Perspectives on Culture

How are People Nurtured — In Our Constitutional Republic and Pluralist Society?

Today, I will confront the last two of four question-points in this current series (which interrupted another series). These are the questions I’ve been addressing in answer to a reader’s inquiry about an extended quotation I presented by Dr. A.A. Hodge regarding  the impact he foresaw  back in 1887  that secular, public education would have on America.

“In God We Trust.” Where have I read these words?

The previous two posts considered the first two points listed below. Now, let’s consider the latter two.

  1. What is pluralism and what is a pluralistic society?
  2. According to the U.S. Constitution, what is the role of government in education? What/who is responsible for education?
  3.  In our Constitutional Republic, how are individuals nurtured, and how is our culture nurtured?
  4.  What are the roles of the Bible and a “Judeo-Christian” heritage in our current “pluralistic society”?

Nurtured. Nurturing individuals. Nurturing cultures. What is nurture? What does a country’s form of government have to do with the nurturing of individuals and cultures?

Of course, I can’t fully answer these questions, but I can present some ideas pertinent to our times for you to ponder.

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Categories: Christian Reader, Dr. A.A. Hodge, Education, Government, Perspectives on Culture | Leave a comment

How Can Christianity and Education Dance Together in a Pluralistic Society?

Do you remember the post from last fall in which I included this quotation by Dr. A.A. Hodge, first published in 1887?

“I am as sure as I am of the fact of Christ’s reign that a comprehensive and centralized system of national education, separated from religion, as is now commonly proposed, will prove the most appalling enginery for the propagation of anti-Christian and atheistic unbelief, and of anti-social nihilistic ethics, individual, social, and political, which this sin-rent world has ever seen.”

Irises pleasantly sway in our front lawn. “Consider the…irises.” (I have no lilies blooming now to consider.)

It is capable of exact demonstration that if every party in the States has the right of excluding from the public schools whatever he does not believe to be true, then he that believes most must give way to him that believes least, and then he that believes least must give way to him that believes absolutely nothing, no matter in how small a minority the atheists or the agnostics may be. It is self-evident that on this scheme, if it is consistently and persistently carried out in all parts of the country, the United States’ system of national popular education will be the most efficient and wide instrument for the propagation of atheism which the world has ever seen.”

A reader inquired:

“Regarding the quote from Dr. A. A. Hodge, “I am as sure as I am of the fact of Christ’s reign that a comprehensive and centralized system of national education, separated from religion…”, what religion might he be referring to? Or perhaps to any religion or a group of religions? If he meant a particular religion, and if that particular religion was Christianity, I would love to hear your understanding of how Dr. Hodge says this works in a pluralistic society. And, if it doesn’t work in a pluralistic society from his perspective, does he advocate theocracy?

I responded with a long response (for the comment section), and the reader responded again:

“I currently struggle to see how his ideas are actionable let alone defensible in a pluralistic society so I really look forward to hearing this unpacked and learning where I may be misunderstanding things (which may simply be a term or two!).”

So today, I’ll do some unpacking.

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Categories: Christian Reader, Dr. A.A. Hodge, Education, Government, Perspectives on Culture, The Roaming Reader | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Back to Kirk (The Roaming Reader: 3)

Back to Kirk! I’m still focused on the first book of the list I gave you in March: The Roots of American Order, by Russell Kirk. (We noted Kirk’s definition and description of “order” in the last post.)

Worth reading.

In the short, first chapter, “Order, the First Need of All”, Kirk tells the story of a scholar born in Russia. He had been a moderate Socialist in 1917, a Menshevik. He fled to Odessa on the Black Sea, but what did he find there? “Bands of young men commandeered street-cars and clattered wildly through the heart of Odessa, firing with rifles at any pedestrian, as though they were hunting pigeons. At any moment, one’s apartment might be invaded by a casual criminal or fanatic, murdering for the sake of a loaf of bread. In this anarchy, justice and freedom were only words.”

So what did this scholar learn?

“Then I learned that before we can know justice and freedom, we must have order. Much though I hated the Communists, I saw then that even the grim order of Communism is better than no order at all. Many might survive under Communism; no one could survive in general disorder.”

Kirk contrasts this story to our American experience. “In America, order and justice and freedom have developed together; but they can decay in parallel fashion.”

While this volume was published in 1974 and reflects the thought and writings of Kirk since the early 1950s, we clearly see its relevance for today. Such is the nature of wisdom.

I lost myself in this book.

Cups of tea encourage me as I read and write. Thankfully, spring is peeking in the windows. Next week is supposed to be warm and sunny here in Indiana!

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Categories: Christian Reader, Government, Perspectives on Culture, The Roaming Reader | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

The G. of G. #3: How Do You Build a Biblical Worldview to Apply to Politics?

Over two weeks have passed since I posted my last article in this series, The Grammar of Government. Since then, the trees have broken out in vibrant colors. Paul and I spent four days camping with two dear friends in Pokagon State Park along Lake James, just 40 minutes north of our home here in Indiana. And politics rolls on.

