Christmas Update

A quick note to say that notes on Desire of the Nations chapter 2 are in the works.

In the meantime I want to mention another book that is currently shaking me up. To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World by James Hunter, a professor at UVA. The title tells us that he is biting off more than he can chew. It is essentially three extended essays. I’m most of the way through the first, in which Hunter describes the current Christian views concerning transformation of culture – the need and the means. He explains (correctly, I think) that American Christians view culture as a matter of ideas and worldviews, and understand cultural transformation to be something that can happen relatively quickly if Christians adhere to a deeply biblical worldview. Further, Christians tend to think of cultural transformation as primarily political. Hunter goes on to make the case that this view of culture and cultural change is deeply mistaken: major shifts are generally led not by ordinary people but by elites.

So far I am finding this analysis both refreshing and painful. Refreshing because it puts paid to the notion that if we just perfect our worldview (through worldview camps, reading the right books, or whatever) and “take a stand” (through political lobbying and involvement) we can “take back America” or the world or whatever. Painful because on some level my ego wants to feel like I’m changing the world. I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, it is Christmas. Listening to Annie Lennox’s new album, A Christmas Cornucopia, I am struck with how many of the old carols (“God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen”, “As Joseph Was A Walking”) focus on the fact that this newborn baby is born to be king.

This night shall be the birth time
Of our gracious Heavenly King;

He neither shall be born
In housen nor in hall,
Nor in the place of Paradise,
But in an ox’s stall.


Amen. The child in the trough shuts the mouths of kings. He alone is the innocent judge. He reveals God’s justice and mankind’s injustice. He reveals God’s might in his own weakness.