Analyzing the Hartford Appeal – Part 1

On April 1, 1975 Worldview Magazine published “An Appeal for Theological Affirmation: The Hartford Statement”. The themes of this Appeal were first thought up on evening in January 1974 at the home of Peter Berger, an eminent and respected sociologist. There Richard John Neuhaus and Berger, with great fun, made up a list of major themes in mainline Protestantism that irritated them. The irritation came from what they saw as serious problems arising from the assumptions being made in so much Christian engagement with public life in the United States. They shared this list with a…

Waging War – A Call to Arms pt 4

We ended our last entry in this series with a string of questions regarding how Orthodox Christians should approach moral issues in the public sphere. How are we as Orthodox Christians are to conduct ourselves in public discourse, especially in disagreements and clashes over the meaning of our life together? Culture war at its heart is a conflict of meaning and how to order our lives together. There are grotesque and even cartoonish ways in which we can engage in disagreement. Slander, misrepresentation, and arguing from a place of bad faith pervade so many interactions. The…

Culture War? A Call to Arms pt 3

We ended our last post in this series by pointing to “strategies of retreat.” But, I think it best we first address the infamous conflagration known as “culture wars.” For it is concern about “culture wars” that spurs other forms of retreat.  In some of the responses to this series, I was surprised to see this discussion labelled as “culture war.” Why was I surprised? Well, I have done little in the past two posts but assess how I think Orthodox Christians would hear and react to Robert George’s article. If I am being labeled as…

Congress as ‘sacred ground’?

To listen to the New York Times and the Washington Post tell it, the events of 6 January were nothing less than an unforgivable act of sacrilege and blasphemy. ‘Inside the most sacred spaces of American democracy,’ went the New York Times report by Grynbaum, Koblin and Hsu, unfolded an abomination of desolation worthy of the breaking news format ‘reserved for foreign wars, natural disasters or terrorist attacks’. Now, I am someone who likes public order and stability as public goods. Order and stability are valuable no matter where they happen to be. So yes, I…

Escaping the West: A Call to Arms pt. 2

We are returning to an entry I posted a few weeks ago about Robert P. George’s article “The Pagan Public Square: Our Christian Duty to Fight Has Not Been Cancelled.” In conclusion there I stated that I wanted to “sketch out how Orthodoxy may fruitfully respond” to George’s article. Well, I believe I still need to focus on assessing Orthodoxy in North America…so my sketches will be postponed until I feel I have adequately drawn up some of the challenges facing the Orthodox Church as we engage with the North American public square.  Assessing George’s “Call…

Live Not By Lies…but which ones? [Book Review]

As the title of this review intimates, I liked Rod Dreher’s new book Live Not By Lies (2020), but I believe there are some blind spots in it.  Overall, I appreciated the second part of the book more than the first half.  And having read all of his books, I think I’m in a pretty good position to understand his oeuvre and general authorial strengths and weaknesses.   First, the positive. Dreher is a fantastic storyteller. He has a uniquely powerful ability to weave his own emotions into a narrative to punch it up to a new level. …

Orthodoxy and a Call to Arms: Are we ready for the 21st century?

Robert P George, of Princeton University, in his recent essay, “The Pagan Public Square: Our Christian Duty to Fight Has Not Been Cancelled,” sounded a “call to arms” to faithful Christians to stand courageously against a rising and newly aggressive progressivism. This is not a call to physical arms, but a call to “boldly bear witness to truths that are unpopular among those controlling the levers of cultural, political and economic power.” It is a call to arms which we are beginning to hear from many corners more and more, not just from the depths of…

Humility and Gratitude: sine quibus non of the studious mind

“We are not sure we are right until we have made the best case possible for those who are wrong.” Lord Acton We live in an age where people read little, but yet vehemently assert the verity of their own opinions. Debates during the Reformation were bruising affairs. Not only did they demand quick wits, a vast memory, and a comprehension of all the implications of various doctrines and the arguments attendant on them, but it took thick skin and a ready wit. The key thing, however, was never to underestimate your interlocutor. Sure, you could…

What is Christian Social Thought?

“Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” Matthew 25:40 In “Yorktown,” the climax to the first half of the hit Broadway musical Hamilton, the victory that marks the end of the American Revolution ends with the refrain “the world turned upside down”—an apt description of the birth of the first modern, liberal, democratic republic that has survived to the present. A decade later, a very different liberal and democratic Revolution in France would upend the established political and social orders all…