Category Archives: Worldview

Why We Need Social Norms

David Brooks“The health of society,” writes New York Times columnist David Brooks, “is primarily determined by the habits and virtues of its citizens.” These, he says, are reinforced by social norms that have been “destroyed by a plague of nonjudgmentalism.” Society will not become stronger, he says, “unless we are more morally articulate, unless we have clearer definitions of how we should be behaving at all levels.”

“The Cost of Relativism,” by David Brooks. The New York Times, March 10, 2015.

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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.

Islam, Christianity and Terror

ISIL FlagLess than a week after 9/11 President George W. Bush said, “The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam.  That’s not what Islam is all about.  Islam is peace.” President Obama has argued that ISIL “is not Islamic” at all, but is instead attempting to hijack Islam in a quest for legitimacy. He has also pointed to the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition to argue that religiously-justified violence is not exclusive to Islam. Some, like Robert Tracinski, have recently made a very different argument about Islam.

“Why Islam is More Violent Than Christianity: An Atheist’s Guide,” by Robert Tracinski. The Federalist, January 27, 2015.

“The Two Crises,” by Bill Kristol. The Weekly Standard, January 19, 2015.

Remarks on Islam and Terrorism, George W. Bush, September 16, 2001.

“The Islamic State.” VICE News, August 14, 2014.

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.

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.

Are We Being Persecuted?

Anti-ChristianKevin DeYoung, senior pastor at University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, writes about how we should define “Christian persecution,” and whether or not it applies to American evangelicals.

“Are Christians in America Persecuted?” by Kevin DeYoung. The Gospel Coalition, April 15, 2014.

Ginsburg, Eugenics, and Punk Rock

deadKennedys3National Review columnist Kevin Williamson sees a parallel between Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s (actual) support for aborting the children of poor parents and the lyrics of ’70s punk band The Dead Kennedy’s (satirical) song “Kill the Poor.”

“We Only Whisper It:” Justice Ginsburg Sings Another Verse of “Kill the Poor,” by Kevin D. Williamson. National Review Online, September 24, 2014.