September Recent Reads

What have some of our team members and authors been reading, listening to or engaging with lately?

Brian Andrew Smith, Civic Education Contributor for the Christian Civics Blog:

“In A Faith-Polarized Country, Is There Still Hope for Shared Ground?” 
by Gracy Olmstead in The Federalist

This recent article discusses how the rise of people with no religious affiliation make it harder to find common ground across party lines. While troubling in and of itself, this loss of religious belief presents a challenge in that without a shared religious experience, we have less “moral glue” to bind us together. This is one way the church can prove to be important to the communities around us: it is one of the last places where people who disagree with each other still willingly come together, where unexpected “face-to-face meetings can happen, and complex problems can be fully confronted and thought out.” And it might be that the church can serve as a model of how we can do this in our lives outside the church.

Rick Barry, Christian Civics co-founder and executive director:

“This Week In Time Bombs”
from Planet Money

Planet Money usually tries to tell fun stories about what happens when big economic ideas get put into practice in people’s lives, but this episode is different. This one offers some of the clearest explanations I’ve heard of some of the hottest topics in national politics right now: the federal budget, the debt ceiling, and DACA. And they also explain why they think these are all problems that Congress has needlessly created for itself.

Juliet Vedral, founding contributor to the Christian Civics Blog:

Conscience of a Conservative
by Sen. Jeff Flake

The junior Senator from Arizona has written a thoughtful and compelling apology for both the Republican party and his contribution to the current political rancor we are experiencing right now. Although the book tries to make a case for free-market conservatism here and there, there are many more points in which Flake shows leadership in humility, repentance, and attempts at unity. As a center-left Christian reading the book, I was not won over to conservatism, although I didn’t expect to be. Instead I was pleasantly disarmed by the confessional nature of Flake’s book. I highly recommend it for those on the center-left who feel anger and frustration toward the Republican party and hope that a Democrat will show similar courage in repentance and reconciliation.

Whitney Kirk, Center for Christian Civics Executive Board member:

“A Conversation With a Former White Nationalist”
from The Daily podcast by The New York Times

Derek Black grew up in one of the most prominent families of the alt-right. His story shows the importance of conversations that question and community that welcomes. It’s also a reminder to us as Christians to share Jesus’ gospel message with obedience, joy and patience—even to those with extreme opposing views.

Further Reading

On a recent episode of the Christian Civics Podcast, we interviewed Rev. Seth Wispelwey, who shared his experience from the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally last month. For those who want to learn a little bit more about Rev. Wispelwey, we asked him to share some of the wide range of books and articles that have had an influence on how he practices his faith:

  • Letters and Papers from Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • Trumpet of Conscience by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Essential Writings by Gustavo Gutierrez

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