tv Eric Patterson Robert Joustra Power Politics and Moral Power CSPAN August 21, 2022 5:10pm-6:11pm EDT
>> welcome everyone. this is the institute on religion and democracy as well as providence, a journal of christianity and american foreign policy with the delight of posting the unveiling of a new book. it is very connected to our major themes of christian realism. it is called "power politics and moral order: 30 generations of christian realism, a reader." it was put together by two friends of our organization.
eric patterson, who was on our ird board of directors and bob who has come all the way from toronto to be here with us this evening for this special book unveiling. bob is associate professor of politics and international studies and founding director of the center for christian scholarship at redeemer university in toronto. eric patterson is the current vice president of the religious freedom institute here in washington and scott are at large at rutledge university in virginia beach. it should be pointed out that our providence executive editor mark contributed a chapter to this book. i am mark tooley, president of the ird and editor at providence. special welcome to all of you here physically this evening in downtown washington, d.c., to all of our viewers on facebook and put her at -- twitter, and
our future viewers on c-span book tv. where this video will be airing, no doubt, many times in the near future. eric where this video will be airing no doubt many times in the near future. eric patterson will speak first and there will be plenty of time for questions later. i am sure you will be experiencing intellectual overload. that should be time for all of you. eric: my name is eric patterson, executive vice president of the religious freedom institute in washington dc on scholar at large up regent university in virginia beach. thanks to the institute for religion and democracy and providence, its journal.
several essays in "power politics and moral order" were given to us gratis to print in this book. i would like to thank the two universities, redeemer and regent. both provided a natural resources for copyrights for chapters in the book, they provided research assistance. we could not have done it without them. let me take you to the summer of 1940. london and other british cities are being bombed. it is the battle of britain. world wars -- world war ii officially started a year before as heckler invaded poland. -- hitler invaded poland. why is it than with bombs falling on london and other cities that cs lewis had go to oxford university and give a famous speech. this beach was, "why i am not a pacifist."
how is it, seven years after hitler's takes over germany -- hitler's takes over germany -- hitler takes over germany, that lewis has to defend self-defense against the nazis. part of that lies in what was called the twenty-year crisis, from the end of world war i to the beginning of world war ii, in which the western world bide to look the other way and not a problem of hitler and the nazis or japanese imperialism. they didn't because of pragmatic pacifism. by that, i mean world war i was so destructive, we will do anything to avoid being responsible for our neighbors and standing up to hitler. there was also a utopian idealism that maybe we could legislate war away. the kellogg-briand pact of 1935,
the league of nations, these things were designed to outlaw war. and if it was outlaw, who then would break the rules and cause a war? hitler just needed a little bit of elbow room, right? that is the context of the growth of what we call christian realism, associated with the united states and united kingdom. it is a reaction to the utopian, idealistic, irresponsible pacifism and the like. this book goes beyond reinhold neighbor, the famous christian realist. what we do is, we document a history of 90 years of christian realism. one of the contributions of this book is laying the tradition out in three generations. the first generation being the fight against fascism and early
communism, 1932-1965. the second era is from the vietnam war in the late decolonization period to the end of the cold war, 1990. the last generation with names you would know is the disorder of the 1990's and the era of terrorism since 2001. the names are people like george weigle, james turner johnson, mark love vicki, daniel strand, myself, rob jost struck -- rob jostra and many others. you will find the writings in this book. let's step back. i assume that by identifying a counter pacifism and idealism, let me mention a couple of tenants that make up christian realism. for those who study political
science or international relations, you know there are all sorts of realisms out there. it means a realistic, non-utopian foreign policy analysis. we distinguish pragmatic forms of realism like mikey valley -- machiavelli, thomas hobbes, from moral forms of realism, christian realism. christian realists to look at policy analysis, security, power politics. but they don't only look at it through the lens of government versus government and the security dilemma. instead, we recognize this is an augustinian tradition rooted in early christian sources, most likely in the way augustine things about anthropology and politics. christian realists are united in recognizing human beings are
sinful. much of what motivates us is self-interested. but that is not all there is to the story. christian realists also tend to be helpful, so individuals have worth, but also responsibility to act in political life. that is the difference between that and irresponsible forms of that is someone else's problem or i can't dirty my hands by trying to save and protect. christian realism in a sense is a species of this augustine tradition. another part of this is a focus on ways that not just individuals, but that groups have their own, natural forms of limitation and sin it seems humans in groups are more chauvinistic -- fascism, communism, f no nationalism, we are more chauvinistic in a group that we are as individuals. christian realists i like the
way, whether it is ethnic basis, racial basis, some other form of prejudice based on ideology, that all of those are idolatrous. they put the group and some sort of populist leader in an idolatrous position instead of the god of the bible. you will also find that christian realists are very concerned about unintended consequences. so, they will often debate limits and restraints when thinking about foreign-policy action. there is a lot more about that in the book you can read for yourself. but the second part of this, this idea of generations of christian realism, we found christian realists typically answered the same sorts of questions decade after decade.
