I’ve been blogging on and off for close to five years now. Something that still makes me a bit skittish is posting links. That is to say that I find a number of interesting things in my daily rounds online. Sometimes I would like to share them here, but I’ve always been hesitant to do that without at least some commentary (which often I don’t have time for). Call it source anxiety. Can I post a link to an article found on a Catholic (or Democratic or Baptist or Rotarian or Hawaiian or whatever) website without sending out the message that I’m in total agreement with everything found there? In light of that, I don’t think I’ve allowed myself the freedom to blog that I probably should.
Well, that’s about to change. In the interests of more regular posting, expect more linkage here to articles and blog posts that I find valuable and that I hope you will too. I’ll still be writing in with those longer posts from time to time, but maybe you won’t have to wait so long in between them for something interesting to appear.
In that spirit, here are a few things I’ve been chewing on over the past couple of days:
R.R. Reno’s review of Orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart’s new book Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and its Fashionable Enemies. In it, Hart takes on Dawkins, Hitchens et al. and the militant “New Atheism” that they espouse with a pugnaciousness of his own that is really entertaining to read.
My friend Mac Ice has been blogging about East Nashville churches again and has plans to publish short pieces that he wrote for the new book North Edgefield Remembered on the Joseph Avenue, Foster Street/Grace Avenue and Lischey Avenue churches in coming days.
And, finally, Charles Homans’ article in Washington Monthly about the shortlived Culture11 provides really good insight into the state of disarray that establishment conservatism in America finds itself in after the 2008 election.
Here’s a telling quote:
For decades, the Nixonian notion of the silent majority created a strong temptation for conservatives to simply wall off the parts of society that they didn’t like or understand, secure in the belief that there were more people on their side of the wall. Ballot for ballot, this may have been true in the 1970s and ’80s, and even into the ’90s. But if you build a border fence, it’s difficult to see what’s happening on the other side of it. Which is why in 2008 the Republican Party awoke to a world in which it was losing every politically important demographic battle and had essentially ceded the field on issues like education, where it hadn’t contributed a new policy idea since the school voucher, and energy, where the best plan it could come up with was a renewed push for offshore drilling. Big Hollywood’s mania for ideological categorization stems from the same mind-set—shared even by some of the smarter reform conservatives—that produced the Bush administration’s disastrous loyalty-over-performance hiring practices: the instinct to see everything, from the Sundance Film Festival to NASA’s atmospheric research programs, as just another battleground. What Culture11’s editors got right was the observation that, regardless of what you think of the world as it is, you can’t figure out how to wrestle with it until you understand what’s actually happening in it.
I found this to be really interesting, not because I have a vested interest in movement conservatism or the Republican Party (I don’t; I’m really a Lipscombite when it comes to politics). But rather it’s because the general trend described above is one that I have observed in the Church. In particular, as I studied the fortunes of the Churches of Christ in East Nashville, I came to realize that one of the factors (not the only one, by any means) in their decline was a kind of social and cultural obliviousness. They were, as the hymn says, “content to let the world go by.” While in some sense I understand the sentiment, eventually (as the history of those churches shows) it was disastrous for their evangelistic efforts. At some point (at least by the 1970s), they lost all contact with the neighborhoods in which they were located and no longer even knew how to talk to people about the Gospel.