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What Are Christians For?: Life Together at the End of the World

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What does a Christian political witness look like in our day? Politics ought to be defined by fidelity to the common good of all the members of society. But our modern Western politics are defined by a determination to bend the natural world and human life to its own political and economic ends. This wholesale rejection of the natural order is behind the dominant revolution What does a Christian political witness look like in our day? Politics ought to be defined by fidelity to the common good of all the members of society. But our modern Western politics are defined by a determination to bend the natural world and human life to its own political and economic ends. This wholesale rejection of the natural order is behind the dominant revolutions in our history, and defines our experience in Western society today--our racialized hierarchy, modern industry, and the sexual revolution. In What Are Christians For?, Jake Meador lays out a proposal for a Christian politics rooted in the givenness and goodness of the created world. He is uninterested in the cultural wars that have so often characterized American Christianity. Instead, he casts a vision for an ordered society that rejects the late modern revolution at every turn and is rooted in the natural law tradition and the great Protestant confessions. Here is a political approach that is antiracist, anticapitalist, and profoundly pro-life. A truly Christian political witness, Meador argues, must attend closely to the natural world and renounce the metallic fantasies that have poisoned common life in America life for too long.


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What does a Christian political witness look like in our day? Politics ought to be defined by fidelity to the common good of all the members of society. But our modern Western politics are defined by a determination to bend the natural world and human life to its own political and economic ends. This wholesale rejection of the natural order is behind the dominant revolution What does a Christian political witness look like in our day? Politics ought to be defined by fidelity to the common good of all the members of society. But our modern Western politics are defined by a determination to bend the natural world and human life to its own political and economic ends. This wholesale rejection of the natural order is behind the dominant revolutions in our history, and defines our experience in Western society today--our racialized hierarchy, modern industry, and the sexual revolution. In What Are Christians For?, Jake Meador lays out a proposal for a Christian politics rooted in the givenness and goodness of the created world. He is uninterested in the cultural wars that have so often characterized American Christianity. Instead, he casts a vision for an ordered society that rejects the late modern revolution at every turn and is rooted in the natural law tradition and the great Protestant confessions. Here is a political approach that is antiracist, anticapitalist, and profoundly pro-life. A truly Christian political witness, Meador argues, must attend closely to the natural world and renounce the metallic fantasies that have poisoned common life in America life for too long.

30 review for What Are Christians For?: Life Together at the End of the World

  1. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Loftus

    An incisive and yet hopeful examination of how our modern disconnection from human nature and the natural world has brought so much chaos into our lives -- and how we can find our way back. Absolutely fantastic, will be recommending this one and buying it for others for years to come.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Drake Osborn

    3.6? I really enjoyed this book, and in many ways it was refreshing to read, as Meador is a humble and compelling author. I consistently found myself nodding with his ideas in their coherency with natural theology and general Christian ethic. I loved his explanation of the denigration of the home and of community due to the speed and efficiency of industrialism. I was a little lost in his arguments on race, but could see how blind economic interest and a lack of deference to nature has always pl 3.6? I really enjoyed this book, and in many ways it was refreshing to read, as Meador is a humble and compelling author. I consistently found myself nodding with his ideas in their coherency with natural theology and general Christian ethic. I loved his explanation of the denigration of the home and of community due to the speed and efficiency of industrialism. I was a little lost in his arguments on race, but could see how blind economic interest and a lack of deference to nature has always played a large part in the subjugation of and oppression of non whites in the west. I guess my only hesitancy with the book is not a gripe with the book itself but my own lack of experience in this area. Basically, this read gave no counter-arguments for the authors political/social vision. Was industrialism purely evil? Are there any pieces of modernity that have drawn us closer toward nature and care and not away? Is there a place for economic fervor and capitalistic policies or tendencies in a thick view of the world? I feel I need someone to help provide some counterpoints and pushback. If so, Meador and his influences may just be even more compelling, but those counterpoints are not found in this work. Overall, a joy to read in many ways, but a bit lacking in robustness. Lovely thoughts abound though, and helpful for supporting reflection. For a Presbyterian, a lot of love for the Bruderhof.

