Archives For Politics

 

TODAY marks the anniversary of the 1970 death of philosopher Bertrand Russell…

Russell, a committed atheist, was the author of Why I Am Not a Christian. This excerpt, however, is strikingly pertinent in our day of “alternative facts,” in which truth has little relevance. It is worth taking the time to read!

 

Free Thought and Official Propaganda
Bertrand Russell
(Excerpt)

Conway Memorial Lecture
Delivered March 24, 1922

 
  Continue Reading…

 

Here are a few new book releases from this week that are worth checking out:

(Where possible, we have also tried to include a review/interview related to the book…)

 

My Life, My Love, My Legacy

Coretta Scott King

 

 Read a brief, five-star review by ERB editor Chris Smith

NEXT BOOK >>>>>

 

Continue Reading…

 

The last couple of weeks have been nerve-racking.

Donald Trump won the presidential election, surprising many people in the U.S. and around the globe. His nomination of Steve Bannon and other prominent bigots to his staff does not bode well.

How should we respond as the church?

On one hand, our calling to be communities striving to be faithful to the faith of Jesus remains the same as it was prior to the election.

On the other hand, Donald Trump’s platform and allegiances seem to cast a specter of violence on those who are not white males. How do we respond faithfully to these threats of violence against our neighbors?

A number of prominent media outlets have published reading lists for understanding and navigating the Trump age, including:

While there are many important and insightful books on these lists, we wanted to offer a similar list of theologically-informed resources that will serve to guide our churches in this new and unsettling age.
Continue Reading…

 

Prepared to Act Faithfully As Christians
 
A Review of
 

A Letter to My Anxious Christian Friends: From Fear to Faith in Unsettled Times
David Gushee

Paperback: WJK Books, 2016
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

 
Reviewed by Bailey Shannon
 
 
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have taken over the internet, TV channels, magazines, and every news source in the United States. Anyone who is not living under a rock has seen, heard, and participated in this painful presidential election.  There are many valid reasons for American Christians to be upset, anxious, and confused as it relates to the future of their country and the people living in it. One of the most important actions a Christian citizen of the United States can do is vote.  When we vote it should not be because of an unhealthy commitment to a political party or a blind following of some political figure. Our vote must be well-rounded, educated, and influenced by our commitment to Jesus.

Continue Reading…

 

Commitments, Convictions, and Character.
 
A Feature Review of 

Public Faith in Action:
How to Think Carefully, Engage Wisely, and Vote with Integrity
 

Miroslav Volf and
Ryan McAnnally-Linz

Hardback: Brazos Press, 2016
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]   [ Kindle ]

 
Reviewed by Abram Kielsmeier-Jones
 
“JESUS IS COMING-HOPEFULLY BEFORE THE ELECTION,” declared Grace Church’s exterior sign.

The rancor surrounding this year’s presidential election is enough to make even the most long-suffering Christian cry, “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!” At the same time, we are here now and need to know how to live faithfully. Public Faith in Action: How to Think Carefully, Engage Wisely, and Vote with Integrity offers thoughtful possibilities.

The book by Miroslav Volf and Ryan McAnnally-Linz “explores what kind of virtues and commitments should inform the public engagement of the followers of Christ” (x). That a Christian should engage in public life is taken for granted by the authors:

Christian faith has an inalienable public dimension. Christians aren’t Christ’s followers just in their private and communal lives; they are Christ’s followers in their public and political lives as well. (3)

Continue Reading…

 

Against Nostalgia

 
A Feature Review of
 

The Fractured Republic: Renewing America’s Social Contract in an Age of Individualism
Yuval Levin

Hardback: Basic Books, 2016.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [  Kindle ]

 
Reviewed by Ben Brazil

 

“Make America Great Again” is Donald Trump’s slogan, but it conveys a sentiment that reaches far beyond his supporters: that our nation is diminished. The Right laments moral decline, while the Left bemoans rising economic inequality.  Everyone agrees that we have, somehow, lost what is essential.

Such pervasive nostalgia, however, is actually near the root of our problems, argues conservative intellectual Yuval Levin in The Fractured Republic: Renewing America’s Social Contract in an Age of Individualism. Moving forward, he contends, requires that we focus on the achievements, the problems, and the possibilities of our current, fractured society.

