The City Fall 2013
The City Fall 2013 edition, a publication of Houston Baptist University.
THE CITY From the companion letter to The Education of Children, a book written in 1708, by Cotton Mather, written from Boston, Massachusetts. A Good School deserves to be call â€™d, the very Salt of the Town, that hath it : And the Pastors of every Town are under peculiar obligations to make thi s a part of their Pastoral Care that they may have a Good School, in their Neighbourhood. A woeful putrefaction threatens the Rising Generation; Barbarous Ignorance , and the unavoidable consequence of it, Outrageous Wickedness will make the Rising Generation Loathsome, if it have not Schools to preserve it. But Schools, wherein the Youth may by able Masters be Taught the Things that are necessary to qualify them for future Serviceableness , and have their Manners therewithal well-formed under a Laudable Discipline, and be over and above Well -Catechised in the principles of Religion, Those would be a Glory of our Land, and the preservatives of all other Glory â€Ś But we shall never long retain the Gospel, without the help of Learning. And if we should have no Regard unto religion, even the outward prosperity of a people, in this World would necessarily require Schools and Learned. Alas, that none are carried with Alacrity and Seriousness to take care for the Education of Youth and to Help the World with Eminent and Able men. My Fathers and Brethren, If you have any Love to God and Christ and Posterity; let Godly Schools be more Encouraged. Let Well-Ordered and well -instructed and well-maintained Schools, be the Honour and the Defence of our Land. Let Learning, and all the Helps and Means of it, be precious in our Esteem and by Learning, let the Interests of thy Gospel so prevail, that we may be made wise unto Salvation. Save us, O our Lord Jesus Christ. Save us from the Mischief s and Scandals of an Uncultivated Offspring; Let this be a Land of Light, unto Thou . A publication of Houston Baptist University FALL 2013 THE CITY Publisher Robert Sloan Advisory Editors Franc is J. Beckwith Adam Bellow Paul J. Bonicelli Joseph Bottum Wilfred Mc Clay John Mark Reynol ds Editor in Chief Benjam in Domenech Books Editor Micah Mattix Writer at Large Hunter Baker Contributing Editors Matthew Lee Anderson Ryan T. And erson Matthew Boyleston David Capes Victoria Gardner Coates Christopher Hammons Anthony Joseph Joseph M. Knippenberg Louis Markos Peter Meilaender Dan McLaughl in Paul D. Miller Matthew J. Mill iner Russell Moore Robert Stac ey Joshua Trevino THE C ITY Volume VI, Issue 2 Copyright 2013 Houston Baptist University. All rights reserved by original authors except as noted. Letters and submissions to this journal are welcomed. Cover photo by Vincent Lock. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit us online at civitate.org. FA L L 2 0 1 3 T he Na tion in Cr i si s David Corbin & Matthew Parks on The Federalist Joseph Sunde & Chris Horst on Rebuilding the City Peter Meilaender on the Lessons of History A Conversation with Douglas Wilson 4 14 19 30 F ea tu r es Louis Markos on Feminismâ€™s Worst Nightmare Paul D. Miller on Book Hunting in the New Dark Ages Peter Lawler on Plato & the Man of Steel Garret Johnson on Faith & Dystopian Fiction 39 45 52 61 Boo k s & Cu l tur e J. Matthew Boyleston on Seamus Heaney Nathan A. Finn on the Moral Minority Paul Cella on Conrad Black Louis Markos on Confident Faith 66 69 75 83 A R epu b li c of L etter s Hunter Baker 87 Poetry by Geoffrey Brock 37,86 The Word by Basil the Great 105 3 THE CITY David Corbin & Matthew Parks W e have ample reason to be concerned about the health of the American republic. The national debt is over $17 trillion and growing by $2 billion each day; Obamacare threatens to cause the loss of hundreds of thousands of full-time jobs in an already-limping economy; racial tension is once again the unhealthy norm; and the Middle East (and our policy toward it) is shakier than ever. It is almost enough to keep other troubling developments, like Miley Cyrus’s “twerking” at the Video Music Awards, from dominating our nightly news coverage. Those of us who still want (to borrow from William F. Buckley, Jr.) “to stand athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it” must first know where to direct our shouting. At our growing debt? Job losses? Racial tension? Bashar al-Assad? Twerking? All of these problems could at least be better managed and thus mitigated, if not solved. But Americans seem to sense that even if we were able to manage these difficulties, more would soon fill their place. They are but the observable outgrowths of something more troubling: a deep division within our political community that makes talk about the common good seem either cynical or naive. Participating in American politics is now like celebrating the holidays with family members you no longer love. Hell is other Americans. In the shadow of much that is false, bad, and ugly, it is tempting to look back upon September 17th, 1787, as a day fair and bright. We picture the framers of the Constitution completing their deliberations 4 FA L L 2 0 1 3 and preparing to pass along the Federal Constitution to the American people for ratification, leading to many more fair and bright days. Yet as historian Ron Chernow notes in his biography of Alexander Hamilton, this was not New York Governor George Clinton’s vision as he looked at the charter produced by the Convention: “a monster with open mouth and monstrous teeth ready to devour all before it.” Nor would “fair and bright” describe the days of Alexander Hamilton and James Madison (and, early on, John Jay) as they frantically penned 85 essays totaling 175,000 words in less than a year to answer the charges of Clinton and his allies—all the while keeping up their full-time work as lawyer and legislator, respectively, and fearing, in Madison’s words, “that there are but few States on the spot here which will survive the expiration of the federal year; and it is extremely uncertain when a Congress will again be formed.” To say that the authors were well prepared to defend the Constitution with intelligence and rhetorical power is an understatement. But we misunderstand the Federalist if we think of it as the product of mere genius. They devoted so much energy to this effort because they recognized that ratification of the Constitution was necessary (though not sufficient) to establishing good government, and that non-ratification most certainly would lead the young nation they dearly loved into all the problems of earlier republics. The demands of the ratification debate compelled them to communicate political truths in a convincing manner to a proud and often fickle citizenry. Producing the Federalist, then, required all the virtues of the ideal Periclean statesman: “A man possessing that knowledge [of the proper policy] without that faculty of exposition might as well have no idea at all on the matter: if he had both these gifts, but no love for his country, he would be but a cold advocate for her interests.” F ederalist 1 reads like anything but a cold advocacy for American national interest. Alexander Hamilton begins by connecting the debate over the Constitution to a more fundamental question: “whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.” Hamilton’s language makes clear his reading of political history: that “accident and force” are the normal foundation for 5 THE CITY governments—to such a degree, in fact, that it is not clear that any other foundation is possible. Hamilton, of course, knew about earlier efforts to establish good governments of various sorts, but their descent into despotism—their return, as it were, to “accident and force”—was, in so many cases, so rapid and so complete that one might say they were never really established on any other grounds. For the United States to escape this pattern, and in doing so demonstrate definitively that good government is possible, she would have to find an answer to two problems which had historically vexed republics (conquest and faction) without falling into a third more characteristic of monarchies (despotism). The ancient and Renaissance republics that provided the most prominent models for the American regime were generally small city-states. As such, they could maintain foreign peace only so long as their larger and more powerful neighbors allowed them—as conquerors like Alexander the Great and Charles V periodically reminded them. Moreover, their homogeneous populations seemed to divide naturally into two large, warring factions—usually the rich against the poor. These cities were self-governing in one sense (autonomous, sovereign peoples) but too often not in the most fundamental sense: peoples able to control their political appetites. Given that men are men wherever (and whenever) you meet them, the American founders could not expect their experiment with “reflection and choice” to end any better if all they did was recycle these old republican models. John Jay and Alexander Hamilton address the problem of conquest in Federalist essays 2-8, making the case for the Constitution as a necessary cement to the American union. Break up the union and you are back to a network of petty republics at war with one another and easy prey for the great powers of Europe. Strengthen it with the Constitution, however, and you might, even sooner than later, reach the period George Washington anticipated in his Farewell Address: “when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.” But, the Anti-Federalists worried, could a nation so large with a government so powerful still be a (free) republic? Hamilton wrote Federalist 9 with exactly this challenge in mind. But even more central to that essay and Madison’s Federalist 10 was the second scourge of earlier republics: faction. Why and how would 6 FA L L 2 0 1 3 Americans respect the rights of their fellow citizens when other peoples had not? Hamilton begins Federalist 9 by reminding his audience of the “sensations of horror and disgust” we rightly feel when surveying the history of ancient republics, a set of regimes “continually agitated” by faction and, therefore, “kept in a state of perpetual vibration between the extremes of tyranny and anarchy.” Why were these republics prone to tyranny and anarchy? Did responsibility lay (1) with ancient peoples for abusing their civil liberties, (2) with ancient founders for badly framing these republics, or (3) with the tyrants and anarchists who exploited the faults of peoples and founders alike? While Hamilton notes that ancient peoples were too easily swayed by unhealthy influences, he places most of the blame on the founders, whose governments were unable to rein in their peoples and their leaders when they threatened the well-being of their political communities. Hamilton later makes clear that the problem was not liberty per se by citing successful non-republics “reared on the basis of liberty.” If the founders of ancient republics were primarily responsible for the ubiquity of faction within their communities, a modern republican could take solace in four key improvements to the science of politics available to latter-day founders: “the regular distribution of power into distinct departments; the introduction of legislative balances and checks; the institutions of courts composed of judges, holding their offices during good behaviour; the representations of the people in the legislature, by deputies of their own election.” Add to these improvements the “enlargement of the orbit” of republics, and moderns were left with a new mode and order of republican government that might, when “reared on the basis of liberty,” more regularly produce human flourishing while guarding against the unhealthy appearance of faction. Having helped revive the case for republican government, Hamilton turns his attention to showing that the proposed Constitution fits within Montesquieu’s prescribed republican form, that a confederation of republics is still a republic. If Hamilton’s challenge was to quiet critics of republicanism by showing that an American republic had a better chance to overcome faction than earlier ones, or alternatively to quiet critics of the Constitution who claimed it was unrepublican, there would have been no need for Federalist 10. However, Federalist 7 THE CITY 10 demonstrates that there was yet a philosophical problem to be solved. A confederation of republics could marshall adequate force to protect smaller communities from predatory nations. The new science of politics suggested limitations on government power that might protect the people from their local governors. But the United States already was a confederacy of limited, constitutional republics—and yet, at least according to Madison (in the opening paragraph of Federalist 10), the problem of faction remained: The valuable improvements made by the American constitutions on the popular models, both ancient and modern, cannot certainly be too much admired; but it would be an unwarrantable partiality, to contend that they have as effectually obviated the danger on this side, as was wished and expected. Complaints are everywhere heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens, equally the friends of public and private faith, and of public and personal liberty, that our governments are too unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority. Has Madison just proven Hamilton’s Federalist 9 argument to be incorrect? Not quite, but it becomes clear that Hamilton’s account is incomplete. Federalist 10 ultimately shows that only an extended republic of the sort to be produced by the Constitution (and not the sort produced by the Articles) will have the salutary effects on faction Hamilton anticipates. In preparing for the Constitutional Convention, James Madison had compiled a twelve-point indictment against “the political system of the United States.” Although many expected the Convention to address discrete difficulties like the lack of federal taxing power under the Articles, Madison had a bigger vision, recognizing that the problems with the Articles were fundamental and that they manifested themselves in seemingly unconnected state-level troubles, including the multiplicity, mutability, injustice, and impotence of state laws (points 9-12 in his list). What this suggested, though Publius would prudently leave this to inference, was that Montesquieu had not gone 8 FA L L 2 0 1 3 far enough in proposing a confederation of republics: what was needed was a republic of republics. As defined by Madison in both Federalist 10 and Federalist 39, a republic was, in form, a representative government where all officeholders were ultimately accountable to the people. Consistent with the judgment of political philosophers and statesmen from Immanuel Kant to James Harrington and John Adams, it was also, in substance, “an empire of laws, and not of men,” as Harrington put it. Contrary to the judgment of many of the Anti-Federalists, the proposed move from the Articles to the Constitution would therefore make the American regime more republican, not less. For example, members of the House would (proportionally) represent the people, rather than the states, as in the Congress formed by the Articles. These, and similar changes like ratification by popular assemblies rather than state legislatures, would lead John Quincy Adams to argue, fifty years later, that while the Articles were founded upon the “sovereignty of organized power,” the foundation of the Constitution was fully republican: “a superintending Providence - the rights of man, and the constituent revolutionary power of the people.” Moreover, the rule of law would also be encouraged at both the national and state levels by new constitutional prohibitions of bills of attainder and ex post facto laws (see Article I, Sections 9 and 10, respectively). State-level injustices would be further discouraged by the Article 1, Section 10, clause prohibiting laws “impairing the obligation of contracts.” There would be, in sum, a republican national government that shared authority with (more) republican state governments. But would this improve the nation’s prospects in the battle against faction? Madison could only argue that it would by turning conventional wisdom on its head. The first essay by leading Anti-Federalist Brutus (probably New Yorker Robert Yates) captures the prevailing view well: “In a republic, the manners, sentiments, and interests of the people should be similar. If this be not the case, there will be a constant clashing of opinions; and the representatives of one part will be continually striving against those of the other.” Earlier, homogeneous republics had nevertheless divided into factions; how could a much more divided people avoid them? Everyone knows Madison’s answer: it could not because faction was principally a problem of the human heart, being “sown in the 9 THE CITY nature of man.” While this addition to Hamilton’s Federalist 9 argument reopened the question of whether good republican government is possible, it also shifted the debate decisively from what sort of republic, if any, would prevent factions to what sort of republic, if any, would best manage the factions that naturally arise. In Madison’s language, it moved the discussion from “removing [the] causes” of faction to “controlling its effects.” This was the key in reversing the logic of Brutus’ argument. Since the principle of majority rules seemed adequate to “control” small factions, the question became which sort of republic was less likely to produce majority factions. The more homogeneous and the more closely settled the community, the more likely its factions would be large and well-connected. This, Madison, concluded, was a decisive point against dividing the union into a number of small republics or confederacies or continuing to maintain a loose association among the thirteen states where the locus of political power was so decisively local. We should not wonder, then, at the triumphant tone of Madison’s conclusion to Federalist 10: “In the extent and proper structure of the union, therefore, we behold a republican remedy for the diseases most incident to republican government.” Note carefully Madison’s language: the republican remedy is one of “extent” and “proper structure.” Extent was not enough, as the American experience under the Articles demonstrated. Making the American regime more republican—in both form and substance—had made it more capable of combating faction. M adison’s argument is clever and elegant—but is it right? Even during Madison’s lifetime, leading statesmen like John C. Calhoun argued that the Constitution, as originally framed, did too little to prevent majority factions from shaping public policy to their will. Calhoun argued this was demonstrated by the high protective tariffs of the late 1820s, so devastating (again, in his analysis) to the southern agrarian economy. Hence Calhoun proposed constitutional reforms that would require a concurrent majority (agreement by both north and south) to approve federal laws and defended the practice of nullification by individual states objecting to the constitutionality of a federal law. The case against Madison’s argument seems even stronger today. Every major bill is laden with special regulatory privileges, appropri10 FA L L 2 0 1 3 ations, or tax exemptions for one faction or another. Political logrolling (I’ll vote for your pork if you’ll vote for mine) gets the bills through with provisions few representatives would support on a single up or down vote. And perhaps the remedy seems similar. Mark Levin, for example, has proposed a series of “Liberty Amendments” meant to restore the original intent of the Constitution, many of which would address the problem of faction, directly or indirectly. But if the “proper structure” of the Constitution makes it superior to the Articles in combatting faction, there is another part of Madison’s Federalist 10 analysis that cannot be neglected in our efforts to restore “good government by reflection and choice” today. The entire essay, indeed the entire Federalist, presumes the existence of a moral order measured against which factious behavior is simply wrong. Madison’s very definition of faction, at the beginning of the essay, is strikingly devoid of the dispassionate neutrality found in today’s textbook definitions of an interest group, faction’s approximate modern equivalent: “By a faction I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.” At the end of the essay, he condemns various forms of redistributive legislation and any other “improper or wicked project” a faction might advocate. Madison, quite explicitly, does not expect morality to prevent factious behavior. But his language, and indeed his actions, suggest that responsible statesmanship can open up room for pursuing a truly common good again. Consider Madison’s remarkable speech, as a member of the first Congress, proposing the constitutional amendments that would eventually become the Bill of Rights. Throughout the ratification debate, the Federalists had argued with varying degrees of conviction and forcefulness that a Bill of Rights was unnecessary and even potentially dangerous for American liberty (see, for example, Hamilton’s argument in Federalist 84). For this, they had been accused by intemperate anti-Federalists of being would-be despots, conspiring to rob Americans of their hard-earned liberty. Nevertheless, Madison sets all pique and offense aside, not only to propose amendments meant to satisfy this (still “mistaken”) concern, but to honor the jealousy for liberty of the “respectable” citizens who 11 THE CITY hold it. Rather than exulting in his side’s sometimes narrow ratification victories and crying “we won” to silence every lingering objection, he labors to prove that the losers have nothing to fear: It will be a desirable thing to extinguish from the bosom of every member of the community, any apprehensions that there are those among his countrymen who wish to deprive them of the liberty for which they valiantly fought and honorably bled. And if there are amendments desired of such a nature as will not injure the Constitution, and they can be ingrafted so as to give satisfaction to the doubting part of our fellow-citizens, the friends of the Federal Government will evince that spirit of deference and concession for which they have hitherto been distinguished. For the sake of national unity and the common good, Madison calls upon the Federalists to once again prove their love of liberty to their skeptical opponents. This is not the abandonment of partisan distinctives—or, for that matter, reason giving in to unreason—but a recognition that a nation in a perpetual state of political warfare is not really a nation at all. If it feels like Americans today are at war with one another, it is because on some level we are. The Progressive attempt to redefine the “promise of American life” (in Herbert Croly’s words) has driven many Americans further apart. In aspiring to secure equal outcomes for all, Progressives paradoxically encourage groups to emphasize their differences and press their claims for particular relief at every turn. Progressives have thus cast aside the moral sanction against faction and so increased our sensitivity toward difference that every political encounter is one wrong word or gesture away from war. This state of affairs suits belligerent partisans, but not citizens. It amounts to Federalist 10 turned on its head: the amplification of the effects of faction in order to eliminate its causes, attempting an impossible homogenization of the American people at the very real cost of their liberty. The problem in our day, therefore, is not so much that Madison’s republican remedy has failed, but that it hasn’t really been tried. In the Founders’ political anthropology, a nation has both body and soul, an institutional framework and an animating moral sensibility. Our muscular body has resisted virulent strains of faction across two and a quarter centuries. But it has done so, when it has done so best, with the aid of a soul nourished by moral propositions like “all men 12 FA L L 2 0 1 3 are created equal.” That principle led Lincoln into violent confrontation with slavery, but it also pointed the way to a peace “with malice toward none, with charity for all.” That principle led Martin Luther King, Jr., to confront the lingering injustices of racial segregation, but it also pointed the way to a future where all are “judged by the content of their character,” not the “color of their skin.” That principle and the broader moral framework that informed the American founding won’t immediately solve the particular long- and short-term problems that ail us today. But, if there is a way forward, it is through, once again, living out all the principles of our Republic of republics. David Corbin teaches classical political philosophy, politics and literature, and American political history at The King’s College. He has written a book on Thucydides ’ History of the Peloponnesian War (VDM, 2009) and coauthored one on Aristotle’s Politics (Continuum, 2009). Matthew Parks is an Assistant Professor of Politics at The King’s College, where he teaches courses in American political thought and political rhetoric. He has written and spoken on the American Founders, Abraham Lincoln, and the generation of statesmen in betwee n. They are the coauthors of Keeping Our Republic: Principles for a Political Reformation (Resource Publications, 2011). 