  3. 4 out of 5

    PD

    Excellent. I listened to audiobook. This is one to own in hardcopy or kindle. Read through. Reread slowly. Reflect. Imagine. Build. Love.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Hoss

    I initially gravitated towards "What Are Christians For?" (WACF) because I had seen the author on twitter and a lot of his thoughts intrigued me. With all of the political conversations coming from a post-Donald Trump world, I was looking forward to seeing what a whole life/pro life perspective that was anti racist would look like, as someone always wanting to learn. In WACF, Meador looks at various points in Christian history and discusses perspectives informed by natural law (governing ourselve I initially gravitated towards "What Are Christians For?" (WACF) because I had seen the author on twitter and a lot of his thoughts intrigued me. With all of the political conversations coming from a post-Donald Trump world, I was looking forward to seeing what a whole life/pro life perspective that was anti racist would look like, as someone always wanting to learn. In WACF, Meador looks at various points in Christian history and discusses perspectives informed by natural law (governing ourselves through a philosophy informed by nature) and historic views from the Christian faith. This gives Meador the ability to give an alternative view of how we are to live than what is typically seen through the binary thinking of American politics. While WACF was well written and insightful, there's a couple things that could have made it a bit better. I know authors often don't have the ability to pick their title, but it is worth mentioning that the question of what Christians are for is never really answered in the book. I know the question could be asked multiple different ways (what Christians stand for vs what the purpose of being a Christian is), but there really wasn’t any attention given to the question. The description of the book also mentions a perspective rooted in historic Protestant confessions; however, the confessions were barely referenced in the book (though there was mention of a few of the Reformers, most substantially Martin Bucer, a favorite of mine). Sadly, there was even fewer references to scripture as informing Meador's perspective, despite the fact that I know scripture could be used to support many of Meador's positions. Additionally, this book is really only suited for current Christians or people who are already informed towards some of the controversies permeating the church today. While Meador makes it clear that he is not interested in discussing the culture wars and he does go heavier on history than theology, if you don't already have some level of familiarity towards what he's writing about, it could be easy to get lost in the shuffle. That said, I do think that Meador brings up valid criticisms and concerns throughout the book, yet I do disagree with many of his proposed solutions. I think WACF is still a worthwhile read if you are open minded towards different perspectives and would like to learn from a different point of view. Thank you to NetGalley and IVP for gifting a digital copy in exchange for this review!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Haley Baumeister

    From colonialism to the Industrial Revolution… to unhealthy abuses/disconnection from our natural world… to the Sexual Revolution… to compartmentalized family life & institutionalized education… to the erasure of so much of our public “commons”… to greed & poverty & duties of care… Jake casts a vision for what modern faithful presence can look like for Christians (while touching on other approaches such as withdrawal/purity from, or assimilation into). *If you’re aware of the reference in the ti From colonialism to the Industrial Revolution… to unhealthy abuses/disconnection from our natural world… to the Sexual Revolution… to compartmentalized family life & institutionalized education… to the erasure of so much of our public “commons”… to greed & poverty & duties of care… Jake casts a vision for what modern faithful presence can look like for Christians (while touching on other approaches such as withdrawal/purity from, or assimilation into). *If you’re aware of the reference in the title, it will be no surprise one of his children is named Wendell. :)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    Summary: An argument for a Christian politics that recognizes the goodness of all creation including all peoples, that rejects the manipulation of people and places and our own bodies that disregards their nature. Jake Meador begins this work with the story of Father Ted, who helped a journalist covering apartheid South Africa, escape house arrest and the country. He represents to Meador a kingdom politics committed to life for the whole of life. Meador argues that much of American Christianity d Summary: An argument for a Christian politics that recognizes the goodness of all creation including all peoples, that rejects the manipulation of people and places and our own bodies that disregards their nature. Jake Meador begins this work with the story of Father Ted, who helped a journalist covering apartheid South Africa, escape house arrest and the country. He represents to Meador a kingdom politics committed to life for the whole of life. Meador argues that much of American Christianity divorces faith from creation, from our embodied life, and other human beings, all for our own political and economic ends. Drawing on the work of Herman Bavinck and Willie Jennings, he describes the immense inheritance we have inherited in the creation and one another. We repudiate this in our Western disregard of both the places we inhabit, living in accord with the particular character of that place, and in our colonization, in our disregard the peoples there before us. The particular expression of our alienation from God for those in the West is the exaltation of whiteness, and the oppression of others. Our reductionist education results in a loss of wonder. Another reformer points the way back. Martin Bucer taught that the renewal of our relationship with God in Christ renews our relationship to neighbor, to proper governance, and to the care of the land. We learn again to accept the givenness of nature and our place in it. We embrace the household, marriage, and sexuality lived within that relationship, and lives of faithfulness to one another in sickness and health. And we embrace the larger community of God’s people in a particular place. Meador upholds the model of the Bruderhof, who renounce private ownership of material possessions. He advocates for the more challenging work of being this community in one’s own city and neighborhood. I’m wrestling with my reaction to this book. Meador has great facility for drawing together the work of various theologians, philosophers, and writers, along with some great personal stories. Yet I found the thread of this article not easy to follow, and a more prolix statement of what Wendell Berry articulates so straightforwardly in What Are People For? and other essays. But it is an important and perceptive argument. The gospel not only restores us to God but to our embodied existence, each other as families and communities, states and the world, and to God’s good earth. It is apparent that our politically and economically captive churches have not heard this enough and this message is so urgent that it cannot be spoken and written and lived enough, until we recover a sense of what Christians are for. ____________________________ Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dorothy Greco