Continue Reading…

 

Beauty-2016-Social

Part 1: Our Greed, the Nemesis of Beauty

by C. Christopher Smith,
ERB founding editor

 
I’ve recently been listening to the audiobook edition of John O’Donohue’s Beauty: The Invisible Embrace, and have been struck by the insights that the late Irish poet offers to our present election season in the United States. I first encountered O’Donohue’s work through his On Being interview with Krista Tippett, which I highly recommend if you are not familiar with his work.

Over the course of a few posts, I will reflect on O’Donohue’s thoughts and their relevance to the current presidential season.

CAVEAT: Although I will be deeply critical of both major party candidates, I urge readers to vote (or not) according to their conscience, asking which course of voting would most likely promote the possibility of beauty and flourishing in the years to come. But even more, I am advocating for a politics of beauty that would saturate our engagement in all levels of politics and transform the ways we think about the ends toward we our communities and nations are moving, and the virtues and practices that are driving us in this direction.

NOTE: For those who want to read along, I will be working from the audiobook edition, which varies slightly from text editions of the book. 

“Our times are riven with anxiety. The natural innocence and trust that we had in our sensibilities in the Western world has been broken. The innocence is lost, and we know now that anything can happen from one minute to the next. We live in very uncertain times. Politics cannot help us because it has become synonymous with economics. Religion has got into the mathematics of morality. And economics itself, as the presiding world ideology, has become radically uncertain.  I believe that now is the time to invoke and awaken beauty because in a sense there is nowhere else left to go and because the situation in which we are in has actually been caused substantially by our denial of beauty. In a way, all of the contemporary crises can be reduced to a crisis about the nature of beauty itself. When you look at postmodern society, it is absolutely astounding how much ugliness we are willing to endure.”  – John O’Donohue

Continue Reading…

 

Donald_Trump

The Unexamined Life and Politics of Donald Trump

 

C. Christopher Smith

 
Donald Trump’s inclination to not read books has been highlighted in two recently published articles. Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter who collaborated with Trump on his bestselling book, The Art of the Deal, was recently interviewed in The New Yorker, expressing his deep regrets for “presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.”

Schwartz emphasized Trump’s inability to concentrate and his apparent lack of an attention span, and then proceeds to draw a connection between that and Trump’s seeming avoidance of reading books:

Continue Reading…

 

Enacting New and more Humane Types of Social, Political & Economic Practices

A Feature Review of

Field Hospital: The Church’s Engagement with a Wounded World
William Cavanuagh

Paperback: Eerdmans, 2016.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  

Reviewed by James Honig

 

Timing is everything. For the church of Christ trying to be faithful to their call to be salt and light in the middle of a particularly rancorous and strange presidential campaign, comes a new volume from William Cavanaugh, a theologian whose new work I always eagerly look forward to and who has been consistently helpful in my own understanding of how the church engages with the world. The title for his new volume comes from an image Pope Francis has used for the church, that the church needs to go near to the wounds of the world and engage the wounded with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In this volume, Cavanaugh further explicates how he thinks that might happen.

The book is a collection of essays, nearly all of them previously published in a variety of academic journals.  While Cavanaugh (or an astute editor) attempts to fashion the various essays into a reasonable narrative arc, they remain, in my judgment, a collection of relatively independent though related essays.

Continue Reading…

 

How to Address the Issues of the Day?
 
A Review of

Preaching Poilitics:
Proclaiming Jesus in an Age of Money, Power, and Partisanship

Clay Stauffer.

Paperback: Chalice Press, 2016.
Buy now:  [  Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
 
Reviewed by Bob Cornwall
 
 
*** This review originally appeared on the writer’s blog,
     and is reprinted here with permission.

I was raised in a politically active household. My father was chair of the Siskiyou County Republican Party and had a regular radio spot. He even made it into Who’s Who in American Politics. I did my part as a child going door to door handing out brochures and buttons for candidates ranging from local to national. I even imagined becoming a politician. I’ve really never been as politically active as I was at age fourteen.

I remain extremely interested in politics, but as a pastor I must temper my political activities. That is, I have to remember that I serve a congregation that isn’t politically homogeneous. While I do engage in community organizing and address prophetically (hopefully) important issues that have political implications, I don’t bring a partisan vision into the pulpit. Preachers often walk fine line when it comes to politics. Many of us believe it is important to speak to controversial issues, but we also must take a pastoral approach. At a time when the body politic is increasingly polarized this becomes incredibly difficult. This especially true when the conversation involves money.

Continue Reading…