13 THE CITY Joseph Sunde & Chris Horst T he economic downturn has brought many American cities to the brink. In the wake of Detroit’s recent bankruptcy, and as other dominos continue to teeter, Christians are re-examining the nature and vibrancy of cities. How do they thrive? What makes them healthy? What is the church’s role in restoring and rebuilding? In a widely read profile for Christianity Today, writer Brandon Rhodes explored one answer, exploring the ways in which a 25member church in Tacoma, Arizona, is contributing to its community through farmer’s markets, block parties, and yarn-bombings. At Zoe Livable Church, members seeks to “radically localize” their approach to the common good, taking a “nearby-first” approach to city restoration. Through conversations with an artist, a barista, and a nonprofit leader, Rhodes observes a “deep web of care slowly being woven throughout downtown,” one “that no one person in Zoe could have nurtured alone.” In The Cardus Daily, Christian philosopher James K.A. Smith responded with both praise and push-back. Though Smith, too, celebrates the slow-and-artsy, he expresses concern that some evangelicals are fleeing too hastily from the macro-and-dirty of systemic change. Decrying “a sort of vague Anabaptism” among younger evangelicals, due in large part to “the misguided triumphalism of a generation past,” Smith challenges “Portlandia Christians” to reconsider the institutional challenges that either hinder or empower our cities: 14 FA L L 2 0 1 3 We have scaled our expectations and our efforts as if the rejection of triumphalism means a retreat from systemic change. It’s like we’ve decided we should make lovely art not culture war… While we rightly eschew triumphalism, that doesn’t mean we abandon the task of reshaping social architecture at the macro levels. Turning his focus toward Detroit, which he aptly describes as a “colossal disaster of municipal government,” Smith concludes that “farmer’s markets won’t rescue the city” but “good government will.” Yet the solution is not either/or, he writes, but both/and: “It’s peach preserves and policy making. Coffee shops and court nominations. Block parties and bills in Congress.” Indeed, Zoe’s neighborhood-first approach to influencing city culture is an increasingly prevalent trend among young Christians. In his book Hipster Christianity, author Brett McCracken describes one such phenomenon at length, observing that many young Christians “view any sort of prescribed system or hierarchy as absurd.” Such an aversion to systems and institutions can play out in a variety of ways. And while Smith’s point about government involvement is helpful, it gets at but one slice of the macro pie: policy making, court nominations, and bills in Congress. Perhaps more concerning is the surging distaste toward business — particularly those that stretch beyond the neighborhood borders. Gallup reported that Americans’ trust in big business declined from 45 percent in 1975 to 21 percent in 2013. Yet all the while, trust in small business remained remarkably high. Sixty-five percent placed confidence in the institution of small business. Among over a dozen cultural institutions surveyed, only the military ranked higher than small business in its levels of trust by the American public. But what of the large-scale high-tech manufacturer? What of the big-box retailer? What of the financial services behemoth? What of the entrepreneur who dabbles in products and services beyond the local coffee shop? Though Christians and Americans more broadly are more willing to celebrate the ways small businesses contribute to our cities, in order to keep large metro areas like Detroit booming, we need great companies of all sizes. Would we be discussing Detroit’s current governance malaise if Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors—”Detroit’s Big Three”—still kept the city’s workers employed? Would we be 15 THE CITY struggling to revive Detroit’s neighborhoods if these companies had stayed small and local? Just as we should get busy in gardening and governance, and just as we should be reinvigorating our neighborhoods through local services and supplies, we should also be active in creating the next Hobby Lobby, Interstate Battery, Duck Commander, or Chick-Fil-A. S mith’s “both-and” approach does, of course, apply here as well. When entrepreneurs are welcomed and celebrated by their cities and states to invest, take risks, and employ people (good governance), and when the common good is pursued in turn (through innovation and value creation), our cities thrive. Healthy businesses don’t just appear out of thin air. They start small and grow big over time, springing from complex networks of strong families, life-giving churches, and intersecting institutions, and they flourish under governments that rightly relate to their citizens. But while local community involvement and improved governance contribute to economic flourishing, we mustn’t forget that business contributes to the social and spiritual spheres as well. One such feature can be found in the correlation between high employment and a city’s overall happiness and well-being. In an article for The Atlantic, Richard Florida demonstrates precisely this, using the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index to show the connection between high unemployment and well-being, accounting for “life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors, and access to basic necessities.” “Are wealthier cities, like wealthier nations, also happier cities?” Florida asks. “Indeed they are. We find reasonably strong correlations between well-being and several measures of income and wealth…Conventional wisdom and academic studies alike suggest that levels of happiness would fall as unemployment rises. And this is what we find.” Happiness can be an elusive thing to measure, and social-scientist terms like “subjective well-being” by no means encapsulate the ultimate ends that Christians should pursue, but they do provide a unique window into the power and potential that businesses wield when it comes to transforming and renewing the social and spiritual dynamics of civilization. If, as Reformed theologian Lester DeKoster contends, “work is the form in which we make ourselves useful to 16 FA L L 2 0 1 3 others,” should Christians be at all surprised that service through business tends toward increases in well-being? An abundance of jobs does not mean all of a city’s problems disappear. But it sure solves a lot of them. So how does one enter the city gates and reignite the economic flames more directly? How can the church adjust its approach in a way that elevates the role of business alongside gardening and governance? T here are no simple answers, and each city will differ. But we could begin by framing our approach with some key drivers in mind. For example, when we observe cities across America, we see that a city’s economic future is driven in large part by entrepreneurialism, high levels of human capital, clustering of skilled workers and industries, or in the case of North Dakota’s Bakken region, bountiful natural resources. Though churches musn’t play the economic chess players, surveying cities and placing pawns accordingly, such features are bound to influence how our witness takes shape. Take Silicon Valley, an area propelled by a unique flurry of entrepreneurs and subsequent start-ups. And it’s not alone. As a study by Harvard’s Edward Glaeser and William Kerr demonstrates, where an abundance of newer, smaller firms exist, explosions in employment are bound to follow, spreading across metropolitan areas and beyond. If high levels of entrepreneurialism are so crucial to a city’s overall health and growth, what does the church miss if it fails to recognize the unique set of challenges that come with starting a business? Are we discipling our entrepreneurs and encouraging them to take risks in healthy, discerning ways? Are we cultivating church bodies that not only have a heart to serve, but also have the skills and education to execute such service? Or look at North Dakota, a state with a balanced budget, wellfunded schools, and a robust police department. Though its successes are certainly due to wise governance and some proverbial yarnbombing, it doesn’t hurt that they have a 3.0% unemployment rate, due in large part to a surge in oil and gas production. It’s why USA Today recently encouraged the unemployed to move to North Dakota. It’s why Bismark tops the list of cities with lowest unemployment rates, instead of Detroit. 17 THE CITY Though natural-resource booms are specific to given regions and somewhat out of human control, the recent flock to particular areas of North Dakota is driven by the very types of work that many have grown accustomed to shrugging off or looking down upon. Oil rigging may not be as glamorous as starting a community choir, but rough work must be done. What does the church miss if it fails to speak to this reality? Are we challenging and guiding folks in their decision-making about industry switches or job relocations? Are we elevating the God-glorifying beauty of all edifying work, or are we caving to the culture’s perception of what is now, for whatever reason, “beneath us”? High unemployment and economic growth are not enough, in and by themselves. But until the church begins recognizing the purpose and promise of business, big and small, and expands its economic imagination in its discipling and sending of believers, the Silicon Valleys and Bakken boom towns will be increasingly filled by those without the love and power of the Gospel, as the Detroits continue to struggle with emptied factories and ever-emptying streets. God wired people to work, and cities need employers and employees to provide such opportunities. John Perkins, a heroic civil rights activist, contemporary of Martin Luther King Jr., and pastor, once said, “Jobs are the world’s best social service program.” Indeed, while we’re advocating for Christians to be more active in garden-planting and policy-making alike, let’s not neglect Perkins’ challenge to create lots and lots of jobs. Joseph Sunde is a regular contributor to the Acton Institute’s PowerBlog and project coordinator for the On Call in Culture community. He is the founder and lead writer of Remnant Culture and is a long time contributor to AEI’s Values & Capitalism project. Chris Horst is Director of Development at HOPE International, In addition to his role at HOPE, Chris serves on the boards of the Denver Institute for Faith & work and the Colorado Microfinance Allianc e. Chris has been published in Christianity Today and co -authored Mission Drift with Peter Greer (Bethany House 2014). 18 FA L L 2 0 1 3 Peter Meilaender S ince their poor showing in the 2012 election, conservatives have been engaged in a prolonged bout of soul-searching, trying to discern why they did so poorly against an incumbent president with such an unimpressive record, whose one signature achievement was a health-care reform notable mainly for its unpopularity. Various conservative factions have advanced their own interpretations of the defeat, and there has been no shortage of suggestions for reform. Conservatives should soften their stance on immigration, embracing comprehensive reform and amnesty for illegals, in order to become more appealing to the growing Hispanic demographic. Drop their opposition to same-sex marriage. Become more libertarian. Soften their tone. Get hip. Amid these many suggestions, it may be helpful to return to first principles. What is at the core of modern American conservatism? Answering this question is less easy than it may first appear. For conservatism is best understood not so much as any particular doctrine, but rather as a broad perspective, a lens through which one views political life, or even, in the characterization of Michael Oakeshott, a â€œdisposition.â€? It is notoriously hard to define. In part this is because of the nature of the post-war American conservative coalition, which has often appeared (though I think the appearance is deceptive) to be held together more by what it opposes than by what it is forâ€”so that it has become almost a kind of annual ritual (currently in full swing) for pundits to issue analyses gleefully predicting the coming breakup of the conservative alliance of tradi19 THE CITY tionalists, libertarians, and Christian conservatives, a breakup which of course has not yet occurred. But conservatism is also difficult to define—and this is the more fundamental source of the difficulty— because it is deeply anti-ideological. Indeed, hostility to abstract theorizing is one of the central recurring motifs in the work of Edmund Burke, generally regarded as the father of modern conservatism. Still, one must begin somewhere. So, since conservatives, after all, loathe originality, let me start by offering not my own definition of conservatism, but rather Oakeshott’s elegant description of what he called the conservative disposition: To be conservative...is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss. Familiar relationships and loyalties will be preferred to the allure of more profitable attachments; to acquire and to enlarge will be less important than to keep, to cultivate and to enjoy; the grief of loss will be more acute than the excitement of novelty or promise. It is to be equal to one’s own fortune, to live at the level of one’s own means, to be content with the want of greater perfection which belongs alike to oneself and one’s circumstances. That, I think, is both a lovely passage and also descriptively correct, though it perhaps does not give my libertarian brethren their full due. But let me attempt to add something slightly more rigorous, more obviously political, and more suggestive of the connections among the various wings of the conservative coalition. Conservatives, I suggest, are united by their support for limited government, support which is rooted in both a moral conviction about the persistent sinfulness of human nature and thus the danger posed by political power, and also in an intellectual conviction about the limits of human reason to organize human society according to any plan and to foresee or control the consequences of large-scale efforts at social regulation. This emphasis on limited government has two important correlates: first, a defense of individual liberty against state power; and second, a defense of tradition, which embodies the collective wisdom of ages, generates the moral framework that prevents liberty from degenerating into mere license, and provides a social ordering prin20 FA L L 2 0 1 3 ciple that offers an alternative to state power, an alternative embodied in what Burke called the “little platoons” of family, club, church, and neighborhood. To explore these ideas more fully, I want to take an autobiographical route, offering not simply a generic set of reasons why anyone might decide to be a conservative, but rather a more personal account of how I myself came to adopt the perspective just described. Given the conservative preference for the concrete and particular over the abstract and universal, this is actually a quite fitting way to approach the topic. And ultimately it will lead us back to the first principles that conservatives are currently seeking to understand. First, though, it requires a look to the past. In order to explain why I now think of myself as a conservative, I first need to take up the question of how I originally became one—or, perhaps better, how I discovered that I was one. For I cannot adequately explain my conservatism without reference to the circumstances of my own political coming-of-age. I began to develop some meaningful awareness of and at least moderately informed opinions about politics as a high school student. Since I graduated from high school in 1989, this means that my early development of a personal political perspective basically coincided with Ronald Reagan’s second term as president—with the climax, in other words, of the Cold War. The Berlin Wall came down during my first semester of college, in the fall of ‘89. I thus belong to the very last age cohort old enough to remember the Cold War and able to have been politically shaped by it. Just a couple of years younger, even, and I would no longer have been conscious of the Cold War as a political issue in anything like the same way. During those years, as for several decades previously, the Cold War—the confrontation with the communist threat—towered in importance over all other political issues. Beside it, everything else—economic problems, tax policy, education, homelessness, the appearance of the AIDS epidemic, world hunger—dwindled into insignificance. As James Burnham put it in his 1964 classic, Suicide of the West, “[T]he primary issue before Western civilization today, and before its member nations, is survival.” This may be difficult for people younger than I am to grasp. One can get some sense of it by considering how the war on terror rightly dominated the political landscape for much of the first decade of this century. But the 21 THE CITY analogy is very imperfect, for, after all, Islamist terrorism—and in saying this I by no means wish to diminish the very real threat that it poses—does not control one of the world’s only two superpowers, with an immense nuclear arsenal at its disposal. The Soviet threat was much greater. The United States then confronted a regime of unprecedented oppressiveness, its totalitarian aims abetted by the technological possibilities of a modern society. It was the avowed enemy of liberal democracy, private property, and Western political values; militantly atheistic; explicitly committed to the worldwide spread of communist revolution, by violence if necessary; and, to top it off, at least our military equal, and quite possibly, by the time of Reagan’s election in 1980, our military superior. Nor was it possible, by the mid-’80s—or even earlier—to be ignorant of any of this. Soviet military capabilities were only too wellknown. Of their goal of worldwide revolution the Soviets had never made any secret. But also the nature of the regime, its extraordinary oppressiveness, was plain for all to see who were willing to face facts. The West knew of the purges; we knew of the KGB and its methods; we knew of the Gulag. T hus, as I began following politics in the ‘80s, I came to understand that at that moment in history, a person’s political judgement had to pass one primary test: whether you were right or whether you were wrong about the Cold War. (Incidentally, it is because he was unerringly right about this, the decisive political issue of his age, that Reagan was a great president.) This was the test. I don’t mean to suggest that there was no room for reasonable disagreement about a wide range of strategic considerations. Just as reasonable people today can agree about the seriousness of the Islamist threat but nevertheless argue, say, about the best strategy to pursue toward Egypt, or about the proper response to the possibility of Iran’s acquiring nuclear weapons, so too could reasonable people then disagree about whether the U.S. should support an authoritarian but reliably anti-communist government in another country, or whether the Strategic Defense Initiative was likely to provoke a new arms race. What reasonable people could not disagree about—not disagree about reasonably—was the nature of the threat. But disagree about it they did. A surprising number of people—or, to be more precise, a surprising number of people on the American 22 FA L L 2 0 1 3 Left, since that is where they were to be found—played down the communist threat and made excuses for it. This, of course, was not a new phenomenon. Though it was and is fashionable to distract attention from the fact by jeering instead at the excesses of McCarthyism, sympathy for communism had long been widespread in American opinion-shaping circles—the sins of the academy in this regard have been especially egregious—which were frequently far more critical of Western, and especially American, liberal democracy than of Soviet communism. Oddly, such critics appeared unimpressed by the fact that their brand of domestic criticism, which flourished in the West, would have been more likely to earn them a ticket to Siberia in the Soviet Union. Attempts to excuse the Soviet regime or the communist project could take various forms. Sometimes, for instance, one heard (and hears) arguments along the lines of, “Well, the theory of communism is really good, but the Soviet Union didn’t really put it into practice”—a statement to which the most appropriate response is probably that while it may sound good in theory, there seems little evidence for it in practice. More commonly, however, the strategy was to counter any criticism of the Soviet Union with a similar criticism of the United States. You say the Soviets don’t permit private property and free enterprise? Well, look at income inequality and homelessness in the United States! Sure, the KGB is pretty nasty, but the Americans have their own CIA, and don’t forget about J. Edgar Hoover at the FBI. Racial discrimination! Vietnam! Watergate! A litany of complaints culminating in some version or other of that chant shouted back in the ‘80s by Stanford students, led by Jesse Jackson, calling for the elimination of their university’s required course in Western thought: “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western culture’s got to go!”—a chant that manages to be both pathetic and, if taken seriously, very frightening. This pattern of thought, the suggestion of what was frequently called “moral equivalence” between the US and the Soviet Union, was unfortunately the lingua franca of the American left back in the ‘80s. It has not vanished, of course, and its contemporary version pops up among those who think that Abu Ghraib or an unwillingness to join the Kyoto Protocol makes the US just as bad as Al Qaeda, or who cannot distinguish between reasonable criticism of US policy and the sweeping assertion that the US is a “rogue state.” The only problem with the suggestion that the US was really just as 23 THE CITY bad as the Soviet Union was that it was wrong. Not just a little bit wrong, but staggeringly wrong, an error of such proportions as necessarily to cast doubt upon a person’s political judgement in all other respects. Quite simply, the comparisons suggesting a kind of moral equivalence between the US and the USSR, or discounting the significance of Soviet oppression merely because the US wasn’t always perfect either, bore no relation whatsoever to the actual world of political reality. It was almost as though the people holding these views were inhabiting a kind of alternative political universe. Just consider for a moment: on the one side, the most totalitarian regime ever to have existed, historically unprecedented, having as a rival for sheer political wickedness only Nazi Germany; on the other, the country that had achieved perhaps the highest degree of liberty, equality, and prosperity in history, while displaying at the same an impressive capacity for self-criticism and self-correction, as its very critics amply demonstrate. To have sought to downplay the wickedness of the first by the suggestion that it was somehow mirrored in the undeniable shortcomings of the second was worse than absurd, particularly when we consider the historical context. Near the end of a century that had witnessed political destruction and evil on an enormous scale, a full-blown assault on the Western heritage, the wanton slaughter of literally millions of innocent civilians in the name of one political ideology or another—to have suggested, in the late twentieth century, any kind of equivalence between the United States and the Soviet Union was simply to have lost touch with actual political reality. This was not merely an abstract intellectual mistake; it was a concrete failure of moral judgement of the first order. Such a failure necessarily cast doubt on all other respects upon the political judgement of the person guilty of it. To be wrong about the Cold War was not just like any other mistake. It was an error of special importance, an error about the one thing about which we really could not afford to be mistaken, because the stakes were simply too high. Because the Left was wrong about the Cold War, its judgement was, in general, suspect. But this necessarily led me to wonder: How could people have come to make such an error? How could so many people—and it really was very many, very smart people—how could so many people be so dreadfully mistaken? Or, to put somewhat differently the question I found myself asking, What could it be about liberalism that made its adherents so prone to misunderstand, or fail to grasp, the nature and significance of the communist threat? 24 FA L L 2 0 1 3 T o come at the question in this way, in terms of the shortcomings of liberalism, is to move toward conservatism through the back door, in a sense, to discern its outlines via a kind of negative theology. One can fairly quickly point toward the typical liberal errors that blinded it to the nature of political reality in the second half of the twentieth century and especially following the political upheaval of the 1960s. It will be clear enough that those errors are really just the reverse of what I initially described as the basic principles of conservatism. The first reason why liberals were prone to overlook the significance of the communist threat was because liberals themselves have an excessive faith in the usefulness of state power. From the New Deal to the Great Society, liberals have tended to think that government programs would solve social ills. Their overconfidence in government’s regulatory abilities stems from a pair of errors. One is an error about human nature. It is common to hear conservatives claim that liberals overestimate the malleability of human nature, but that, I think, is not quite right. While the fundamentals of human nature are basically stable, human nature is indeed more malleable than we sometimes imagine, and those fundamentals can take on very different forms in different times and places. One of the great successes of 20th-century American politics, the progressive discrediting of racial prejudice—a triumph for which liberals deserve the bulk of the credit—has owed quite a bit to government’s ability to shape human nature. The error I have in mind is thus of a somewhat different sort. It is a tendency to underestimate the persistent influence of human sinfulness. As Reinhold Niebuhr wrote, the doctrine of original sin “emphasizes a fact which every page of human history attests.” Because humans are sinful, power is dangerous. Political power is especially dangerous—more so, for example, than the influence that wealth can sometimes bring—because, as political scientists often say, the state possesses a monopoly on the legal use of force. Only the state has the legal authority to kill you. Thus every transfer of additional power to the state, every move toward centralization, increases the threat that government poses to liberty and to individuals’ ability to lead decent lives. This is not to say that government power in itself is bad—obviously, without some power, government could not do its job at all. It is to say that government power always carries a special risk, and that a habitual preference 25 THE CITY for governmental, regulatory solutions to social problems magnifies this risk. This became clear under a communist regime that carried the centralization of government power to an extreme. But for liberals to have pointed this out would have raised questions about their own presumption in favor of the use of government power. If traditionalist and Christian elements of the conservative coalition drew attention to the persistence of human sinfulness, its libertarian wing was especially skilled at identifying the second error underlying the liberal preference for statism: an overestimation of the ability of human reason to plan and organize society, and a consequent underestimation of the likelihood and pervasiveness of unintended policy consequences. This is most evident in the realm of economic policy. The Soviets’ “Five-Year Plans” were a kind of culminating caricature of this error, but American policy has shown plenty of lesser examples. Whether it is social security’s contribution to the breakdown of the extended family; school desegregation’s and especially forced busing’s contribution to urban decline; feminism’s contribution to increasing and increasingly condoned promiscuity and its unwitting erosion of many of the social constraints that protected women against male sexual predation; welfare policy’s perverse incentives against work and in favor of illegitimate childbearing; the tendency of overtaxation to reduce government revenues—again and again social phenomena elude reason’s capacity to predict or control, even when we pursue noble goals with the best of intentions. The liberal response, of course, is typically to call for an additional government program to solve the problems of the first, thus perpetuating the cycle and aggravating the problem of centralization described earlier. Though he was writing specifically about economic policy, Adam Smith’s words in this regard are as relevant today as they were when he wrote them: “The statesman, who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals, would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it.” Again, for American liberals to have recognized the folly of Soviet economic planning would have hit uncomfortably close to home. By the same token, liberalism’s preference for government solutions to social problems left it ill-positioned to criticize the Soviet 26 FA L L 2 0 1 3 system’s suppression of both individual liberty and the communal traditions in which that liberty is naturally at home. Both individual liberty and communal tradition provide obstacles to the exercise of government power (and a focus on limited government thus helps us see that the alliance between traditionalists and libertarians is a more natural one than is often claimed). Because conservatives are skeptical of the exercise of government power, they have no difficulty mounting a defense of liberty and tradition as alternative principles of social order, and a critique of communism on these grounds thus came naturally to them. But liberals—with more impatience for what Oakeshott called “the want of greater perfection which belongs alike to oneself and one’s circumstances”—have tended to view individual liberty as something that we have not yet realized and that must therefore be produced through government intervention; and tradition they have regarded more often as an obstacle than as an aide to liberty’s realization. Liberals have thus tended not to view liberty and tradition as valuable in their own right, as the proper alternatives to state power, but rather as only contingently valuable, to be tolerated when they do not interfere with government’s attempts to bring about a more just social order. In these respects too, we see that liberalism’s own political instincts contributed to its failure of political judgement in the second half of the twentieth century. W hat I have said thus far essentially maps onto the description of conservatism that I offered at the outset. But a full explanation of the important differences between liberalism and conservatism, I think, requires an additional factor, one that