in that first generation in the 1940's and 50's, they thought about how we have a liberal world order that dresses the piece responsibility and doesn't fail like the league of nations? how do we think about atomic weapons? etc. the same types of questions are asked today. you will find that there is a commonality of the questions and approaches to how they are answered. in conclusion for my portion, rob and i are both going to point out a couple of readings that are our favorites from the book. a runner up is that, in the last section, we have contrasting chapters where we slightly disagree on the importance of potency of international institutions and multilateralism. that reflects my american bias and his canadian highest -- canadian bias. another great chapter is by
george weigle, well known in town, an essay he wrote in the book with james turner johnson defining peace and tucked to think about peace when confronting saddam hussein and the disintegration of the cold piece of the cold war. i would like to read a couple of excerpts from 1948 by martin white, in an essay called "the church, russia and the west," and martin white is the father of modern international relations theory, what we call the english school, and primarily, we teach this in british universities. it is very influential. his two text books published after his death are still best sellers today in international relations theory. he is writing in 1948 about the jumble of international relations after 1945. the soviet union doesn't leave iran. soviet union leaves troops in eastern europe.
there is communist infiltration all around the world. atomic weapons. china seems to be teetering. he lays this all out in the first pages and then steps back and says, how should we as christians think about this? what categories should we use? let me read what he says about history. "the distinction between secular and sacred history is the stuff of our argument, between history as process only and history as purpose. if we use one metaphor, we can say that secular and sacred history enter penetrate. if we use another metaphor, and perhaps a truer one, we will see secular history as just the surface of the time process, dead and glassy. but we see sacred history is that same time process, but transparent indivisible against the light of attorney.
-- paternity. the sum of all the depths of destiny. this is the same distinction is augustine's two cities, the earthly city in the heavenly city, built by the love of god to the contempt of self. he goes on to say, "two beliefs have hitherto underlain the ordinary non-christian attitude toward the present crisis, the attitude of the ordinary secular liberal in our post-christian world. one of these is the belief that we are on the whole, well-meaning people doing our best and will somehow model through. the other secular approach is an optimistic belief that, because we are well-meaning at doing our best, things will tend to come out right, that what happens will be for the best anyway. hence, perhaps the way it has been used in modern times is just to see public affairs as a
suggestion -- as a succession of questions or problems to be solved in time. we are not all meaning people doing our best. we are miserable sinners living under judgment with a heritage of sin to expiate. we will not somehow model room. -- model through -- muddle through. the promise of being safe carries no assurance of muddling through the world. nor do we find in the bible anything resembling secular progress. we find redemption through suffering. " -- we find redemption through suffering." he goes on to talk about dealing with the soviet union. i will leave that to you. thank you. [applause] mark: thank you, eric.
