Moral Formation In American Civilization

Sep 30th, 2023 | By

Anyone who is intellectually honest can only reach the conclusion that American civilization, morally and ethically, manifests a depravity and decadence that permeates almost everything. There is polarization, anger and bitterness. There is confusion, dysfunction and moral chaos. There is loneliness, isolation and seclusion fostered and enhanced by the social media phenomenon so pervasive within our civilization. Public education is adrift in terms of curriculum, the absence of discipline and the depressing results of the basic requirements of life—reading and math skills. Columnist David Brooks laments all of this in a recent essay declaring that American civilization now lacks a reliable vehicle for what he calls “moral formation.” In this Perspective, I want to quote extensively from this essay and then offer a conclusion sourced in Scripture.

Evidence Of Cultural Decadence: The Case Against Cultural Accommodation

Sep 23rd, 2023 | By

One of my favorite columnists is Ross Douthat, who writes for the New York Times. Douthat is a devout Roman Catholic and has written extensively on his faith and the Church. I do not always agree with some of his theological conclusions, but I am usually challenged by his insights. Recently, he wrote on the theological and cultural divisions within his Church—between the “liberal Catholic” and the more conservative Catholic on certain cultural issues. The typical “liberal Catholic” is pushing for greater accommodation of the Church to the broader culture. Among other things, they argue, this is a necessary step for the Church to remain relevant in this postmodern world.

The Quest For Power In Evangelical Politics

Aug 26th, 2023 | By

If you ask the typical evangelical Christian in America the question, “do you believe that humans are basically good or bad,” most would affirm that humans are basically bad or what Scripture calls sinners. We are born sinners and that is why we need the salvation that Jesus offers. He died a substitutionary death and was resurrected, conquering sin, Satan and death. He is our only hope and our only deliverance from the ravages of sin. It is difficult to trust humans as a result.

The Rise Of Artificial Superintelligence: The Need To Defend Humanity

Aug 19th, 2023 | By

In a recent essay in The Atlantic, executive editor Adrienne LaFrance wrote: Imagine an internet infrastructure “with programs that communicate with a veneer of authority on any subject, with the ability to generate sophisticated, original text, audio, and video, and the power to mimic individuals in a manner so convincing that people will not know what is real. These self-teaching AI models are being designed to become better at what they do with every single interaction.”

The National Report Card On Public Education

Aug 12th, 2023 | By

As a reward to the teacher unions of the United States, who strongly supporting his run for the presidency, Jimmy Carter created the Department of Education, a Cabinet level Department with a large bureaucracy, in 1979. Today that Department funnels billions of tax dollars to elementary, secondary and college institutions throughout the United States. Especially for the public elementary and secondary schools, there is a growing body of evidence indicating that this Department and the tax dollars spent have not produced a good return on investment. Arguably, most intellectually honest educators admit that the American system of public education is in need of thoroughgoing reform. But both Democrats and Republicans have blind spots when it comes to educational reform: Those on the left generally ignore bad public schools, pander to unions and protect underperforming teachers. Those on the right tend to stress private schools over public, ignoring the plight of children caught in public schools with no other option.

Who Controls Our Institutions?

Jul 29th, 2023 | By

As I have summarized many times on Issues in Perspective, God has created three primary institutions—the family, the state and the church. Each has stewardship responsibilities before Him and the functioning of each according to His standards provides stability and order. To reject these standards is to foster disorder and dysfunction. American society today is experiencing growing disorder and dysfunction. It is therefore wise to investigate who controls and sets the respective agendas for these institutions.

“Shiny Happy People”: Authority, Control And The Absence Of Grace

Jul 22nd, 2023 | By

I grew up in the late 1950s and was in high school in the early 1960s. I was immersed in the culture of Protestant fundamentalism. My parents loved the Lord but were also immersed in that culture. In my family, Christianity was defined by a series of rigid rules. Behavior, dress and entertainment were all regulated by our church. I heard little about an intimate, personal walk with Jesus Christ. Instead, our youth group leader directed us to destroy any rock and roll records, burn all playing cards in the house and never go to a Hollywood movie, to a dance or to plays in a theater. We were taught not to even hold hands with members of the opposite sex. As I progressed in high school I became more and more uncomfortable with my parent’s faith. In college, I rebelled against it, rejecting their faith and their church.

The Drop In Global Fertility: The Consequences?

Jul 15th, 2023 | By

In 1798 a British clergyman named Thomas Malthus argued that human population growth would exceed the world’s ability to feed this growth in population. Calamity and massive suffering and starvation were inevitable. Robert McNamara in 1968, as president of the World Bank, spoke of “the mushrooming cloud of population explosion.” Paul Ehrlich, about the same time, published a book, The Population Bomb, in which he argued that we must “have population control at home, hopefully through a system of incentives and penalties, but by compulsion if voluntary methods fail.” The Club of Rome issued its famous report in the 1970s on the “Limits of Growth.”

Has The American Male Lost His Way?

Jul 8th, 2023 | By

If anything is well established in American social science, it is that men are falling behind women in higher education, suffer disproportionately from drug overdoses and are far more likely to commit suicide. Furthermore, boys in the United States are less prepared than young girls when they begin school and less likely to graduate from high school or finish college. Young men are falling out of the labor force. So-called deaths of despair—by suicide and drug overdose—are nearly three times as common among men as women. One out of every five fathers does not live with his children. In 1990, 3 percent of men reported having no close friends; now, 15 percent do.

The Challenges Of Parenting In 2023

Jun 24th, 2023 | By

I am writing this piece on Mother’s Day weekend 2023, which has caused me to consider the unique challenges our children face in raising their children (our grandchildren). My wife and I have three grandsons—eight, four and one. The situation today is so different than 40 years ago when we began our family. In this Perspective I want to focus on several of the unique hardships parents face in 2023.