To Change the World: Essay 3, Reflections, Part 5 (Children)

[This series of posts won't be a traditional book review. Rather, I'll summarize parts of To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World by James Davison Hunter, and then I'll add my own thoughts. I may criticize the book here and there, but I don't have much to criticize.]

Near the end of Essay 2, Hunter writes,

What is wrong with [the neo-Anabaptist's] critique is that it doesn’t go far enough, for the moral life and everyday social practices of the church are also far too entwined with the prevailing normative assumptions of American culture. Courtship and marriage, the formation and education of children, the mutual relationships and obligations between the individual and community, vocation, leadership, consumption, leisure, “retirement” and use of the time in the final chapters of life — on these and other matters, Christianity has uncritically assimilated to the dominant ways of life in a manner dubious at the least.

What does faithful presence say about the “formation and education” of children? Continue reading

To Change the World: Essay 3, Reflections, Part 4 (Love, Sex & Marriage)

[This series of posts won't be a traditional book review. Rather, I'll summarize parts of To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World by James Davison Hunter, and then I'll add my own thoughts. I may criticize the book here and there, but I don't have much to criticize.]

Near the end of Essay 2, Hunter writes,

What is wrong with [the neo-Anabaptist's] critique is that it doesn’t go far enough, for the moral life and everyday social practices of the church are also far too entwined with the prevailing normative assumptions of American culture. Courtship and marriage, the formation and education of children, the mutual relationships and obligations between the individual and community, vocation, leadership, consumption, leisure, “retirement” and use of the time in the final chapters of life — on these and other matters, Christianity has uncritically assimilated to the dominant ways of life in a manner dubious at the least.

Now, in light of his “faithful presence” theology, what does this mean?

In the preceding post, we considered retirement. I don’t know whether Hunter agrees with me, but I think we’re likely close. Marriage is a tougher challenge, so I thought I’d turn to a great theologian: Stanley Hauerwas. Continue reading

To Change the World/Pass the Torch/Father’s Day

iStock_000003718026XSmall.jpgSome weeks ago, John Dobbs challenged his readers to post articles in honor of those ministers that most changed their lives. I’ve been heading in other directions — and my life hasn’t really been influenced by ministers as much as by others. That’s nothing against the ministers of my youth — good men all — it’s just that I’m much more the product of other influences.

And, besides, it’s Father’s Day, and I’ve been thinking of a story I’ve been meaning to tell.

It was about 1970 in Russellville, Alabama, my home town — population (at the time) of 7,782 or so. It was just a couple of years after forced school desegregation. Racial integration had gone better in Russellville than in many other communities, but feelings were tense and emotions raw.

I was in high school at the time. My freshmen year had been the first year of full integration. It was culture shock for everyone, and both sides were struggling with the change. Continue reading

To Change the World: Essay 3, Reflections, Part 3

[This series of posts won't be a traditional book review. Rather, I'll summarize parts of To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World by James Davison Hunter, and then I'll add my own thoughts. I may criticize the book here and there, but I don't have much to criticize.]

Near the end of Essay 2, Hunter writes,

What is wrong with [the neo-Anabaptist's] critique is that it doesn’t go far enough, for the moral life and everyday social practices of the church are also far too entwined with the prevailing normative assumptions of American culture. Courtship and marriage, the formation and education of children, the mutual relationships and obligations between the individual and community, vocation, leadership, consumption, leisure, “retirement” and use of the time in the final chapters of life — on these and other matters, Christianity has uncritically assimilated to the dominant ways of life in a manner dubious at the least.

Now, in light of his “faithful presence” theology, what does this mean? Continue reading

To Change the World: Essay 3, Reflections, Part 2

[This series of posts won't be a traditional book review. Rather, I'll summarize parts of To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World by James Davison Hunter, and then I'll add my own thoughts. I may criticize the book here and there, but I don't have much to criticize.]

“Faithful presence”

I assume there’s some ancient theology that uses this term, which is, I assume, why Hunter chose it. But I find it less than transparent. Indeed, many have taken the word to be quietist — that is, as calling for a passive Christianity, much as many neo-Anabaptists. And that’s quite the opposite of the truth.

I’d rather call it “common grace” — that is, raining on the just and the unjust, doing good to all and for all. And that’s a term with some significant history.

But the harder challenge, for me, at least, is finding examples of what this means in practice. As is so often the case, paradigm shifts are built on great stories. Continue reading