thank you for hosting the launch for the institute. we are grateful for inviting a canadian to talk about politics and power. i trust by the time i finished talking, you will shoo me out of town for all my middle power institutionalism and lifting americans have to do. my heart was warmed as eric was reading the passage. my calvinist part was warmed as i heard you're reading about the depredations of sin. i came to the tradition of christian realism. i did not initially study politics in college. i studied history and calvinism. when i first encountered herbert butterfield, i encountered him as a historian, not as a
political scientist. one contribution, one journey i went on was coming from the other side of the ocean, over, back to, which is for a lot of people who think about christian realism, they think about the american experience, they think about reinhold niebuhr. i think about paul ramsey. when the contributions we are able to make in this reader was that yes, and amen to the great fast of american christian realists. but also, a transatlantic perspective as well. people like white, that we just heard from. people like herbert butterfield. ennis bertinelli -- and extraordinary insensitive scholar and had views on nuclear weapons that might be closer to my canadian sensitivities. i will let you give me a hard time about that later. i was deeply entrenched in
english school. and as others have argued, this tradition that has residents, also perhaps something they called the amsterdam school. people like abraham kuyper and hermann bob beck and others known as pastors and theologians but also were politically active, active in politics and policy. kuyper served as prime minister of the nuns and made foreign policy i would be remiss -- foreign policy. i would be remiss if i didn't mention i published a book with another joster, and there is a wonderful book for you to go and sink your attention in. this to me adds essential flavor to the tradition of christian
realism. i don't want to step away from the american school, i don't want to step away from niebuhr, certainly not paul ramsey. but the witnesses, those in the late imperial context of the u.k., at least the way we in canada measure it, we talk about the decline of the british empire happening around 19 if when conveniently the minister of external affairs first on the scenes and introduced the united nations emergency force we have come to call peacekeepers. they say this is the moment in which the united kingdom was coming to terms with it postwar decline. there was a question, what does christian realism look like there? not at the height of super -- at the height of superpower promise
or the school asking questions that to a canadian like myself, would ask, there are really powerful countries right next-door and sometimes they are friendly and sometimes they are not and how do we make foreign policy where we do not dominate the agenda, set the terms, so we cannot by virtue of coercive force imagine solving this resolution. it is why when given the choice about teaching american or canadian foreign policy, i would rather teach canadian foreign policy. the joke i hear is, but what do you do after the first two weeks? there is a full course of content. students who enter into american foreign policy, and often with the premise of imagining the problems in the world are there is to solve.
how can we solve this? we have the power to affect this change. you almost have to spend a whole semester debunking that impulse and helping them understand the limitations, the hubris of power, the irony of american history. in canadian foreign policy, we start there. we don't have to do a lot of heavy lifting to convince you that this major quandary is going to be solved by canada. maybe in partnership, may be collaboration, but that is a more humble and productive and collaborative and yes multilateral place to start. that is one of the reasons the transatlantic perspective in addition to the generational perspective in this volume is so helpful. we will hear from the american school, but also the english school and also the after dam school. that will help us think about late imperial power, middle
power, lesser powers but still powers, still countries that have responsibilities, ethics, obligations, and what does justice mean for them? justice is not simply the purview of the great superpowers, it is the purview of anyone with political power. and that is the way augustine would put it to us. i think this is really helpful. i love the introduction of this transatlantic dialogue on christian realism. i wish there was more work excavating the english school and making it contemporary. at also building up the amsterdam school and help us your voices from other parts of tradition around the globe. this is one of the exciting
pieces of contribution, but i want to focus on two pieces. one is english school and one is an empty dam school -- what is it amsterdam school. they both nine on aspects of american christian realism. certainly realism in the case of butterfield. i had a friend of mine convince me to listen to audio books, and now i am in it to win it. i have been listening to general mcmasters' "dereliction of duty," he reads it himself, and his impressions of president johnson are not to be missed. in his reading it out loud, he
is critical of the quonset, the whiz kids, as they begin to set the terms for power politics, for communication. this is one of the things butterfield gets to the heart of, human nature and the dominion of fear. he says we think about fear is this feature of the international system, it is there, whether we talk about whether it is natural, but he says it is not always something we can quantify easily. there is an emotional element to it. it is such a risk -- rich aspect of the english school. he says fear is a thing that is extraordinarily vivid while we are in its grip, but once it is over, it leaves little trace of itself in our consciousness and is one of the experiences we can never properly remember, one also which, since we may be ashamed of it, we have no reason for wishing to remember.
we are in the position of those unsympathetic parents who, though they can recall concrete things that happened in their lives, have forgotten what it really felt like to be in love. it is curious that the moods and sensations which have mastered us in the past, and which all -- which almost may consume a man, are significant to recover or reimagine afterwards. because it is so hard for us to recapture the feeling in our imagination, what can be nonparticipating when there is a question of fear that is not our own. if another person is the victim of it, we may fail, or it may never occur to us to apprehend the thing itself or the range of its possible consequences. it would seem we are not always easily convinced of the existence of fear in other people, especially political rivals are potential enemies. historians are not easily convinced when they deal at a later time with former enemies of their country.