brings a religious dimension into the discussion and clarifies the place of the Christian right within the conservative coalition. To identify this factor, we need to say something more about why liberals were led, beginning especially in the ‘60s, to criticize American society in terms that blinded them to its fundamental difference from the Soviet regime. In particular, we need to pay liberals a compliment. For I have not yet given due weight to an essential motive that underlay those liberal criticisms. They were motivated in large part by a genuine indignation at real injustice. Despite government efforts, racial discrimination had not yet been eliminated. Despite government efforts, women did not have a social status equal to that of men. Despite all the democratic idealism of the ‘60s, the United States 27 THE CITY found itself enmeshed first in the international difficulties of Vietnam, and then in the domestic corruption of Watergate. American society fell short of the ideal in so many ways. Liberals were outraged, both by these defects and also by what they interpreted— perhaps unfairly, though it is hard to know—as the complacency of ordinary Americans in the face of them. Liberals thus reacted against injustice and were inspired by a vision of the just society. It was of course communism’s ability to offer one vision of a just society that explained its attractiveness to so many. American liberals, too, yearned for Justice. This, however, was their deepest mistake. For they did not understand that Justice—Justice, that is, with a capital J, The Just Society—is the enemy of politics, as well as of justice (with a lowercase j). One of the essays I read in high school that influenced me most deeply was a piece called “The Convenient State,” by Garry Wills—these days a card-carrying liberal, but originally a conservative. In that essay, Wills writes, “[T]he particular aim of the state is not to achieve justice....” That sounds outrageous, even “scandalous,” as Wills put it. But he was making a point that was made long, long ago, by St. Augustine, in The City of God. Augustine discusses a definition of the state given by Cicero, who believed the state depends upon the establishment of justice. Augustine’s reply is that if that is true, then no state actually exists. True justice is to be found only in the City of God, at the end of human history. In this life, earthly politics has the very important but much less inspiring aim of establishing a kind of peace or harmony among people who disagree widely about what true justice requires. Those who wish to achieve Justice now are making a political version of the millenarian error. The millenarians expected the reign of Jesus with his saints foretold in Revelation to take the form of an actual, earthly kingdom. Augustine argued that they were wrong—that the reign of Jesus with his saints is going on already, even now, in the time between his first and second comings. Needless to say, it looks nothing like what the millenarians were hoping for. But this side of eternity, Augustine warned, nothing better is to be expected. The great communist error—even though it took a secular form— was essentially the millenarian mistake, the hope that there is something we can do here and now to hurry along the coming of the kindgom, to bring about politically the Just Society. In this the communists were not alone. To the contrary, their error was merely one manifestation of the recurring political temptation of the modern 28 FA L L 2 0 1 3 world. The desire to build the kingdom now was foreshadowed by the English Puritans in the English Civil War; and it burst upon the scene fully-fledged in the French Revolution, under the inspiration of that great, modern anti-Augustinian, patron saint of the French Revolution and the American New Left alike, Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The great modern totalitarian ideologies have been assertions of this millenarian tendency; revolutionary utopianism, as Burke foresaw in his criticism of the French Revolution, is the modern political pathology. Post-’60s liberalism has been largely a kind of tamed and domesticated version of the millenarian error. The political error is also a theological error. Conservatism has been the appropriate political response—the proper political form taken by Augustinian realism in the contemporary world. T o understand this is to see that conservatism is often not an easy perspective to embrace. It does not promise the achievement of Justice; to the contrary, it is typically happy if we can manage to muddle along without doing too much damage. That such muddling along is a valuable accomplishment does not make it any more exciting. Conservatism requires that we learn to live with the injustice of an imperfect world. Stephen Tonsor once wrote, “[T]he conservative, behaving prudently, must be willing...[to] pay the price...in justice undone, and in rewards foregone. He must, above all, be willing to pay the price himself.” This is hard, especially if we care about justice. But it may become easier when we realize the conservative stance need not mean simply acquiescing in injustice. Quite the contrary. The Soviet regime, despite the great communist promise of a just world, was tremendously unjust. The American regime, by contrast, for all its very real shortcomings, has been far more just. And herein lies an important, if somewhat paradoxical, piece of political wisdom: It is precisely when we cease aiming at Justice, stop imagining that we could ourselves bring about the Just Society, that we make a tolerably just political order more likely. That Augustinian truth is also the great conservative insight. Peter Meilaender is a professor of political science at Houghton College. 29 THE CITY A Conversation with Douglas Wilson On April 13, 2012, Douglas Wilson, senior pastor of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, and senior fellow of theology at New Saint Andrews College, gave two lectures at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana on the Christian view of sexuality. The lectures became a social-media sensation in evangelical circles when the video debuted in late June, as they showed a huge crowd of students alternately interrupting Wilson, shouting him down, and hurling obscenities at him. The question-and-answer session that followed lasted two hours and featured angry questions and no small amount of posturing from the students and community members. The display of vitriol and opposition to biblical sexuality was unlike anything that many American Christians, accustomed to congenial university debate, had seen. For his part, Wilson gave as good—or better—than he got. We recently had opportunity to talk with the pastor, well-known for his debates with the late atheist author Christopher Hitchens, and for books like Father Hunger and Redeeming Marriage, about the experience. The intensity of the crowd at your lectures was oppressive even watching them from a computer. You could almost feel the heat and anger of the crowd. Can you describe how these talks came about, and what it was like for you to speak in that environment? It was engaging, exciting—you had to be aware of your surroundings. We were prepared going into it for something, 30 FA L L 2 0 1 3 so we weren’t caught flat-footed. The best word for it would be, “exciting.” They had my interest [laughs]. My friend named Tim Bayly pastors a church in Bloomington. The ladies of his church asked my wife [Nancy] to be a conference speaker for their ladies’ retreat. Nancy and I have a policy of attending one another’s talks. Since I wasn’t brought out to do any talks, the folks at the church asked if they could do something with me and their campus outreach. So they asked if I would be willing to do a couple of talks on the university campus. We planned this some months out and then when they started advertising it—Bloomington is the home of the Kinsey Institute, and so it’s a really liberal and progressive campus. So when they started advertising, they got pushback right away. Can you clarify a little bit of the response you got, and your response to it? I wasn’t there in the run-up, but what I was aware of was this: the initial wave of advertising [from the church] was a series of chalk messages that were a man and a woman and that said “This is God’s design” and things like that. But then the chalk messages started getting erased, and then there were counter-messages. Then a Facebook group was created—Students Against Wilson, or whatever—and then students put the word out that they were going to make themselves known. The organizers of the event made sure to have police there, and so that’s how it came together. Your material was characteristically nimble and deep. Could you summarize your main points of your two lectures? The two lectures were “Creation Sexuality” and “Redemption Sexuality,” covering how God planned it from the beginning in the created order and how God restored it in the new order. So the central takeaway from the first talk was that when God creates, he creates heaven and earth—so right off the bat you have something that is not God. So it’s good for something to not be God. Then there’s heaven and earth, sea and dry land, and so on. Then at the pinnacle, you have the creation of male and female, that fundamental division in complementary distinction, bears and carries the image of God. 31 THE CITY So I was arguing that in order to reflect the image of God we have to draw and maintain clear lines. All of this follows from the doctrine of creation. If you are an evolutionist and deny the doctrine of creation, you are essentially saying that given enough time, anything can turn into anything else. So in the beginning there was hydrogen, and then there was an explosion, and matter has been morphing ever since then, and so anything can come from anything else. So crab nebula and all of these things evolve from primordial matter. If your ultimate faith is that anything can turn into something else, then, why can’t a man turn into a woman? At some point this will have a sexual expression. I call this “pomosexuality”—postmodern relativism coupled with evolution gives you pomosexuality. The second talk had to do with restoring the ruins after human rebellion, after mankind fell. I argued that God the Father arranged for his divine son to come to earth and marry a prostitute as pictured in the biblical book of Hosea and as typified by Mary Magdalene. The virgin bride in the garden of Eden becomes a whore and becomes a virgin bride again. So I was trying to communicate to the “pomosexuals” that a biblical doctrine of marriage presupposes forgiveness of sin. This is not a collision between the people who have sinned and the people who never have, but between those who have sinned and are refusing forgiveness and those who have sinned and are not refusing the need for forgiveness. You are closely involved in American higher education at New Saint Andrews College. What do you think the response to your presentation shows about the state of IU and higher education more generally? One of the first things it shows is that the students there don’t know to argue. They don’t know how to frame a case, identify premises and conclusions—they do know how to pressure people and get their way. The conclusion I would draw is that the radical left on college campuses are like spoiled children, the two-year-old boy in Wal-Mart flipping out because he can’t get a toy he wants. But they don’t know how to articulate what they want, and they don’t know how to reason through it. It’s just simply raw power. I recently read an essay in Touchstone by Anthony Esolen in which he noted how he spoke at Yale and was interrupted by a gay “kiss-in” 32 FA L L 2 0 1 3 during his talk. It seems that modern students know how to do activism, like you say, but they’re not skilled in arguments—is that right? They would say your demand for argumentation is so western—that’s what we’re revolting against, that’s your JudeoChristian worldview speaking. And I would say, yes, it is [laughing]. I don’t think they can sustain anything very long, given their presuppositions. Is this then the fulfillment of what postmodern ideologues have long sought to bring about? Are we in a scene where power is the only essential or active agent? Very much so. If I were to talk to a head of the American university system about reasoned discourse, it wouldn’t bother him at all. He would say we’re getting what we want. It wouldn’t bother him at all. This is working. And in many places it is. The thing that’s striking about this is that postmodern theorists have said that the establishment is all about power, that that all arguments are about power grabs, and I would turn that around and say you’re doing that. The power-hungry postmodernist attributes power-hunger to everyone else. And in their case that is just naked, it’s just out there. You’re a pastor, and you’ve debated Christopher Hitchens— you’ve been in the lion’s den, so to speak. How can Christians of all kinds— and not necessarily with the thick-skin you have—stand for biblical truth on marriage and homosexuality in their own corners? That’s a hard one, but there are several things I’d like to say there. For many years I felt that conservatives in the culture wars had the besetting sin of being shrill—shrill, angry, upset. They write letters to the editors that get preyed on. That is our besetting sin, and it’s the thing we have to fight in the first instance. The way we do that is this: when we go into these kinds of situations, when they start chanting “Change your mind,” and “Forget the Bible,” I’m not going to compromise. But many Christians hold the line in not changing the way they think, but they immediately adopt the feeling that the crowd wants you to feel. The crowd wants you to feel angry, threat33 THE CITY ened, defensive, on your heels. We need to see feeling that way as a form of compromise. If I don’t want to put them in charge of my mind, why would I put them in charge of my joy? So basically, I want to be in a situation like that where my thoughts, my body is at the service of Christ, and my emotions are the servants of Christ. I want to be obedient to him, not to them. So that’s what we need to get straight. And after that it’s just a matter of practicing that—developing a sense of humor and so on. We should be thickskinned and tender-hearted, not the other way around. You display a lively sense of humor in your writings. Can you talk a little more about the role of humor in this kind of engagement? Who were your role models—William F. Buckley or someone else? My first model of it was Buckley—I started reading him in high school. He was in the political realm, but he fought like a cavalier, not like a thug. I found it to be winsome, attractive, and more to the point, very effective. It’s a good way to fight. These models are not all evangelical, but I found examples of this temperament both inside and outside of the faith. I’ve learned a lot from H.L. Mencken, for example, though he was on the other team. He utilized humor and the surprise element—the metaphor that turns on you at the last minute, he was very good at that. I’ve been steeped in P.G. Wodehouse’s writing—I’ve enjoyed reading him for years and years. C.S. Lewis is British and understated, but he uses these devices as well. What words do you have for young Christian faculty members at secular institutions that are seeking tenure? What do they do in these kind of university climates? I would echo the words of Robert George at Princeton, who spoke at commencement at New Saint Andrews a few years ago. At dinner afterward, Peter Leithart asked George what advice he would give to young scholars in this situation—how did you do it? Robert George said that he did it with both guns blazing [laughs]. Obviously everyone’s situation is different and you can’t have a onesize-fits-all thing. The gatekeepers in these universities are pretty astute, and they watch the gates carefully. If you’re so far in the closet 34 FA L L 2 0 1 3 that you can see Narnia, when they find out and let you go, you’ve given them deniability. They can say “it wasn’t his evangelical faith, but the quality of his work” or something like that. If you’re clearly an evangelical and there’s a hit job on you in the department, that possibility will be clear to those who are watching the situation. Now, I don’t think you should be unnecessarily scrappy. But I do think it’s important for Christians to be clear, and if God wants them to be promoted then they will, like Daniel in Babylon. Did you take away anything from this experience about the way you teach or what you’re teaching at the college? Reflecting on it, what it makes me think is that we have to equip our kids better, because the world outside the church really is becoming pagan. Even when kids in my generation dealt with nonbelievers, there still was a lot of vestigial Christianity in the culture, but there’s a lot less now. So what that means is that we have to do more and more equipping. Do experiences like this make you think afresh about postmillennial convictions, or have they held fast? That’s a great question. My convictions have held fast and not only have they done so but this sort of thing strengthens it. One phrase comes to mind: that is not the future. How could it be the future? They don’t have any civilization-building or civilizationsustaining skills. They can devour, they can burn up, they can waste, but they cannot not build up or maintain. One of the reasons I’m a postmillennialist is because in the long run, stupidity never works. There was a comment from a student in the Q&A to the effect that “hate isn’t always wrong.” What are your thoughts on that? It’s refreshingly honest, because they generally like to pretend that they’re too nice to hate. Idaho’s Too Great to Hate was a referendum in Idaho. I was in an event where I was ready to call the cops, almost as hot as IU, and at the end of the evening a guy stood up in the audience. He had a “No Hate Here” sign on that he flipped 35 THE CITY up with one hand, and with the other he flipped me the finger. I wish I was quick enough with a camera to get a picture of that. There is no virtue or vice in a transitive verb, everything depends on the direct object. “I LOVE” could be virtuous or not—you could love ice cream, Jesus, child porn, my country, hurting people, the lust of the flesh. Love is not an automatic virtue. Hatred is not an automatic vice. What’s the direct object? It says in Proverbs that the fear of the Lord is the hatred of evil. So the young man was quite right, but he meant that the hatred of the righteous is not wrong. That’s morally inverted. Isaiah 5:20 says woe to those who call good evil and evil good. Will Christians in coming days be able to participate in meaningful ways in the cultural centers of America? Were you afraid in the context in which you participated in this debate? I would say for the most part, in the old cultural centers, no. But that’s because they are dinosaurs. But I believe Christians will be actively involved in the building of new cultural centers. I was very grateful to God for the experience and also to the church and Tim Bayly and those who kept me safe, for the testimony provided, the clear contrast that was set up, and for how the video has been received. No, I wasn’t afraid. There were about twenty cops there. I felt safe. I thought there was a better than even chance of getting cream-pied on my head or something like that. I told my colleagues that my prayer request was that I not be glitter-bombed at the event, but that if I did get glitter-bombed, that I would look fabulous. Douglas Wilson is the minister of Christ Church in Mo scow, Idaho. See more of his ministry at canonwired.com . Owen Strachan is the author of Risky Gospel: Abandon Fear and Build Something Awesome , and assistant professor of theology and history at Boyce College. 36 FA L L 2 0 1 3 Geoffrey Brock It hangs on its stem like a plum at the edge of a darkening thicket. Itâ€™s swelling and blushing and ripe and I reach out a hand to pick it but flesh moves slow through time and evening comes on fast 37 THE CITY and just when I think my fingers might seize that sweetness at last the gentlest of breezes rises and the plum lets go of the stem. And now itâ€™s my fingers ripening and evening thatâ€™s reaching for them. Geoffrey Brock teaches in the Arkansas Programs in Cr eative Writing and Translation in Fayetteville, where he lives with his wife and children. His poetry has been published in several prominent journals, and his first collection of poetry, Weighing Light (2005), won the New Criterion Poetry Prize. 38 FA L L 2 0 1 3 Louis Markos M y dual role as a professor of English and of honors at a Christian university has afforded me the great and greatly-cherished opportunity to teach and mentor scores of homeschooled girls. The thirty years I have spent in the halls of academia have forced me, often against my will, to be exposed to the theories, writings, and agendas of feminism. After many years of reflection, I have come to believe that the former poses the greatest single threat to and antidote for the latter. Before I explain why, let me first define what I mean by feminism. Though many today think that feminism means nothing more than “equal pay for equal work,” the feminism that is taught in our schools and universities has little to do with the rules of fair play in the workplace. Academic feminism rests on the fiercely-held belief that there are no essential differences between the sexes. Whether or not such feminists accept the Bible as the Word of God, they deny that God made us male and female. He may have given us male and female genitalia, but whatever the nature of our bodies, our souls are androgynous. It is society, not the Creator, that “invented” masculinity and femininity. So strong is this belief, that feminists have replaced the word “sex” with “gender.” Whereas the first connotes an essential link between body and soul, the second points to something that is not inherent in our makeup but constructed by external forces. Masculinity and fem39 THE CITY ininity do not define God-created (or even nature-created) natures that we are born with but man-made social-political-economic constructs. Although it can by argued that this distinction between sex and gender has advanced (somewhat) the cause of equal pay for equal work, it has had a deleterious effect on the integrity, nobility, and beauty of God-given femininity. Sexism insists that men and women are different, but then treats femininity as a lesser and less important thing than masculinity. Feminism says that men and women are the same, but then systematically privileges masculine initiative, reason, logic, analysis, compartmentalization, and competition over feminine response, emotion, intuition, synthesis, holism, and nurturing. A century ago, G.K. Chesterton prophetically defined the feminist as someone “who dislikes the chief feminine characteristics.” Today, many feminists not only dislike femininity; they dismiss it as a bourgeois illusion. Increasingly since the 1960’s, true femininity has been on the run. Traditional college girls who value their own femininity have either had to hide their God-given nature or apologize for their feminine values, perspectives, and choices. Not so the homeschooled girl. I have become famous (or infamous) at my university for my ability to spot immediately a homeschooled girl, at least the kind of homeschooled girl who majors in the Humanities (English, Writing, History, Philosophy, Christianity, Art, Music) or who joins an Honors college devoted to a classical Christian curriculum. What is my method for spotting such literary homeschooled girls? If when I speak to a freshmen girl I feel that I am speaking (literally) to a character out of a Jane Austen novel, then I know that she was homeschooled (well, my success rate is about 85 percent). On the surface, the link between the homeschooled girl and Elizabeth Bennett is part educational and part linguistic. Most homeschooled girls—henceforth, I will be focusing on the literary type— spend a great deal of their time reading great books, especially eighteenth- and nineteenth-century novels. They therefore possess a much higher level of diction and understand the finer rules of etiquette. They value good conversation and are able to participate in it without succumbing to arrogance or false modesty. 