in a fragmented age? Jake Meador contributes to answering this question in, “In Search of The Common Good: Christian Fidelity in a Fractured World.” Jake joins Matt and Derek to discuss his recent book and untangle some of the modern presuppositions that have been found a home in the church today.

Timestamps:

Intro + what caused Jake to write this book, and what makes his angle different than other authors [0:00 – 9:23]

How Jake’s approach is distinctly “Reformed,” and how these presuppositions shape his argument and critique of the current state of the church [9:23 – 18:20]

The boundaries of the “common good” – [18:20 – 24:00]

If the virtue of America is that it as a nation is a voluntary community, what are the issues we face in letting this principle go? Will it result in a kind of ethnic nationalism? [24:00 – 29:09]

What would Jake say to a hypothetical democratic-socialist who thinks his propositions are insufficient? [29:09 – 36:40]

Does the “common good” infer one most vote for certain political views? [36:40 – 42:08]

The book’s immediate and practical elements concerning vocation [42:08 – 49:00]

Tim Keller’s endorsement + conclusion [49:00 – 50:30]

Resources mentioned:

Book: “In Search of The Common Good: Christian Fidelity in a Fractured World” by Jake Meador

Book: “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis,” by J.D. Vance

Book: “The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation” by Rod Dreher

Article: “Global Economies, Immigration, and Precarious Places” by Matthew Petersen

Book: “Resurrection and Moral Order: An Outline for Evangelical Ethics” by Oliver O’Donovan

Book: “The Ways Of Judgment: The Bampton Lectures,” by Oliver O’Donovan

If you’re interested in supporting the show financially, you can check out our Patreon here.

Finally, as always, follow DerekAndrew, and Alastair for more tweet-sized brilliance. Thanks to Timothy Motte for his sound editing work. And thanks to The Joy Eternal for lending us their music, which everybody should download out of gratitude for their kindness.

Posted by Caleb Wait

Caleb Wait (MATS, Westminster Seminary California) is a writer and producer of Mere Fidelity. He and his wife Kristin have two children and live in Northern California. You can follow him on Twitter @calebwait and he invites you to email him at ciwait93@gmail.com.

  • hoosier_bob

    Jamie Smith proffered a great response to those who, like Jake, are ready to declare liberalism’s death and to see it be replaced by a kind of Christian-influenced illiberalism. It’s on YouTube, and is entitled “Thank God for Liberalism.” I’ve yet to see any of the growing chorus of illiberals attempt to address Smith’s critique.

    I agree that we’re at something of a crossroads. But it’s a crossroads at which we need to reimagine what liberalism looks like in our current era. I’m unconvinced that liberalism’s 250-year run has come to a close and that it’s time to revert to the illiberalism and authoritarianism that preceded it.

  • hoosier_bob

    I was brought back to this piece today after receiving a text from my mother wondering why I hadn’t gone to a cookout or like event today. After all, in the dying working-class town where I was raised, that’s what you do. That’s what everyone does on Labor Day.

    Instead, I stayed home, did a bit of reading, got a head start on some work projects, and will now head out for a run. It’s been a day of uninterrupted quiet. In looking around my condo development (in the NYC metro area), it appears that most of my neighbors are doing the same.

    I think that most of our concerns about a “common culture” relate to the evolution of a distinct culture of cognitive elites separate from the once-normative culture of the white middle class. As Charles Murray has noted in his books and lectures, before the late 1980s, there wasn’t much that someone with an IQ over 125-130 could do that was too different from what most others did. Perhaps that person would become a doctor or lawyer, but s/he would generally return home to do that. Starting with the late 1980s, a greater number of professions and industries evolved that benefited from a workforce consisting almost entirely of people of high IQs. Thus, the farms that surrounded Stanford were plowed under to make way for Apple and HP, and then Google and Facebook. And it happened on a smaller scale all across the country. Cranes fill the skies in every direction surrounding downtown and midtown Atlanta. Meanwhile, cities like Birmingham, Macon, and Jackson enter their fifth decade of decline. Nearly two-thirds of the kids who took honors classes in my high school in Northeast Indiana have left the state, and about 40% have left the Midwest altogether. A few months ago, I was going for a morning run along the river in Basel, and passed a HS classmate.

    When I hear these complaints by illiberals about the disappearance of a common culture, it generally sounds like a criticism of those of us who moved away from our hometowns for better opportunities, met up with others who’d done the same, and fell into cultural patterns that better reflected the lives we’d come to adopt than those we left behind. We were the kids that never quite fit in back home, but who now found that we were not as strange as the sports stars and cheerleaders of hometowns supposed that we were.

    On my Saturday run, I watched as parents dropped off their kids at the university nearby. I recall the same experience. I think it upset my parents that I didn’t cry when they drove off. I did cry that night, though. I joined some friends on an excursion to the wharf area of Boston. As I stared across the harbor and took in the smell of the salt air, I cried as I contemplated the fact that I’d entered into a new world far away from the parochialism and pettiness of small-town Midwestern life.

    Leveling moralistic judgments against smart kids who moved away isn’t a solution. It’s not like we’re going to move back to our decaying hometowns. And I see no reason to preserve the culture of industrial-era life in the rural Midwest in the urban Northeast. Further, I doubt that we’ll ever restore the fortunes of the hollowed-out industrial towns of the industrial Heartland. We need a solution to that problem. But we need serious solutions. Finger-wagging directed at those who moved away, which is what I get from this blog, Rod Dreher, and JD Vance, isn’t a very serious solution. Nor is throwing one’s support behind Trump under the moniker of “national conservatism.”