    I found WACF thought provoking and insightful. I think Jake aims to address the question, "How should we imagine a political society [and culture] that would be ordered toward care rather than accomplishment?" As Karen Swallow Prior wrote in the foreword, "We have given so much attention to what we do and what we think that we have perhaps forgotten to consider why we are here." A few small critiques. First, I felt he relied very heavily on other's thoughts, esp. in chapter 6. Second, I think th I found WACF thought provoking and insightful. I think Jake aims to address the question, "How should we imagine a political society [and culture] that would be ordered toward care rather than accomplishment?" As Karen Swallow Prior wrote in the foreword, "We have given so much attention to what we do and what we think that we have perhaps forgotten to consider why we are here." A few small critiques. First, I felt he relied very heavily on other's thoughts, esp. in chapter 6. Second, I think the book would have benefited from a tighter focus, esp. in chapter 4, which felt like it tired to do too much. Throughout the book, Meador affirms the goodness of God and his creation while urging us to learn what it means to love others well and fulfill God's call on our lives. Compelling read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    The chapter on sex and chastity (Chapter 8: A Vision of Christian Belonging) is SO GOOD.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Unhelpful review here. Unhelpful review here.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Fouche

    Intelligent and thoughtful writing. A incisive diagnosis of what is wrong, and a beautiful vision for making it right.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Conrade Yap