40 FA L L 2 0 1 3 But the link goes far deeper than that. The Jane Austen connection only rests partly on the homeschooler’s ability to speak with eloquence and wit and to conduct herself with grace and charm. She resembles Elizabeth Bennet because she shares with all of Austen’s heroines a firm and rooted sense of herself as a female member of the human race. What I have found in my homeschooled students is what one used to find frequently in Catholic girls who attended parochial school. Such girls do not consider their femininity a limitation to be overcome or a weakness to be hidden, but something special and unique that must be nurtured and developed. The properly Catholiceducated girl of the past, like the homeschooled girl of today, is less likely than her peers to engage in pre-marital sex: not because she thinks sex is dirty or men are pigs, but because she views her own sexuality as a gift to be treasured by her and by her future husband. Here are some of the other admirable qualities I have encountered in 75 percent of the five dozen Christian homeschooled girls I have had the privilege to teach over the last fifteen years and the five score that I have met, briefly but memorably, through the speeches I have given for churches, universities, classical Christian academies, and worldview camps: They possess a razor-sharp wit with which they can cut pretentious people (especially males) down to size, but they rarely use this skill, and only when they are sorely provoked. They know what they believe and have a firm knowledge of the Bible, but they (unlike my biblically-literate male students) don’t engage in forensic debates over minor theological points of controversy; they will, however, step in if the boys get too contentious or triumphalist. They have wonderfully synthetic and creative minds that make connections across disciplines and that open up new perspectives on old books; they don’t do this in an abstract, pedantic, “scholarly” way, but in a warm and personal way. They respect their professors, but they speak to them on a level of equality; indeed, they will often gently set their male professors straight, not the way that a dean sets a fac41 THE CITY ulty member straight, but the way a savvy wife sets her husband straight if he is starting to sound bombastic. Like the aristocratic ladies of the Old South, they are gifted in the arts: almost all of them can sing and most play instruments and draw. They have not bought in to the lies of our modern consumerist state: that is to say, they do not judge their value and worth on the basis of power, wealth, or job status. They proudly identify themselves as daughters, sisters, and granddaughters, and aspire to be identified as wives, mothers, and grandmothers: a self-identification that enhances, rather than diminishes, their sense of themselves. They desire to be helpmeets in the full biblical sense and to have their husbands trust in them and call them blessed; they desire as well to be mothers who will raise up godly children. Though not all of them plan to be stay-at-home moms, they all make it clear that if they have children, they will put them first. The glorious and unashamed femininity that radiates from my homeschooled students is a beautiful thing that at times brings me close to tears. These young women will give all they have to nurture the children God put in their care and to make their home a humane and creative place where faith, hope, and love can thrive and bear fruit. And they desire to do this, not because they do not think they can contribute to the business world, but because they consider motherhood a high and noble calling. To achieve such a calling, the modern woman must not only resist the voice of feminism but the voice of an excessively-male ultracapitalistic society that only values things which can be calculated in monetary terms. I am convinced that the housing crisis that kicked off the recession would not have happened if Americans had treated their houses as true homes rather than business investments. Much of the brokenness in our cities and schools could have been avoided had we valued the traditional family as the central building block of society and the ultimate source of personal and civic identity. But 42 FA L L 2 0 1 3 such things cannot happen as long as the true feminine voice is squelched. Iâ€™ve been challenged by feminist students and colleagues, but never in a deep and lasting way. Their challenge is political or ideological, and, as such, is ultimately superficial. But those wise and witty homeschooling girls! They challenge me where it counts, by taking to task my masculine view of the world. F eminists, whose view of the world is far more masculine than my own, do not like homeschooled girls, for such girls explode all the vicious and untrue stereotypes that feminists have been propagating for the last several decades. Feminism would have us believe that the stay-at-home mom is a timid doormat lacking in will and self-esteem, and that the conservative female student who champions femininity does so because she has been cowed into submission by male chauvinists. Homeschooled girls give the lie to these stereotypes. They embrace their femininity as a positive and dynamic force that has the power to shape the world around them in a life-giving, soulenhancing way. And they bravely defend their feminine vision against all misogynists (whether sexists or feminists) who would demean it. Indeed, they have the wit and discernment to perceive that the feminist is finally a greater threat than the male chauvinist: for whereas the chauvinist demeans femininity, the feminist dismisses it altogether as a social construct that has no essential grounding in our God-created soul. The homeschooled girls I have taught know who they are, both as female creatures made in the image of God and potential creators and nurturers of new human lives. And, because they know who they are, their self-esteem is both high and firmly rooted. If truth be told, it is more often the successful feminist than the homeschooled girl who struggles to hold on to a sense of herself that is daily eaten away by a faceless, androgynous, consumerist society. As I indicated above, homeschooled girls usually refrain from engaging in direct debates meant to crush their opponentâ€™s views (they are too well-mannered for that), but they will speak up when they spy pretension and pomposityâ€”even as Elizabeth Bennet gleefully punches holes in the pride of Mr. Darcy. They do not suffer fools gladly, especially when they are feminists who snidely degrade the 43 THE CITY very things they hold sacred. They will also, to my great delight, defend the value of a liberal-arts education over a vocational school that privileges job training over the development of character. Homeschooled girls are feminism’s worst nightmare because they know that men and women are different, and they celebrate that difference. They don’t hide their femininity under a bushel, but put it out in public for all to see. They respect and honor their male counterparts, but they will not allow their feminine voice and perspective to be marginalized. I said earlier that they are like Jane Austen characters, but they are also like Portia from The Merchant of Venice. They have the brains and the skill to don the robes of the lawyer, but their motivation for doing so is not to win a debate or to air their bitterness in public or to settle old scores. It is, rather, to defend those they love. In an age that is in great need of the true feminine voice—not one marred and twisted by the politics of identity and victimization—homeschooled girls are, to borrow a line from Portia, like “the gentle rain from heaven.” The modern democracies of Europe and America have championed a view of the individual that is radically autonomous, that refuses to define itself by social, religious, or familial categories. Feminists have perpetuated and enflamed this intensely masculine view of the individual. Homeschooled girls, in their enthusiastic willingness to define themselves in terms of family and community, offer a way back to a more biblically-based and civilization-sustaining view of the individual. Louis Markos (www.Loumarkos.com), Professor in En glish and Scholar in Reside nce at Houston Baptist Univers ity, holds the Robert H. Ray Chair in Humanities . His books include From Achilles to Christ (IVP), Apologetics for the 21st Century (Crossway), and Literature: A Student ’s Guide (Crossway) . His most recent book, On the Shoulders of Hobbits: The Road to Virtue with Tolkien and Lewis was published by Moody in October 2012. 44 FA L L 2 0 1 3 Paul D. Miller I n the Middle Ages there were book hunters. These were men who specialized in locating and preserving ancient manuscripts of great books. They knew a trove of invaluable knowledge was buried in royal, scholastic, and monastic libraries. They also knew that it was at risk of vanishing from human culture forever because of general ignorance and neglect. Mold, fire, and insects literally ate books, turning the last copies of Aristotle’s second book of Poetics, Cicero’s tragedies, most of Livy’s History of Rome, and almost all of the works of Aeschylus and Sophocles into ash and worm dung. Book hunters salvaged the few scraps of ancient culture we have today. Western culture is no longer at risk from bugs and mold. The internet has assured the survival of its great works until nuclear winter or the Second Coming brings an end to all things. But the physical endurance of the west’s artifacts does not assure the survival and success of the ideas that animated them. Western civilization can be undone just as easily from disinterest as from destruction. A civilization exists in the hearts and minds of those who read its books, know its history, and speak its languages. Without such people, civilization vanishes like a forgotten memory. That is why, as the saying goes, we are always only one generation away from barbarism. Or, possibly, we are already there. The renowned philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre concluded his seminal 1981 book After Virtue with a warning that a new barbarism had already taken hold. Classical western civilization came to an ignominious end when its educat45 THE CITY ed elite—its scholars and pastors, its philosophers, poets, scribes, novelists, and theologians—effectively forgot or neglected what its core principles meant, started using old words to mean new things, or simply rejected the idea of civilization entirely. The educated elite, then, became the new barbarians, which is why MacIntyre warns that “the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time,”—”they” being the postmodernists in charge of our universities, our media, and thus our culture. But we share the blame too: “It is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament.” We live in the new Dark Ages: a time of moral confusion, a time in which we lack public consensus about basic rules of right and wrong, a time defined by the absence of a widely-accepted legitimizing public philosophy. In response to the prevailing mood of cultural crisis there grew a large industry of earnest culture warriors keen to take back the country, to make things the way they were, to stand up for truth, justice, and the American way. But while they organized a campaign for the culture, few seemed to have taken time to learn much about it. And I fear they are missing the bigger picture, or vastly overestimating their own capabilities. We cannot stop the catastrophic cultural collapse that was already well advanced a century ago. We cannot undo the self-inflicted wounds of Verdun and the Somme, let alone Auschwitz and the Gulag, in the trenches and chambers of which vanished two generations of the west. We cannot undo two centuries of cynicism, relativism, and materialism and put them back into the Pandora’s box of postmodernism. These things are done. I used to be an ardent culture warrior; now I am a mourner at the deserted graveside of a distant relative no one really knew. The times do not call for grassroots political activism, as if the next election might be enough to reverse a massive cultural earthquake. They do not call for working just a little bit harder: a few more speeches, another letter to the editor, another fundraiser, the next vote, the next committee meeting. These noble efforts aren’t even rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic; they are tending the seaweed on its watery grave. The times call for a new generation of book hunters. Like the book hunters of the Middle Ages, the new book hunters take it as their mission to uncover and salvage the best of what came before: to cherish it; hold it up for praise and emulation; study it; above all, to love 46 FA L L 2 0 1 3 it and pass it on. The new book hunters sift the cultural artifacts of the world—in our era, not limited to books—to separate the wheat from the chaff, to weed out the unworthy and cultivate the fruitful and edifying, to recover the scattered, forgotten gems amidst the avalanche of trash. The new book hunters are not rescuing works from mold and decay but, what is sometimes just as dangerous, from obscurity, neglect, ridicule, and scorn. There is a large body of received wisdom in academia about what is good and what is bad. Academia dismisses the literature and philosophy of dead white men as patriarchal, imperialistic, sexist, racist, and homophobic—and it is precisely because of this dismissive attitude that much of academia is the chatter of barbarians, and is in large part responsible for no one reading great books anymore. To be sure, some great literature is sexist and racist, but much isn’t. Go read and find out for yourself. Recover the book buried beneath the craggy judgment of credentialed professionals. Salvage it from exile imposed by politically-correct proscription. Book hunting should be the aspiration of students pursuing real knowledge. By “students” I don’t mean exclusively, or even mainly, people enrolled as students in formal institutions of education, earning credits, or working towards a degree; it’s almost better if they aren’t. Adults with jobs and kids who read in their spare time may make better students because their immersion in the concerns of real life—family, money, and neighborhood—may make them better equipped to understand the meaning and relevance of great works for human life. Nonetheless, training in book hunting should be the goal of the few remaining institutions of genuine liberal education. I don’t have in mind “great books” programs, like the curriculum of St. John’s College, which presents the canon of great works with tidy completeness. Nor do I have in mind a degree program in classics, literature, or cultural studies, which treats them as a separate concern disconnected from vocation, science, or citizenship. Rather, I envision a university that requires immersion in a selection of great works as a prerequisite for any other study, that equips students to study them throughout their lives, and that trains students to draw on them to add depth to whatever endeavor they undertake. The new book hunters do not major in literature and philosophy, do not get PhDs, and do not become professors. Entering the official 47 THE CITY priesthood of the humanities is precisely the way to lose books, not rediscover them. The professorate is a lost cause, corrupt to the core, having devoted itself the professional destruction of meaning for much of the 20th century. The assault on truth by those who were supposed to harbor it is the scandal and shame of the modern university. It cannot be reformed from within. To get a PhD or become a professor one must first win approval from those already inside, which means parroting their empty and obscurantist theories about the death of meaning. The recovery of meaning can only take place outside the university. The new book hunters are not out for tenure. Book hunting is an act of cultural rescue in an era of barbarism and it is the route, eventually, to revival. Just as religious renewal is a change in the hearts of citizens, so cultural renewal is a change in their minds. Book hunting is a political act; not in the ephemeral sense of trying to influence the next election, but in the more longlasting sense of changing the nature of the society which government seeks to order. Over time government will find it harder to treat its citizens with casual contempt, to abuse its powers, or to neglect law and order if people understand it was not always this way; if they know what the roads to tyranny or anarchy look like; if they have read the works of philosophy that inspired the founders and the works of history about their achievements. Book hunting requires humility, because it requires the ability to recognize the extent of one’s ignorance. It requires a knowledge of history to help one see the depth of contemporary barbarism. And it requires both stubbornness and courage to go against the official opinions of cultured elites. T he original and still-greatest of the great books is the Bible. Even atheists should recognize that it is the most influential and probably most widely-read book ever produced in human civilization. Familiarity with the Bible is a basic requirement for even a perfunctory understanding of history, literature, art, philosophy, religion, or society. Its removal from school curricula was the victory of barbarism. It need not—should not—be taught as God’s truth in public schools, but it should be taught for its literary and historical value in every school on the planet. If you have not read the Bible cover-to-cover, you are not an educated adult, and your understanding of every other book you read will be still-born. 48 FA L L 2 0 1 3 Beyond that, I am tempted to present my own preferred list of great books as a syllabus for your continuing education. That would defeat the purpose of challenging you to become your own book hunter. And it would also be a tragedy if we ever came to agree on one single list of great books because that would simply produce intellectual uniformity and groupthink—not exactly the goal of a broad education. Instead, you might begin by consulting a variety of lists and finding the books that recur on many of them; or, perhaps better, the ones that show up only once and remain relatively obscure. The standard lists have much merit, including the Great Books of the Western World series edited by Mortimer Adler, the western canon identified by Harold Bloom, and the St. John’s College curriculum. There is even a website that aggregates all the books to appear on any of a dozen or so different lists. Collectively, there are thousands of books on these lists, enough for several lifetimes of reading. The goal is not to read them all, as if reading them was a duty you had to check off before death, but to cultivate a love of them, to choose some dozens or hundreds to read in your lifetime, to season your thinking with them. I have focused on books because I think that they are the main thing. The written word is the primary vehicle by which a civilization records and passes on its ideas, stories, and beliefs. God is a God who speaks; a God of the Word. There is something uniquely powerful about words: our command of language is one key distinction between man and beast; learning language is a large part of what education is; God’s Word is life itself. But I recognize that there are other media that should count. Being a new book hunter is not limited to rediscovering the best old books; it is also rediscovering the best old painting, sculpture, music, and architecture, about which I am too ignorant to write. In addition, I think we can add great works from uniquely modern media to the lists as well. Film is the newest art form and probably the most widely consumed in the world today. The new book hunters should consciously cultivate an education in the “great movies” to parallel one in the great books. Here the lists of great movies by the American Film Institute, the British Film Institute, and the Internet Movie Database will come in handy, as will the list compiled by the late Roger Ebert. Film shows less diversity than great books because it is so young: the entire corpus of all movies ever made was pro49 THE CITY duced in just over a century, compared to three or four millennia for books, and disproportionately reflect the concerns and ideas of their time. Nonetheless, because of their massive influence on the world in which we live, the ability to read a film critically is a must. Some may suggest television should qualify as well. I am skeptical. Even the best television—Star Trek, Lost, The Office, Firefly, and, of course, The Simpsons—rarely achieves the greatest of great movies. It is hard to prod the deeper questions of human existence every week, on schedule, in between commercial breaks. On the other hand, some video games might qualify. When the Smithsonian American Art Museum held an exhibit on the art of video games in 2012, it confirmed my hunch that The Legend of Zelda video game franchise is one of the greatest pinnacles of human achievement in all of recorded history. M ake your own list, and let it be a record of your journey through the great productions of human creativity. It is a glory to God to do so. God commanded Adam to “work and keep” the garden that God had designed for him (Genesis 2:15); Solomon advised “Whatever your hand finds to do, do with all your strength,” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). We are made to make stuff because we are in the image of the Creator who made it all. The work of our hands can reflect the character of God himself. That is why studying and enjoying the best stuff that people have ever written, filmed, thought, performed, or built can actually help us know God better— which is probably the foundation of every civilization ever built. I began my life as a book hunter in 1998. I had finished the core undergraduate curriculum at college, which meant I had supposedly received a well-rounded liberal education. This particular college had one of the most rigorous cores in the country compared to other universities of its type, but when I took stock of what I hadn’t read I realized I was essentially illiterate. I figured there was only one obvious place to begin, so that summer I read three books: The Odyssey, The Iliad, and the Bible. It was awe-inspiring. In the years since I’ve discovered that great books change you. They introduce you to different ways of being human. If you have ever felt that the middle class American life is too limiting, you’re right. Go soldiering with Roland and Beowulf and Agamemnon. Great books are ambassadors from other cultures. If you lack the 50 FA L L 2 0 1 3 time or money to see the world, take A Passage to India with E.M. Forster; tour English drawing rooms with Jane Austen; see Russia with Tolstoy. Great books introduce you to inspiring friends you could never otherwise meet—David Copperfield and Huckleberry Finn— and great souls too dangerous to meet in real life—like Raskalnikov, or Faust. Reading the great books is one of the simplest, yet also the hardest, things an individual can do to reverse the west’s slide into barbarism. Venal politicians who ignore the rights of a literate citizenry will lose elections; corporations that belittle a civilized customer will quickly lose business; and the entertainment industry will simply go bankrupt trying to sell its vulgar drivel to persons who have tasted far better than anything it can offer. Only a sustained, generation-long pandemic of stupidity, ignorance, and willful neglect could create a population so intellectually and spiritually vacant that it would allow itself to be treated like sheep by its rulers and markets. Reading the great books keeps the chaos at bay; it is the first step in the renewal of civilization. But more importantly, God put Adam in the garden and commanded him to cultivate it. Plowing, sowing, and reaping are the physical acts of cultivation—which, in Latin, is cultura, from which we get agriculture, the goal of which is the flourishing of plants. God’s commission to Adam didn’t end there: it applies to every field of human activity. Among the greatest is what we now simply call culture, the cultivation of the human person, the goal of which is human flourishing. Reading, writing, and thinking are the acts of intellectual cultivation. If we understand God’s commission to Adam to encompass the full range of human creative activity to his glory, then cultivating a literate soul is nothing less than one of the chief purposes of our lives. Paul D. Miller is an assistant professor of internatio nalsecurity studies at the National Defense University . The views expressed here are his alone. 51 THE CITY Peter Lawler O ne reason to have a liberal education—one that’s usually neglected by all those experts these days who are saying that the value of an education is measured by the money you earn after graduation—is that it’s indispensable for understanding the political teachings of the better summer blockbuster movies, such as the very thoughtful new Superman film—Man of Steel. Let’s face it, what grown up doesn’t need a deeper teaching to divert him from all that boring action? In Man of Steel, battle scenes sometimes seem to drag on forever, because it just isn’t so clear what it takes to kill someone from Krypton. But there’s something more going on in the film, which speaks to deeper conceptions of the nature of man. Man of Steel is all about Plato’s Republic, something that would hit you immediately if you had actually read that great book. The filmmakers make it clear enough that they want you to read it to get their message. They show Clark Kent sitting in his car reading Plato, presumably to help him get some clue about who he is and what he’s supposed to do. (Message to all you young men and women: If you want to be as good as Superman, read Plato. It goes without saying that there’s nothing you can do to be as strong as Superman. Message number 2: You Plato readers better be prepared to endure bullying for your intellectual virtue, as Superman himself did.) The film also has all kinds of Christian New-Agey imagery that you can grab onto if you’re not much of a reader. Superman is compared in some ways to Jesus; he begins his mission at age 33 (the year Jesus ended his earthly mission), for example. But that kind of comparison doesn’t really hold up that well. Superman is only here to 52 FA L L 2 0 1 3 help us, not redeem us, certainly not to save us from our sins or from death. And he doesn’t have any deep insight into the meaning of life or love. His life, like each of ours, is shaped by choice and chance. He has extraordinary power that falls way short of omnipotence. He’s a man born to love and die—not a god. Superman’s Kryptonian father predicts that the people of our planet would regard his only begotten son as a god, but that we did not do. We’ve never become so Nietzschean or whatever that we’ve come to think a mere Superman can replace our need for God himself. The discovery of intelligent life from Krypton teaches us that we’re not alone. But it also teaches us that “aliens are us.” The residents of Krypton call themselves people, and their personal experiences haven’t taught them anything fundamental about who we are and what we’re supposed to do that we didn’t already know. So the film gently mocks Carl Sagan’s view that the discovery of intelligent and more technologically advanced life elsewhere in the cosmos would produce some deep transformation in our self-understanding, prove there is no God, and peacefully free us from our troubles. We were darn lucky that the Kryptonian discovery of our existence didn’t mean the end of us. The movie uses a kind of Christian “product placement” to veil its deeper anti-utopian affirmation of the Biblical understanding of who we are as free persons—or not merely parts of some “city” or deterministic nature. The film’s spiritual surface draws upon the superficial spirituality of our time, but there’s a lot more. W e learn that Krypton at one point was an empire—not unlike the Athenian empire or even the American empire. Science flourished—as it had to for the high civilization to develop in such a harsh environment, and all the nearby planets were colonized. Babies were made the old-fashioned way, and the life of the “city” was full of choice and chance, as free countries are. At some point, for reasons not all that clear, Krypton turned inward, abandoned its imperial outreach, imposed population control, ended natural reproduction, and turned its science to breeding beings for the functions they will perform in their regime—workers, warriors, and leaders. We get the suggestion that they actually bred two kinds of leaders. Those—like General Zod—whose whole purpose in life was the perpetuation of Krypton as a people or regime. 