Gift Economy — Review and Commentary by Bernhardt Writer

Michael Horton’s Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World is summarized by the two section headings that divide the book: ‘radical and restless’ and ‘ordinary and content.’ The first section concerns evangelicalism and its contractual foundation. The second, reformed tradition and its covenantal grounding.

Two points stood out to me. First, how God gives gifts to His people who, in turn, give them to those inside and outside the faith through good works. Horton submits that our common labors such as: employee, employer, wife, mother, father, husband, etc. are part of the means by which to share with others God’s gifts to us. Horton calls this God’s covenantal ‘gift economy.’

He says that giving gifts back to God in ‘our service to Him’ is giving them in a direction He did not intend. These gifts are to be given to our neighbors for His glory.

The second point is that elders of the local church should, in their spiritual oversight responsibility, meet with members often to listen to, instruct, and, if necessary, correct them. The word that caught my attention was often. How much more attentive, representative, and corrective they could be if they did this in all the churches.

I also noted that Horton didn’t outline any specific program of evangelism. He emphasized the image of a garden where one plants, another waters, but God gives the growth. If we are giving God’s gifts to us to our neighbors then opportunities to share the gospel, in sincere friendship, will open for us.

Christmas Gifts

Christmas Gifts, 25 December 2003, Kelvin Kay, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Quo Vadis III

We here at Mandated Memoranda Publishing have just released book four to our advanced copy readers. Yes, this is actually book three, but we missed our Christmas deadline, ergo, book four. The title is A Digital Carol. From the protean blurb with which we’ve been toying:

This is a tale from our childhoods retold in modern language and forms. The story’s goal is not to inspire a more joyous holiday or a more generous giving spirit, but to question the very premise of our existence. We are too late into the dark night of the soul for anything but drastic measures.

We purchased the imagery for the cover and hope to post the blurb and quarter scale cover image on the MM books tab soon. We plan to use the same editing service that we used for Tragic Wonders to better effect this time. If we get a good review (who knows), then we’ll splurge on professional promotion.

Apropos of nothing more than sympathy for the Ukrainian people, here’s Wikimedia Commons Picture of the Year 2013 – Second place finisher:

National park Holy Mountains, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine

National park “Sviati Hory” (Holy Mountains), Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine – Attribution: Balkhovitin (License: CC BY-SA 3.0)

Meanwhile, as folks eagerly purchase in app gaming benefits, we scour the interwebs everyday researching for our next two books. Book three is titled Who Shall Be God and book five is China Dream.

Some of the books we plan to read for WSBG are:

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion—Jonathan Haidt

The Servile Mind: How Democracy Erodes the Moral Life—Kenneth Minogue

The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class—Fred Siegel

Liberty: Rethinking an Imperiled Ideal—Glenn Tinder

The Three Languages of Politics—Arnold Kling

Some articles that have impressed us are:

Progressives Against Progress—Fred Siegel (City Journal, 2010)

Can We Be Good Without God—Glenn Tinder (Atlantic, 1989)

The False Equation of Atheism and Intellectual Sophistication—Emma Green (Atlantic, 2014)

Bigger Than Phil—Adam Gopnik (The New Yorker, 2014)

Keeping the Faith in My Doubt—John Horgan (NY Times, 2004)

I don’t think I’m giving too much away when I quote Tinder from his Atlantic article:

Tocqueville suggested approvingly that Christianity tends to make a people “circumspect and undecided.” with “its impulses…checked and its works unfinished.” This expresses well the spirit of reform inherent in Christian faith. Christianity is radical, but it is also hesitant. This is partly, of course, because Christianity restrains our self-assurance. Efforts at social transformation must always encounter unforeseen complexities, difficulties, limits, and tragedies. Caution is in order. But Christian hesitancy has deeper grounds than prudence and more compelling motives than wariness of practical blunders. Hesitation expresses a consciousness of the mystery of being and the dignity of every person. It provides a moment for consulting destiny. Recent decades have seen heroic political commitments in behalf of social reform, but hesitation has been evident mainly in the service of self-interest. Christian faith, however, suggests that hesitation should have a part in our most conscientious deeds. It is a formality that is fitting when we cross the frontier between meditation and action. And like all significant formalities, it is a mark of respect—for God and for the creatures with whom we share the earth.

Is our program this year a tad ambitious? You betcha. Worse still, we hope to write about these and other sources in the coming weeks and months.