Thursday, December 26, 2019

My 2020 Cultural Wish List

1. We value life - all life. It starts in the womb, and it continues until death. The question of personhood and humanity looms ever larger as science reveals more and more about the life of the unborn. We must figure out how to exercise justice and mercy at our southern border to those who are born. Speaking of doing better, we can also do this by looking more carefully about the context in which poverty and crime flourish, and by having legitimately serious discussions about the cost and availability of health care. We value life when we value all of life.

2. We address the causes of the #metoo movement at the core. Specifically, how do we create a culture that trains us from the time we are children on how to honor others sexually? We appear to be doing a terrible job. I suspect the two biggest culprits are families in which honor is not modeled and entertainment that is remarkably crude, shallow and selfish when portraying relationships, sex, and sexuality. Morality, character, integrity. They matter. Oh, and pornography is a monster.

3. We reject materialism as the standard for the good life. "But the economy is good!" has become my least favorite phrase, as if having money in my pocket is more important than anything else. I want leaders and policies that model and promote truth, generosity, justice and mercy for all people, even if the achievement of these goals literally costs us something. The United States has plenty of money. We have room, as a nation and as individuals, to exercise what Timothy Keller calls a 'generous justice.' 

4. We give up caustic, abrasive, confrontational public discourse. Obnoxious people and/or mean posts get headlines. It's ruining our ability to have meaningful conversation about just about everything. I would love to see this modeled from the top down, beginning with our president and all other elected leaders in Washington. If politicians never used Twitter again to make an argument, vent, or explain something, I would consider 2020 a win.

5. The entertainment industry listens to itself and watches itself, and makes the connection: what they celebrate, their audience will do. If you want better people, make better entertainment. Write songs and tell stories that bring out nobility in people. You reap what you sow.

6. Christians remember that our kingdom is not of this world. Our citizenship is in heaven. Our allegiance is to Jesus. We do not owe allegiance to Trump, Obama, Clinton or Sanders. The Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian parties are not to be revered. In 2020, may we feel increasingly uneasy in a world that is not our home. May that unease inspire us to holy engagement with everyone and everything around us, and that includes holding said politicians and parties accountable when they contribute to the brokenness of the world.

7. All of us recommit to the pursuit of truth. Fake news is a problem from the Right and the Left; calling real news 'fake news' just because we don't like it is just as problematic. We need to do our own research: go to primary sources; absorb perspectives from multiple viewpoints; read, watch and listen widely; filter opinion from fact. The truth is there. It's just harder than ever to find it. Do work.

8. The evangelical church - which I love - regain its footing as a compelling community of salvation, truth, love, generosity, justice, mercy and hope that reflects the character and nature of Jesus.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

What Can Be Done? (Free To Believe: The Battle Over Religious Liberty In America - Part 3/3)

Luke Goodrich works for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. He's won multiple Supreme Court victories for religious freedom. He has appeared on Fox, CNN, ABC, NPR, and been in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Time Magazine. He's also an adjunct professor at the University of Utah law school where he teaches constitutional law.

I am summarizing his important and timely book in three installments that match the three sections of his book:

1) What Is Religious Freedom (read it here)
2) What Are The Most Serious Threats (read it here)
3) What Can Be Done? (the subject of this post)

What I blog is a mix of direct quotes and paraphrases from his writing. I will try to note where I am stepping out of the book and offering my own commentary.