Visible Saints: The History of a Puritan Idea
By Edmund S. Morgan
Cornell University Press, 1965
174 pages, softcover, $19.95
How do you know whether you are right with God? Many believers ask themselves this question. A related question is this: Can a church recognize those members who are truly converted? These are questions of peculiar importance in the American religious experience. Continue reading Visible Saints: How Do We Know You’re a Christian?
One of the things that sets hipster conservatives apart from their non-conservative, non-hipster peers is their devotion to the printed word. It is only right, then, that our project recognize the pursuit of leisure reading in its rightful place as one of the pillars of living well. Since all true hipstercons are already reading and discussing books, any collective reading project would be unnecessary; as such, it could well be called a Superfluous Book Club.
For this inaugural Superfluous Book Club, I will be reading and discussing an underappreciated classic of proto-libertarian literature: Albert Jay Nock’s Memoirs of a Superfluous Man, published by Harper & Brothers in 1943. Nock was a man of letters known mostly for being pretentious, elitist, and cynical, so his work should be of particular interest to hipstercons. I believe his attitude of aristocratic libertarianism could be summed up with the creed: “I’m better than everyone else, so just leave me the hell alone.”
And just how elitist is Nock? Not only does he oppose universal suffrage, he opposes universal literacy. Let me repeat that: Nock believes one of the problems with America is that too many people know how to read. Continue reading Superfluous Book Club: Nock’s Memoirs of a Superfluous Man, Part 1 of 6
Everyone today is constantly told that he or she must care about something, about many things. The TV anchor, sincerity oozing from every powdered pore, tells him ‘this, right now, is important.’ The talk show host, the politician, the professional do-gooder, the fundraising letter from the advocacy group or even the missionary: all beg him to respond emotionally to the cause of the moment. 1% of the profits of this overpriced merchandise will fund medical research. This terrible bill shall become law unless you call your representative right now. Is your lifestyle carbon neutral? Made by Indonesian women entrepreneurs. There are starving African children who would be glad to eat that. Endangered Species. Are you doing enough? Continue reading Epistolary Foreword
In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir
by Dick Cheney
Threshold Editions, 2011
576 pages, hardcover, $35
Without regard for the castigation of critics or the praise of apologists, the life of Richard B. Cheney shows at least one trait of a classic hipstercon: intransigence. If not, he at least maintains a constant stubbornness that armchair apathetic iconoclasts can appreciate. For, in this memoir, Dick Cheney set out to set the record straight—for history, for the media, and for the American people (or at least those who can afford $35). In My Time tells Cheney’s story; and if the world has an image of Cheney as a fierce war hawk who propelled America into two wars, he wants everyone to know they have it wrong. If the picture of Cheney the war hawk is hazy, his apology only clarifies his profile: penetrating eyes above a wide-open beak and sharp talons. Continue reading Book Review: Dick Cheney, In My Time
You urbanized top-50 lovers may call me a glutton for punishment, but I watched the latest Country Music Association’s award show this past November. For those unfamiliar with the organization of the country genre, this is basically the Grammy Awards for Nashville. The CMAs show the taste of today’s country music fans, artists, and executives. I am here to tell you that it is not good. Continue reading Music and Spectacle: A Report from the 2011 Country Music Awards
“Here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”
– President John F. Kennedy, 1961 presidential inaugural address.
American political history since at least the Civil War has been marked by religiously-driven political movements. “In God we Trust” was added to our coinage in 1864. The “Christian amendment,” introduced several times in the late 1800s would have amended the Constitution to acknowledge “Almighty God as the source of all authority and power in civil government, the Lord Jesus Christ as the Governor among the nations, and his revealed will as our supreme authority.” William Jennings Bryan famously placed the banking battles of his time period in naked theological terms. Wilson’s War To End All Wars bore a similarly crusading tone. Domestically, prohibition was fought as the next great religious cause. The New Deal, evolution in schools, welfare programs, President Johnson’s Great Society, the civil rights movement, the anti-death penalty movement, the fight over prayer in schools, the Cold War, abortion and the culture wars, free market economics, and health care all represent twentieth century political movement largely rationalized on moral and religious terms. Indeed, twentieth century politics in the United States was arguably marked primarily by religion. Continue reading Jerusalem and Washington