    In a self-driven, self-seeking, and self-centered world, it is common to ask questions about one's identity, purpose, and significance. Who am I? What am I called to do? What is my purpose in life? These are all familiar questions about the self. What if we take some time to think about our role in the community we are in? What if we take it even further to think about our role as believers in Christ? What if more of us recognize that the individual is incomplete without the whole body of believ In a self-driven, self-seeking, and self-centered world, it is common to ask questions about one's identity, purpose, and significance. Who am I? What am I called to do? What is my purpose in life? These are all familiar questions about the self. What if we take some time to think about our role in the community we are in? What if we take it even further to think about our role as believers in Christ? What if more of us recognize that the individual is incomplete without the whole body of believers? What if we begin not with the self in mind, but with the people, the very people that God has called us to love and to be a part of? That changes everything. In a powerful reminder of how interdependent we truly are, author Jake Meador shares with us the simple but powerful effects of simply being faithful to our calling no matter where we are. Called the "whole life approach," Meador draws our attention to the need for believers to be active in social justice and everyday spirituality. Like how Father Ted played his part in supporting the persecuted during the apartheid in South Africa, or how Frederick Douglass helped battle slavery in the 19th Century. Why are not more people stepping up to do the good that they ought to do? Why are we not seeing more of such radical practices in our modern world? Why are we increasingly disenfranchised with society, with political divisions, and isolated? Meador uses the title of the book as a veiled challenge to all Christians to do something about authentic discipleship. This book is a guide to help us understand the reasons why we fail to live up to the expectations of our callings; to remind us once again of our need for interdependency, and the courage we need to step up. Meador points out several reasons for our failure to live out our calling. He says that many believers have been so conditioned to "wealth, comfort, and prejudice" that they have neglected the practice of Christian discipleship. This has lulled them into a false sense of satisfaction which prevents them from seeing outside the box. They have forgotten the great inheritance that we had from God. They are also constantly on a crusade to cut all forms of apron strings, such as debt-free living. This popular notion believes that debt is bad and the goal is to get out of debt. The trouble is, when we are truly living debt-free, we unwittingly cut off the formal relationships that form the basis of interdependency. This desire to uproot ourselves from anything that binds us also gives us a new problem: loss of identity and eventually a loss of faith in humankind and in God. That is not all. He urges us not to fall into either of the two extremes: Neither the overly simplistic accusations that society has declined nor the "over-optimistic theories of cultural progression." Instead, he argues for the position of relational integration, to connect with one another. That means the technologies we use should be used with interdependence in mind. That is not all. He observes that the root of the sexual revolution is not about feminism or discrimination. It is a reaction against the historical separation of the sexes and the stigmatization of sexual roles in various places. It is also a result of Industrialization. Even the deprivation of our natural sense of wonder has become a factor behind our disenfranchisement. Humanity has exiled people from one another under false presumptions. Thankfully, the author does not leave us hanging on the segregated pieces of analysis. He calls for a new beginning of what he calls a "Christian social doctrine." It is about re-establishing a sense of belonging. He describes this using the Christian hospitality lived out by the L'Abri organization. In fact, this organization opens its doors not only to familiar people but also to strangers, as long as they too are willing to accept the rules of the community. He discusses some approaches in our society and political circles: "defensive against," "relevance to," "purity from," and "faithful presence" before urging us to consider adopting the latter. My Thoughts ============== Meador covers a lot of ground in this book about the need for co-existence and interdependence. I wonder about what was the trigger for this book. Is it the political divisions happening in North America these days? Is it a lament on how few role models we see nowadays of radical Christian discipleship? Is it some cultural critique to show us how we arrive at the mess we are in? Or maybe it is a desire to shine a path for us to adopt so that we can practice a faithful presence wherever we are? It is fair to say that it is a combination of all, and especially the last aspect. All of these are attempts to answer the very question he poses as the book title: What are Christians for? Let me summarize three general thrusts? First, it is a wake-up call to our normative mode of living. Learn to question our commonly accepted presumptions. His example of our never-ending quest to reach a debt-free lifestyle is worth pondering. This is food for thought in a world that seems to assume negativity on all kinds of debt. The truth is, we are all in debt. Most of us owe our parents a great amount of debt, for how they freely brought us up. Gradually, Meador shows us that we are all indebted to God. Thus, we should not see the liberation from debt as our final landing pad. We need to challenge philosophies like this and critique our normally accepted practices. Second, Meador shows us that if we fail to change, we lose more than we gain. Like the politics that have divided the Christian community. On the one hand, everyone agrees on the path of peacemaking. On the other hand, they cannot tolerate dissent or alternative viewpoints. The political scene is one big problem altogether. Even the separation of Church and politics could be overplayed into some form of abandonment of political activity altogether. We need a constructive way to think of these matters and learning to live faithfully in spite of these differences is a key motif. Finally, I appreciate the vision of hope. We need to learn to see one another as neighbors that God loves rather than enemies that our human instincts hate. Recognizing the roots of our separation is important so that we could mend our broken fabrics and restore relationships. This calls for community involvement, not just individual. It calls for a greater sense of interdependence rather than isolated independence. Whether it is a place, a vocation, a position, or opportunity to reach out to a human neighbour, our true identity cannot be found alone. We need people. We need to bring back community life. We need to learn the rules of engagement and actively engage. Make room for people. Carve out time for one another. Care to belong by starting to belong to a community of care. This book is an excellent call to action. It is a challenge to remember what Christianity is all about. Jake Meador is the editor in chief of Mere Orthodoxy, an online magazine covering the Christian faith in the public sphere, and a contributing editor with Plough. His first book was In Search of the Common Good: Christian Fidelity in a Fractured World. Jake's work has been published in First Things, National Review, Books and Culture, Commonweal, Christianity Today, Front Porch Republic, and the University Bookman. He lives with his wife and children in his hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska. Rating: 4.5 stars of 5. conrade This book has been provided courtesy of InterVarsity Press and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Zach Barnhart

