As I begin this month's newsletter, I wish to acknowledge that the loss of Her Majesty the Queen has affected us at a deep level. For most of us, she is all we have ever known. In her Christmas messages from the turn of the millennium, she had been unusually open about her Christian faith, recognizing that her responsibilities were given her by God. The day after her passing, Christian Courier published my tribute to her: "We are all orphans." Singing God Save the King will take some getting used to as we initially fumble with the pronouns in the royal anthem.
As the war in Ukraine grinds on into its seventh month, I decided to post an article I had published in Review of Politics back in 1993 that may give us insight into the political cultures shaped by Orthodox Christianity: Probing the Russian and Ukrainian political cultures. Although there is an historic link between Orthodoxy and autocracy, there are resources in that tradition that could produce a more participatory political culture. Bringing them to the forefront will not be easy, given the weight of Russia's history.
Last month, Mere Orthodoxy published my review of American-Israeli political philosopher Yoram Hazony's recent book, Conservatism: A Rediscovery: Tradition as a Way of Life: Yoram Hazony’s Winsome Defence. This is the second of Hazony's books that I've reviewed. In general, I quite liked the book, although I thought his argument ultimately failed for two basic reasons. These are why I cannot call myself a conservative, however much I may resonate with many of the points the author makes.
In July I was interviewed by Jonathan Chaplin on the subject of my Political Visions and Illusions. The interview has now been posted on YouTube.
That same month three of my colleagues at other institutions published a joint statement in Public Discourse: the Journal of the Witherspoon Institute: Hopeful Realism: Renewing Evangelical Political Morality. The authors appeal to natural law as a foundation for an evangelical politics. While I deeply appreciate their statement and can affirm much within it, I am not quite ready to sign on to natural law as a theory for reasons I give here: Hopeful realism or patient hopefulness?
As someone who spent his working life in Christian higher education, I thought it appropriate to comment on a neighbouring institution that began life as a Baptist university but eventually severed that connection more than six decades ago. A chance encounter in the late 1980s with the university's crest and motto prompted this reflection. There are lessons for other such institutions striving to maintain their Christian vision over the long term: Staying the course: Christian higher education.
As we mourn the Queen and welcome our new King, it is worth reflecting on the place of the Crown in our political system, something that Americans might well envy. On the first of the month, President Joe Biden delivered a speech about which I was ambivalent. While he said things that had to be said, I could not help but think that they might better have been stated by someone less embroiled in partisan politics: Unifying or divisive? Biden's speech. In this respect, distinguishing between a head of state and head of government makes a lot of sense.
Finally, Chileans recently voted on a new constitution to replace the one established under Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship in 1980. The plebiscite failed by a rather large margin. Why? Its framers tried to do too much. Read my analysis here: Chile's constitution: back to square one. Since the publication of the Spanish-language version of my book, I have had two online events with Chileans. I pray that the effort to draft a second document will go better than the first.
Please continue to pray for my health. I still experience shoulder pain four months after contracting that virus. I'm learning to live with chronic pain, but it would be wonderful if it would go away. On top of that, our entire family came down with COVID this month, and my wife and I are still experiencing residual symptoms. As a consequence I've felt rather discouraged. Any positive words would be deeply appreciated.
I would like to express my gratitude once more for your financial and prayer support for my work. Please consider a regular monthly
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Yours in the service of God's kingdom,
David Koyzis, Global Scholar