Politics is Hard: October Recent Reads

What have some of our team members and authors been reading and engaging with lately?

“The Christian Mandate to Subvert Tribalism” by Judy Wu Dominick in Christianity Today

It’s been a busy few weeks for our team at the Center for Christian Civics: We’ve been working on new articles and podcast episodes while planning the biggest event we’ve put on so far and traveling to conferences to introduce new people to our work. If you met us in New Jersey earlier this month, you got a free copy of our Bible study guide on how to engage with people who don’t share your politics in the church. (If you’re joining us in DC this week, you’re also about to get a copy.) This deep and richly personal reflection makes a great companion to it.

“The Seven Deadly Sins of Political Junkies” by Dr. Bruce Ashford

Center for Christian Civics Advisory Council member Dr. Bruce Ashford shares some of his insights and observations from a lifetime digesting political news. This article does two things that are especially worth considering and emulating: First, he doesn’t assume that these sins are problems with “other people,” but takes care to honestly admit his own implication in them, too. Second, he doesn’t stop at identifying the sin, but then turns to the aspects of God’s character that can offer remedy for these particular breaks in our hearts.

“How American Politics Became So Exhausting” by Emma Green and Alan Jacobs in The Atlantic

This interview with Alan Jacobs, author of the new book How to Think, which we’ll offer some thoughts on before the end of the year, is essentially a conversation about the ideas and themes of his book. It focuses heavily on the feedback loop between individuals, social media and the broader news media. To his credit, Jacobs, a Christian and a professor at a major Christian university in Texas, seems to make an effort to keep the conversation humane. He notes that the problems he is discussing aren’t just bad for our society, they are bad for the individuals in our society, as well.

“…sometimes we get things wrong, because politics is hard. Knowing the right policy in any case is difficult, because you’re having to predict the future and the variables are astronomically complex. But we want to believe that it’s obvious what to do to fix our social problems.”
~Alan Jacobs

“10 Ways To Make Your Pastor’s Day This Pastor Appreciation Sunday” by Peter Burfeind in The Federalist

Even though Pastor Appreciation Sunday has come and gone, we’re including this in this month’s rundown for two reasons: First, most pastors are so busy providing support to other people that they don’t have the time or bandwidth to get proper support for themselves, so the brothers and sisters in their congregations are going to need to be proactive about tending to the pastor’s spiritual and emotional needs. (Please use your discretion with number nine: Some church traditions disallow alcohol; some people in other traditions still refrain from drinking.) Second, some of the pieces of advice for taking care of your pastor can easily apply to taking care of the officials you hired to work in your local government, especially numbers one and three (show up to local government events; ask questions about what your officials are working on and how their work is going).

Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture by Lesslie Newbigin

This is one of our Executive Director’s favorite books, and one that had a big influence on our vision and mission in our earliest days. After forty years of ministry in India, Newbigin returned to the west in the 1980s and began helping churches learn to look at their surrounding culture the way a missionary would learn his mission field. Right now, our country is deeply divided and tribalized. But Newbigin’s writing can help us learn to better diagnose these deep divisions and go into our culture’s tribes as agents of healing and renewal.

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