Posts tagged with: empire

PentecostOver at First Things, Peter Leithart uses the occasion of Pentecost as a launching pad for highlighting the primary theme of his latest book: “The West has been busy building neo-Babel” and the time is ripe for repentance and revival:

We’ve dispensed with the effort to connect heaven and earth, since up above it’s only galaxies. But we share the other aspirations of Babel, as well as Babel’s humanist orientation. Classes and ethnicities can be synchronized, we think, without divine assistance. No need for a Holy Spirit to baptize into one body. We can create a universal language without the gift of tongues. The family resemblance between liberal virtues and the fruits of the Spirit is not an accident. It’s a heresy worthy of Flannery O’Connor: Hazel Motes invented the “Holy Church of Christ without Christ”; the Enlightenment created Pentecostalism without the Spirit.

The experiment has gone relatively well for some time, but the project is fraying. To many among our elites, Enlightenment universalism has been unmasked as nothing more than an effete form of tribalism. Secular defenses of liberal tolerance collapse into incoherence. And alongside these theoretical challenges is the immense practical problem of harmonizing the spirits of the myriad subcultures that occupy the West. I don’t need to repeat the litany of multicultural challenges yet again. Everyone knows that it’s an open question whether we have the intellectual and moral resources to sustain the experiment in secular Pentecostalism much longer. Like other Babels, this one will eventually crumble and its denizens will scatter.

Without the Spirit, such an “experiment in secular Pentecostalism,” will never flourish in that peculiar harmony so characteristic of the upper room and the transformation thereafter — diverse and unified, spontaneous yet ordered. “The Church has only one antidote to Babel,” Leithart writes: “the anti-Babel and fulfilled Babel of Pentecost.” The solution, according to Leithart, is to nurture a rightly aligned, wholly devoted, and thoroughly spiritual “Pentecostal Enlightenment.” (more…)

Blog author: jballor
Friday, August 10, 2007
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Here are some book reviews of note from recent weeks that you may find to be of interest:

Blog author: jballor
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
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John Wilson, editor of Books & Culture, writes up a summary of the proceedings of The Historical Society’s conference, “Globalization, Empire, and Imperialism in Historical Perspective.”

“We urgently need an antidote to the journalistic clichés and the even more deplorable pseudo-scholarly discourse surrounding the interlocked themes of globalization, empire, and imperialism. We need the distance—the perspective—that good historical thinking affords. There was plenty of that on display in Chapel Hill, along with some muddle,” reports Wilson.

For more on how “pseudo-scholarly” and pseudo-theological discourse on these themes has been manifest in the contemporary ecumenical movement, check out this piece, which reflects on the 2004 meeting of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches in Accra, Ghana, “Ecumenical Economics: Confessing against the Empire.”