above all, if the thing which the other party dreaded is the danger that never materialized, it becomes easy to be skeptical about the genuineness of the fear itself. when the historian cannot escape recording the terror napoleon inspired of the german threat of russia or the apprehension of a people in the face of imminent attack, he may produce a factual statement that gives little impression of the four -- the force and effect of the emotion experienced. he finds himself confronted by an event and sees that the rest of his picture provides an inadequate context for it. terms out -- it turns out there was some terrible factor in the story which he had him perfectly apprehended or merely failed to keep in mind." "we do not always realize and sometimes do not like to recognize how often a mistaken policy, a braggart manner or
even an act of cruelty may be traceable to fear. this is a way of talking about in the es, it does not rule out rational discussions, but it imagine human beings in an augustinian way, emotional, desiring creatures and that affects our politics and policies and priorities, not as pure, rational, material calcululists. the american tradition of realism is less good on that end butterfield puts his finger on this. the last segment from nicholas, glad you let me include this. this is from his book, "until justice and peace, brace" and he is writing about liberation
theology. when someone says liberation theology, you have to hear behind it the controversy, like critical race theory, so final the emotion of that debate and the ideas that you hear into liberation theology. there are a couple of key points where it is going to nudge american realism. "liberation theology and neo-calvinism, the amsterdam school, have similarities that extend beyond the fact they are both contemporary versions of world formative christianity. both express a significant concern for the victims of modern society, though it is true they differ in their definitions of which groups constitute the victims of a given society. in addition, both express concerns for the victims in essentially the same manner, not by applying bandages, but by searching out what inflicted the
wounds, seeking to effect change in that quarter. both find the culprit in the structure of modern society and the dynamic underlying that structure rather than an active individual waywardness. both offer architectonic analyses of the ills of modern society and in the political sphere insofar as it supports the economic." he says come of this doesn't mean we need to hose down liberation gal ig with baptismal water and say that we got it all right. there are important disagreements. but he does say here is something you need perhaps learn , that systems and institutions are structured and they are fragile -- they are prejudiced, they not human behavior and they
need the full attention of christians. they are not simply neutral. we know all this with technology. we learned this 10, 15 years ago, does google make us stupid? i don't know about instagram. and we say human beings have human agencies, none of this robs human beings of agency. it says the systems and institutions we construct must be subject to our question analysis because they make for, nudge for better justice, better mercy. this is what bob hoffer said. -- baumhoffer said. desmond to put it better. he said it is not enough to pull bodies out of the river, we must go upstream and ask why so many people are falling in. this is real amsterdam school stuff, and architectonic critique, not just to burn them
down, but for reformation, for justice. this also makes them fit in an augustinian way so nicely into this transatlantic dialogue on christian realism. i could read from it all night, but he will leave it there. [applause] >> we have plenty of time for questions and comments. please come forward and speak into this microphone and identify yourself. who goes first? >> thank you both for speaking. on this issue of christian
realism, when you look at current and past precedent on international institutions where you see an organization like nato, policies pointing out other countries may not be holding up their end of a bargain, how does christian realism approach a situation like that where these other countries may not be doing their part in these international institutions, yet the answer may not to be withdraw completely from those? >> i am going to introduce the question and rob is going to answer the question. >> i feel like he is coming after the canadians. >> he mentioned nato and people not pulling their weight in institutions. andrew davenport, outstanding graduate of regent, a co-author
with me on a forthcoming essay this summer and now working for the family research council he washington as a summer intern. over to you. >> let me answer in theory and let me answer and practice. in theory, why engage multilaterally at all? one key foundational argument we advance in the book is that one of the fundamental, really the cornerstone of realist theory is that it is fundamentally flawed. it is that the fulcrum, the moment that gives a reality to all the logic of international relations is fear. everybody is afraid of each other. we have a fear dilemma. everybody learns this, anarchy,
etc., and we actually say the argument we make, it is a very augustinian argument, that is a fundamental departure point. the organizing principle of politics is not fear, it is love . this is a very augustinian answer. we are bonded together out of common love, out of common objects of our desire. and unless this sounds to moshe, we often write these -- sounds too mushy, we often write these things down and we call them constitutions, charters. these are things we love. on what basis? if that is the basis, this is an augustinian idea, commonwealths of love, so if that is the basis, on what level should we participate with other communities in the international system?
we should seek to work alongside those who share those desires, those loves. not perfectly. there is always going to be then diagrams of overlap, but there is things that are going to be close. -- venn diagrams of overlap, but there is things that are going to be close, that advance our values and so forth. why would a superpower collaborate with other, middle power institutions? because it is not ultimately just about that state, it is the things that state stands for, that state loves. it is not just only about the united states of america, it is about what united states of america stands for, and believes. and then you participate on that basis. but what happens when you end up with a power imbalance that creates a free rider dilemma?
