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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

“Saving” America

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Recently I drew parallels between the apparent decline of our nation and the decline of Christianity’s influence within it.  I opined that in order to restore true American greatness, not simply economic and military power, Christianity needed to be fixed as well.  How to do so is a big question.  I suggested that some changes in how we “do” Christianity institutionally were in order.  I am not the only one thinking along those lines and there are lots of ideas about what to do.

One of the most discussed, and I have discussed it here as well, is Rod Dreher and his so-called Benedict Option.  All my discussion of Dreher and “the Option” has been based on his blogged thoughts and/or discussion thereof.  I have not yet had the opportunity to read his book on the matter.  The May 1 issue of The New Yorker carries a profile of Dreher and discussion of the book by Joshua Rothman that spurs further thought while I continue to attempt to clear my reading list sufficiently to get to this particular book.  Rothman summarizes the Benedict Option a bit differently than I have previously seen it summarized and it bears examination.  Essentially he describes the Benedict Option as a return to personal piety developed through accountability as created in small, close and relatively cloistered communities that may or may not be set in the context of a larger community.  This actually is a form of “crafting” a Christian that I proposed in the post I linked in the preceding paragraph and therefore I found the summary quite intriguing.

The nit that I would pick with the Benedict Option as summarized by Rothman, I assume with some reasonable accuracy, is the hopelessness it carries with it.  Says Rothman of the book:

It asks why there aren’t more places like St. Francisville—places where faith, family, and community form an integrated whole.

Dreher’s answer is that nearly everything about the modern world conspires to eliminate them. He cites the Marxist sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, who coined the term “liquid modernity” to describe a way of life in which “change is so rapid that no social institutions have time to solidify.” The most successful people nowadays are flexible and rootless; they can live anywhere and believe anything. Dreher thinks that liquid modernity is a more or less unstoppable force—in part because capitalism and technology are unstoppable. He urges Christians, therefore, to remove themselves from the currents of modernity. They should turn inward, toward a kind of modern monasticism.

I do believe our institutions of faith should be capable of standing against the forces that surround them, but their reason to do so is not to hide but rather to provide a place for rest and resupply from which can sally forth the forces of Christianity.  I would draw an analogy to the cavalry forts of the Old West rather than the monastic cloisters of medieval times.  I do not think modernity any more or less relentless nor evil than other opposition the church has faced in its long history.  We need hide from nothing.  We need rather to be of sufficient strength and capability to tame these forces as we have so many in the past. (Rom 8:31; Rom 8:37-39)

I have been forming a hypothesis in recent weeks into which much reading is necessary to bring it to maturity and the time for such exploration has begun.

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Steve Hamilton and “The Second Life of Nick Mason” and “Exit Strategy”

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I’ve got a new author to add to my list of regular guests on the Hugh Hewitt Show: Steve Hamilton.  I’ll be featuring Steve’s Exit Strategy as the Book of the Month Club selection in May, and just got a list of his appearances which I share with you to mark down on your calendar when he comes close.  I’m usually just a thriller guy when it comes to “great reads” fiction, then C.J. Box elbowed in with Joe Pickett and suddenly it wasn’t just Daniel Silva, Alex Berenson and Brad Thor.  Now Hamilton is on the list too, and though you don’t need to read the books in order, I strongly recommend it, so go order The Second Life of Nick Mason today and check out Steve when he comes to a town near you soon:

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Adm. James Stavridis (USN, ret) On China’s New Carrier, The Korean Crisis, and “The Leader’s Bookshelf.”

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Admiral James Stavridis, former Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and of Southern Command, currently head of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and author of The Leader’s Bookshelf paid a return visit to the program this morning as news of China’s launch of its first built-from-scratch aircraft carrier made news:




HH: Rarely do I have a guest one week for the first time where everybody, everybody says bring that man back. And so Admiral James Stavridis, who is the dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts, and 37 years in the United States Navy, including as head of Southern Command and Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, is back. I neglected to mention last week he’s also the author of an incredible book, The Leader’s Bookshelf, which has been mentioned to me by about 25 people. I have read the Accidental Admiral, but I didn’t know about The Leader’s Bookshelf until last week. What is this all about, Admiral, The Leader’s Bookshelf?

JS: We thought that no one has time to read lots and lots of leadership books, so my co-author and I surveyed about 200 senior officers and asked them what are your favorite books. So we’ve crowdsourced great books on leadership. There are 50 books on The Leader’s Bookshelf in the book, Hugh, and for each of them, there’s a synopsis, there’s leadership lessons. It’s a wonderful survey of leadership through reading novels, fiction, plays, poetry, history, biography. It’s a nice compendium, and it’s a, deserves a place on everyone’s bookshelf, I think.

HH: Then we’re going to get a copy of that, and we’ll do a deep dive on The Leader’s Bookshelf. Last week, the day after you were on, Admiral McRaven came on to talk about his new book, Make the Bed. And he said whatever Jim Stavridis tells you to do, you do it. So I’ve got to read the book, and so it’s a definite…and it’s blurbed by Stanley McChrystal, who came to the studio once and spent three hours with me in the most transfixing three hours I think I’ve ever had in the studio talking about his book, Team of Teams, and his memoir. So I’m glad when the military guys go out and actually write the book. Usually, you’re too busy to set out and do books. You’ve got lots of boards to sit on, etc. So I appreciate you taking the time to do that book, and we will get The Leader’s Bookshelf, and we’ll come back and talk about that. But I have news of the day to discuss with you, number one being China has launched its first home-built aircraft carrier. Now from the perspective of someone who had to deal with their submarines, you were telling me you were an anti-submarine officer in your first assignment, what do you make of China building aircraft carriers?

JS: First of all, it’s a tribute to what the U.S. has been able to do projecting power with its aircraft carriers for 50 years, really, since the end of the Second World War. We’ve been the dominant actor in that space. China’s been watching. Secondly, it is their attempt to provide real sea control and power projection in their littoral waters around China in the South China Sea. And thirdly, it’s a natural evolution for them in terms of the advancing capability of their military. They want to demonstrate that. When you put those three things together, not surprising, and we ought to be mindful that there’ll be more carriers where this first one comes from.

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