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What Matters Most
Miroslav Volf suggests: "The most important political question of our time is the one we tend not to think is political at all. Who are we—you, I, and the nations to which we belong? What kind of human beings and what kind of nation should we aspire to become?"
What is the state of Christianity and Democracy in America? This episode features some of the most timely and relevant reflections on faith and politics in America this week from the past six months of this podcast. Our recent guests Willie Jennings, David French, Marilynne Robinson, Robert George, and Samuel Perry and Andrew Whitehead, and Arlie Hochschild each offer perspectives we need to understand the political moment through the eyes of faith and culture.
What is the state of Christianity and Democracy in America? We mined the past 6 months of episodes for the most timely, relevant, and even strangely prescient reflections on faith and politics in America. Past guests Willie Jennings, David French, Marilynne Robinson, Robert George, and Samuel Perry and Andrew Whitehead, and Arlie Hochschild each offer perspectives we need to understand the political moment through the eyes of faith and culture.
Here’s the breakdown of our episode today—it’s really a “best of" for faith and politics in America today.
Episode Contents / Show Notes
- 3:33 - Theologian Willie Jennings on crowds, mobs, fear, and anger
- 14:17 - Sociologists Samuel Perry and Andrew Whitehead on Christian Nationalism, identity, and violence
- 20:01 - Novelist Marilynne Robinson on Christianity and democracy
- 23:17 - Political commentator David French on political exhaustion, culture war, and the role of faith in political division
- 34:22 - Legal scholar Robert George on the breakdown of civic friendship
- 44:32 - Sociologist Arlie Hochschild on building shelters from shame and crossing a bridge to empathy
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Hello friends and listeners. Thanks for tuning in to the show. This week, in light of the tension and need for perspective, we’re turning to some of the more significant points of relevance from some of our past episodes. We’ve got plenty more fresh conversations and reflections coming your way in 2021, but this week has seemed to just catch us all. And if you haven’t yet heard Miroslav Volf deliver our joint statement from the staff of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture on Sedition at the Capitol, then check out that 10-minute episode as well.
As we’ve searched for words to understand, words to grieve the violence and death, words to evaluate, critique, and condemn, and words to forgive, to heal, to unite what seems unifiable—the words often come up empty, lacking, half-hearted.
It’s reminiscent of the piercing words of the prophet Jeremiah, a hot take if ever there was one, as he condemns those who have “treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying “Peace, peace’, when there is no peace. They acted shamefully, they committed abomination; yet they were not ashamed, they did not know how to blush.” He goes on, “Thus says the Lord: Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:14-16).
As we walk together, seeking where the good way lies, these ancient paths, trod by so many before us, let’s not give up on a hope against hope, a hope for things that we most certainly now do not see. There is no peace, but we need to envision it. We must be the instruments of that peace.