Democratic culture appears in decline. Voluntary associations recede in influence and number. Labor unions, civic groups, youth organizations, and religious communities struggle to gain members from younger generations.
The ideal of liberal education, learning for the sake of learning, might appear suspect in light of Christian theology. In his essay “On the Theology of the Intellectual Life,” the English theologian John Webster writes that all “created things, including created intellect, are to be understood in terms of the history of fellowship between God and creatures.”
If you have had any exposure to contemporary ideas surrounding international economic development, whether through for-profit social impact business models, nonprofit work, or government aid initiatives, you may have heard the phrase, “give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.”
It’s time to rethink the widely accepted western approach to development that agencies utilize to combat global challenges. Sure, development practitioners have good intentions. However, good intentions are often not enough.
I didn’t know Marvel movies provided relevant commentary on American society until I watched Thor Ragnorok. After finishing “Renewing America’s Social Fabric: Faith, Community, and Public Policy,” a class taught by Dr. Ryan Streeter as part of AEI’s Summer Honors Program, I sat down with my family and watched another world’s troubles, only to have it frame my thoughts about ours.
For most of my life, I lived in a world where politics never came up at church, and the Church never came up in discussions of politics. Whenever the two did meet, I saw political leaders turning the Church from its prophetic ministry and making it a tool for partisan ends. Not until my participation in the AEI Summer Honors Program did I feel as though substantive policy discussion grounded in shared faith could even occur.
It was not so many years ago, 2005 to be precise, that we hit a certain “highpoint” in terms of the number of countries classified as democratic. Since then, while there are a myriad of stories testifying to the success of democracy, this period has been characterized by democratic backsliding. An increase in authoritarianism as well as nationalist sentiment have put liberalism (the political philosophy based on liberty and consent of the governed) on the defense.
Studying at an international university in Eastern Europe last year, I was caught completely unaware by something I had never before felt—a strong sensation that I needed to apologize for my nationality on behalf of my nation. The first time this happened, I was seated between students from Iraq and Afghanistan in a conflict studies course when the professor entered and asked the aggravatingly simple question: what is peace?
As a society, we have been practicing physical distancing and respecting stay-at-home orders for about a month and a half, and I have to admit, I have run out of ideas to keep myself busy during my time at home.