In The Bible Made Impossible Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith makes an impassioned argument for a move beyond evangelical biblicism and theological liberalism. Biblicism is a package of beliefs and practices about the Bible which emphasize its “exclusive authority, infallibility, perspicuity, self-sufficiency, internal consistency, self-evident meaning, and universal [...]
Should religion be monitored in our politics through a separation between the public and private sphere? Is such a division even possible? Do liberal constitutional democracies depend on this division? In A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Shape the Common Good Miroslav Volf addresses these and related [...]
I have a review at The Daily Beast of Fed Up!, Rick Perry’s policy book from last year. I argue that he seems to identify more with the anti-federalists, and the anti-federalist-placating bits of the federalists, than he does with actual federalism. You can check it out here if you feel inclined.
In his book Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? John Fea explores the history of Christian nationalism, the relationship between Christianity and the American Revolution, and the beliefs of several of America’s founders. The most interesting and original part of the book shows that there have always been significant figures in American [...]
In 1667 Richard Allestree, a prominent clergymen in the Church of England, wrote a lengthy work entitled The Causes of the Decay of Christian Piety. As he surveyed the world around him, he was convinced that England was a country which had, for its sins, experienced the wrath of God’s [...]
When faced with a difficulty or a problem we often attempt to take stock of our situation in order to come to a solution. But taking stock can itself be a complicated process, and there are many ways to disagree about how this ought to be done – just what are the relevant factors? And [...]
Months ago, I wrote about Jack Cashill, a man whose conservative ideals go beyond mere political opinion into blind paranoia. He is an American historian whose favorite topic of writing, it seems, is finding new angles to historical events and creating new and cohesive narratives in which to fit these “fresh” perspectives. (Another name [...]
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James K.A. Smith of Calvin College has a scathing review of Hipster Christianity up at The Other Journal, and it’s a thing to behold. I can’t insist strongly enough that you read the whole thing if you have been following this book, but a few excerpts nonetheless.
Smith makes a distinction between hipsters and posers, the sort of style-conscious psuedo-hipsters McCracken’s book seems to take for the real thing. He echoes my criticism that Hipster Christianity almost totally ignores the “Christian hipsters” who are really worth talking about:
One of the most important living philosophers has turned his attention to the relationship between faith and reason. In doing so, Jürgen Habermas has continued to fulfil his exemplary role as a public intellectual committed to the practice of reasonable communication as a model for politics. Given what some have called the “return of religion” to the public sphere, Habermas’ contribution is sure to be widely-discussed. It also deserves a wide hearing among North American Christians.
Allow me to simplify Habermas’ ideas and put his project into slightly more mundane terms. He posits that one important way of understanding the pursuit of truth and the good life is as a shared quest. This obviously places a good deal of weight on the nature of human communication. Our ability to communicate with one another cannot hinder our ability to realize the good life, otherwise such a view is doomed. In practice, many of the more extreme voices present in North American society – a good number of which are religious – thrive on obfuscation that undermines communication, however much they pay lip service to objectivity…
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