    Jake's project is ambitious to be sure. How do we wrestle with, as Bavinck coined it, "the peculiarity of this moment," recovering a sense of harmony and wholeness in daily life? We have existential questions that need answers. But Meador does a remarkable job of navigating the reader through this felt disharmony and setting forth a thoroughly Christian vision of nature and our place within it. His writing on how race, industrialism, the sexual revolution, and the death of institutions (Chapters Jake's project is ambitious to be sure. How do we wrestle with, as Bavinck coined it, "the peculiarity of this moment," recovering a sense of harmony and wholeness in daily life? We have existential questions that need answers. But Meador does a remarkable job of navigating the reader through this felt disharmony and setting forth a thoroughly Christian vision of nature and our place within it. His writing on how race, industrialism, the sexual revolution, and the death of institutions (Chapters 2-5) is the most insightful section of the book. What the Christian needs, in light of these grim realities, is a renewed understanding and commitment to the land, the household, and wonder in general. We need, in Meador's words, "a politics of care." A beautiful book. Please read it!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    In the post-9/11 era of the church, Jake was wrestling with his faith and going through something of a “deconstruction.” He’d go on walks and listen to Emergent Church leader Rob Bell as well as New Calvinism leader Mark Driscoll. He was wrestling with something that eventually became the central thesis of this book. He found a way to maintain his orthodoxy while still being critical of the way American Christianity is imagined today. One of Jake Meador’s central concerns, in his potential deconv In the post-9/11 era of the church, Jake was wrestling with his faith and going through something of a “deconstruction.” He’d go on walks and listen to Emergent Church leader Rob Bell as well as New Calvinism leader Mark Driscoll. He was wrestling with something that eventually became the central thesis of this book. He found a way to maintain his orthodoxy while still being critical of the way American Christianity is imagined today. One of Jake Meador’s central concerns, in his potential deconversion and now in this book, is: what’s wrong with the world? And Meador not only gives a compelling answer, but he also teases out a vision for how the world should be. Jake Meador says we can’t follow our Western tradition. The Christian vision for the world is something better, more holistic, more generous, and more human, even if it comes with a few additional burdens and responsibilities along the way. Jake says: our vision of the Christian life has too often been implicitly conditioned and defined to leave the characteristic idols of the Western world untouched, unscathed, and unchallenged. He calls the industrial and sexual revolutions disastrous. He critiques various points in European history - the colonial spirit that brought about violence and racism. He destroys the idea that life would be so much better if just we went back to the way things were. There is nuance needed. Meador brings it. If Carl Trueman presented an intellectual history that led to the sexual ethics of our day in The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, then Meador brings forth a social history that led to today’s lonely, racist, sexually-selfish and consumeristic world in What Are Christians For? The consistent problem faced by society is this: people and systems perpetuate the myth that we can and should "impose our will onto the world by force." That is the central problem, the central sin, which according to Meador started first in the Garden of Eden. The first few chapters show how this myth surfaced itself in race, nature, industrialism, the sexual revolution, and in “the unmaking of the real.” Then in the last few chapters, Meador unpacks Christian social doctrine (against industrialism), how Christians should view the land (against aspects of colonialism), a vision for belonging (against the sexual revolution), and the benefits of wonder in the real world. For a more detailed description of each chapter, see the highlights I captured here. Throughout the book, Meador weaves his own personal stories, doctrinal foundations from Martin Bucer (16th-century reformer) and Herman Bavinck (Dutch neo-Calvinist), as well as modern examples of Christians doing life together. Critique One thing that this book lacks is Biblical exegesis. It’s more history and social vision casting rather than being a breakdown of what the Bible says. Meador does ground his ideas in Scripture, and I don’t find him to contradict it, but you shouldn’t get this book if you’re looking for Biblical commentary. Recommendation I recommend What Are Christians For? It engages you in ways other books don't. It is imaginative in so many ways. How would I care for my own dad if he suffered like Meador's dad did? How am I complicit in perpetuating the same sins as racist slave owners? How do I view God's creation not as a republican or democrat, but as a Christian? Who are the Christians that I know that I could try to live closer to? How do I embrace rather than hide from the burdens my family carries? There are some aspects to the book that are highly specific and practical; Meador recommends studying ecology, learning cooking techniques, moving closer to other Christians or living with them, and being skeptical of new technology as a Luddite would. You don't have to follow all of these things precisely. And I think Meador himself would say that specific applications are going to vary. But Meador succeeds in helping us imagine better ways of living together. Since this book condemns various political ideals of both the left and the right, starting with the failings of the ideals of the conservative right, this book provides a helpful apologetic in defending Christian sexual ethics to those on the left. Perhaps this book is especially helpful to "progressive Christians" who don't hold to Biblical sexual ethics. Meador might help persuade them in that direction. For example, here’s how Meador examples why the Christian view of sexuality is more restrictive yet more humane than the view currently in favor in the world: In the Christian conception of sexuality, the self’s identity is secured ultimately in Christ but also proximally in the covenant of marriage. This securing of the self makes it possible to view sex as chiefly an act of self-giving rather than of self-realization. It re-orients the sexual act away from our own needs, experiences, and desires and toward the needs, experiences, and desires of the other. It is able to do this because [in the Christian view] sex is ultimately unnecessary for defining our identity. Sex is not necessary to live a good life. All the pressures that come with sex when it is seen as a primary way to self-designate are removed in the Christian vision of sexuality. A person can see their sexual life as chiefly serving and loving their partner. I could have given other examples, but I hope this review helps convince you of the value of this book. It's heady and academic yet personal and inspiring. You should read it. This review was originally written at https://andrewnoble.substack.com/p/bo...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Hobart

