Series - Republocrat

Reflections on Republocrat: The Trouble with Capitalism

republocratThe series so far.

Capitalism—should Christians endorse it with enthusiasm? Accept it with reservations? Utterly reject it? Just ignore it? Questions like these are at the heart of the fourth chapter of Carl Trueman’s book Repuplocrat: Confessions of a Liberal Conservative.

Overview

This chapter (“Living Life to the Max”) is book’s weakest so far. Key terms shift in meaning, the problems under attack lack the kind of concrete examples found in other chapters, claims seem contradictory at times, and the thesis is less clear.

The thrust of the chapter seems to be that although capitalism is the best economic system the world has yet seen, and we have no idea what would be better, it’s attendant ills are such that we need to make sure we’re sufficiently critical of it.

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Reflections on Republocrat: Beck, Limbaugh, O'Reilly & Fox

The series so far.

Chapter 3 of Carl Trueman’s Republocrat focuses on American conservative Christians’ view of the media—with Fox news as the focus.

Though the chapter (The Not So Fantastic Mr. Fox) seemed shorter, it’s length is actually the just-shy-of-twenty-pages standard for chapters in this book. Perhaps the illusion of shortness is due to my skimming several pages when it became clear they held nothing of interest (the part arguing against the virtuousness of Fox Broadcasting Company and Mr. Murdoch; since I never thought they were especially virtuous, and don’t know anyone who does, I didn’t care).

But Trueman does make some solid points in the chapter. We’ll consider those before I return to the problems.

Bias

Fox News is indeed biased, as the chapter asserts—depending on how you define bias. Trueman observes, “I like to argue in class that in the writing of history, no one can be neutral” (p. 42). From there, he distinguishes (though doesn’t really differentiate) between bias and objectivity. But he is undoubtedly right that there’s never been a human being who looks at events and ideas with some kind of tabula rasa.

Full disclosure: since our family doesn’t value cable or satellite programming enough to pay the monthly fee, my exposure to Fox News has usually been in small bits in auto-repair shop lobbies, video clips on the Internet and the odd occasion where the cable channel takes over local broadcast news for a period.

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Reflections on Republocrat: The Secularization of America

This post continues my chapter-by-chapter review of Republocrat, by Carl Trueman (Part 1, Part 2). The chapter in focus here is the second, entitled The Slipperiness of Secularization. It’s thesis is that the US may seem to be less secularized than Britain, but probably isn’t. The reason is that here in the US, the church itself has become secularized in many ways. Hence, even though church attendance and religious language are far more common here than in the UK, these do not reflect genuine Christian faith and practice. To put it another way, Britain only seems more secular because it is more authentic about its unbelief rather than dressing it up like we do here.

After brief introductory paragraphs, Trueman develops the chapter under these headings:

  • America: The Exception? (p. 22)
  • British Christianity: The Dying of the Light (p. 23-25)
  • The USA: Secularization, Religious-Style (p. 25-28)
  • Secularization: Subtle and Speciously Orthodox (p. 28-32)
  • The Patriot’s Bible and Beyond (p. 32-36)
  • The Celebrity Syndrome (p. 37-39)
  • Conclusion (p. 39)
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Reflections on Republocrat: Oppression and the Left

Image of Republocrat: Confessions of a Liberal Conservative
by Carl R. Trueman
P & R Publishing 2010
Paperback 128

These reflections concern Carl Trueman’s Republocrat, Chapter 1. (For notes on the foreword and introduction, see A Serialized Review). Two questions were on my mind as I approached Chapter 1: (a) Is Trueman really a political liberal? (b) Does he accurately understand the conservatism he left behind?

Two themes comprise Chapter 1. Theme 1 is expressed in the chapter title, “Left Behind”: how those of “Old Left” (Trueman’s term) political views are now homeless because liberalism has been “hijacked by special interest groups” (p. 14). Theme 2 makes the first interesting: how Left thought about oppression developed from the 19th century to the present.

The chapter is divided into eight sections.

  • (Introductory paragraphs, p.1-2)
  • A Brief History of the Old Left (p. 2-5)
  • The Strange Love Affair of the Intelligentsia with Marxism (p. 5-6)
  • Success and Failure: the Road to Redefinition (p. 6-8)
  • Mr. Marx Meets Dr. Freud: the Changing Face of Oppression (p. 9-11)
  • How Authenticity Made the Left Inauthentic (p. 11-15)
  • Evangelicals and the New Left (p. 15-17)
  • Conclusion (p. 17-19)
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Reflections on Republocrat: A Serialized Book Review, Part 1

Image of Republocrat: Confessions of a Liberal Conservative
by Carl R. Trueman
P & R Publishing 2010
Paperback 128
The name “Carl Trueman” didn’t mean a whole lot to me until recently. For some time, the name popped up often in blog-post links folks would email me. Sometimes something at the “Reformation 21” blog would catch my eye and turn out to be Trueman’s work.

Then a few months ago he began to really get my attention—in his response to the Elephant Room 2 confusion as well as subsequent insightful evaluations of the state of evangelicalism in general.

I had seen the book Republocrat: Confessions of Liberal Conservative some time before all that—without connecting its author to the blog work. Then one day it clicked. No, the Carl Trueman wrote Republocrat?

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