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My good friend RJ Moeller has conceived of a fun little project he’s calling his Social Media Book Club. For those following me on Twitter, you may have already noticed that I participated in the first go-around, reading and tweeting through C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce. The goal is to share the experience over social media, particularly Twitter, bounce questions, quotes, and observations off of each other, and develop a fun little community.
Today (11/29/12), we’ll begin reading our second title, G.K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday. The themes of the novel are highly relevant to topics commonly discussed here at Remnant Culture —the limits of human knowledge and the allure of rationalism and materialism — and it’s a short book, so don’t be intimidated. We’ll be aiming to tackle a couple of chapters each day, and you can share your thoughts or questions any time of the day you like.
I encourage you to join us and share the experience on Twitter using the hashtag #MyManThursday. Some initial folks to follow are Hunter Baker, Joy Pullmann, Brandon Smith, Daniel Suhr, and, of course, RJ Moeller. You can download a free PDF of the book here, or read it in your Web browser here. For more about how the book club works, visit RJ’s blog.
If you’re still unsure about participating, I encourage you to whet your appetite on the poem that Chesterton uses to kick things off:
A cloud was on the mind of men, and wailing went the weather,
Yea, a sick cloud upon the soul when we were boys together.
Science announced nonentity and art admired decay;
The world was old and ended: but you and I were gay.
Round us in antic order their crippled vices came—
Lust that had lost its laughter, fear that had lost its shame.
Like the white lock of Whistler, that lit our aimless gloom,
Men showed their own white feather as proudly as a plume.
Life was a fly that faded, and death a drone that stung;
The world was very old indeed when you and I were young.
They twisted even decent sin to shapes not to be named:
Men were ashamed of honour; but we were not ashamed.
Weak if we were and foolish, not thus we failed, not thus;
When that black Baal blocked the heavens he had no hymns from us.
Children we were—our forts of sand were even as weak as we,
High as they went we piled them up to break that bitter sea.
Fools as we were in motley, all jangling and absurd,
When all church bells were silent our cap and bells were heard.
Not all unhelped we held the fort, our tiny flags unfurled;
Some giants laboured in that cloud to lift it from the world.
I find again the book we found, I feel the hour that flings
Far out of fish-shaped Paumanok some cry of cleaner things;
And the Green Carnation withered, as in forest fires that pass,
Roared in the wind of all the world ten million leaves of grass;
Or sane and sweet and sudden as a Read the rest of this entry »
The books I read in 2011 are listed below (alphabetically by author).
I didn’t read as much as I would’ve liked in 2011, and I also didn’t write about what I read as much as I would’ve liked. I hope to provide more reviews and “nuggets” from these books in the upcoming year, as many were impactful in the development of ideas discussed on this blog.
Here were some of my favorites:
- The Victory of Reason – Rodney Stark
- For God So Loved, He Gave – Kelly Kapic & Justin Borger
- The White Man’s Burden – William Easterly
- Living in God’s Two Kingdoms – David VanDrunen (enjoyment does not equal agreement!)
- Money, Greed, and God – Jay Richards
- The Holy Spirit in Mission – Gary Tyra
What did you read? What were your favorites?
Below are our most-read posts of 2011. Thank you all for your readership and support over the past year. I am truly blessed to have such a dedicated and engaging audience.
Happy New Year!
Alas, I doubt we will ever hear such questions, because it is the Christian beliefs that do not deserve merit or respect in the public square. It is the Christian beliefs that arouse skepticism for their opposition to the secularist’s religious devotion to “serious science.” It is the Christian beliefs that are actually “beliefs.” The rest is simply the facts.
Thus, in the coming election cycle, I expect we shall once again be resigned to hearing President Obama defend his secularist views on Christian turf. Once again, we will have to hear how his “personal” Christian beliefs on homosexuality and abortion don’t matter, because they are obviously subservient to a higher power.
What if we as a society were to rely on non-compulsory generosity and “cheerful giving”? What if the church actually lived up to its Biblical calling by at least giving tithes on a consistent basis (there is certainly more work to be done)? …The main question: Why doesn’t the church just do what the Bible says at a minimum?
…The outsourcing of charitable responsibility is nothing new, but it is unfortunate that the promotion of such an approach has become such a proud and advertised staple of the ecumenical movement.
Of the 46% of Christians who believe capitalism is “at odds” or “inconsistent” with Christian values, how many are themselves actively engaged in the capitalist system?
…If we are really going to take such beliefs seriously, these folks have relatively few options at their disposal. Just as the anti-communism Christian should probably avoid the role of communist dictator or violent proletariat rebel, the anti-capitalism Christian should probably avoid the role of capitalist. Sound unrealistic? You’re on to something.