    ★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2 (rounded up) This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader. --- God looks at this world and loves it, which is why we can and should do the same. This world is not something we should seek to escape through conquest or bend to our will through technique, power, or control. Rather, it is a gift given to us by God for our joy and his glory. Because God is love and his law is good, we can look at our neighbor and love him or her. Because God gave himself to us, we can give ourselves ★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2 (rounded up) This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader. --- God looks at this world and loves it, which is why we can and should do the same. This world is not something we should seek to escape through conquest or bend to our will through technique, power, or control. Rather, it is a gift given to us by God for our joy and his glory. Because God is love and his law is good, we can look at our neighbor and love him or her. Because God gave himself to us, we can give ourselves to others. We can confidently and joyfully enter into these debts of love that we build up over a lifetime of living in the world, and we can dispense them with extravagance, trusting that whatever wrongs we might experience today as a result of such living will be gathered up and made right in the glorious and perfect love of God. THE BACK OF THE BOOK What does a Christian political witness look like in our day? Politics ought to be defined by fidelity to the common good of all the members of society. But our modern Western politics are defined by a determination to bend the natural world and human life to its own political and economic ends. This wholesale rejection of the natural order is behind the dominant revolutions in our history, and defines our experience in Western society today—our racialized hierarchy, modern industry, and the sexual revolution. In What Are Christians For?, Jake Meador lays out a proposal for a Christian politics rooted in the givenness and goodness of the created world. He is uninterested in the cultural wars that have so often characterized American Christianity. Instead, he casts a vision for an ordered society that rejects the late modern revolution at every turn and is rooted in the natural law tradition and the great Protestant confessions. Here is a political approach that is antiracist, anticapitalist, and profoundly pro-life. A truly Christian political witness, Meador argues, must attend closely to the natural world and renounce the metallic fantasies that have poisoned common life in America life for too long. FAITHFUL PRESENCE In his discussion of the Christian response to those revolutions, Meador borrows a scheme from James Davison Hunter describing the four postures Christians have taken: defensive against, relevance to, purity from, and faithful presence. He doesn't spend a lot of space—but sufficient space—defining and then critiquing the first three, but gives more space to faithful presence. And actually, everything he argues for in the remainder of the book could fit in this category. I want to say I'd heard of Hunter's categories before this, but I can't remember where (in print or lecture). But first off, I really appreciated the schema in terms of describing how the American Church has responded. But even more, I appreciated Meador's explanation of faithful presence and then his application of it. INFLUENCES Meador builds the arguments in this book on the work of Herman Bavinck—particularly his book, Christian Worldview. But he's drawing on several other thinkers and writers from across the theological spectrum (a methodology borrowed from Bavinck). You can see the fingerprints of Lewis, Tolkien, Wendell Berry, John Paul II, Solzhenitsyn, Martin Bucer—and others. There's a breadth of influences here that's impressive and adds a lot to the arguments (and makes narrow-minded guys like me a little uncomfortable). SO, WHAT DID I THINK ABOUT WHAT ARE CHRISTIANS FOR?? What did [Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn] propose as a way through the revolution? We must turn, our eyes upward to the heavens, he said, not as a place to conquer, as his compatriots in the space program believed, but as a reminder that our lives exist as a vapor in the wind, and then comes the judgment. We do not conquer the heavens; we are judged by them. And if we fail to discover the sources of spiritual health, there is nothing else for us. Our spiritual lives will continue to be trampled on by the weight of our age. And if our spiritual lives are destroyed, no amount of wealth or power can atone for such a loss. This seems like one of those books that I need to read a handful of times and then read some scholarly reviews—pro and con—before I can really say I have a handle on the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments. Thankfully, this isn't that kind of blog. How did it read? Very nicely. Meador's writing is strong, it's clear, and he's able to express complex thoughts in a very digestible manner. Sure, I think I need to read it a few more times before I could say I mastered the thoughts—but that's on me, not the text, this is just not the kind of thing I spend a lot of time thinking about. I appreciated Meador being critical of both the American Left and the American Right (you rarely see that in Christian literature), while putting forth a vision built on the best of the Christian traditions. I don't think Meador offers a perfect solution to the situation we find ourselves in, but there's a lot of insight and wisdom to be found in these pages. And even if it's not perfect, it's a whole lot better than anything else I've found.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Justin Lonas

    A lovely book which manages to sew a bundle of disparate threads of Christian thought into something as concise and readable as it is rigorous and beautiful—a book to read slowly, and well.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Figueiredo

