Hang Together Is Now a Personal Blog

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With this post, Hang Together becomes my personal blog. The old content remains available but I’ll be the sole contributor going forward. I’m deeply grateful for those who contributed to HT over the years.

In September 2012, four friends and I created Hang Together, under the banner shown above, as a group blog to discuss whether and how the original vision of the American experiment in religious freedom and goodwill across religious and partisan lines might be renewed. For a time, the group discussion thrived. Eventually, however, other contributors – including a new one added to fill the gap – fell away.

Although this was partly because we were all busy, I now see that we were also trying to have the wrong conversation. Surprising as this is to me, our original vision – which we thought was so forward-looking – actually took for granted far too much continuity in our national political landscape. HT was a conversation among people who were conservatives as well as Christians, striving to overcome political as well as religious polarization. The problem is that conservatism more or less no longer exists, and the conversation we need to renew America is not one in which a discussion of conservatism is going to play a large role, except insofar as forensic diagnosis of the successes and failures of conservatism before its disintegration will be necessary to understand the challenges ahead.

Below the jump, the complete text (with images) of the original expression of the vision for Hang Together is preserved for posterity. I’m looking forward to ongoing conversations with all our contributors in the years to come.

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Our Economic Anxiety

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Today, the Acton Institute carries an article I co-wrote with Victor Claar on our age of economic anxiety:

This is not a mere selfish concern about who gets how much of what. It is a moral anxiety, a concern about what kind of people we are becoming. Is America still a country where it pays to “work hard and play by the rules,” in Bill Clinton’s famous phrase? Or have we become the kind of place where cheaters consistently get ahead and slackers get a free ride—where working hard and playing by the rules is for chumps?

The essay is adapted from a forthcoming special issue of the Journal of Markets and Morality Victor and I co-edited on the legacy of the Keynesian Revolution:

We are all Keynesians now, in a chilling sense. Through the cultural effects of the Keynesian Revolution, we have been taught to think of ourselves fundamentally as consumers, as bundles of desires striving to be satisfied, rather than as producers of good things that improve the world and serve humanity. We have been taught to think only of what satisfies present desires, not to build up good things over time so our grandchildren inherit a better world. “In the long run we are all dead,” Keynes said, banishing from our horizons any concern for what kind of world we leave our descendants when we go. And we have been taught to think of ourselves as cogs in a vast machine, under the control of managerial experts. To accommodate the experts’ demands we must all be ready to reorder our lives down to their very roots—since taking control of the economy necessarily involves exercising ever-greater control of all areas of human life.

There is a sense in which even the anti-Keynesians are all Keynesians now. The major schools of economic thought that have emerged to challenge Keynesianism—the Chicago and Austrian schools—developed within the amoral discourse incubated in the neoclassical period and consolidated by Keynes. They share, in a somewhat mitigated but essentially similar form, Keynesianism’s privileging of consumptive preferences over productive purposes, and its reductive inability to think cross-generationally. And while they strive to resist the Keynesian tendency to justify the encroaching powers of managerial technocracy, their acceptance of Keynesianism’s materialistic anthropology and morally shallow categories for thinking about economic activity leaves them unable to offer the effective resistance to creeping totalitarianism that is one of their primary goals.

Check it out!

The Question of Our Time

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Jeff Blehar asks the question of our time:

Why is Sen. Ben Sasse the only politician in America who even attempts to communicate to voters this way?

“This way” as in this way:

10. Bizarrely, many on the center-left seem not to see that there is little that some on the President’s team would love more than to transform this into a fight about historical monuments.

11. I wish more folks understood how many of the monuments now being debated are not really from the post-Civil War period as a way to remember war dead. Rather, contrary to popular understanding, many of these statues were explicitly erected as Segregation Monuments in the twentieth century, during Jim Crow…

12. But I’m also against mobs tearing down the statues, or city governments removing them in the middle of the night…

13. Every single place I’ve been this week, I’ve gotten a question like this:
**”Washington and Jefferson owned slaves; do we have to tear down their statues too?”
**”Explorer X didn’t treat native Americans the way he should have; do we abandon states west of the Appalachian Trail?”
**”Even Tom Osborne isn’t a saint; must we tear down the statute outside Lincoln’s Memorial Stadium?”

The people asking these questions (over and over and over) are not racist. Rather they’re perplexed by the elite indifference to their fair questions…

That’s a small sample of a very impressive essay.

When MLK was murdered, RFK heard the news just as he was about to step on stage and address a mostly black audience. His advisors urged him to cancel. Instead he stepped out onto the stage and extemporaneously gave a moving speech about how the forces of love and justice would ultimately prevail – a speech so powerful it’s still remembered. Off the top of his head he quoted Aeschylus.

That is the job we hire political leaders to do. The absence of leaders who can and will do this job is why our crisis is so out of control.

God Works as Our Warrior-King

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Continuing my series on biblical images of God as a worker at TGR, I consider the image of God as a warrior-king:

Today, a fresh vision of “the kingdom of God” is turning our theology upside down. How would that revolution itself be revolutionized if we considered God’s kingdom as his work?

I think it would, at minimum, put spiritual formation back at the center of this concept in a way that I don’t think has been adequately mantained. Dallas Willard, one of the original champions of a new emphasis on kingdom theology, put spiritual formation – the work of God inside us as our king – at the foundation of the kingdom. That’s where it belongs.

Heading toward a big finish with a surprise image in the final installment next time!

 

Mobile Ed Course on Work and Economics

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Skip this one if you’re paleolithic. But if you’re neolithic, or just plain lithic, enough to access Mobile Ed from Faithlife, the creators of Logos Bible software, check out my full-dress digital course on A Christian Perspective on Work and the Economy. At the link you’ll find a sample of me in all my glory in the Mobile Ed digital studio, talking about stewardship, along with a 21-unit course outline. You get a lot with these mobile courses! I had a blast recording this course for a full week out in Bellingham and am grateful to Faithlife for the opportunity.