Having finished with Augustine’s letters, I’m moving on to other reading material.
Dan Carter’s THE POLITICS OF RAGE (1995) is considered the definitive study of the late George Wallace, former governor of Alabama and frequent presidential candidate. The book is subtitled George Wallace, the Origins of the New Conservatism, and the Transformation of American Politics, which should give you an insight into where Dan Carter is coming from: “More than any other political leader of his generation,” reads the book cover, “Wallace was the alchemist of the new social conservatism that reshaped American politics in the 1970s and 1980s.” Rage apparently has a durable shelf life, as anyone can attest who has watched Fox News over the past six years.
AMERICAN SAVIOR is a novel by Roland Merullo. The book’s premise is simple: Jesus returns to earth and declares that he is running for president—on the Divinity Party ticket. I plan to listen to the Billy Bragg/Wilco version of Woody Guthrie’s “Jesus Christ for President” while I read this book: “The only way we can ever beat / these crooked politician men / is to run the money changers out of the temple / and put the Carpenter in…”
On a more serious note, Marilynne Robinson’s ABSENCE OF MIND is a brief book consisting of four essays about The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self. The book was published (in 2010) as part of the Dwight Harrington Terry Foundation’s “Lectures on Religion in the Light of Science and Philosophy.” Ms. Robinson, of course, is one of most esteemed contemporary novelists; she is the author of GILEAD and LILA, among others. She is also, for what it’s worth, a product of northern Idaho and a defender of John Calvin’s theology—not that there’s anything wrong with either of those things.
Finally, THE SOUL OF THE WORLD is by the widely admired British philosopher Roger Scruton. Professor Scruton is one of the most prominent (and intellectually respectable) conservative voices of our time. In this book, he draws on “philosophical discussions of mind, art, music, politics, and law in order to define what is at stake in the current disputes over the nature and ground of religious belief”;which is to say, his book is about both “the nature of reality” and “how we should live”. Spoiler alert: Professor Scruton explicitly favors “the religious worldview, while stopping well short of vindicating the doctrine or practice of any particular faith.”