May 25, 2006

THEO, NOT NEO:

Editor at Conservative Magazine To Be Top Policy Adviser to Bush (Michael A. Fletcher, May 25, 2006, Washington Post)

President Bush appointed a longtime scholar at the American Enterprise Institute yesterday to be his top domestic policy adviser, a post that has been vacant since February, when Claude A. Allen stepped down after being charged with stealing more than $5,000 in a phony refund scheme.

Karl Zinsmeister, who has worked the past 12 years as editor in chief of the American Enterprise magazine, is slated to assume his White House post June 12. At the institute, he focused on examining cultural issues, as well as social and economic trends. His columns for the magazine included pieces praising Wal-Mart's efficiency and extolling the role of religion in forming the glue that bonds communities.

Zinsmeister, 47, also has written three books defending the war in Iraq, a nation he has visited four times as an embedded journalist. His books focus on the everyday work of U.S. troops, whose progress in fulfilling a noble mission, he argues, is often overlooked by much of the media.

"What the establishment media covering Iraq have utterly failed to make clear today is this central reality: With the exception of periodic flare-ups in isolated corners, our struggle in Iraq as warfare is over," Zinsmeister wrote in his column last June. "Egregious acts of terror will continue -- in Iraq as in many other parts of the world. But there is now no chance whatever of the U.S. losing this critical guerrilla war."


Faithful Community Life (Karl Zinsmeister, May 2006, American Enterprise)
Over the last generation, many historians, politicians, and journalists have labored to downplay the significance of religion in making American society what it is. That's not easily accomplished, though. There's just too much concrete evidence of the importance of our religious roots.

Nearly half the men who signed the Declaration of Independence had some seminary training, and John Adams’s description of the American Revolu­tion was that it “connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil govern­ment with the principles of Christianity.” In their marvelous story starting on page 20 (built on a year of research) Michael and Jana Novak debunk today’s conventional portrayal of George Washington as a man influenced mightily by Greek and Roman paganism but not much touched by Christian ideals. To the contrary, they report, Washington’s Christianity was critical to his fathering of our nation.

David Gelernter looks at different historical evidence and finds that America is deeply stamped with the Judeo-Christian ideas and practices first brought to this con­tinent by Puritan settlers. Stepping back even further in Western history, professor Rodney Stark concludes that Christian principles were decisive in allowing Europeans to vault out of the static misery that most humans had to cope with through the cen­turies. Not just compassion, moral equality, and democracy, but even seemingly secu­lar innovations like liberty, limited government, and science were products primarily of Christian insights. And these religious understandings made Western civilization more successful and more humane than other societies.

This issue of The American Enterprise doesn’t concern itself with all of the ways Judeo-Christianity has influenced us, but focuses specifically on how religion creates social bonds—how it knits people and communities together. The common view among liberal intellectuals today is that religion is something that divides peo­ple, a “wedge,” a force that corrodes unity. Everything from today’s “culture wars” to the recent marauding of disaffected Muslims through European cities is blamed vaguely on “too much religion.”

That is a crude reduction of the actual effects of religious belief on most people. It’s true that religion is a potent influence on all aspects of a civilization. “The beginning of culture is cult,” reminds Michael Novak. Often, religious views have soaked so deeply into the social fabric that most citizens are no longer even conscious of them, even as their culture continues to be shaped by echoes of faith.

In particular, it is the religious impulse that makes typical men and women capa­ble of concern for their fellows. The verdict of history, says Novak, is that “apart from the worship of God, human beings cannot transcend themselves in the large num­bers needed to sustain a civilization. Unless human beings have a vision of something beyond the bounds of their own natures, they cannot be pulled out of themselves.”

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 25, 2006 8:31 AM
Comments

I think he did some comics for Marvel about the troops in the Iraq war.

Posted by: Ali Choudhury at May 25, 2006 10:05 AM
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