Our president has encountered COVID19, fought the battle with impressive medical assistance and through God’s grace, and now he seems to be even more energetic. A fascinating and helpful Vice Presidential candidate debate occurred. A Presidential candidate debate was cancelled. Political town halls and rallies are happening.  The Senate this week has held hearings to scrutinize Amy Coney Barrett (currently a circuit court judge for the seventh circuit of the US Court of Appeals, who was chosen by President Trump to fill the Supreme Court seat left open by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg). Senators bloviated. Barrett articulated. Delightfully or begrudgingly, the audience recognized in ACB refined, humble, well-rounded greatness.

How do Christians build a biblical worldview and apply it to civic and political involvement in our Constitutional Republic? In this post, rather than my writing my views, I want to pass on to you a number of articles and a resource that you can explore online to assist you in this pursuit.

I hope that these will encourage you in your personal prayer, research, and decision-making on behalf of our country. You may want to mark these sites to come back to them as you can. Continue reading

Categories: Government, Perspectives on Culture, Theology | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Part 1: “The Beauty of Truth” and other Ravi Thoughts

It was just one week ago today.

I was comfortably positioned on our leather, sectional sofa in the living room, reading the news online on my laptop. An article referenced the seriousness of Ravi Zacharias’ recent, cancer battle. A minute later, the page refreshed itself (or did I click on something that refreshed it? I don’t know), and suddenly a new headline announced that Ravi’s daughter had posted that her father passed away that very morning, May 19.

I sat quietly. I didn’t call to Paul, who was upstairs. A stunning stillness washed over me. All of my adult life, Ravi Zacharias and his ministry have been “out there,” a kind of soothing encouragement, support, and inspiration. Aware of my emotional- physical-spiritual response to this news, I remembered my response to a phone call from my Aunt Miriam, sixteen years ago, to inform us that my father had just passed away, unexpectedly soon, although expected within the year, of cancer. My response then was also quietness in my spirit mixed with an utter surrender. I want to come back to the meaning of this response, but not in this initial post in this new series. First, “take a listen.” Continue reading

Categories: Biography, Perspectives on Culture, Theology | Tags: | 2 Comments

Sir Roger Scruton and Mick and Lilly: Dignity, Tenderness, and Eternity

‘Ive been reading lately about Sir Roger Scruton from Great Britain who died on January 12.  As the dust of his life scatters, I’m appreciating his enduring imprint. I see patterns resonating with themes that pervade the book I’m currently writing.1

Every person’s life illustrates patterns. Patterns worth repeating and patterns worth avoiding. I’m trying to illustrate  each concept in my book with true stories. I discover good stories in my listening, reading, and daily living.

Listening to Sir Roger speak, I sense grounded reasonableness (for the most part) carried on the soft breezes of his temperament.  Even his striking criticisms of modernity leave me quiet in spirit rather than agitated.

I suppose his tone is shaped by his full-faced acceptance of his humanity and mortality (rooted long before his cancer diagnosis) plus his compassionate awareness that the rest of us grasp no more than he does. In our hubris (ignoring our brevity), he is humble for us. We should learn.

Sir Roger is a British philosopher (a lover of beauty and truth), a conservative (wanting to conserve the rich roots of his culture), an author and professor, a husband and a father. I write in present tense, because Sir Roger’s life and legacy are still here, even though he does not walk among us.

In contrast to the high brow of the humble Sir Roger (about whom I listen and read), my daily living is currently in Florida, among the needs of dear friends I’m calling Mick and Lilly. Not highbrow. But like Sir Roger, respectable, humble, limited, and needy. Lilly knows she’s needy. Mike doesn’t.

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Categories: Biography, Perspectives on Culture, Spiritual Growth | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Introduction: Spiritually Speaking…

“When someone talks about spirituality or being spiritual, what do you think of?  What do you think the other person is thinking of?”

In my January post, “Deeper and Deeper,”  I began with these two questions but then  did not directly address them.

So, I want to return to those questions as springboards to initiate JNC’s new series on Spirituality.  I’m sure you’ve noticed that in the last several decades there has been a surge of interest in “spirituality” of all sorts. How do you respond?

I grew up in a spiritual home. Continue reading

Categories: Perspectives on Culture, Spiritual Growth | Tags: | 2 Comments

Back Door to Belief: Moral Outrage

Unbelievable. Believable. Certainty. Doubt. Trust. Betrayal. Outrage too?

The theme I’ve been researching for this blog has been caught in bad weather. I’ve been researching responses to the question, “What is spirituality?” and was about to post the first article in a new series, comparing and contrasting various spiritualities. Spirituality is popular today. The purpose of this blog is to nourish a specific spirituality, the spirituality of following Christ. Thus, the Pedestrian Theologian motto and underlying theme.

However, the raging forces of what is called “moral outrage” has “tsunamied” many in our country, and I can’t help but catch some of the blast. Raging media waves. Raging thought waves. Raging rage. Fire and water. FEMA or not, in time, Lord willing, I’ll rebuild on my little lot (this blog).

Strikingly, along these detoured highways of moral outrage, I observe “spirituality” billboards. There it is!  A connection between outrage and spirituality. Hmm. Unbelievable. Believable. Now, I can add moral outrage to my list of back doors to belief – in God.

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Categories: Perspectives on Culture | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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