19 May 2018

Humour vs mockery

Political life has always had its humorous side. Policy-making is, of course, serious business, and it has a huge impact on large numbers of people. But in the midst of so many grave matters of war and peace, crime and punishment, we have always found ways to make light of difficult circumstances. After all, laughter is an all too human means of coping with our troubles. Some of this humour amounts to gentle ribbing of otherwise hard-working people whose offices we respect. But some humour is destructive, effectively coarsening the larger conversation and contributing to a culture contemptuous of duly constituted authority.

The German-born Thomas Nast (1840-1902) was the first of a long line of political cartoonists in the United States, famously originating the Republican Party’s elephant and popularizing the Democratic Party’s donkey. An ardent abolitionist and supporter of the Union during the American Civil War, Nast’s cartoons mercilessly lampooned the racism of the secessionists. He hated white supremacy and turned his pen against those who sought to exclude Chinese immigration into the U.S. Nast was succeeded by other political cartoonists, whose caricatures of prominent political leaders simultaneously amused the public and irritated the powerful.

15 May 2018

European integration and political ideologies

Bad Liebenzell
Last month I was privileged to spend time in Germany at the Internationale Hochschule Liebenzell (IHL) in Bad Liebenzell, a beautiful village nestled in the Black Forest. The IHL is a ministry of the Liebenzell Mission, which was founded in 1899 and has its roots in a late nineteenth-century revival in Germany. It has branches in Canada, the Northern Mariana Islands, and six other countries around the world. The Mission is active in church-planting, Bible translation, education, evangelism, children and youth ministry, medical care, air service, substance addiction therapies, ministry to immigrants and community development in twenty-five countries. Remarkably, it also has monastic-like brotherhoods and sisterhoods, a fellowship of deaconesses, a retreat centre and a literature distribution ministry. It appears to be independent of any denomination, yet it does plant church congregations.

08 May 2018

Political Visions and Illusions, second edition

The second edition of Political Visions and Illusions is due out early next year. In the meantime, the new cover can be seen at right.

The new edition will include a reworking of the chapters in the first, with the addition of discussion questions after each chapter. A key difference from the first edition is that the redemptive narratives underpinning the ideological visions will be brought more explicitly into the foreground. This theme was present in the first, but it will be more visible in the second, enhanced by a series of illustrations highlighting these stories.

Finally, recognizing that this book has been used profitably in theological seminaries, I have added "A Concluding Ecclesiological Postscript," in which I take up the question of the role of the institutional church—as opposed to the larger corpus Christi, or body of Christ—in addressing political life, with references to the Barmen Declaration (1934), Mit Brennender Sorge (1937) and the Belhar Confession (1986). A new foreword will be written by Richard J. Mouw, former president of Fuller Theological Seminary and author of many books, including He Shines in All That's Fair and Abraham Kuyper: A Short and Personal Introduction.

I will let everyone know when the book is published. Stay tuned.

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can be contacted at: dtkoyzis@gmail.com