Sociologist Robert Bellah calls individualism “the default mode” of American culture. It provides the rhetoric and political convictions to which people instinctively turn—whether or not it makes sense in the situation.
I had the opportunity to meet members of one of the world’s oldest and most heroic churches recently when I spoke to the national youth conference of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East. The meeting was held, of all places, in San Jose, California.
Leave it to Lutherans to address the issue of gay clergy with repeated references to a “bound conscience.” The term echoes the words of Martin Luther, who when he was put on trial for his critique of the Catholic Church declared that he would not recant, for he was “bound in conscience by the word of God.”
Most Americans seem to have been persuaded by President Obama’s argument that Iraq was the wrong war to fight—and that the war in Afghanistan is the right one. The war in Afghanistan is seven years old and escalating, and the future is uncertain. Twenty-one thousand additional American troops have been committed, and some leaders are calling for more. It is time to ask: What is the U.S.
It’s the world’s least desirable club: the league of failed and failing states. Every year, the Fund for Peace presents its list of the world’s shakiest political entities. Qualifications for entry into the club include such factors as demographic crisis, economic decline and bloody intergroup conflict.
Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, is aiming to win the evangelical vote in his bid to become the Republican presidential candidate. But Heath W. Carter, who teaches history at Valparaiso University, says that if they support Walker, who is known for his union-busting efforts, evangelicals will be ignoring some of their own history. Evangelicals have played a key role in union history, says Carter. In the 19th century, Scottish immigrant Andrew Cameron, a devout believer, campaigned for an eight-hour work day, believing that workers didn’t receive a fair wage for their labor. Evangelical figures were also involved in labor efforts in the early part of the 20th century and during the Depression. Walker’s own congregation was deeply divided over his attack on public unions (New Republic, July 12).