[F]or me and countless others, [Ayn] Rand challenges us — even inspires us — to critique and solidify our own views on the role of the individual, the other, and, above all, God…[A]dmiring certain features of Rand does not automatically transform one into a blind, anti-altruism zombie. It does not, as Whittaker Chambers famously put it, lead to the gas chamber, even if Rand herself may have been packing her bags for precisely that.
The author of Hebrews wrote that “solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” In discussing Rand, let’s stop pretending that Christians are a bunch of babies. Maybe then we can start separating the poison from the peas.
To disconnect faith from reason, Piper argues, is to diminish one’s love for God. To ignore thinking altogether, as many cushier, more seeker-friendly elements of evangelicalism have aimed to do, is just as treacherous as subverting it, which the [Rob] Bells and the [Don] Millers of the world seem more subtly set on accomplishing…
Yet to disconnect reason from faith is to designate and commit that reason elsewhere, leading to a lack of love altogether. But this particular error is not just reserved for atheists. Indeed, the lazy, passive attitude of the aforementioned lukewarm love often indirectly leads to the committing of one’s mind to the things of this world by default. Chances are, if we are ignoring orthodoxy for orthopraxy, our praxy will end up getting pretty laxy.
Members of public-sector unions may think that parading a hollow right to specialized coercion is more dignified than complaining about lower salaries, but I find it to be a revelation of something far more sinister.
Listen up, public-sector unions: You are not the victims. You are the pampered and insulated “elite.” The longer you cling to the roots of your institutionalized privilege, the longer injustice will prevail.
[Jim] Wallis commits the basic error of attaching his limited, earthbound, top-down scheming to his bottom-up, heartfelt desires. Through this warped, debased rendering of the Scripture, all that we thought we knew about Matthew 25 suddenly becomes robbed of its most basic message and meaning…
Wallis takes Jesus’ message about people and compassion and turns it into a message about politics and pressure, dragging in all the baggage that comes with it (and there’s a lot). The rich become sinners, the Right become unrighteous, the Left become holy, and the poor become political pawns in a contorted game of God-told-me-to-tell-you-so.
Not only do Objectivists justify their ethics for different reasons than Christians, Objectivists have arguments against the reasons Christians give for their ethics…
Does this mean that Christians and Objectivists will necessarily clash? On an ethical level, definitely, but on a political level, I’m not sure. It seems that Christians with a particular political philosophy can have the same view as Objectivists on the proper function of government, even if the reasons Christians hold their views differs from the reasons Objectivists hold their views. If this is true, then on a political level, the Objectivist and the Christian would not clash.
In the case of [Rob] Bell’s defenders, many of their claims to anti-judgmentalism assume a pose that is entitled to special treatment. They (and Bell) are allowed to pose controversial questions about the nature of God’s love, while those who disagree with Bell’s arguments are scolded and chided as haters and judgers.
Both are focusing on belief systems and theological claims, but one side is claiming monopolistic authority over who can or should be able to judge the other’s system, which turns it into a discussion about people.
Rather than channel our anger and frustration toward a bunch of big shots who may or may not have wronged us, we should look upward, inward, and onward. There is a major value deficit in the world today — there always has been — and we should be constantly looking for ways to sharpen our position toward filling the void, not sit around and cat-call others to do it for us…
We are all sinners prone to vice. We must all seek our own mercy and redemption. It’s about time we turn the megaphone around and listen.
Over the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know RJ Moeller, founder of A Voice in the Wilderness, fellow blogger at Common Sense Concept, and more recently, illustrious host of the RJ Moeller Show podcast.
In the beginning of June, RJ was kind enough to have me on his show to talk about my personal background (boring!) and how/why Remnant Culture came to be (hopefully less boring). Topics include collective salvation, my indifference to American sports, and what, if anything, the recent tendency to prefix everything with “post-“ might mean (“post-postmodernism!”).
Listen to my first appearance on the podcast here.
Later that month, while attending Acton University in Grand Rapids, MI, I had the chance to spend some time with RJ in person (great guy…loves a good burrito). Throughout the week, RJ was busy recording a variety of bits for his podcast and was kind enough to invite me on again, this time along with a motley gang of other Acton U attendees, including Matt Levon, Britton Smith, and Drew Cleveland. Topics here include Acton U, recommended summer reading, and why Gordon Bombay is the best hope for the GOP.
Listen to the Acton U round-up here.
The podcast is relatively fresh on the market (only a few months old), but it’s quickly gaining steam, already hosting the likes of comedian Adam Carolla, Stand to Reason speaker Alan Shlemon, and WORLD Magazine editor Marvin Olasky.
I will now be writing a weekly post at Common Sense Concept, which is a brand new site backed by the American Enterprise Institute. The site is part of AEI’s Project on American Values and Capitalism, which was the sponsor of the recent event I participated in on envy and economics.
CSC will focus on the promotion of morality and values in our policymaking, particularly as they relate to free enterprise.