53 THE CITY And those—like Superman’s enlightened father—who were bred to be something like philosopher-kings (who still cared for their people). The difference between the warrior Zod and the philosopher Jor-El is reflected in the color of the uniforms. According to Republic’s so-called “myth of the metals,” gold distinguishes the soul of the top leaders, and silver that of the guardians who are more about fighting battles than making policy. In the Republic, the myth or noble lie isn’t literally true, although it does justify a genuine merit system based on examining children for their natural talents. On Krypton, the mixture of elements that characterizes the manufactured soul is more literally true. Thus, his scheme—the use of scientific wisdom to sustain the political order—is close in all the details mentioned to the one found in the “city in speech” Socrates constructs with his interlocutors in the Republic. The key difference is that the Kryptonians actually had the technology to impose control—or abolish choice and chance—on reproduction by taking people (Kryptonians) out of the picture altogether. One difference between our time and all the preceding ones is a reasonable person could believe today that imposing such control by moving reproduction outside the womb might actually be possible. The attempt to replace nature completely with technical control, we learn, destabilized the core of Krypton, and the result was decline and eventual destruction. In the Republic, the breakdown of the perfect city is caused by scientific miscalculation. On Krypton, any miscalculation, we can think, should have been corrected by the philosopher-kings, but, not surprisingly, their wisdom turns out to be imperfect and so unreliable. Superman’s philosopher-leader dad—Jor-El—realizes, too late, that the only hope for Krypton is a return to nature—to choice and chance, beginning with the risky business of having a natural baby. His wife gives birth in secret, and the parents are immediately filled with love for their own child, as opposed to a child of Krypton. That child is a return to hope; the S that comes to stand for Superman is actually Kryptonian for hope. Jor-El now cares for both his people and his particular person, and he plans for both their futures. He sends his son in the direction of a promising planet along with the “codex”—or the genetic material of 54 FA L L 2 0 1 3 a billion future Kryptonians—embedded in his body with hope for them all. General Zod leads a rebellion against this “heresy” and on behalf of the eugenics-based people. He’s defeated and sentenced to indefinite rehabilitation. But Krypton is soon destroyed, and Zod manages to escape into the cosmos with his genetic mission of somehow sustaining the Kryptonian people into the future. His hope is first in the colonies, but they all died out in the absence of Kryptonian direction. But he also has hope in the continued existence of the “codex” that left his planet with his son. Zod’s is a purpose-driven life, and his fanaticism flows from the fact of his lack of freedom, of his inability to choose who he is. He can’t help but do whatever is required to defend his people, and he’s probably not wrong to think that their future depends on his conquest of Earth. It goes without saying that nobody in the movie’s audience—which includes no one from Krypton—cares about his people’s future. And so nobody really “gets” the nobility of his mission. The Kryptonians of the future that he aimed to liberate from their encoded slavery in Kal’s body would have, of course, built monuments to his magnanimity. A fundamental issue raised by the film is whether a being artificially made to be only a part of a political community could be a person in full. We see that Zod really isn’t, despite his fearless and skillful devotion. Arguably Kal’s biological father is, but he was one of the few bred with the freedom required to make a leader’s prudential decisions. We’re not given the comfortable lesson that in each particular case irreducible individuality or personality triumphs over genetic manipulation. The Greek and Roman efforts to make citizens through education sometimes failed, and it’s the not-so-secret teaching of the Republic that it’s contrary to nature—or both undesirable and impossible—to eradicate personal choice through some comprehensive and highly intrusive process of political socialization, one that abolishes privacy and the family and chains even sexual behavior to the requirements of the just city. But the founders of “the city in speech” in the Republic couldn’t even imagine an artificial replacement of natural birth. In the case of Krypton, genetic control—not merely educational manipulation—seems to have been successful in producing beings who reliably performed the functions for which they were made. To erad55 THE CITY icate chance or unpredictable behavior, sexual behavior had to be detached from reproduction; all sex, in a way, became safe sex. Although artificial reproduction can produce beings who are merely “parts,” we still learn that a regime that aims to make itself that closed or unfree or detached from natural spontaneity is contrary to nature. Zod’s fiercely loyal female subcommander tells Kal-El (Superman) that “evolution always wins” to explain why his dad’s last-ditch experiment in personal freedom will fail. But of course the irony is that no regime has ever been more opposed to nature than Krypton. Krypton’s inevitable decline and fall is a victory of natural evolution over the effort to provide a conscious and volitional replacement for it. It’s not true that human liberty is defeated by evolution; the truth is that we are “hardwired” for choice and chance and can’t flourish without them. W e’re hardwired to be free, but we’re also hardwired to be relational beings. Man of Steel is nothing if not a celebration of fathers. Maybe the most repulsive feature of the Republic’s “city in speech,” for us, is the absence of parenthood. Devices are invented so mothers won’t recognize their biological children. Marriage is reduced to coupling—a quickie—arranged scientifically to improve the quality of the citizenry. And fatherhood disappears altogether; men don’t know and aren’t attached to their biological kids in particular. You don’t have to be a feminist to notice that the discussion of the communism of women and children in the Republic is so destructive of human love and human “relationships” as they actually exist because all the interlocutors are men. A woman’s voice would have introduced some realism about a mother’s love and the need for fathers. And we can assume that a woman would have let those men have it for not thinking of themselves as having paternal duties. Men, on their own, are tyrannical and ridiculous in privileging public life over the pleasures and responsibilities of the intimate life of the family. A subtext of the Republic is that men diss intimate life because of their erotic inferiority by nature. They can’t actually have babies, and their sexual lives are more limited by time. Krypton’s eugenics scheme perfects the deconstruction of the family and diminishing erotic or relational life. Women no longer have 56 FA L L 2 0 1 3 kids, and so they no longer have to be educated not to care for their own. There’s no need for marriage at all, although it seems to still exist. The single most moving moment in the film is the relational transformation that occurs when Jor-El and his wife are bonded by their shared love of their own child. That’s nothing less than the rediscovery of the natural foundation of the love that properly distinguishes self-conscious persons. Love of “the city” is nothing compared to love of one’s own child. And contrary to what philosophers sometimes think, and what the Republic seems to suggest, Aristotle reminds us that the most relational human bond is between husband and wife sharing responsibility for the goods—mainly the kids—they share in common. The Republic shows that men more than women need this lesson about being a parent. And who can deny that today men find it harder than women to think of themselves as responsible parents? That explains, of course, both why we have so many single moms and why men are faring so badly. It’s deeply instructive that Man of Steel displays for us wonderfully admirable fathers, even as it was released on Father’s Day. Superman has two dads! And he’s darn lucky that he does. He has his biological father Zor-El, and his foster-father Jonathan Kent—an ordinary rural guy from Kansas. Two of the three heroic “role models” in the film act mainly as dads, and the third—Superman himself—is who he is largely because of what he was given by those two dads. We’re reminded that fatherhood is less directly biological than motherhood, but that makes being a father a freer and arguably more sacrificial choice. The foster father in this story is, in fact, more of a father than the biological one. Superman, ironically, only knows his biological father as disembodied or displaced consciousness—or not as a father in full. From the philosopher Jor-El, he gets his wisdom and his intellectual orientation toward the world. It’s because of this father, after all, that he can understand Plato and apply what he’s read to saving us from what seems to be those monstrously amoral products of Kryptonian eugenics. He actually gets from Jor-El all that is natural about who he is. According to Aristotle (who was refining Plato just a bit), by nature we’re incomplete. We become who we are by acquiring moral virtue—the habits and opinions that are the foundation of the charac57 THE CITY ter that allows each of us to act freely and responsibly. Moral virtue is neither natural nor contrary to nature; we’re hardwired to need to be completed by it. The Kryptonians, having had their natures altered with “prosocial” behavior in mind, need that completion less or are more oriented to a certain kind of completion. But Kal-El/Clark Kent, free of eugenic enhancement or direction, could have been completed in a wide variety of ways. He was completed, in fact, by being raised by a trustworthy, steadfast, loving American man (and his wife) from Kansas. Jonathan didn’t raise Clark to be just like him; he raised him, without really understanding him, with all those natural superpowers in mind. He knew his son had to remain, in part, an alien, and that his was to be a singularly mission-drive life. Still, there’s no denying that the main source of Superman’s moral virtue is his foster father. Given those superpowers, Superman would have made his own life and our lives hell without the character—developed in him by Kansas dad—that allows him to control his desires with his singular mission in mind, one version among many of the singular destiny that constitutes every personal life. It’s because Superman is really from Kansas that we can trust he’s not our enemy. We can’t forget, of course, that not only does Superman have two dads, he has two moms. We’re shown a biological father and a fosterfather, but not a single father. Both marriages are good, and both wives and moms are tough and loving. Fatherhood is highlighted, to repeat, maybe only because fatherhood is slighted today, but it’s not presented outside of its proper relational context. Dads can’t be moms. That’s a natural fact. But the film stays true to the Republic by making a good deal out of another natural fact. It’s a male prejudice to believe that women can’t be fine warriors. Maybe the toughest character from our planet is the gutsy Lois Lane, and no male Kryptonian revels in battle the way Zod’s subcommander Farora-Ul does. L et me conclude, as promised, by calling attention to a key specifically Christian dimension of Man of Steel. The “city in speech” in Republic comes into existence in response to the “open” decadence of imperial, democratic Athens. Part of “the noble lie” is telling citizens the lie that they all came from the same mother earth. It’s a way of convincing them that being part of a particular 58 FA L L 2 0 1 3 city is natural. And the distinction between “us”—one’s fellow citizens—and “them” is a natural one. That means it’s only just to treat people from other places in political terms, as potential enemies that threaten one’s own domestic order. It’s corruption to be open to their decadence. Krypton actually made the distinction between “us” and “them,” in a way, natural through genetic manipulation. And so the Kryptonians had every reason to close themselves off from other, alien peoples, and to regard those genuinely different people as threats. With the destruction of their home planet, the remaining Kryptonian warriors choose to take “us” versus “them” on the road. They had to find another planetary home, and that meant destroying the alien people already there. Coexistence was impossible, because the differences in their ways of life weren’t only political or conventional. The Kryptonian warriors weren’t made for anyone but their own people, even at the expense of others. They were hardwired to be political, as opposed to being cosmopolitan. So Jor-El maybe was naïve, in his enlightened sophistication, in thinking that his son could be the bridge between the people of earth and the people of Krypton. Or, arguably, maybe he could have been had philosophers such as his father retained political control of his people, and so the return to natural reproduction had been institutionalized. Superman too was initially naïve, the way Americans are, in suggesting that the earth could be shared by the two peoples. But he soon enough figures out that’s not possible. And he has no choice but to become as “us” versus “them” as General Zod. “Krypton had its chance,” he shouts, and he’s not going to give another. Superman’s “us” is us, of course, because his birth was natural and among us is where he was raised. In the absence of artificial reproduction, the people of earth and Krypton are amazingly similar. The differences in physical powers and technological development are trivial. In that respect, the “us” versus “them” is unnatural; it’s based on a life-destroying personal mistake about who we all are. And it’s not that we on earth haven’t been and won’t be tempted by the same kind of error. (Read the Republic and The Brave New World and any transhumanist manifesto.) We get the strong impression that the personal identities of Americans (and everyone on earth) and Kryptonians are so alike that they must have had a common origin, even a common Creator. Aliens are 59 THE CITY us, it turns out. So we have a cosmopolitan teaching that doesn’t abolish political and other relational, personal distinctions (beginning with the family), but just puts them in their proper place. Well, that’s what St. Augustine does in the City of God and Plato seems not to do in the Republic. That means there’s little wrong—and a lot right— with the city of man being a sophisticated—even somewhat imperial—democracy with an outreach to people everywhere. There’s nothing wrong, that is, if such a country has a place for Kansas. Peter Lawler is Dana Professor of Government at Berry College. 60 FA L L 2 0 1 3 Garret Johnson D ystopian fiction is that brand of sci-fi that imagines a future world in which the powers that be—usually overzealous, powerful governments—have taken radical steps to ensure the well-being of society at large. Often enough, these fictive powers are wellintentioned at first, implementing their drastic measures in the name of “the greater good.” But in the process, they manage to chop the legs out from under some vital part of humanity. There are two virtues that dystopian fiction, as a rule, argues are important for any free, humane society: reflection and humility. These virtues also happen to be at the very core of Christian thought. As the name implies, dystopian fiction depicts societies in which priorities and values are in some way exactly upside down. It’s Sir Thomas More’s Utopia gone wrong. The attempt at achieving a utopia has resulted in some horrifying, unforeseen downside, usually stripping individuals of certain sacred freedoms. But, to those in power, the utopian end justifies the sinister means. Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 underscores the necessity of the first of these virtues—reflection—in a particularly interesting way. It doesn’t just show a picture of the consequence of devaluing reflection; it’s actually about the idea of devaluing it. The setting is a future American nation in which books are illegal, owning them can be punishable by death, and “firemen” exist to burn every last one of them. Other than that, the society seems to be clicking along nicely. Every61 THE CITY one enjoys him/herself. Everyone’s entertained, and the state makes sure to keep it that way. More than just a novel about “censorship”—as the cover usually claims—Fahrenheit 451 is a picture of how private citizens’ lack of will to reflect on anything—which can be understood as a lack of intellectual diligence—leads to censorship. And not just censorship of reading material, but a soul-crippling censorship of thought. Monolithic government-control has been achieved through the means of a thoroughly entertained populace. It’s a world where TV and sports and bite-sized snippets of inconsequential news have become the center of all culture and society. And reflection, thought, has become a pesky, bothersome thing that just gets in the way of all that. Reflection causes only sorrow, those in charge say. And so, for the good of society, books—which induce reflection far more than most things— are illegal. Protagonist Guy Montag’s relationship with his wife exemplifies the state of affairs. She’s persuaded him to convert three entire walls of their living room into giant TV screens (which is pretty normal for this society). Now she wants a fourth TV wall, a totally immersive experience. She wears invisible “thimble radios,” or “seashells,” in her ears all day, even to bed, so if she can’t be in front of a TV she can at least have some kind of noise or chatter bombarding her mind at all times. No room for nettlesome thought, certainly not reflection. What an easy population to control, self-stripped of all volition, all freedom—willing to go along with whatever the ruling elite think best, willing to be controlled, utterly compliant. No thinking involved. But when Montag starts waking up to the insanity of this arrangement, and someone asks what woke him, what he says is key: “We have everything we need to be happy, but we aren’t happy. Something’s missing.” “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society,” says 20th century Indian thinker Jiddu Krishnamurti. And his statement encapsulates the struggle that Guy Montag, or any awakening protagonist of a dystopian narrative, finds himself in. The need for the first of these virtues is immediately clear. No deeply reflective society will forever let its leaders get away with stripping it of all personal freedom, or committing social atrocities— even in the name of “the greater good.” 62 FA L L 2 0 1 3 But, equally important, dystopian fiction also makes it clear that without humility deep reflection breeds those who (having reflected, as they see it, more deeply than everyone else) believe their superior wills ought to be imposed on the unreflective masses. This is just as dangerous. And this is the role the ruling few often play in these stories. C onsider, in this context, the Big Brother state of Orwell’s 1984. To see how such hubris brings about a dystopian state, one has only to glance at the manifesto within the novel (authored by the Party) about the necessity and inevitability of oligarchy—i.e. total rule by the will of an elite few. Here’s one very small piece of it: We are different from all the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know . . . We know, they insist. We are fully conscious. We truly understand. No one else does. Therefore, we rule. That pretty well captures the attitude behind the actions of any dystopian ruling class. And it’s utterly antithetical to Christianity. Both Christianity and dystopian fiction point to the necessity of both these virtues tethered together. Jesus asserts that the “greatest commandment” entails loving God with your “mind” (Matthew 22). The Bereans, described in Acts 17, are lauded as “noble” because they received new arguments, based on Scripture, and then “examined the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul said was true.” They searched diligently, reflecting, thinking critically, using their minds to test the apostles’ claims about Jesus and his significance for the entire world. This, Scripture asserts, was a good thing. Likewise, humility is a deeply fundamental element of Christianity. Myriad commands deal with it either implicitly or explicitly. But 63 THE CITY much more than that, Christ, the Son of God, humbled himself: “taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men,” leaving the privilege of the throne room of God to enter into our mess, to work as a carpenter, to wash his followers’ feet, and ultimately to die a shameful death. Furthermore—and yet another integral aspect of Christianity championed by dystopian lit—in doing all this, Christ forwent the use of force to achieve his ends, whether coercive political force or overt strength of arms. Recall Jesus’ response to the disciple who cut off one of His arresters’ ears: “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” As with Paul debating the philosophers of Athens, Jesus dialoguing with Pharisees and curious crowds, and Luke’s salutation to the recipient of his Gospel, the way for human societies to spread truth is through Word, through the presentation of ideas, through argument. Not force. Not coercion. In this, as in the championing of reflection and humility, Christianity and dystopian literature see eye-to-eye. So the next time you pick up a 1984 or see Minority Report in theaters, know that you’re experiencing something more than just a thought provoking “what if” tale. You’re experiencing an argument for the inherent human value in two inherently Christian virtues. Garret Johnson teaches creative writing at Houston Baptist University and for Writers in the Schools, and ha s taught previously at the University of Houston -Downtown. Aside from being a longtime devotee of theological and philosophical study, and of the works of C .S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, he holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston and is currently touching up his first novel. 64 FA L L 2 0 1 3 65 THE CITY J. Matthew Boyleston I n the last lines of the Old English epic, Beowulf, the Geats mourn their fallen king: Then twelve warriors rode around the tomb, chieftain’s sons, champions in battle, all of them distraught, chanting in dirges, mourning his loss as a man and a king. They extolled his heroic nature and exploits, and gave thanks for his greatness; which was the proper thing, for a man should praise a prince whom he holds dear and cherish his memory when that moment comes when he has to be convoyed from his bodily home. So the Geat people, his hearth companions, sorrowed for the lord who had been laid low. They said that of all the kings upon the earth he was the man most gracious and fair-minded, kindest to his people and keenest to win fame How we have lost the public language to properly mourn our great heroes. This, I think, was one of the principle contributions of Irish poet and Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney to the world—to provide the language by which we celebrate and solemnize our lives. Heaney’s translation quoted above is undergirded by an entire lifetime of verse dedicated to, in words from his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Crediting Poetry, “[touching] the base of our sympathetic na66 FA L L 2 0 1 3 ture while taking in at the same time the unsympathetic reality of the world to which that nature is constantly exposed.” When I was a young and vagrant poet, I studied under Seamus Heaney at the International Yeats Summer School in Sligo, Ireland. This was the same school where, in 1975, at the school’s annual poetry reading, critic Helen Vendler discovered Heaney, whom she would go on to introduce to an American audience. Heaney paid back the debt he owed to the school by making a habit of having lunch with the young writers at Furey’s pub, a ramshackle haunt of the Irish literary crowd. I arrived with other students early and commandeered a back room for quiet conversation. While we waited on the poet, a bus of American tourists let out in front of the pub, filling the quaint, smoky atmosphere with loud, overly obvious talk and the incessant flash of cameras. I watched as Heaney graciously elbowed his way through the bustling crowd. This image shocked me at the time in the way it seemed to perfectly capture the state of contemporary poetry: the most famous English language poet in the world and no one here has any idea who he is. Looking up, there was a framed picture of Heaney above the bar. I t is hard to quantify the intense devotion of American readers for this most Irish of poets. Heaney, like all great writers, transcends his own local culture. He makes the particular universal and the universal particular. But so do so many other great international English language poets. In an essay which appeared in the South Carolina Review, I argued that just as “Appalachian folk music is a palimpsest of its Celtic antecedents: behind the bluegrass banjo tune ‘Wild Hog in these Woods,’ is the much older Irish, ‘Bangum and the Boar’” so, too, does the poetry of Seamus Heaney lie behind the work of the contemporary American Appalachian writer Ron Rash. When Americans read Heaney, perhaps we hear haunting echoes of an older music both strange and familiar. In his essay, “Feeling into Words,” Heaney remembers the first poem in which his “feeling had got into the words, or to put it more accurately, where [his] feel had got into the words.” It was the early poetry of Heaney that inspired me to seek my own “feel . . . into words”, showed me a way of making music that rang true and ethical, opened my throat. For Heaney, poetry could transcend history, it could be archaeology and anthropology, it could preserve the true 67 THE CITY feel of a people and place preserved in the bog-like diction, rhythms, and images of the poetry. It may be fitting to give Heaney the eulogy he himself gives the hero Beowulf, but for me, a more fitting tribute is found in Heaney’s poem, “St. Kevin and the Blackbird.” In it, he tells the story of the Irish Abbot, founder of the monastic community Glendalough, whose connection to nature was so deep that when a blackbird landed in his outstretched hand and built a nest, Kevin did not move until the eggs hatched and the chicks fledged and flew away. Heaney asks us to “imagine being Kevin. Which is he? / Self-forgetful or in agony all the time.” In the end, the message of Kevin’s mercy is: To labour and not to seek reward,’ he prays, A prayer his body makes entirely For he has forgotten self, forgotten bird And on the riverbank forgotten the river’s name J. Matthew Boyleston is Dean of the School of Fine Arts at Houston Baptist University. He has written for The New Orleans Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, The Madison Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, and many other publications. He was a finalist for The Tampa Review Prize for Poetry and The Melissa Lantis Gregory Poetry Prize and a semi-finalist for the St. Lawrence Book Award. 68 FA L L 2 0 1 3 Nathan A. Finn Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism, by David R. Swartz, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012. I n 2004, George W. Bush was elected to a second term as President of the United States, garnering 50.7% of the popular vote and securing 286 electoral votes. He was the first candidate to win over 50% of the popular vote since his father in 1988. In the days after the election, political pollsters and armchair pundits alike noted the crucial place that “values voters” played in Bush’s successful re-election effort. Values voters were socially conservative evangelicals, Catholics, and Mormons. They tended to attend church regularly and hold to traditional religious convictions. “Values voters” was simply the latest name for the Religious Right, a mostly Republican coalition that had influenced electoral politics since the 1980 presidential election. Between the 2004 and 2010 elections, a spate of scholarly monographs and semi-scholarly rants attempted to explain the history of the Religious Right, a movement that had (again) captured the imagination of historians. But not all historians are drawn to the Religious Right. A growing number of scholars, many of them doctoral students, have begun to look at a side of modern American Christianity that differs significantly from the evangelicals and others that comprise the Religious Right. Scholars are now studying modern theological liberalism, mainline Protestantism, and progressive religious 69 THE CITY ministries and institutions more than before. Many historians are interested in leftwing political activism among American Christians, including evangelicals. The occasional monograph on progressive Christianity began appearing at the end of the last decade. They were being published in earnest in the months before and after Barack Obama cruised to reelection in November 2012. More will certainly appear in the coming years; one hopes some of them are as good as Asbury University historian David Swartz’s new book. Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism is a revised version of Swartz’s doctoral dissertation completed under George Marsden and Mark Noll at University of Notre Dame. It provides an alternative history to evangelical political activism in the decade and a half before the rise of the Religious Right. Moral Minority is a narrative history that recounts “the rise, decline, and legacy of the evangelical left.” Admittedly, many contemporary observers do not realize there is such a thing as an evangelical left. But Swartz understands that the history of modern evangelicalism and politics is more complicated than it often appears on the cable news networks. He argues that, politically speaking, evangelicalism was very much up-for-grabs in the 1960s and 1970s; the rise of the Religious Right was not a foregone conclusion. Furthermore, in some respects the evangelical left paved the way for the Religious Right, a movement that embraced the activism of progressive evangelicals, but applied it to a different range of concerns. Swartz’s point of departure is the 1973 Thanksgiving Workshop that produced the “Chicago Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern,” a manifesto for progressive evangelical cultural engagement that is reproduced in the book’s Appendix. Much of Moral Minority is biographical in nature, focusing upon the key figures that comprised the emerging evangelical left. S wartz divides Moral Minority into three sections. Part I looks at the emergence of the evangelical left. The postwar neoevangelicals called for greater emphasis on cultural engagement than was typically found among their fundamentalist forebears. The key voice was theologian Carl Henry, whose pathbreaking The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism (1947) called for an end to evangelical cultural isolationism. Henry never became a card70 FA L L 2 0 1 3 carrying member of the evangelical left; in fact, he was identified more with the political right during the final two decades of his life. Yet, Henry inspired other more activist-minded evangelicals to take up the mantle of cultural engagement, particularly for the sake of social justice. Like Henry, John Alexander was a recovering fundamentalist. The Baptist pastor’s kid became a white activist for Civil Rights and economic justice and published the important progressive evangelical periodical The Other Side. Alexander inspired northern white evangelicals to work closely with some southern AfricanAmerican evangelicals, including John Perkins, an activist in Mississippi. Jim Wallis, another ex-fundamentalist, became the founder of the Post-American intentional community (later Sojourners Community) and the publisher of Sojourners magazine. Wallis used the tactics he learned as a member of Students for a Democratic Society to protest the Vietnam War and advocate nonviolence. Sharon Gallagher became a key leader in the Christian World Liberation Front, a ministry in Berkeley that broke off from the more conservative Campus Crusade for Christ. Gallagher echoed the concerns of Alexander and Wallis, adding more intentional advocacy of gender equality. Mark Hatfield, a Baptist layman and often renegade Republican politician from Oregon, functioned as the patron saint of the evangelical left, especially in the years after George McGovern was soundly defeated by Richard Nixon in the 1972 presidential election. For many in the evangelical left, Nixon represented all that was wrong with politics; his popular support among evangelicals, especially in the Deep South, was an embarrassment to left-wing evangelical activists. Part II focused upon the broadening of the progressive evangelical coalition to include ethnic minorities and immigrant movements. A number of Latino evangelicals, especially Samuel Escobar, called upon American evangelicals to renounce American Exceptionalism and become more globally minded. Latino evangelicals, who wed Liberation Theology to evangelical emphases, led a successful effort at the Lausanne Conference in 1974 to emphasize both personal evangelism and social justice ministries in the meeting’s published document, “The Lausanne Covenant.” Dutch Reformed evangelicals at Calvin College in Michigan and the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto emerged out of their ethnic enclaves to advocate radical politics from 71 THE CITY the perspective of the Neo-Calvinist worldview. Richard Mouw, then a Calvin College philosopher, was a key figure in these circles. A similar mainstreaming was happening among some American Anabaptists, though their worldview was very different from the Dutch Reformed. Ronald Sider was a trained historian who combined evangelical Anabaptism with liberal political activism; he started the Evangelicals for McGovern political action committee. Sider’s bestselling book Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger (1977) offered a religious critique of capitalism and called for evangelicals to live simply and give away money sacrificially. Sider became the key early leader in the evangelical left, organizing the Thanksgiving Workshop that produced the “Chicago Declaration.” Each of the progressive evangelical constituencies came together at the Chicago meeting, though some tensions were already evident, particularly among those who believed the “Chicago Declaration” was too moderate. In retrospect, Chicago represented the high-water mark for the evangelical left. The third section of Moral Minority and the epilogue look at the decline of the evangelical left and its legacy. Swartz argues that, “For good or ill, identity politics pervasively shaped the postwar left, touching even evangelicals who shared similar theological convictions, religious cultures, and critiques of conservative politics.” The same identity politics that led to the fragmentation of the New Left undermined progressive evangelicals. African Americans and women felt like the movement was too dominated by the perspectives of white men. Tensions existed between gender egalitarians and those who advocated more traditional gender roles. The debates between the moderate, realist Neo-Calvinists and the liberal, pacifist Anabaptists were especially heated. President Jimmy Carter, himself a progressive evangelical and initially a source of great excitement within the movement, did not help the evangelical left. He seemingly kowtowed to secularists in the Democratic Party, especially on abortion, thus alienating more conservative evangelicals. Carter was also personally prickly and presided over a terrible economy. Carter’s presidency frustrated the evangelical left and fueled the solidification of the Religious Right as the primary venue through which evangelicals engaged politics in the coming decades. During the 1980s and 1990s, progressive evangelicals were typically on the political periphery. Their candidates were normally defeat72 FA L L 2 0 1 3 ed and their PACs were short-lived. Even their highly publicized protests against American involvement in Nicaragua and advocacy of nuclear disarmament were co-opted by secular liberals. All the while, Republicans took over the White House, then Congress, then both at the same timeâ€”all with enthusiastic support from conservative evangelicals. By the mid-2000s, there seemed to be little place for a political left for those who wed evangelical spirituality with progressive social views. However, as George W. Bushâ€™s popularity declined after 2005, a new window opened for the religious left. Jim Wallis in particular became a key voice in the public square, infusing new life into progressive evangelicalism. Democrats in general and Barack Obama in particular courted left-wing and moderate evangelicals; many of the latter had grown tired of the GOP. Though the Religious Right owned the period from roughly 1979 to 2006, it seems as though the evangelical left is in the midst of a comeback, though the future remains to be seen. S wartzâ€™s work makes a signal contribution to the ever-growing body of scholarship related to evangelicals and politics. This is a story that has needed to be told for many years. It is also a timely story as evangelical political engagement seems to be undergoing a generational transition as younger evangelicals increasingly vote for Democrat or even Libertarian candidates rather than the Republicans for whom their parents vote. Moral Minority also raises some interesting questions worth pursuing by other scholars. To what degree did progressive evangelicals intentionally cooperate with mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics in the 1960s and 1970s? How well were the efforts of white progressive evangelicals received by the key African American civil rights activists, especially since many of the latter were also evangelicals? How did progressives and conservatives interact with one another within particular evangelical denominations such as the Christian Reformed Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Evangelical Free Church of America, and various Presbyterian and Anabaptist groups? Is it possible to sustain a firm commitment to both conservative theology and progressive politics (or vice versa) for more than one generation? These are questions begging for a monograph of their own. 73 THE CITY Moral Minority offers a compelling narrative that provides a helpful counterbalance to the overemphasis historians of American Christianity place upon the Religious Right. Swartz is an excellent writer and meticulous researcher. Though the author is himself a progressive evangelical who resonates with his subjects, at no point does his book smack of hagiography or, considering the present political climate, grandstanding. He successfully demonstrates that the Religious Right was not historically predestined, the evangelical left never died, and the interplay between religion and politics is never entirely predictable. Progressive evangelicals, especially activists, will likely be thankful that their story has been told in such a capable, winsome way. Conservative evangelicals, especially activists, will perhaps be heartened that a time of exile in the political wilderness can come to an end in less than forty years. Nathan A. Finn is Associate Professor of Historical Th eology and Baptist Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theolog ical Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. 74 FA L L 2 0 1 3 Paul Cella Conrad Black: A Matter of Principle , by Conrad Black, Encounter Books, 2012. C onrad Black’s memoir is an engaging account of a fascinating business executive, scholar, and media personality; a raucous, partisan story of a successful enterprise, under intense pressure from various enemies, succumbing to the labored machinations of a new concept of corporate governance; and a fearsome polemic against the “putrefaction” of the criminal justice system that picked up where the soidisant corporate governors left off. The exhilarating challenge for the reader will lie in disentangling this triumvirate so that each aspect of the book may be evaluated in the proper light. Conrad Black was a titan of the newspaper industry, with a controlling stake in the third-largest print media company in the world. His swashbuckling acquisition of the venerable London Daily Telegraph from British aristocratic hands was the stuff of legend. He renovated dilapidated newspapers. He launched bold new ones. His lifestyle was splendid and luxurious. His business achievements put him in the center of world affairs. He was a capable scholar and writer in his own right. He dined with dignitaries, celebrities and statesmen. And then came the Inquisition. 75 THE CITY Considered as a memoir, A Matter of Principle is a resounding triumph. It traces a vaguely tragic arc: by dint of hard work and ruthlessness, our protagonist has made himself a colossus; but veiled menaces soon gather and lay him low; hard on the heels of shocking professional defeats come bewildering legal ones; culminating in his descent to near penury and incarceration in the federal slammer. But our protagonist’s spirit is indomitable. He will rise again. The frame is familiar, but the details memorable and the narrative is on the whole carried off with vim and vigor. Though well over 500 pages in learned (and occasionally repetitive) prose, the book reads briskly, engages and sustains the reader’s attention, and rewards attentiveness. It is sufficiently sprawling, rancorous, and gossipy to avoid that stultification which so often results from over-editing and overlawyering. Black’s attorneys must have been appalled by the prospect of this volume’s publication. The author’s character sketches range from the most regal magnates of Bilderberg mystery to the most colorful miscreants of a Florida prison. He is as able in relating his gratitude for Elton John’s supportive friendship as he is in describing his distress at Henry Kissinger’s betrayal; and he is no less moving when describing his successful tutorship of a black inmate, bereft of serviceable education, than when describing “the last ally to break and run” (Richard Perle). As befits a memoir proclaiming innocence and alleging wrongful prosecution, Black’s best writing is reserved for his blistering assays against his antagonists, accusers, and informers. As an exercise in literary vengeance the book is dazzling. It has other virtues as well. C onsidered as an account of high corporate intrigues, A Matter of Principle is less successful, but still far from a failure. It is intensely partisan and there are some obvious gaps in the account. According to Black, a vague sort of novelty in theory of corporate governance incited his adversaries, but this theory is never precisely laid out in detail. The reader is left with the impression that it was a mere cloak for cupidity. Little effort is made to supply the context for this spasm of puritanical interest in how major public corporations run their business. Nevertheless, Black will suffer no reader to doubt that, though the enthusiasm for corporate governance was said to be undertaken in 76 FA L L 2 0 1 3 the name of exploited shareholders, in his case its working-out amounted to nothing less than the plunder and ruination of several billion dollars in shareholder equity. Piously intoning their fidelity to shareholder interest, these inquisitors went out and bled the shareholders dry. That Conrad Black had improved many decaying newspapers, sustained many moribund local ones, and founded successful new ones, is beyond dispute. That these and other enterprises gained considerable value for equity holders is also a fact much in dispute. So the question that seems to ring in the mind of even a skeptical reader may be: How do you fleece the selfsame shareholders for whom you are generating steady capital by your enterprises? Some have depreciated Blackâ€™s enterprises for slashing labor to the bone â€” a charge of some validity â€” but it is vital to remember that his crimes were alleged to be against the shareholders of his company. Conrad Black did not go to prison for ruthless encouragement of economy and labor productivity. The government could not, in fact, prove Black guilty of statutory breach of securities laws or fiduciary responsibility or specific frauds; it could not gain a jury in assent for the view that the specific payments in question were illicit; even an obstruction charge, related to several boxes of documents, hinged on a criminal conspiracy to conceal the above deceits, and becomes rather dubious if those deceits were never committed, or at least never proved in a court of law. The statute, according to which the harried jury eventually convicted Black, evidenced incoherent vagueness and was, in the fullness of time, vacated by a unanimous Supreme Court. In light of the absurdities suggested by these reflections, the question recurs: Provided there is no serious violation of law, how exactly do you, at the same time, both swindle and enrich the shareholders of a firm? On the matter of the factional struggle with activist shareholders, which set the stage for later legal drama, this reviewer is obliged to admit some ambivalence verging on ennui. It should be remembered that when Black was maneuvering to gain control of newspapers the world over, he was the activist whose intrigues bewildered, discomfited, incensed and finally cast out established ownership. Solemn laments were incanted for Lord Hartwell (former proprietor of the Telegraph) no less than for Lord Black. 77 THE CITY This reviewer nevertheless has no difficulty believing that the intrigues which cast out Lord Black and exposed him to prosecution were largely impelled by an overwrought, orotund theory of corporate governance. While Black’s enemies of course presumed generous remuneration for their efforts, at base their usurpation found its ground in a theoretical enthusiasm: rational executive leadership of public corporations. It was a kind of raid of academia into business enterprise. It was as if the professors donned grim and hateful visages and launched razzias like the Barbary pirates of old. Instead of “Allahu akbar!” and “chase the Giaours!” their warcries were “rational governance!” and “shareholder rights!” It was of a piece with that American age’s morbid preoccupation with grand theories of governance on the heels of September 11th. W hen Black was the activist, his purposes were far less abstract and academic: he thought he could fashion better, more lively, more profitable newspapers, and by that success bring wealth to himself and his fellow shareholders. Though plainly a man of impressive erudition and studiousness, Black exudes not a whiff academe; he was a far more practical pirate. A sort of Machiavellian image of capitalism does precisely suppose that the free enterprise system is the channeling of man’s eternal thrill at the prospect of piracy, into the rough and tumble of a functional rule of law that brings widespread prosperity. The raiders, the buccaneers, the adventurers, the men with that frightful gleam in their eye: their energies are conducted by discipline and necessity into more fruitful service. In an older, rugged and vivid age, men like Lord Black were little hemmed in by law, (though more so by custom); they were almost laws unto themselves. The taming of lordly ambition into business enterprise may be attributed among the great achievements of modernity. In the media, Black was a baron of old, and his surname inevitably supplied easy fodder for alliterative devices. But his mediaeval predecessors could literally fight their way into the House of Lords, while Black himself was left to suffer the petty intrigues of Jean Chrétien, which forced him to renounce his Canadian citizenship, before gaining his peerage. The Magna Carta was a show of martial force 78 FA L L 2 0 1 3 against the King, securing great liberties almost by accident. The freemen it contemplated were an insular and piratical lot. By the time of The Federalist the Machiavellian harshness of all this has been sanded down, and the interplay of private faction and ambition nurtured as the soil from which the “deliberate sense” of the people may grow and flourish: popular government and free enterprise alongside liberty under law. The thread may be easily followed through Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Trade. But even the most vigorous barons are not omnipotent and, like Conrad Black, may be harassed, reduced, and finally imprisoned by agitation from outside their class and enterprises. Black’s indignation at the arrayed forces that brought him down and dismembered his company is understandable, and it supplies him with copious material for some energetic polemics. This reviewer is inclined to agree with him on his decidedly negative estimate of the corporate governance enthusiasm. Nevertheless, a critic need only adduce two names—Countrywide Financial and American International Group (AIG)—to suggest the outline of the counterargument. It seems the financial structure of our political economy precludes any insouciance about the quality of corporate governance. Corporate governance enthusiasts are not all villains. That Conrad Black was visited with real injustices by the votaries of this theory does not remove the fact that many corporations are indeed wanting in rational governance. T he true greatness of this book lies in its final and mesmerizing theme: the purification of American criminal justice. Readers of his account may come away with a feeling not unlike that of St. Paul when the scales fell from his eyes. It is indeed alarming to reflect on the power wielded by American federal prosecutors when they set their sights on a target. Figures as disparate as Ted Stevens, Scooter Libby and Aaron Swartz, and many dozens of innocent Muslims, have come to ruin in this country by prosecutorial aggression. The American bias for the prosecution may want more scrutiny; as may the American instinct, when faced with big public scandal, to agitate for more prosecutions. Nor does Black spare the American penal institutions, “an evil system that awaits the millions of unwary, improvident, and felonious, after they have been crowded through the debased gauntlet of Amer79 THE CITY ican justice.”Nor does the “legal cartel,” which encompasses counsel on both sides of the case, avoid Black’s fiery polemics: “The law is a medieval guild and the clients are the material the guild works with, like shoemakers’ leather, and usually with almost as much impersonality.” Picking back up the narrative, we find Lord Black laid low but not out of it. Intrigues against him within the corporate structure of his print empire have unseated him in America. The conspirators have U.S. government support. His redoubt in Canada is menaced. The Telegraph has been sold (at a profit). His lawyers confidently doubt any possible U.S. federal indictment. He has one last card to play. Lord Black has lined up financing to take his senior Canadian holding company private. This would leave American factions, including the antagonists, without ground to stand on. He still has a chance to get the original shareholders out with a major portion of their investment. He is assured by staffers at the Canadian regulator’s office that the negotiated sale will go through. It does not. Doomsday. Then the indictment, the trial, the conviction, the sentence. He served over 40 months in prison. B lack, even in extremity, managed to position his public firm to at least retain for its shareholders a solid chunk of capital. Private equity would have returned a billion and half to public equity; receivership afterward, and the dismemberment in the name of the shareholders, returned close to nothing. The legal nightmare into which the struggle for corporate governance hurled the author of A Matter of Principle is engrossing, affective, and disquieting. He lays it all out brilliantly, his fiery polemics punctuated by memorable literary allusions and historical parallels. The courtroom drama is capably written, the strategies and foibles of the lawyers memorably examined. The narrative portions relating to prison round out a rather bleak estimate of American justice. The alert reader may sense some instinct for exaggeration and calibrate his own outrage accordingly. But the alert reader will also recognize that he’s read a great story. 80 FA L L 2 0 1 3 After all this, suffice it to say that Mr. Black is done with America. Or so he says. With only a pang of sorrow he has bid her farewell, though there is also a temptation toward adding the middle finger. The critique of American criminal justice on the federal level is candid and severe. All Americans and any who live or do business here are at risk of the tyranny of the US prosecutors, according to Black. He was a victim of an awful system of abuse, predicated on the coerced plea bargain which turns former friends and colleagues against one another and is only minimally concerned with truth. “It is not reconcilable with traditional American notions of the rule of law.” He declines to compare himself to one of Stalin’s victims, because he was never physically tortured. But short of that, he regards American federal justice, now founded on those intimidated plea bargains, as nothing short of irresistible pressure brought to bear on weak people in order to suborn perjury. It rests on “false, extorted, or unspontaneous allocutions, which demean the spirit of confession and repentance and reduce justice to corruptly procured selfhumiliation.” The prosecutor wants his high-profile cases, and will tyrannize anyone, with every advantage of the titanic state apparatus of the US government, to get it. Recourse for a defendant against prosecutorial misconduct is almost nonexistent. You still serve time even if the charges are vacated. Your own counsel probably has much more in common, socially and professionally, with the prosecution. Pre-trial gamesmanship and poisoning in the well is unfettered. Your resources may be frozen in ex parte court actions by rubber stamp. Grand juries have decayed. The President may declare his own plenary power to execute Americans. A 25-year-old kid can be pushed to suicide by prosecutorial pressure for stealing some academic papers. A prosecutor can resort to straight-up misconduct to bring down a detested Senator. How to reconcile these and other evil facts with the civil liberties said to be secured by the Bill of Rights is a question no American patriot can safely ignore. Questions linger, though. Conrad Black was tyrannized by federal prosecution, abetted by the arcane maneuvering of activist shareholders. How far would his criticisms extend to state prosecutors, state investigators, DAs, police chiefs, and detectives, whose prosecutions usually concern different classes of criminal altogether? Tough 81 THE CITY questions, about which Black knows little. To what extent do problems with federal correctional facilities mirror those of the states? What all this amounts to is a book worth reading. Its quality exceeds its defects, though not in equal proportion throughout. It is varied and occasionally self-indulgent, but it is engrossing. More than that it issues a very bold challenge to Americans, to wake up to a serious problem, to take up the problem like self-governing men, to reform if we would preserve, and clean up the rot in our justice system. Probably at least seven out of ten readers will come at it presuming Blackâ€™s guilt. This reviewer began among that majority, but it is a measure of the quality of the book that he did not so finish. Paul Cella is the editor of the website What â€™s Wrong With The World. His writing has appeared in The New Atlantis, The American Conservative, Touchstone, The Dallas Morning News and other publications. He lives in Georgia. 82 FA L L 2 0 1 3 Louis Markos The End of Our Exploring: A Book About Que stioning and the Confidence of Faith , by Matthew Lee Anderson. Moody, 2013. 224 pages . T hough C.S. Lewis was an English professor, he had a lifelong love of, and a strong academic grounding in, the history of philosophy. His attitude toward philosophy, however, changed dramatically when he abandoned atheism, first for theism, and then for Christianity. While still a materialist, Lewis overheard two of his believing friends discussing Plato. As he listened, it struck him that there was something different about their conversation. They were talking about Plato as if it mattered, as if they might change their beliefs and behaviors on the basis of what Plato had written. He would not forget that lesson, one that helped nudge him forward on his long, slow road to faith. Like the mature Lewis, Matthew Lee Anderson is someone who believes that philosophy and the questions upon which it is built matter. In his The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith, Anderson invites his readers, both young and old, to embark on a lifetime of questioning. He would have us move past a superficial faith propped up by ready-made, Sunday School answers into a more dynamic relationship with truth and the God who is Truth. Which is not to say that Anderson, who is currently pursuing an M.Phil in Christian Ethics at Oxford, is a champion of doubt and skepticism. “Doubt,” he assures us, “is not an inevitable part of the Christian life, nor is it a sign of maturity or strength.” To the contrary, Anderson reminds his emergent peers, in its “popular form, post83 THE CITY modern doubt is merely modern skepticism with hipster glasses.” Neither cynicism nor nihilism provides a firm foundation for questioning the mysteries of God, man, and the universe. The kind of questioning that changes our beliefs and behaviors is grounded in faith and tradition, a grounding that empowers and provides an arena for philosophical, theological, and aesthetic exploration. Too often, modern and postmodern people begin their search from an orientation of doubt, when the truly wise seeker (like Socrates) encounters doubt near the end of his search. “The genuinely revolutionary countercultural stance,” notes Anderson with bracing irony, “is the same as ever: to say our creed with the confidence that comes from living within it and finding that it is true, good, and beautiful.” It is precisely because we know the God who is Truth that we can search confidently, trusting that the final end of our exploring will be a face-to-face encounter with God. Job is a man of faith and obedience, but it is not until God confronts him with a series of pointed questions that Job becomes fully aware of the chasm between his own status and that of his Creator, and, through that awareness, gains his first true glimpse of the LORD (the One Who Is). Whereas the modern church more often than not seeks to shield its parishioners from the dark night of the soul, David’s faith is strengthened and matured by the desperate and despairing questions he hurls at God in the Psalms. I f a churchgoer were to voice in a Bible study the kinds of questions the psalmists ask—Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble? My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why go I mourning because of the oppression of my enemy? How long, LORD? wilt thou be angry for ever?—he would risk being alienated by other churchgoers who fear he may be losing his faith or falling into heresy. But that is not generally the case, Anderson counsels: “The mournful cry of longing and frustration is simply faith in a minor key: we only pour out our hearts to those we believe will hear us and respond.” The despairing psalms may begin with doubt, but they always end with affirmation and a renewed, more vigorous faith. And it is vital that churches allow such questions, despairing or otherwise, for it is within such communities of faith that people are freer to take intellectual and spiritual risks. 