The recent increase in Christian political activism in the U.S. invites deeper thinking about the relationship between Christian faith and modern democracy. Two British authors lead us into these basic theological questions.
In her first book, The Preaching Life, Barbara Brown Taylor delighted readers with a seamless sewing together of divinity school memories, scripture, and ruminations on the beauty of the liturgical calendar and life in a congregation. That book inspired others to follow the call to ministry, as did the ten books that followed.
For author Harry Stout, the legitimacy of going to war (jus ad bellum) is one thing; the legitimacy of how the war is conducted (jus in bello) is another. The moral problem of the Civil War does not lie in the decision to go to battle—according to Stout, preserving the Union and eradicating slavery offered reason enough. He makes clear that he is not a pacifist and that fighting is sometimes a lesser evil. Rather, the moral problem lies in how the war was conducted.
Paul Shepherd’s novel concerns the complex brew of loyalty and judgment that often characterizes relationships between father and son. This impressive debut novel resembles Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead with its masterful characterization, narrative economy, finely tuned prose and attention to the inner contours of spiritual dilemmas.