Category Archives: Political Life & Political Questions

Malice Toward None

Lincoln's Last Night NGCUS -  Ep Code 4578One hundred and fifty years ago this week, Abraham Lincoln delivered his Second Inaugural Address. The address, at its core, is a discourse on slavery, war, and God’s justice. The speech, in its entirety, is inscribed in the walls of the Lincoln Memorial. Lincoln was killed a month after delivering it. The original is presently on display at the Library of Congress.

Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln, March 5, 1865.

Conservatism as a Temperament

AngryPeter Wehner writes in the New York Times that a conservative temperament is an important part of conservatism. “Conservatism is famously anti-utopian,” he writes, “understanding life’s imperfections and the limitations of politics. Knowing this, those on the right shouldn’t become enraged or forlorn when the world itself doesn’t fully conform to their hopes. Conservatism considers one of the cardinal virtues to be prudence.”

“Conservatives in Name Only,” by Peter Wehner. The New York Times, January 14, 2015.

The Biblical Origins of Freedom

liberty-bellReviewer Diana Muir Applebaum writes, “We have all been taught that it was the dethroning of revealed religion that produced political modernity.  Everyone knows this, knows that European political thought was not transformed and made modern by reading the Bible (let alone the Talmud); it was remade by a rejection of the Bible in favor of rationalism.” This view that freedom and religion are somehow in conflict with each other is getting long-overdue pushback. In 2011, Harvard political scientist Eric Nelson published The Hebrew Republic, making a compelling case that modern political theory’s roots lie in 17th century Bible scholarship. King’s College professor Joe Loconte has just published God, Locke & Liberty in which he “argues that the single most important defense of religious freedom in the West—John Locke’s A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689)—was not a result of Enlightenment skepticism toward religion. Rather, Locke drew inspiration from an earlier Christian reform movement, the Christian humanist tradition of Erasmus of Rotterdam.” Nelson, who is Jewish, and Loconte, who is a Christian, are among those who are reasserting the role of Judeo-Christian thought and the Bible itself in creating free and democratic nations.

“The Dangerous Mr. Nelson,” by Diana Muir Appelbaum. Jewish Ideas Daily, February 6, 2012.

“Under Locke and Key”  (interview with Joe Loconte), by David George Moore. Jesus Creed. Pathos.com, January 10, 2015.

David Barton Wins Defamation Suits

bartonChristian historian and activist David Barton has successfully taken some of his critics to court, including a pair who said he was “known for speaking at white-supremacist rallies” and another who called him “an admitted liar” whose “books have been picked apart time and again and exposed as fallacious.”

“David Barton Wins Million-Dollar Defamation Suit: Christian historian warns more may follow “to protect reputation and livelihood,” by John Aman. WND, December 20, 2014.

Houston Mayor Backs Down on Sermon Subpoenas

antireligionHouston mayor Annise Parker has backed down on her subpoenas for sermons related to homosexuality. Many, however, see the episode as a harbinger of things to come.

“Houston Mayor Tries to Calm Uproar Over Transgender Ordinance,” by Nathan Koppel and Tamara Audi. The Wall Street Journal, October 29, 2014. [PAY WALL]

Walls and Ramps: David Brooks on Christian Culture

David BrooksNew York Times columnist David Brooks, who is Jewish, accepts an invitation to observe the good and bad ways Christians engage mainstream culture.

“Transcript of David Brooks,” The Gathering 2014.

David Brooks’ 2004 New York Times column on John Stott was much discussed at the time and is worth a second read ten years later.

“Who is John Stott?” by David Brooks. The New York Times, November 30, 2004.

‘Good Friday’ for American Christianity

Robert GeorgePrinceton Professor Robbie George says it is “Good Friday” for American Christianity.  Unlike before, there is now a cost associated with our faith.  Will we, like John and Mary, stick with Christ all the way to the Cross, or will we, like Peter, insist that we don’t know the man?  As cultural elites grow increasingly intolerant of all traditional religious and cultural views, George suggests we borrow from the countercultural movements of the ’50s and ’60s in crafting a strategy for pushing back.

“Princeton Professor: Cultural Elite Can No Longer Tolerate Christians.” Sunday Leaders with Ginni Thomas. Daily Caller, September 28, 2014. [Scroll down for part two.]

See also: “The Conservative-Christian Big Thinker,” by David D. Kirkpatrick. The New York Times, December 16, 2009.

Just War Theory and ISIL

ISIL Flag“Let’s face it,” writes Eric Metaxas, “the U.S. is at war again in the Middle East.” Should we be? When is war just? The Just War Theory developed by Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas is generally accepted by most Christians today as a good guide for determining the morality of going to war. Still, many conscientious Christians oppose war on any grounds.

“Principles of Just-War Theory.” Mount Holyoke College.

“What Chuck Would Say About the US and ISIS: A Just War?” by Eric Metaxas. Breakpoint, September 24, 2014.

“A Declaration from the Harmless and Innocent People of God, Called Quakers to Charles II,” 1661. Religious Society of Friends.

A Win for Freedom

RNS-ANDERSON-PROFILERyan Anderson reviews the importance of the Hobby Lobby ruling for the future of religious freedom in America.

“Supreme Court to Obama: You Don’t Have to Agree with Religious beliefs to Respect the Liberty of the People Who Hold Them…and the Groups They Form,” by Ryan T. Anderson. Public Discourse (Witherspoon Institute blog), July 1, 2014.

(House Reading Group, July 8, 2014.)

Room To Grow

RoomToGrowPeter Wehner, Yuval Levin, and several other essayists propose a new direction for American conservatives in a collection entitled “Room to Grow,” published but the Young Guns Network. It has been received with both praise and criticism.

“The New Right,” by David Brooks. The New York Times, June 9, 2014.

“Growing Conservatism.” Editorial, National Review Online, May 23, 2014.

“What Dave Brat Taught Conservatives,” by Kim Strassel. The Wall Street Journal, June 16, 2014.

“Room to Grow,” Peter Wehner, et. al. Young Guns Network.