It was 2 a.m., and my father and I had finally settled down for our flight from Shanghai to Beijing. Bleary-eyed, I was about to drift off to sleep, when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I hadn’t realized it, but there was a Chinese teenager more or less my age sitting right next to me. He asked me if I was American, and I told him I was, and from Houston. He then brought up the Rockets and excitedly asked, “Have you been to a real live NBA game before?”
“To be prophetic is to host a world other than the one that is in front of us.” Christians, as theologian Walter Brueggemann so eloquently wrote, ought to be set apart, practicing faith and life in a way that is unique and attractive to those outside of the body of Christ. Consumerism, an idol of the West, aspires to control the appetites and patterns of its practitioners, orienting their desires toward itself. As Matthew 6:24 cautions, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” Thus, it is time for Christians to examine the influence of consumerism on churches and ecclesiastical culture, not with fear or distrust, but with wisdom, understanding, and prayer.
In case of a national emergency, the United States government must, in a quick and focused manner, react. Because an orderly response is most likely to come from one voice—the commander in chief—emergency powers fall into the lap of the president. But over the last 230 years, Congress has bundled more and more powers into the emergency package without the stamp of the Constitution. At the same time, the Trump administration and the American majority grow further apart on what they think real national emergencies are.
“He that will not work shall not eat.” With these famous words pulled from 2 Thessalonians 3:10, Capt. John Smith uttered a phrase that both saved Jamestown and breathed a capitalistic nature into the very fabric of American society. Nearly 300 years later, German theologian Max Weber would ascribe the rise of capitalism to the Protestant work ethic, combined with the Calvinist doctrine of asceticism and predestination. Since the dawn of America, from the original pilgrims and colonists to the Founding Fathers and subsequent presidents, American civil society has generally coupled the economic system of capitalism with the moral system of Judeo-Christian beliefs. Although many of the Founding Fathers were deists, almost all understood an economic system of industriousness and elbow grease as a morally superior paradigm.
Holding the highest office in the United States of America can be the loneliest of positions. It certainly is a role that no one can relate to. That’s why communication is key for our presidents. It’s fascinating to dig through old documents that time has yellowed to discover how Gen. Ulysses S. Grant felt when first witnessing “Lincoln’s revolutionary tool for making sure that neither distance nor intermediaries diffused his leadership” — the telegraph.
From the Magna Carta to John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau, Western tradition is saturated with the idea that individuals have the right to resist tyrannical oppression. Our American heroes, history, and political attitudes make the challenging underdog a bestselling character. But when the virtue of resistance is so thoroughly encoded in our philosophical DNA, it is difficult to recognize legitimacy in a narrative that would condemn the underdog in the name of higher virtue. The tension in Hong Kong — a city built between the fault lines of liberal democracy and communism — crystallizes these differences.
After ten great years under the banner of Values & Capitalism, we are pleased to announce that our program will now be known as AEI’s Initiative on Faith & Public Life.
Why make the change?
In the beginning, God put Adam in the garden “to tend and keep” it (Genesis 2:15). Theologians have seen something more in this than an incidental phrase. Instead, they have seen a general commission from God to humanity to labor creatively for the betterment of the...
Dr. Paul Miller, Professor of the Practice of International Affairs at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, has been named the 2019–2020 Visiting Professor for AEI’s Initiative on Faith & Public Life.