84 FA L L 2 0 1 3 Interestingly, though he does not mention it in his book, Anderson’s theory was partly confirmed by a well-known study of children playing in a schoolyard. When the playground was surrounded by a fence, the children made use of the whole area; when the fence was taken away, they huddled tightly around the swings and slides. That is to say, the fence freed the children to explore the fullness of their world; without it, they were stifled and, quite literally, played it safe. Anderson does not want us to play it safe, though he does caution us against a frivolous kind of curiosity that restlessly skims the surface of knowledge in an endless search for trivia and novelty. Questioning is serious business; it should neither be taken lightly nor used solely as a weapon for winning debates. Because “God is a person and not an answer or favor dispensing machine,” we must approach him, and the Truth that he is, with reverence, faith, charity, humility, and a healthy dose of patience. The End of Our Exploring is a well-written and thought-provoking book on an important subject, but it does have some flaws. The second half tends to be repetitive, circling back on the same themes rather than moving the argument forward. It also makes use of far too many footnotes. Though Anderson wisely uses them to free up his text from unnecessary parenthetical phrases, he overuses the technique by an order of three. Amusing at first, the notes become increasingly distracting and end up being downright irritating. Still, Anderson’s wit, generosity, and infectious joviality keep things moving along nicely, and he succeeds in what he sets out to do: convince us that the asking of good questions is at least as important as the finding of good answers. His is a voice our age needs to hear. Louis Markos (www.Loumarkos.com), Professor in En glish and Scholar in Residence at Houston Baptist Univers ity, holds the Robert H. Ray Chair in Humanities . His books include From Achilles to Christ (IVP), Apologetics for the 21st Century (Crossway), and Literature: A Student ’s Guide (Crossway) . His most recent book, On the Shoulders of Ho bbits: The Road to Virtue with Tolkien and Lewis was published by Moody in October 2012. 85 THE CITY Geoffrey Brock I When I was a child I brushed as a child which is to say often I didnâ€™t at all but when I was a child I was sharp of wit and when omitting the brushing I wetted the bristles for I knew that my parents vetted the bristles II Now I am a man I brush as a man which is to say thoroughly to stave off rot but now Iâ€™m a man I am duller of wit did I brush already or not I forget and no one to vet these bristles but me 86 FA L L 2 0 1 3 Hunter Baker I was 10 or 11 years old. A very exciting commercial on television informed me that I could buy a “real diamond ring” for only $10. All I had to do was to call a 1-800 number and make the order. It would be delivered C.O.D., which only a few of you will remember meant Cash On Delivery. The offer appealed to me tremendously. Ten dollars was a lot for a kid back then (my impulse buys were usually a dollar or less), but it was within reach. I knew immediately that I wanted to buy a “real diamond ring” for my mother. You may have seen the small diamond rings proudly worn by the wives of men who were in school when they got married or something of that nature. Well, this one was a WHOLE LOT smaller than that. Plus, it may have been made of diamond dust. It was a pretty poor diamond. I give credit to my mother, though. She received it happily. It was, after all, very well intended. As I watch television with my children now, I notice how excited they get over advertisements they see. They believe all the promises. The offers stimulate the wild spirits of consumption. They want to go to the store or order online right away. The funny thing is that I envy them. Why would I envy their gullibility? The answer is that it is of a piece with their youth. The world is a frightening place to them in many ways, but it also bursting with promise and possibility. Something wonderful is right around the corner. And there are many spokesmen for the fantastic, amazing things that can be had for a low, low price! I wish I still had that unjaundiced view of things. Life was more fun that way. Oh, LOOK, a cake pan that makes gigantic donuts!!!!! 87 THE CITY Instead, the increase of age has rewarded me with radically improved powers of discrimination. When I view or listen to advertising, I carefully parse out the claims made and the little tricks designed to manipulate my emotions. Is there a tricky phrase? Are the sellers playing on my natural sense of competition with neighbors? How good is the product or service REALLY? After a while, you begin to see the anatomy of the offers. It is the same as when I learned to recognize the six or seven plots all films and television programs seem to be based upon. The magic is gone. I know where it is all going. I have seen it before. The seller or the author had better be awfully darn good or I will pick up his tell and too early. But all of this makes the real discoveries all the more special. Students at a Christian college may not realize it, but we professors are watching carefully to see whether our efforts are paying off. Is there a point to our work? Should we just give up on this dream we have of an education that is valuable in the worldly way, but also tries to accomplish something so much more ambitious? Ah, I think I have spotted something. I am looking hard, waiting for the sparkle to flake off and reveal plastic, but no. There are those times, now is one of them, when, like Abraham Kuyper, I see the gold dust undisturbed on the wing of the butterfly. True blue sanctification in the life of a student. Oh, thank you, God, for letting me see something that can break through all my jadedness. Last night at the dinner table I kidded around with the children. “Mommy has been working so much lately, I think I’ll quit my job and stay home.” Interestingly, both kids objected. They didn’t like the idea, but the whole thing seemed very reflexive. I didn’t figure it would stick in anyone’s brain. Flash forward several hours to bedtime. I prayed with Grace and hugged and kissed her. Andrew’s room was next. I did the same with him. As I was walking out, he asked, “Dad, were you serious about quitting your job?” “No, not really,” I said. “I was mostly kidding around with you.” “That’s good, Dad,” he said. “I don’t like to think of you as a quitter. It makes me feel good to know that you are out there working for us.” 88 FA L L 2 0 1 3 “Okay, son. I won’t quit. Don’t worry.” As I closed his door and walked out of the room, I reflected on what he had said and was glad for how he feels. It is good that my son expects me to have a job. I am grateful that he sees my work as something that I do for our family. His reaction also tells me that he will view work as the right thing for him to do, as well. There are gaps in wealth in this country. Gaps in financial capital between families. But there are gaps in social capital, too. I don’t know that I will ever inherit much in terms of dollars from my parents, but I did inherit social and cultural capital (habits, examples, standards). One thing is almost certain. The social inheritance we leave our children is more important than the financial one. A friend brought a news item to my attention. It read, “Ball State Adds Clarity to Science-Religion Debate.” I noted the leading paragraph, which apparently puts the end to a troublesome matter: “Can science and religion exist in the same classroom? In a word, no.” According to the story, an assistant professor of physics discussed intelligent design with his students in a way that did not involve burning Michael Behe and Bill Dembski in effigy. As he stood accused, it seems the controversy rose to the level of the Ball State University president, Jo Ann Gora. She provided helpful clarity by decreeing, “Intelligent design is overwhelmingly deemed by the scientific community as a religious belief and not a scientific theory. Therefore, intelligent design is not appropriate content for science courses.” Whether or not one thinks intelligent design should be addressed in university science courses, I certainly hope that people would not address the dispute in the way Ball State’s president has. Anyone who has read books and articles on intelligent design can easily see that it is not religion. Intelligent design presents arguments based on things such as probability and irreducible complexity. At no point does it advert to revelation or divine inspiration. What intelligent design really is, is a competing theory to the dominant neoDarwinism. Let us be clear. It is a competing theory that is not wellaccepted by the scientific establishment. It is a minority position fighting for a hearing. What will not do, however, is to attempt to 89 THE CITY prevent it from being discussed or heard by simply declaring it is religion. Let us entertain a further question. We might imagine a professor at Ball State invoking intelligent design several times during a semester in an unfavorable manner. Perhaps this instructor would demonstrate facts that he believes disprove intelligent design or make it appear less likely than other, more dominant explanations. Would Ball State University then ask this professor what business he has talking about religion in a science course? Of course not. It would be properly understood that the professor is favorably comparing the scientific theory he favors to the one he thinks has less explanatory power. Just because you call something religion doesn’t make it so. A declaration from the chair is not effective in debate. Grace was driving me crazy asking over and over to take her and her brother to see the new film Turbo. The following exchange ensued between siblings: Andrew (11): “Grace, you always tell me not to repeat myself asking Dad for things. But that’s exactly what you’re doing right now. Is that how it is???” Grace (8): “Yeah, pretty much.” I listened to a fascinating podcast recently which discussed the way order can come out of apparent chaos in nature. It was not a Christian show, just for the record. Examples included lightning bugs in some parts of the world that seem to have the ability to synchronize their flashing and the way ants are able to develop incredible discipline in swarming to just the right place. But don’t focus on my description here. I was walking and sort of listening while also entertaining my own thoughts. I am sure I could misstate the nature of the scientific discovery they were discussing. The important part is what happened at the end of the story. There were two male hosts. One of them reflected on this emergence of patterns and order. With a little awe in his voice, he said that he looked at the things they had learned in producing the broadcast and 90 FA L L 2 0 1 3 found that he could only describe what he observed as holy. I was moved by the genuine emotion he conveyed. His co-host had the opposite reaction. He said, “See, when you talk about it like that, it just takes all the air out of the room for me.” “Really?” the first man said, “You aren’t inspired by the idea of some greater purpose? For you, it’s okay for what we are seeing to be ultimately empty?” “Yeah, I think so,” the second man replied. As I listened, I suddenly thought, “Maybe this is what the idea of divine election is all about.” And I think I’ll leave it there. There is a fascinating tale in a brief Q & A with Tim Keller at the Christ and Pop Culture blog. When asked about obstacles to revival, Keller pointed to fornication. In other words, it is difficult to spiritually awaken people who have hard-wired a particular sin into their lives and have essentially committed to it. If repentance means a large structural change, such as ending a co-habiting, sexual relationship, then it becomes that much less likely. The part of the exchange that especially drew attention was the following: Keller illustrated the point by talking about a tactic, one that he admittedly said was almost too cruel to use, that an old college pastor associate of his used when catching up with college students who were home from school. He’d ask them to grab coffee with him to catch up on life. When he’d come to the state of their spiritual lives, they’d often hem and haw, talking about the difficulties and doubts now that they’d taken a little philosophy, or maybe a science class or two, and how it all started to shake the foundations. At that point, he’d look at them and ask one question, “So who have you been sleeping with?” Shocked, their faces would inevitably fall and say something along the lines of, “How did you know?” or a real conversation would ensue. Keller pointed out that it’s a pretty easy bet that when you have a kid coming home with questions about evolution or philosophy, or some such issue, the prior issue is a troubled conscience. 91 THE CITY Now, in my view, what Keller said is a very pastoral insight. It is the kind of thing you learn from long experience dealing with church members and their children. It also happens to be the kind of thing many of us have observed in our own lives. For example, one of my very best friends had long been on fire for God. When he became disappointed with his marriage, he suddenly became an expert critic of the Bible and questioned the concept of God’s authority. We can see, in that instance, that the life circumstance prompted the doubts. The values he had long embraced precluded leaving his wife. So, he worked on deconstructing those values and justifying new ones. One might also recall Augustine, whose conversion was held up to some degree by the fact that he had a mistress. John Stonestreet of Summit Ministries and Prison Fellowship posted the story to his Facebook page and prompted feedback from Rachel Held Evans, who has become a successful writer on Christian topics, notably her experience as a Bryan College student and then again on trying out “Biblical womanhood.” She took offense to what Keller said and wrote the following: I’m often asked to speak on the topic of why young people leave the church. This. This is why young people leave the church. Because our questions aren’t taken seriously, because our value tends to be linked inextricably to our virginity, because our ideas are dismissed as silly. I want to address one piece of what Rachel had to say. “[O]ur value tends to be linked inextricably to our virginity . . .” To argue that the church has made something of a fetish out of virginity for young people is to essentially argue against the lordship of Christ and against the value of sexual purity. When you are in high school and college, sex is the prime locus of the fight for sanctification. It is the battle that is appropriate to the age. You are on the edge of marriage during those years. In the Christian understanding, sex is a marital act. It is fitting that you and your spouse should have it in common only with each other. To remain a virgin prior to marriage is to align oneself consciously with God and the church in viewing ourselves as uniquely and wonderfully human (in the image of God). It is to renounce the reigning cultural logic which follows the popular lyric, “You and me, baby, we ain’t nothing but mammals, so let’s do it like they do on the Discov92 FA L L 2 0 1 3 ery Channel.â€? In remaining virgins, we deny that we are at the mercy of animal instincts and assert that we are capable of adhering to higher laws than those which are merely biological. To marry as a virgin is to demonstrate submission to God, love for oneâ€™s future spouse, and to offer up a witness to the world. The church does us no disservice in emphasizing these points. Rather, to the extent we embrace these teachings we experience a richer and fuller life both in obedience to Christ and in greater intimacy with our spouses. One of the great grievances of Christians in the United States is the secularization of institutions of higher education throughout the 20th century. The great names among universities and colleges are predominantly ex-Christian schools. At one time the charge still stung, as it did when Buckley wrote his indictment of his alma mater Yale. But today, the escape from parochial conviction is fully celebrated. After the great wave of secularization in higher education, many Christian schools have dug in their heels to retain their faithfulness. Others have been founded explicitly to do so. But one thing characterizes the vast bulk of schools in the orthodox space: they struggle financially. I am sure that the struggle takes place, in part, because Christian donors heed the advice that they should not give really large sums out of fear of making schools independent and thus more likely (simply from the nature of higher education as it is predominantly practiced) to secularize. I write today to propose a device for improving the lot of at least some subset of the Christian colleges and universities. Big Christian donors (perhaps the Cathyâ€™s, Norm Miller, the Greens, and a variety of others) could create a fund supervised by someone who really understands the Christian higher education sector. The purpose of the fund would be to serve as an endowment for a strategically select group of institutions while not being under the control of those institutions. This endowment would be purely for the purpose of underwriting scholarships (or otherwise subsidizing tuition) so as to reduce the cost of attendance for students. It is not controversial to claim that many more families would choose Christian colleges if the 93 THE CITY price gap between private and public could be bridged through philanthropy. In order to continue receiving some part of the millions of dollars the fund would throw off annually, each institution would have to demonstrate (primarily through its hiring and curricular practices) that it remains recognizably Christian and that it operates efficiently. While not owning the endowment funds would inhibit planning at recipient institutions to some degree, they would be able to count on the help as long as they kept the faith. The fundamental model is in place with the United Negro College Fund, which disburses millions of dollars in scholarships each year to a select list of historically black colleges and universities. Similar tuition underwriting would go a long way toward maintaining orthodoxy at Christian colleges and universities and increasing the attractiveness of attending those schools by reducing the price discrepancy created by state subsidies. Those of us who teach in the various areas of the liberal arts are aware that the kind of instruction we offer is severely under siege. Governors and legislatures are trying to condense the time it takes to get through college. They arenâ€™t calling for smaller majors. Rather, the jaundiced eye of educational compression rests squarely upon courses in fields such as history, literature, philosophy, art, and music. It would not be outrageous to predict that in either the near or intermediate term we will see a substantial reduction in the requirements for core curricula. We have already seen institutional cores jumbled up into salad bowls of options as opposed to a coherent set of offerings which would help anyone to become a well-educated person. The next step is certainly less of the required courses and maybe even less of the optional ones. The standard response has been to conduct a public campaign in favor of the liberal arts. We argue for their necessity in producing graduates who have the kind of broad understanding and perspective that makes further learning more fruitful. We point to liberal arts majors who have gone on to great successes. Every now and then we have an ally heading up a company in the Fortune 500 who declares that he or she would rather hire a truly excellent English major than any number of blinkered MBA careerists. (Forgive the broad brush. I 94 FA L L 2 0 1 3 have a couple of professional degrees, myself!) Regardless, the current is running against us. In response to this adversity, I suggest that we consider gearing up efforts to teach the liberal arts to the audience which tends to appreciate them. The audience of which I speak is adults over 30. As people age, especially intellectually curious people, they have an increasing desire to learn the things they know they missed. And when they do learn those things, such as history, they often find the experience deeply satisfying. Part of the reason why this learning can occur better at a later time is because the student is no longer obsessing over getting a job, earning money, and finding a mate or running with a pack of friends as is often the case in college. Age provides knowledge of what is missing, the desire to learn, and perhaps greater perspective to aid understanding. What is the right way to provide this liberal arts education for adults? I would suggest week long retreats. For a reasonable sum, say $1500 to $2000 per person it would be possible to provide lodging, meals, and instruction/conversation in the liberal arts. No big administrative team. No large physical plant to maintain. And the employees would all essentially work on fees from each event. Many adults would pay for this kind of instruction. It is possible that some corporations and non-profits would even pay for team members to attend. The best thing of all? It would be learning for its intrinsic value rather than learning for the sake of credentialing. Almost everybody in higher education is either figuring how they can make the MOOC (massively open online course) craze work for them or they are tearing their tweed jackets and skirts over it as they anticipate their sections of 12 or 15 being eaten by online gatherings of 20,000. Angel investors are feeding beasts such as Udacity, Coursera, and EdX with their millions. The toniest of institutions are rapidly aligning themselves with the new MOOC producers. Those schools which are merely quite good need not apply. It seems that everyone is making ready for a new world in which Harvard and MIT export their courses to the masses of students anxious to learn from the very best. Khan Academy is scary enough. What about HarvardX? 95 THE CITY As irresistible as the premium MOOC seems, I think the change that is coming will take a different form. I donâ€™t think it will actually be the Harvards and MITs leading the charge. Neither do I think the change producer will be the MOOC with thousands of students. Tilt the prism just a few degrees and then you will have a better image to view. What is going to happen is that educational publishers (and maybe some highly motivated individual academics, such as Jim Collins) are going to remake higher education. Existing universities are not going to participate in their own destruction by outsourcing giant chunks of their operations to elite institutions. What they will do, though, is work with educational publishers (and entrepreneurial individuals) to radically reduce the cost structure of teaching students. The change is a simple one. For a wide variety of courses, it would be easy to combine a package of text, short lectures that can be downloaded, slide packages, activities, and exams into a ready-made class. The great professors, not the great institutions, will do this with the educational publishers in much the same way they do now. All that is missing is to flesh out the current book, slides, tests, and reviews combo with some lectures and other activities. Were he not now dead, James Q. Wilson would easily be able to round out his famous textbook offering in just this way. When these packages are ready, institutions hoping to cut cost will be able to hire masters-prepared instructors to facilitate the courses. They wonâ€™t need to do the hard work of preparing content. All of that will be done for them. Neither will they need to plan. Again, pacing will be part of the package. All the instructor will need to do is to facilitate discussion, answer questions, and grade tests and papers. With that workload, it will not be too difficult for a single instructor to handle five or six sections in a semester. Because individuals with doctoral-preparation will not be needed (the doctor will be the one who comes in the package), the pay scale will be lower and the load per instructor will be higher. If such a change can be accomplished, the savings are potentially immense. I hasten to add that I am engaged in an exercise of prediction rather than of desire. I love universities the way they are. Teaching my own section of students who follow a plan of learning I have created for them is a joy. It is especially wonderful if they are energetic participants in the exercise. 