    4.5 stars. Jake Meador is one of the most incisive thinkers out there, and this is a great way to get acquainted with his work. Meador's work is small-c catholic, encompassing sources from various Christian traditions. While he leans on quite a few Protestant theologians, his work fits well with Catholic Social Thought, which he also cites. Meador first diagnoses what's gone wrong in American society, pointing to settler-colonialism as the place where people were severed from land, traditions we 4.5 stars. Jake Meador is one of the most incisive thinkers out there, and this is a great way to get acquainted with his work. Meador's work is small-c catholic, encompassing sources from various Christian traditions. While he leans on quite a few Protestant theologians, his work fits well with Catholic Social Thought, which he also cites. Meador first diagnoses what's gone wrong in American society, pointing to settler-colonialism as the place where people were severed from land, traditions were usurped, and human communities were turned into matter to be exploited. From here, he draws a line through industrialism, the sexual revolution, and the rise of distant institutions; each one somehow separated people from their feeling of indebtedness to creation and to others. Bonds were severed in just about every area as people became more atomized, so we lost sight of our membership (a concept Meador seems to borrow from Wendell Berry's thinking on) and of our very humanity. Even as he weaves this narrative, Meador usually avoids over-the-top pronouncements. Some of his diagnoses may seem expansive, but nearly all are heavily nuanced. He doesn't discard important advances even as he explores tradeoffs. However, I'm left wondering why previous conquests (which have occurred throughout human history) were any less disrespectful towards the traditional relationships of conquered/colonized populations. Why European settler colonialism was *especially* harmful compared to these historic examples could be interesting to explore, if it's the case. It seems like calling it "Whiteness" needs some more support, which puts it at 4.5 for me because the rest of the book was exceptional. Following the exploration of problems, Meador proposes a way forward based on the obligations of inheritance, neighborly Christian love, and a sense of place. To his credit, Meador provides a better idea of a solution than many authors in this vein do. He draws both on personal stories and examples like the Bruderhof to contend for reorienting society more around generosity and community. He rejects the idea of going to [culture] war or hunkering down away from society, opting instead for a rooted Christianity that gives to the world around it. Meador refuses to despair, which makes his book worth reading for any Christian concerned about our world today.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Lee

    What does Christian witness look like in our modern world? In What Are Christians For? Life Together at the End of the World, Jake Meador lays out a proposal for a Christian politics rooted in the givenness and goodness of the created world. A Spiritual Inheritance By first looking at the natural order and nature, Meador helps us understand the spiritual inheritance we have on this earth but also the relationships we must steward. Meador is sharp, and sees the world in a way that is refreshing and What does Christian witness look like in our modern world? In What Are Christians For? Life Together at the End of the World, Jake Meador lays out a proposal for a Christian politics rooted in the givenness and goodness of the created world. A Spiritual Inheritance By first looking at the natural order and nature, Meador helps us understand the spiritual inheritance we have on this earth but also the relationships we must steward. Meador is sharp, and sees the world in a way that is refreshing and convicting. With national conquests and the loss of “place,” a racial revolution was beginning with whiteness leading the way. Meador says that it is our pride that leads to unbelief. Surprisingly, a return to Reformed orthodoxy was helped by Herman Bavinck. Meador is also quick to quote Lewis and Tolkien throughout his book. Challenging and Courageous While Meador acknowledges the gains in industrialism, he sees that our spiritual lives suffered. While he sees technology as the fruit of human work and creativity, he also sees that it can be used with an essential indifference to the broader needs of the human community and of the land itself. Alienation became apparent. With the sexual revolution, we lose our sense of stability. We also lose our sense of wonder. To encounter the modern world and regain our sense of community, Meador urges us toward “faithful presence.” This sense of belonging must begin in our households. It is a challenging and courageous way to move forward. Community and Care The book closes with an intensely personal story featuring Meador’s parents. His hope in sharing is that we see “goodness in bodily living, even when the body is broken” and “beauty in marital fidelity even when it comes at a cost” and that “there is something invigorating and delightful in allowing ourselves to be defined by our neighborhood and our neighbor, even when that means we lose some of our own autonomy.” Meador calls us to community and to care for each other. By doing so, we show the light of Christ. This book is a hopeful and helpful proposal to see and live in this world as witnesses of Christ for the goal of his glory and the good of others. I received a media copy of What are Christians For? and this is my honest review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Kidwell

