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In Search of the Common Good: Christian…
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In Search of the Common Good: Christian Fidelity in a Fractured World (edizione 2019)

di Jake Meador (Autore)

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Common life in our society is in decline. Our communities are disintegrating, as the loss of meaningful work and the breakdown of the family leave us anxious and alone--indeed, half of all Americans report daily feelings of loneliness. Our public discourse is polarized and hateful. Ethnic minorities face systemic injustices and the ever-present fear of violence and deportation. Economic inequalities are widening. In this book, Jake Meador diagnoses our society's decline as the failure of a particular story we've told about ourselves: the story of modern liberalism. He shows us how that story has led to our collective loss of meaning, wonder, and good work, and then recovers each of these by grounding them in a different story--a story rooted in the deep tradition of the Christian faith. Our story doesn't have to end in loneliness and despair. There are reasons for hope--reasons grounded in a different, better story. In Search of the Common Good reclaims a vision of common life for our fractured times: a vision that doesn't depend on the destinies of our economies or our political institutions, but on our citizenship in a heavenly city. Only through that vision--and that citizenship--can we truly work together for the common good.… (altro)
Utente:TimKeller
Titolo:In Search of the Common Good: Christian Fidelity in a Fractured World
Autori:Jake Meador (Autore)
Info:IVP Books (2019), 208 pages
Collezioni:La tua biblioteca
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In Search of the Common Good: Christian Fidelity in a Fractured World di Jake Meador

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Summary: Observing the breakdown in community in both church and society, the author traces the root causes, and the practices of Christian community that can lead to recovery of community and a church that seeks the common good in society.

Many attentive culture watchers have noted the parallel declines of both church and wider American culture. Attendance is dropping in many churches even as churches are rocked with scandals of sexual abuse and financial mismanagement. The seduction of the church to corrupt political alliances, whether of the left or the right, in the author's view, is only the final step in a church that has given itself to power instead of the doing of "small things with great love." While all this goes on, America is "bowling alone" to even a greater extend than when Robert Putnam first published his study of the decline of social capital and community in America. Suicide rates are up, life expectancy is dropping, and the professionalized care industry is booming, even as local community and a sense of cohesion and pursuit of common good is vanishing in a land of toxic discourse.

Jake Meador chronicles these parallel declines and traces them to three factors. One is a loss of meaning, a pervasive existentialism that pretends to meaning in choices of radical freedom, yet without hope. A second is a loss of wonder, a dis-enchantment with the world as the buffered self cuts us off from both danger and wonder, resulting pervasive boredom. A third is the hollowing out of work, where efficiency and profitability is the sum total of work's meaning, where we are alienated both from our work, and by our work from home, family, and religious life, as work becomes all-consuming.

Meador proposes three practices that may play a crucial role in restoring Christian communities to health, enabling them to exercise a societal presence that fosters a wider common good. He begins with the surprising proposal of keeping sabbath, as a tangible way of underscoring that human beings were made, not for work, but for God, that we are human beings, not human doings. One of the things Meador argues for is corporate worship, as one tangible way of keeping sabbath that begins to restore a sense of our being part of some "common good." He adopts Wendell Berry's idea of "membership" in which we recognize that we are embedded in both a human and wider biological community. He advocates for work that is sacramental--that work is good and offers ways to bless others, that produces wealth, and is attentive to the membership.

His final section consists of two parts. The latter grounds the former, and really all that he has written, in the new heaven and new earth, a hope that is even more real than life in the present age. The former talks about what it means for the community of God's people to be citizens in earthly societies. It is here perhaps that he makes one of his most trenchant observations:

Put another way, the political priorities of many American Christians in recent years have been precisely backward. We ought to have begun with doctrine because doctrine defines the good life as it relates to political systems and societies. Then we ought to have turned to the formation of citizens. We should have asked what kind of virtues are necessary to live well in community with one another and what particular virtues are necessary for responsible political action. Then we should have asked how to cultivate those virtues within our people. Finally, only after attending to these issues, we should have moved on to debating policy....American Christians, and evangelicals especially, have done the exact opposite. (p. 161).

He argues for a political doctrine shaped by the Kuyperian ideas of solidarity and sphere sovereignty, and the practice of subsidiarity--that government should only do those things it is large enough to do, leaving other matters to other spheres of life.

Reading Jake Meador as a sixty-something took me back to what it was like to read as a college student a young Os Guinness in The Dust of Death, with his sweeping discussion of culture, and what it meant for Christians to live as a third way. There is the same scope of considering cultural forces, the intellectual ideas behind them, and a fresh vision of what Christian faithfulness might look like in the present time. Sadly, a boomer generation fascinated with "fast-everything" circumvented doctrine and virtue and communal practices in pursuit of policy influence, power, or a personal prosperity without a sense of our membership and solidarity with others and all living things.

This leaves me reflecting. Os Guinness is still speaking and writing. Jake Meador has written for a number of publications. But who is reading? And who is heeding? I hope someone is and that the American church wakes up to how far it has declined over forty years, before all we can do is cry "Ichabod. The glory has departed!" (1 Samuel 4:21). Meador's ideas and commended practices offer light for those tired of groping in the darkness.

________________________________

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. ( )
1 vota BobonBooks | Aug 26, 2019 |
An exploration of the challenges of early 21st century Western culture.

The author does well at even-handedly investigating what has gone wrong with our culture: the loss of community, the rise of rampant individualism, the loss of value in work and effort, the commodification of everything, etc. This is not a partisan work; he finds as much at fault in modern conservatism as he does modern liberalism.

The author no doubt finds in faithful Christian living some kind of antidote to these difficulties, and a presumed path to the common good, but I found the work much lighter in terms of figuring out the way forward than it was in ascertaining how things have broken down. The author is a fan of Dreher's "Benedict Option," and much good could be done with more effective Christian catchesis. But that doesn't seem like something that's going to bring everyone in our pluralist society around to the common good, although it might well be that the author is convinced there can be no common good without communal confession of Christianity. If that's the case, then the common good was rarely, if ever, activated, and has little prayer in the future as a going concern, and is chasing after a myth...or the definition of what it might look like to find common ground in a secular society to improve the lot of everyone would need to be considered to be possible. Is it an impossibility or just beyond the imaginative purview of the author and his associates?

Nevertheless, a good read to consider the situation in which we find ourselves.

**--galley received as part of early review program ( )
  deusvitae | Jun 10, 2019 |
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Common life in our society is in decline. Our communities are disintegrating, as the loss of meaningful work and the breakdown of the family leave us anxious and alone--indeed, half of all Americans report daily feelings of loneliness. Our public discourse is polarized and hateful. Ethnic minorities face systemic injustices and the ever-present fear of violence and deportation. Economic inequalities are widening. In this book, Jake Meador diagnoses our society's decline as the failure of a particular story we've told about ourselves: the story of modern liberalism. He shows us how that story has led to our collective loss of meaning, wonder, and good work, and then recovers each of these by grounding them in a different story--a story rooted in the deep tradition of the Christian faith. Our story doesn't have to end in loneliness and despair. There are reasons for hope--reasons grounded in a different, better story. In Search of the Common Good reclaims a vision of common life for our fractured times: a vision that doesn't depend on the destinies of our economies or our political institutions, but on our citizenship in a heavenly city. Only through that vision--and that citizenship--can we truly work together for the common good.

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