We had a fascinating discussion in my Contemporary Christian Life and Practice class the other day. Eventually the conversation moved into questions of political order. One way of understanding where we find ourselves is to think of two major tendencies in the modern era: a radical individualist tendency and a radical collectivist tendency. So you might have (1) those who affirm a radical individualism (where persons are fundamentally/essentially non-social beings--and where social arrangements are simply artificial and non-essential to who we are), and you might have (2) a collectivist tendency (various forms of communism or socialism), where the fundamental reality is the centralized state which controls virtually all of reality (and the individual is swallowed up by this central power).
I was trying to illustrate for students that there are older models which have been largely eclipsed in the modern era. Models which affirm multiple smaller and overlapping (and non-totalitarian) authorities or governments. I had in mind the work of Johannes Althusius. For Althusius there are these numerous and overlapping authorities or "governments," none of which are absolute. And particularly important, the most fundamental "sovereignty" lies at the lower levels of organization. This kind of thinking is somewhat lost today (in a sense), but it may be that only in these older models of thinking are we going to be able to find more stable and sane thinking on the nature of political order and association. Attached is a short piece I have written on Althusius, published in the Oxford Guide to the Historical Reception of Augustine.
As the 2012 election draws near, I have wanted to put a few things down on paper. I have just had an essay published on the web site of The Imaginative Conservative, which is a wonderful site. They have a great collection of essays both older and new. My piece is titled, "Living Amidst the Ruins: The Search for Political Wisdom in a Post-Constitutionalist Age." It can be accessed here. Enjoy!
I was asked to write a piece for The Gospel Coalition on classical education, and it is now posted at The Gospel Coalition web-site, and can be accessed here. It is a fairly brief introduction and recommendation of Christian and classical education. My piece is a recommendation for an explicitly gospel-centered, telos (goal)-centered classical education. I wrote a tad longer piece for a recent issue of Houston Baptist University's The City, which can be accessed here.
As a Baylor graduate, I was intrigued that Baylor's Board of Regents chose Ken Starr to be its next President (he started June 1, 2010). I have written an essay for Touchstone magazine (July/August 2010), "Lone Starr: The Eyes of More Than Texas Are on Baylor's New President," in which I offer some thoughts on Baylor. The article is not (yet) posted online, but the links above go to the Touchstone web page. I will post the essay online next month. To those who have not read Touchstone, I would recommend it highly.