    What Are Christians For? Life Together at the End of the World by Jake Meador Pub Date 22 Feb 2022 InterVarsity Press, IVP You Are Auto-Approved Christian | Nonfiction (Adult) | Religion & Spirituality I am reviewing a copy of What Are Christians For through InterVarsity Press and Netgalley: In What Are Christians For, it is asked What a Christian political witness look like in our day? It is pointed out that politics should be defined by by fidelity to the common good of all the members of society. What Are Christians For? Life Together at the End of the World by Jake Meador Pub Date 22 Feb 2022 InterVarsity Press, IVP You Are Auto-Approved Christian | Nonfiction (Adult) | Religion & Spirituality I am reviewing a copy of What Are Christians For through InterVarsity Press and Netgalley: In What Are Christians For, it is asked What a Christian political witness look like in our day? It is pointed out that politics should be defined by by fidelity to the common good of all the members of society. But our modern Western politics are defined by a determination to bend the natural world and human life to its own political and economic ends. The Wholesale rejection of the natural order is behind the dominant revolutions in our history, and defines our experience in Western society today—our racialized hierarchy, modern industry, and the sexual revolution. In What Are Christians For? In this book Jake Meador lays out a proposal for a Christian politics rooted in the givenness and goodness of the created world. He is uninterested in the cultural wars that have so often characterized American Christianity. Instead he casts a vision for an ordered society that rejects the late modern revolution at every turn and is rooted in the natural law tradition and the great Protestant confessions. Here is a political approach that is antiracist, anticapitalist, and profoundly pro-life. A truly Christian political witness, Meador argues, must attend closely to the natural world and renounce the metallic fantasies that have poisoned common life in America life for too long. I give What Are Christians For five out of five stars! Happy Reading!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Chris Williams

    A challenging read, and a hopeful and encouraging one. I'll admit there were times when I was resistant to what Meador was writing -- mainly when it comes to his exaltations about farming and small-town life (I'm a person who prefers cities and culture to farms and woods). But it's such a beautiful vision of what was intended for our world, what has gone wrong and the role Christians can play in making it right. It's political, but not partisan; and it's not even political in the most shallow se A challenging read, and a hopeful and encouraging one. I'll admit there were times when I was resistant to what Meador was writing -- mainly when it comes to his exaltations about farming and small-town life (I'm a person who prefers cities and culture to farms and woods). But it's such a beautiful vision of what was intended for our world, what has gone wrong and the role Christians can play in making it right. It's political, but not partisan; and it's not even political in the most shallow sense, but a thought of how we live and care for each other in community. It's set me thinking, and I'm very thankful for it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jim Williams

    Please don't look to this as a fair review. I did not like the last few chapters of more political views rather than historical or theological observations. Meador's apparent denigration (only my inference) of any marriage, including between man and woman, that was not devoted to building a so-called smaller "community" was troubling. Marriages that do not produce children are often not as a result of some sexual revolution but due to biological and health and other concerns. Singleness is also Please don't look to this as a fair review. I did not like the last few chapters of more political views rather than historical or theological observations. Meador's apparent denigration (only my inference) of any marriage, including between man and woman, that was not devoted to building a so-called smaller "community" was troubling. Marriages that do not produce children are often not as a result of some sexual revolution but due to biological and health and other concerns. Singleness is also not an inferior way to serve the kingdom.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Walsh

    There are at least two ways to understand the question in the title of this book, and the author gives solid answers in both cases. I am not convinced by one of his arguments, one that is very much in focus in the current culture wars, but I respect and appreciate the approach that he takes nonetheless. What Are Christians For? is a concise, challenging, and thought-provoking approach to the Christian life in the twenty-first century.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Laudenslager

    Lovely and thought-provoking. This goes along well with many other books I've read in recent years. We recently relocated and this was a helpful reminder that place matters and neighbors are an essential part of the Christian life. I kept telling my husband about parts I had just read, which is always a good sign! Lovely and thought-provoking. This goes along well with many other books I've read in recent years. We recently relocated and this was a helpful reminder that place matters and neighbors are an essential part of the Christian life. I kept telling my husband about parts I had just read, which is always a good sign!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kyle McManamy

    Meador is 2 for 2 on excellent works. This one incorporates a robust account of land, race, and a wide view of local and economic life within a redemptive frame. You probably won't see another book affirmingly incorporate Willie Jennings and Herman Bavinck, either, but this does it (and many other things) so well. Enjoyable and recommended. Meador is 2 for 2 on excellent works. This one incorporates a robust account of land, race, and a wide view of local and economic life within a redemptive frame. You probably won't see another book affirmingly incorporate Willie Jennings and Herman Bavinck, either, but this does it (and many other things) so well. Enjoyable and recommended.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Gregory

    Jake Meador is a thoughtful and compelling author. Though I have questions about parts of this book, he is an important dialogue partner. Meador provokes questions that demand careful responses, and not just knee-jerk reactions.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Flint Spencer

    Fantastic analysis of our cultural moment and how we got here. Feels like a more theological Wendell Berry. Great introduction to some figures from the historical church that ground his assertions deeply in our faith.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Paul Herriott

    Meador’s books are not to be missed. He write clearly and with an obvious prophetic challenging tone. Voices like his are necessary for the church to see its blindspots.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Wade Bearden

    Important and challenging.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Wishnew III

    4 stars for execution, 5 stars for boldness and timeliness.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dianne Nida

    I liked this interesting and informative book.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rafaela

    Beautifully reflected on and artfully communicated.

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