23 March 2010

Book: To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity Today

Just published: James Davison Hunter, "To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity Today" (Oxford University Press USA, March 2010):


From the publisher's description: "The call to make the world a better place is inherent in the Christian belief and practice. But why have efforts to change the world by Christians so often failed or gone tragically awry? And how might Christians in the 21st century live in ways that have integrity with their traditions and are more truly transformative? In To Change the World, James Davison Hunter offers persuasive – and provocative – answers to these questions. Hunter begins with a penetrating appraisal of the most popular models of world-changing among Christians today, highlighting the ways they are inherently flawed and therefore incapable of generating the change to which they aspire. Because change implies power, all Christian [sic] eventually embrace strategies of political engagement. Hunter offers a trenchant critique of the political theologies of the Christian Right and Left and the Neo-Anabaptists, taking on many respected leaders, from Charles Colson to Jim Wallis and Stanley Hauerwas. Hunter argues that all too often these political theologies worsen the very problems they are designed to solve."

Endorsement: "How should Christians act in the world? The dominant answer in America today seems to be: through politics. But the major model of Christian political action, visible most obviously but not exclusively in the Christian Right, has been a politics fuelled by resentment and a sense of victimization, actuated by a strong will to power, and a propensity to demonize its opponents. This politics is a capitulation to the worst elements of the contemporary culture it claims to be redeeming. Hunter offers an acute end [sic] penetrating analysis of this paradoxical and distressing phenomenon, and carefully charts an alternative course for contemporary Christians, a form of 'faithful presence' within culture and society." (Charles Taylor, McGill University)

James Davison Hunter is LaBrosse-Levinson Distinguished Professor of Religion, Culture and Social Theory and Executive Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia.

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