you won't see me quoting president trump to often, but on this, he was correct. i am saying this as a canadian. countries like canada, not only canada, have been subject or too long to free riding. and this is not me criticizing the canadian armed services who have continued to make more bricks with less straw year on year. they have not resourced -- have not been resourced to the level they are supposed to become at the 2% gdp. friends need to have hard words with each other and i think it is right when you say, are we in this object, are we working together or aren't we? i know there is a limit to what middle powers and lesser powers can contribute, but it is a question of whether we are enjoined in this or not.
if you pushed them out, it would be a sad injustice. because many of these middle powers and lower powers have contributed enormously to the tradition of multilateralism and global order. it being june sixth, i am aware of juno beach, which i have visited. i am the son of immigrants from the netherlands. my dad had his first taste of chocolate from a canadian soldier, that is how my parents ended up in canada. i am profoundly aware of what the country has and can contribute. but this is where i say, as friends, as americans, i don't think you should let us get away with it. i don't think it is just. there is a contribution that is necessary and fundamental. that is my practical answer to the question. it is right that the u.s. pushes
on its allies and partners and i think there has also been movement in that direction, so i don't want to be critical here. that was a long answer. eric, do you want to correct me? [laughter] >> i was hearing "stars & stripes forever" playing as you said that. we will give them the opportunity for another question. >> thanks, congratulations on the book. you circled around a couple of times about a word that has been said a lot -- interests. what role does interests play in christian realism? very often, interests is the i -word, it is wrong. what role does interests play in christian realism.
i am mark live becky from realism magazine. >> let's start with the bible. there is a verse in philippians and that verse says, look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. ended goes into how christ sacrificed himself for us. -- and it goes into how christ sacrificed himself for us. there isn't a verse that says, look only to your own interests. that is why when you are on an airplane in those things drop when you lose cabin pressure, they say put on your mask first and take care of the person next to you, at the principal is that we have a certain responsibility for ourselves first and foremost. that doesn't mean to the exclusion of others. a complementary principle is
that we have expanding circles of what our interests entail, and this is tied to the catholic concept of subsidiary and the notion of sphere sovereignty. mark, you as a husband and dad have an interest. interests are actually responsibilities. we often talk about the may craven way, self-interested selfishness. certainly that is possible, but part of what you are interested in, what you are responsible for come is your wife and your two children. and there is another expensive circle, the person who lives next to you, the person in your community, your parents, the people he and your church or in other organizations that are part of your civic and associational life.
so when we think about interests, we need to think about what or who am i responsible for? and christian realists like niebuhr and others talk a lot about this, perhaps best encapsulated in the just war principle of legitimate political authority. it is not about authority's warmaking, it is saying political authorities have a big duty, big obligation, they are responsible for the lives, livelihoods and way of life of the people who are entrusted to their care. that is how we ought to be thinking about the national interests. >> i agree. interest gets a bad rap. we cover this almost every freshman seminar on political economy, isn't it a terrible thing these capitalism people pursue their own self interests? and i say, who else do you want to define your interests?
you are going to define them or someone else is. we almost edged into sphere sovereignty language there, but i will restrain myself from that impulse big but there is a sense in which interest is natural. and there is a way in which it is tied to the moral communities in wage we are in. there is a way in which there are natural laws, norms that are intrinsic to those, and that is right and good. this is another place where i feel like there is more clarity in this conversation when we move it out of a super our context to a middle power context because we begin at a point of limitation. i find that very clarifying, to begin at a point of limitation. limitation is not a result of a fall. human beings are limited because we are human beings.
that is baked in. god made us limited and said that is good. you are not me, you are humans. so, those limitations make us part of communities. most communities have their own agendas have their own agendas, intuitions and moral goals. we serve those said that makes serving those interests one of the good. i hear this argument but i say you just can't trust theologians where they say you have to have a more cosmopolitan ethic, and i say we intrinsically know this isn't this case. her parents' road has a pothole in it. it is in michigan. i have no obligation to fix that. i am not a taxpayer of the state of michigan, i am not a member about county -- member of that county. if there is a pothole and my
neighbor's street, i almost have a communal power to fix that. that is part of a moral obligation of living in that community. so, there are boundaries and spheres in which those interests take place and they are exercised. and there are limits. and that is normal and human. we sometimes imagine limitless ness is what we are intended for , but theologically, i don't see that. we don't become -- there are questions we may simply never know the answer to because we are human beings. there is nothing wrong with that. and there are also things we may never be able to accomplish, but we have to say we are responsible -- responsible in the communities where we are, how they have been designed for norms, and what it means to do justice in those.