96 FA L L 2 0 1 3 But I recognize that higher education is the latest sector to enter the path of Schumpeterian creative destruction. When Schumpeterâ€™s storm gets here, it will be via a revolution and expansion in educational publishing (by adding various media) rather than through the domination of MOOCs farmed out by the Ivies. There are statistics that we regularly consult in order to determine how we are doing. They are something like national vital signs. We know them well. The rate of growth in the gross domestic product. The unemployment rate. The increase or decrease in the budgetary deficit. The rate of inflation. About twenty years ago, William Bennett and some of his associates came up with different measures (The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators). These included things such as divorce rates, SAT scores, juvenile crime, and the percentage of children living in single parent homes. I propose that we come up with something more holistic than what weâ€™ve dealt with so far. We need a balance sheet. It would include assets and liabilities. What kinds of things might we list as assets? And more controversially, what would we list as liabilities? If we are able to make good choices, we should be able to set out something like a policy agenda capable of gaining broad support and interest. The right balance sheet would include a good look at economic, environmental, social/familial, moral, criminal, penological, and infrastructure-based indicators. In other words, what features of American life represent assets? Examples might include such things as the percentage of miles of the Eisenhower Interstate System that is wellmaintained, the watts of power generated by the Tennessee Valley Authority, the percentage of children who grow up with a married mother and father, the percentage of public facilities with full access for handicapped persons, the acreage of productive farmland, incidence of church attendance, and the percentage of young people who find work within six months of completing a college or vocational degree. Items could be added or deleted from the asset list in much the same way stocks are added to or removed from the Standard & Poor 500. With good quantitative and qualitative minds cooperating in its creation, the list could become highly useful in terms of setting 97 THE CITY priorities. My items are anything but canonical. I put them out there simply to stimulate thought. And what about the liability side of the ledger? This part can be politically sensitive, but the value of the exercise is there if it is performed well. Examples here might include the percentage of the national deficit and debt as a percentage of GDP, miles of national infrastructure considered to be at the 90% point or worse in its replacement cycle, tons of objectively harmful emissions produced by industry, the percentage of children growing up in single parent homes or in families split by divorce, the number of abortions measured against live births, the number of Americans on disability or other welfare programs, and perhaps a measure of illiteracy. As in the case of assets, these items are simply there to suggest the outlines of what is possible. They key element here is to foster a much larger sense of ecology than the one we have. There is a social ecology every bit as real as the physical ecology in our world. We should think about how we steward our cultural, physical, and spiritual capital all at the same time. Policy thinking that will move us in that direction is much needed. People can argue endlessly about the nature of the American founding. Today, we contest the religious aspects of it. Were the founders Christians or enlightenment deists? Yesterday, the debate had mostly to do with the economics. Is a Marxist reading of the intent of the founding generation appropriate? The reality is that our founding emerges from a collaboration of different points of view. We were fortunate to benefit from a providential synthesis once the ink dried on paper. But one thing seems certain, the majority of the individuals who put our constitution together were generally suspicious of collective action at the national level. As a result, they made it very difficult to pass major legislation. Checks. Balances. Division of powers. For a long time now the American left has hoped to complete its efforts in the New Deal and the War on Poverty by making health care available to all. The effort was long stymied by the lack of alignment of the political stars needed to produce the power that would be required to achieve the goal. But in 2008, the stars did align in the per98 FA L L 2 0 1 3 son of a potentially transformative political figure named Barack Obama. He wielded powerful majorities in both houses of Congress and had won a significant electoral victory, himself. Health care (provided more broadly than for just the poor or seniors), the holy grail of the American left, was within reach. And yet, with all the stars lining up, it was still a close thing for the president and his party to accomplish the goal. While the jubilance that accompanied passage of the Affordable Care Act was real, it has resembled the artificial high of a buzz that turns into a headache the next day. The law turns out to be so complicated as to fulfill Hayekâ€™s prophecy of a regulatory state so complex that self-government is in real danger. At the same time, it has created incentives for employers to do whatever they can to avoid the strictures of the law. The technocratic authors of the bill seem not to have realized that rational individuals (and organizations) will act rationally. Avoidance is the choice of those with resources to understand the law. Others simply wallow in the kind of uncertainty that kills job growth. Administratively, Obamacare (the name the president embraces) has turned out to be a minefield. The agencies of the federal government are not truly ready to implement it. Neither are many in the private sector ready to receive it. Though the legislation had an onramp of a few years prior to most provisions taking effect, the government has not worked out problems sufficiently to match even that lagging start. A cynical person might believe the law was not designed to take place until the advent of a second term for a reason. Obamacare slipped through the dragnet the American constitutional architects created because of a magical moment in political time. The law cleared the hurdles and managed to cross the finish line before a gathering crowd of voters could repudiate it. Indeed, the voters of Massachusetts went so far as to send a Republican to the senate in a last ditch effort at derailment. Political opportunity made it imperative that the bill be passed quickly. After all, there would be time to fix it. But it isnâ€™t fixed. The answer is not for the opposing party to defund the signature act of a two-term president. The answer is for the two parties to refuse to move on in terms of domestic policy until the current law is rationalized and improved. The president was determined to transform the health care system for the better. He has a responsibility to leave the American people with something better than the status quo. 99 THE CITY He needs to move fixing the bill to the top of his agenda and to work with the Republicans in a true spirit of compromise. They, in turn, have a responsibility to meet him in that same spirit. Political accountability demands no less. We need statesmen and not bareknuckled political brawlers in this moment. Many Christians have raised concerns about Exodus International during the past several months. I defended the ministry. Ruth and I had long read their newsletters and followed their work. We gave Alan Chambers the benefit of the doubt. I think we were wrong. He has gone on the Oprah Winfrey Network to offer an apology for the work they have done. I understand the subtlety of the point he is making about wrongly emphasizing a solution in the form of changing sexual orientation (rather than simply pointing to holiness), but the broader culture will only hear a surrender. At the same time, I see young friends celebrating Chambers’ simultaneous announcement of the end of Exodus. Goodbye to a ministry that has “hurt people in the name of Jesus.” I don’t share those sentiments. I thank God that Exodus has been there. How many families have stayed together because of their work? How many families have begun because of it? We hear about all the failures. What about the unheralded successes? These aren’t people who magically had their sexual orientation changed. They are people who wanted to be obedient to what they believe is true in the Bible. And they render that obedience with love and respect to God and to those who love them in return. I am sorry to see this work (so much of it good-hearted and righteous) come to an end. I hope that a new ministry will emerge. Let us remember that this entire effort has been a free one. The laborers have freely given of themselves. And those who sought help came of their own free will. This is how the work of the church should operate. In freedom. The Republican Party has been in an identity crisis since the Cold War. Its old fusion of national defense, social conservatism, and free markets doesn’t have the power it once did, mainly because we no 100 FA L L 2 0 1 3 longer spend every day in dread of a nuclear holocaust and our military engagements since that time have been an occasion for disillusionment. Anti-terrorism has not proved to be the force for political cohesion that anti-communism once was. In the face of Barack Obama’s promotion of a state-mediated equality predicated on economic redistribution, conservatives have struggled to give a better answer than Mitt Romney’s private (but then embarrassingly publicized) belief that something like 47% of Americans are dependent on the state and are unreachable by appeals to freedom. Enter the libertarian populists. We are familiar with libertarians in American politics. They talk about having an absolutely minimalistic government, abolishing the welfare state, returning to the gold standard, and doing away with drug laws. The libertarian populists are different. They aren’t concerned so much with the standard list of libertarian concerns as they are with helping Americans to see how the growth of the state can actually privilege what they call “the Bigs” over everyone else. Most Americans tend to imagine a battle of corporations against the government. Republicans, they think, align themselves with the businessmen. Democrats, on the other hand, side with government agencies and unions. Libertarian populists point out that far too often the big players are working together. Big corporations frequently seek out governmental regulation. Why? Because they have the resources to comply with burdensome rules, while their smaller competitors don’t. The result is an advantage to the mega-corporations who can use the apparatus of the state to their advantage. They can maintain their position at the top and effectively pull up the ladder behind them. If you want a case study, you might consider my beloved Amazon from whom I have bought so many books over the years. The company made a career out of fighting state sales taxes on the premise that they did not operate brick and mortar stores using state services. Today, they are going the opposite direction. They are arguing for such taxes because they have the sophistication and the resources to handle the difficulty of arranging the right tax rates in a million localities. Their new strategy will give them a leg up over smaller sellers, like those on Ebay, and will create an opportunity for them to market their services to other merchants for managing tax calculation and payments. 101 THE CITY Amazon v. Ebay is not a bad way to think about libertarian populism overall. The lib-pops want you to remember that the big players always get theirs. The question is how much power you want to give them to play the game. In many ways, we are living in the golden age of education. If even a very poor person wants to learn something, he has the ability to do so more cheaply, easily, and quickly than ever before. As I engaged in some learning of my own recently, however, I discovered access may not be the panacea many believed it would be. There are significant challenges beyond the question of access which must be addressed. I recently had the experience of walking around a local public park while listening to classroom lectures on the history of European monarchy from a professor at Yale. These lectures appeared to be unedited recordings directly from some thrice weekly meeting on campus. The lack of polished editing and consumer refinement helped me feel as though I were just another student sitting in the section and taking it all in. As I listened, I realized that I was getting everything. My appreciation for the material was at a very high level. I grasped concepts; filled in gaps in my own knowledge; evaluated the professor for apparent bias. With virtually every sentence he spoke, I gained something. Of course, I am a professor who teaches and writes about politics. I really wanted to know more about this material. Thatâ€™s when it hit me. This very fine experience of learning I have just described is not common among students at any level. The difference between them, sitting in any number of lectures, and me, walking around a park with earphones in, is the thing that is usually missing in education. That thing which is missing . . . is desire. It took me a long time to get where I am now as a learner. When I had the original chance as a student in primary and secondary schools and then as a college student, I missed out on a great deal. It was not until my second graduate school experience (which took place in law school) when I began to really synthesize information and to see the great linkages extending wide and deep between ideas, concepts, historical occurrences, and more granular information that follows. When that happened, when I began to see how much 102 FA L L 2 0 1 3 more satisfying it could be to learn, I gained a much greater desire to participate in my own education. For the most part, students do not have a great desire for learning. And it should be no great surprise that they don’t possess desire. We have not trained them to desire true learning. We have trained them to achieve progression. They simply look to move forward through the various grades. Regrettably, they have learned that progression is almost automatic. One can be distinguished at progressing or not so distinguished, but nearly everyone seems to progress as long as they conform to minimal standards. As a college professor, I feel at once as though I have discovered something wonderful and yet also as if I have happened upon a giant nothing. Desire is the secret sauce in learning. I don’t think there is any question about it. That is why young men do so well in playing complex video games. They want to learn how to compete well. But how do I create desire in my students? How do I even convince them that they should desire real learning when they have long been trained to settle happily for mere progression? I had an interesting moment with my little girl. We drove past a cemetery. She said, “Daddy, there are some big statues out there. Are those for some of the people who died?” “Yes,” I replied. “I think everybody deserves one of those statues,” she said. “Are they at least for the really good people?” “No, sweetie. Some of them may have been really good, but mostly it means they were people with money,” I said. I could tell she was disappointed. Wish I had a better answer, baby. Hunter Baker serves as Dean of Instruction and a ssociate professor of political science at Union University . He is the author of two books, The End of Sec ularism and Political Thought: A Student ’s Guide. You can read more at his website, endofsecularism.com . 103 FA L L 2 0 1 3 Basil the Great In each volume of T H E C I TY , we reprint a passage from great leaders of the faith. On or around the year of 368, Saint Basil the Great, at the time a priest and later bishop of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey), gave this homily on the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12.16 -2. Basil’s work was dedicated to t he poor and needy of the city, with much of his work focused on ministering to thieves, prostitutes, and the least of these. This excerpt from his sermon “To The Rich” is translated from the Greek text by Peter Gilbert. N ow, you are obviously very far from having observed one commandment at least, and you falsely swore that you had kept it, namely, that you’ve loved your neighbor as yourself. For see: the Lord’s commandment proves you to be utterly lacking in real love. For if what you’ve claimed were true, that you have kept from your youth the commandment of love, and have given to each person as much as to yourself, how has it come to you, this abundance of money? For it takes wealth to care for the needy: a little paid out for the necessity of each person you take on, and all at once everything gets parceled out, and is spent upon them. Thus, the man who loves his neighbor as himself will have acquired no more than what his neighbor has; whereas you, visibly, have acquired a lot. Where has this come from? Or is it not clear, that it comes from making your private enjoyment more important than helping other people? Therefore, however much you exceed in wealth, so much so do you fall short in love: else long since you’d have taken care to be divorced from your money, if you had loved your neighbor. But now your money sticks to you closer than the limbs of your body, and he who would separate you from it grieves you more than someone who would cut off your vital parts. For if you had clothed the naked, if you had given your bread to the hungry, if you had opened your doors to every stranger, if you’d become a father to orphans, if you had suffered together with all the powerless, what possessions would now be causing you despondency? Why should you now be upset to put aside what’s left, when you’d long since have taken care to distribute these things to the needy? Now, on a market day, no one 105 THE CITY is sorry to barter his goods and get in return such things as he has need of; but to the extent that he purchases things of greater value with what is cheaper, he rejoices, having gotten a better deal than his trading-partner. But you, by contrast, mourn, in giving gold, and silver, and goods — that is, offering stones and dust — in order to obtain the blessed life. But how do you make use of money? By dressing in expensive clothing? Won’t two yards of tunic suffice you, and the covering of one coat satisfy all your need of clothes? But is it for food’s sake that you have such a demand for wealth? One bread-loaf is enough to fill a belly. Why are you sad, then? What have you been deprived of? The status that comes from wealth? But if you would stop seeking earthly status, you should then find the true, resplendent kind that would conduct you into the kingdom of heaven. But what you love is simply to possess wealth, even if you derive no help from it. Now everyone knows that an obsession for useless things is mindless. Just so, what I am going to say should seem to you no greater paradox; and it is utterly, absolutely true. When wealth is dispersed, in the way the Lord advises, it naturally stays put; but when held back it is transferred to another. If you hoard it, you won’t keep it; if you scatter, you won’t lose. For (says the scripture), “He has dispersed, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever”. But it isn’t for the sake of clothing or food that riches are a matter of such concern to so many people; but, by a certain wily artifice of the devil, countless pretexts of expenditure are proposed to the rich, so that they strive for superfluous, useless things as though they were necessary, and so that nothing measures up to their conception of what they should spend. For they divide up their wealth with a view to present and future uses; and they assign the one portion to themselves, and the other to their children. Next, they subdivide their expense account for various spending purposes. Hear now what sort of arrangements they make. Let some of our assets be accounted as liquid, others as fixed; and let liquid assets exceed the limits of necessity; let this much be on hand for household extravagance, let that much take care of showy visits to town. Let this tend to whoever goes on exotic voyages, and let that furnish the one who stays at home with an opulent lifestyle which will be envied by all. It amazes me, how they can pile on notions of superfluities. There are countless chariots, some for transporting goods, others for carrying themselves, 106 FA L L 2 0 1 3 covered with bronze and silver. A multitude of horses, and such as have pedigrees of well-bred fathers, as among people. And some of these carry the men about town, dissipating them; others are for hunting; others have been trained for the road. Reins, belts, collars, all of silver, all inlaid with gold. Saddles of genuine purple: they primp up the horses like brides. A plethora of asses, distinguished according to color, with men to hold the reins, some running before, some following after. An unlimited number of other servants striving to fulfill every outlandish wish: stewards, treasurers, gardeners, workers skilled in every art hitherto invented, whether for necessary purposes or for enjoyment and luxury. Butchers, bakers, winepourers, huntsmen, sculptors, painters, artisans of every pleasure. Herds of camels, some bearing burdens, others put to graze; herds of horses and of cattle, flocks of sheep, swine; the herdsmen of these; with land sufficient to feed them all, and which continually augments the wealth with additional revenue; baths in town; baths in the country; houses gleaming round with every variety of marble, in one place Phrygian stone, elsewhere tiles from Laconia or Thessaly. And of these houses, some are heated in winter, others are cooled in the summer. A floor decorated with mosaic gems, gold laid out on the roof. And however much of the walls eludes the marble tiling is adorned with choice works of pictorial art. S ince, then, the wealth still overflows, it gets buried underground, stashed away in secret places. For (they say), “what’s to come is uncertain, we may face unexpected needs.” Therefore it is equally uncertain whether you will have any use for your buried gold; it is not uncertain, however, what shall be the penalty of inveterate inhumanity. For when you failed, with your thousand notions, wholly to expend your wealth, you then concealed it in the earth. A strange madness, that, when gold lies hidden with other metals, one ransacks the earth; but after it has seen the light of day, it disappears again beneath the ground. From this, I perceive, it happens to you that in burying your money you bury also your heart. “For where your treasure is,” it is said, “there will your heart be also” (Mt 6:21). This is why the commandments cause sorrow; because they have nothing to do with useless spending sprees, they make life unbearable for you. And it seems to me that the sickness of this young man, and of those who resemble him, is much like that of a traveller, who, 107 THE CITY longing to visit some city and having just about finished his way there, lodges at an inn outside the walls, where, upon some trifling impulse, he is averted, and so both makes his previous effort useless, and deprives himself of a view of the wonders of the city. And of such a nature are those who engage to do the other commandments, then turn around for the sake of gathering wealth. I’ve seen many who will fast, pray, groan, and display every kind of pious exertion, so long as it costs them nothing, but who will not so much as toss a red cent to those who are suffering. What good do they get from their remaining virtue? For the kingdom of heaven does not admit them; for, as it says, “It is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God”. But, while this statement is so plain, and its speaker so unerring, scarcely anyone is persuaded by it. “So how are we supposed to live without possessions?” they say. “What kind of life will that be, selling everything, being dispossessed of everything?” Don’t ask me for the rationale of the Master’s commandments. He who lays down the law knows how to bring even what is incapable into accordance with the law. But as for you, your heart is tested as on a balance, to see if it shall incline towards the true life or towards immediate gratification. For it is right for those who are prudent in their reasonings to regard the use of money as a matter of stewardship, not of selfish enjoyment; and those who lay it aside ought to rejoice as though separated from things alien, not be embittered as though deprived of what is nearest and dearest. So why become depressed? Why are you so sick at heart, when you hear the words, “Sell your possessions”? For if, on the one hand, these possessions could follow you into the afterlife, they should not therefore be highly valued, when next to the prizes that await there they should be thrown into the shade; on the other hand, if they must stay here, why don’t we sell them and get back from them what can be gained? When you give up gold, and acquire a horse, you are not in poor spirits; but when it comes to giving up things corruptible, and receiving in return the kingdom of heaven, you weep, and deny the asker, and shake your head at the gift, having your mind set upon a thousand and one ways of spending money. What answer shall you make to the judge, you who dress walls, but will not clothe a man; who spruce up horses, and overlook an unfashionable brother; who leave grain to rot, but will not feed the 108 FA L L 2 0 1 3 starving; who bury your money and despise the oppressed? And truly, if you dwell with a covetous wife, the sickness is redoubled: she turns up the flame on luxuries, she multiplies hedonisms, and provokes overactive longings, while she sets her fancy upon various stones: pearls, and emeralds, and sapphires; as also gold, some forged, some woven: aggravating the disease with every form of bad taste. For it’s not a part-time occupation, these concerns, but night and day are caught up in their cares. And a thousand parasites, worming themselves in via these lusts, bring in the dyers, goldsmiths, perfumers, weavers, embroiderers. They give a man no time to breathe, by reason of his wife’s continual demands. No money can suffice to serve womanly desires, not if rivers should overflow with it. They hunt for exotic foreign perfumes, like that from the woodland olive, or from sea flowers, the shell-fish, the pinna, more plenteous than the wool of sheep. And gold, festooned with highly precious stones, is made for them into a pendant for the forehead or for the neck; and other gold is for belts, and other binds the hands and feet. For lovers of gold are happy to be bound in handcuffs, so long as it’s gold that binds them. M an, look straight at wealth, behold its nature. Why should you get excited about gold? Gold’s a stone, silver’s a stone, a pearl’s a stone: each one of these stones is a stone: chrysolith, the beryl, agate, hyacinth, amethyst, the jasper. This, then, is wealth’s bouquet; and of these flowers you stash some away, hiding them, covering the stones’ brilliance in darkness; others you wear, looking effeminate with your glimmering gems. Tell me, what good does it do you to bind up your hand with stones, in haute couture? Aren’t you embarrassed to be craving little stones, like women in labor? They also gnaw on small stones; and you, too, want to lick up gems, seeking sardonyx, and jasper, and amethyst. What trendy dresser ever managed to extend his life a single day? For whom did death ever show consideration, in deference to wealth? Or what disease is kept off by money? How long, gold? thou reel of souls, fishhook of death, and bait of sin? How long, wealth? thou pretext of war, for whose sake arms are forged, and swords are sharpened? For love of it relatives ignore nature, brothers eye each other murderously; for love of wealth the wilderness breeds bandits, the seas, pirates, 109 THE CITY the cities, sycophants. Who is the father of lies? Who creates forgery? Who is the parent of perjury? Isn’t it wealth, the compulsion for this? People, what’s the matter with you? Who has done this to you, to turn your things into a conspiracy against you? “I need them for my life-style.” Well, and hasn’t your money furnished provisions for wrongdoing? “It’s a form of insurance.” Isn’t it rather a means of selfdestruction? “But money’s a necessity, on account of the children.” A fine excuse for greed: you parade your kids, but gratify your own desires. I do not accuse the innocent man: he has his Master, and his responsibilities; from another he received life, from himself he finds means of staying alive. But wasn’t this Gospel passage written also for married folk: “If you want to be perfect, sell your belongings, and give to the poor” (Mt 19:21)? When you asked the Lord for a large family, when you prayed that you might be a father of children, did you then add the following: “Give me children, so that I may ignore your commandments. Give me children, so that I might not attain to the kingdom of heaven”? And who will guarantee you of your child’s intentions, that what you give will be rightly used? For wealth turns out to be, for many people, a minister of impurity. Or don’t you hear Ecclesiastes, who says, “I have seen a sore malaise, riches kept in store for one who comes after a man, to his hurt” (Eccles 5:13). And again, “I left it for the man who should come after me. And who knows if he shall be a wise man or a fool?” (Eccles 2:18 f.) See to this, then, lest, having accumulated your wealth through countless pains, you prepare it for others as material for sins, and then find yourself doubly punished, both for what you did yourself, and for the means you gave to others. Doesn’t your own soul belong to you more intimately than any child? Isn’t it joined to you by a more intimate closeness than anything else? Give to it the first privileges of inheritance, provide it with a richer living; and afterwards distribute to your children what they need to get by in life. Often it happens that children who have received nothing from their parents have gone on to establish estates for themselves; but as for your soul, if you don’t take care of it, who will pity it? So much for fathers: what’s been said has been said. Now, what plausible causes of stinginess shall the childless fling at us? “I don’t sell my possessions, neither give to the poor, on account of life’s necessities.” Therefore the Lord is not your teacher, neither does the Gospel direct your life, but you are yourself your own lawgiver. See 110 FA L L 2 0 1 3 into what a danger you fall, when reasoning like this. For if the Lord has ordered these things as necessary to you, and you, for your part, write them off as impossible, you say nothing less than that you yourself are more intelligent than the Lawgiver. “But,” you say, “after I’ve enjoyed these things all my days, when my life is over I will cause the poor to inherit the things I formerly possessed, and in a written testament I will declare them to be the owners.” When you no longer exist among human beings, then you become a lover of humanity. When I see you dead, then I shall be able to say that you love your brother. A great many thanks to you for this noble gesture, that, when you are lying in the tomb, and decomposing into earth, then you grow substantial with spending, and become big-hearted. Tell me, which years will you be looking to receive wages for, those during your life, or those when you’re dead? But when you were alive you passed your time wallowing in life’s luxuries, floating along with your delicacies, and wouldn’t bear to cast a glance to the poor. When you die, then, what sort of action is ascribed to you? What sort of wage is owed you for labor? Show the works, then ask for the returns. Nobody does business after the market closes, neither after the games end does anyone come up to be crowned, neither after a war does anyone prove his valor. Neither, then, is godliness to be postponed till after life. We encourage you to visit T H E C I TY online at C I VI TAT E . OR G . 111