The first major event will be a debate between Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis and AEI President Arthur Brooks at Wheaton College. The debate will center on the question, “Does Capitalism Have a Soul?” I myself am hoping to make it out to the event, and if you’re anywhere near the Wheaton/Chicago area, I encourage you to do so as well.
I will be writing on the site’s Two Cents Blog on Faith and Free Enterprise along with some extremely bright evangelical thinkers. I look forward to participating in the conversation and am excited to watch this effort continue to evolve.
My first post is already up on the blog, and it provides a glimpse into my intellectual journey from childhood to adulthood. I talk about LEGOs, puzzles, and most importantly, how horrifying communism sounded as a six-year-old.
Here’s an excerpt from the post:
Being the ignorant little kid I was, I asked my Mom if the U.S.S.R. was the biggest country in the world. She walked over to the puzzle, glanced at the back of the box, and informed me that as of a few months ago, the U.S.S.R. no longer existed.
For a six-year-old, that’s a bit hard to swallow. How can a country just Read the rest of this entry »
I will now be writing a bi-monthly column for Ethika Politika, the blog of the Center for Morality in Public Life. Since the discussion will usually overlap with the one taking place here, I will be cross-posting excerpts to keep you in the loop.
My first column is about the proper placement of economics in discussions of morality.
Here’s a taste:
If we want to advance economic freedom in the belief that it leads to “authentic human flourishing,” we must recognize that the actual economics are secondary to the actual morality behind them. We must understand that the most fundamental moral framework behind the free enterprise system is reinforced by the economic data — it is not defined by it.
But how are we to go about this? If we are to analyze economic issues primarily on moral grounds, where should we begin?
To hear my answer, read the full article.
Between Memorial Day and an out-of-town wedding this coming weekend, I have been traveling far too often to keep up with the blog this week. However, I have still been perusing the Web a bit, so I thought I’d share a few links for you to enjoy over the weekend.
- Matt Ridley gives a fascinating lecture in a video over at the Mercatus Center. His topic is how prosperity evolves, and apart from the biological evolution babble, it’s pretty good stuff.
- Jonathan Haidt writes about moral psychology and the misunderstanding of religion — particularly in how “religious believers in the United States are happier, healthier, longer-lived, and more generous to charity and to each other than are secular people.” (hat tip to Ian Speir for passing this on)
- Victor Claar has a great post at the Acton Institute arguing that improving human capital and investment in physical capital is the key for societies to overcome poverty. The article rests on an overarching argument against “fair trade.”
- Over at the EconLog, David Henderson explores Friedrich von Hayek’s discussions of “social justice.”
- ChristianityToday has released an interesting graphic that illustrates the religious fragmentation of Africa.
Thanks for reading!
Congratulations to Shelby Clarke, who is the winner of our giveaway of Pete Wilson’s Plan B: What Do You Do When God Doesn’t Show Up the Way You Thought He Would?
Thanks to all who participated!
Also, this was our first giveaway, and it seemed to go well so I’m thinking of doing more in the future. Any thoughts about this?
Would you enjoy more contests or do you think it distracts from the blog’s fundamental content?
Note: The winner was determined by using Random.org‘s generator. I entered the total number of legitimate comments and it gave me a random number to determine the winner.
I recently reviewed Pete Wilson’s new book, Plan B: What Do You Do When God Doesn’t Show Up the Way You Thought He Would?
I encourage you to read the review for my overall take on it, but it is highly positive.
I received a review copy of the book for free via BookSneeze.com, so I thought it might be fun to pass it along now that I’m finished. So, over the next week Remnant Culture will conduct a contest to determine a recipient.
Here are the rules:
The winner will be selected at random from the comments section of this post via an automated generator. Therefore, the more you comment, the better your chance of winning the book. However, you cannot comment as much as you want. You can comment a maximum of three times.
Here are the three options:
- If you become a fan of Remnant Culture’s Facebook page, you can insert a comment saying, “I am following Remnant Culture on Facebook.”
- If you become a follower of Remnant Culture on Twitter, you can insert a comment saying, “I am following Remnant Culture on Twitter.”
- If you subscribe to Remnant Culture updates via e-mail (sent once a week), you can insert a comment saying, “I am subscribed to the weekly newsletter.”
Remember, to increase your chances you should comment 3 separate times (if you choose to do all of the above). You cannot lump multiple options into one comment.
Also, if you are already a subscriber to any of these, that’s great. You will just do the same thing and simply state that you are a subscriber.
The contest will end at midnight on Thursday, May 13. The winner will be announced on Friday, May 14.
For those who don’t already know, my wife gave birth to a beautiful baby boy this morning. It was a safe and successful delivery and we are anxious to get to know this new member of our family.
It’s truly an exciting time for us, and due to all of the new responsibilities and adjustments that come with a newborn baby, Remnant Culture will be going on a brief hiatus until sometime next week.
I look forward to starting up again soon.
Thanks for reading,