and in that context, interest is not a dirty word, interest is actually a good word. i think we should rescue it from how it has been taken in vain. [laughter] >> thank you for being here to speak with us. i am a student at patrick in the -- patrick henry college. you mentioned psychological drives of love and fear but i was wondering how christian realism thanks about honor that seems to be a primary motivation in human nature. china, it has been given a bad rap, but i think honor is a very important force in human relations. and you mentioned how britain had to come to terms in the postwar period that they were a
nation in decline. i think that some of that mood still dominates today and i was wondering, how does christian realism think through that? >> this is why i think transatlantic and perhaps global christian the illogical -- grow lowball -- global christian theology is important in this. what does it mean to think among the ruins, as augustine wrote? as he is writing, he is deeply aware of the fact that rome is falling, it is falling apart. the great empire. the great center of civilization. those of us who are orthodox will remind you it protested -- it persisted until 1853 -- but
one of the ways this is accessed and recognized is that human beings are not simply utility and material maximizers. it is not, butterfield is drawing our attention to fear, but underlying his love. how does that attach to honor? it attaches to cultures all over the world, not just shame on our cultures and so on, but it attaches to ways of understanding loyalty, what is right, what is wrong, what is ethical, and that attaches to our deepest desires, who we are. that is a hard thing to get at. how does keller what it? -- how does keller put it? the only thing you need is nothing, but nobody has that. we have to be toward the good and honor as a reflection of
what goods that we hold our, hold -- hold are, and our sense of lineage, our sense of the past. and some cultures are different. charles taylor talks about the north atlantic is having a pitiless attitude over the past, almost to betray our parents, which is ironically honoring our parents in a perverse way. we never escape our parents. this is how mcintyre puts it. we are on a stage not of our own making. we are born into it. i think that is part of what, even when we are trying to escape it in the north atlantic world, we are still embedded in those networks of desire. that is part of the reflection about cultures like shame and honor, we ignore that if it is
simply a material or utilitarian process. we were the history of the opium wars, but i have friends teaching and english schools in china and the opium wars are taught as wars of humiliation and degradation that was done to them. and in the last one, also a little bit of the united states, but primarily great. that memory lives. christian realism actually pushes i -- pushes us into acknowledgment that those things are real. they are not just permit the edible -- they are not just peripheral, they move foreign policy. like butterfield said, they move human communities. even if we wouldn't behave similarly. it pushes us toward that kind of acknowledgment. kuyper and butterfield agree
that good history, good foreign policy, get us deeply into political theology very quickly, deeply into how do we love, who do we owe, where do we come from? those of the questions a good foreign policy analyst needs to be asking, what do we love and what are we here for? >> i will make three quick teaching points. the first is that, if we do good foreign policy, and this is a contribution christian realism -- contribution of christian realism, good foreign policy can only be quantitative, secular and materialistic. that is not good foreign policy because it does not explain pas htuns in afghanistan.
we could go culture by culture. it does not take into account what is important to the other side. i need to understand what matters to them, even if i don't with it. but if you just start with statistics and metrics, you never get there. second is a criticism you will find throughout this book of one form of honor, honor as egoism. if what we mean by honor is actually hubris, expansive pride, niebuhr and others are against it over and over and it is an achilles' heel that haunts countries and empires and political leaders over and over. however, if what we are talking about with honor becomes what we love and we think about it in the active tense, how do we show honor? that is an important question all of its own. markley vicky has written about this, i have written about this looking at the vietnam war did the vietnam war is a good case of this because -- vietnam war.
the vietnam war is a good case of this because four presidents in a row set part of the fight in vietnam had to do with honor. lbj and nixon in particular, and jfk all said, we have already invested here. if we pull out, that is not peace with honor. if you pull that logic apart, it that says, whether this is the right place to be come of the right expenditure to have come of the way we honor those who already died is by killing more people, or allowing more of our people to die. that is nothing best form of honor. and i am a supporter, i think the u.s. was in the right prosecuting the vietnam war. but if the only argument you're making is that we are rude to fight or prolong the war because we are dishonoring the war debt, that is not a great argument documents have to be made on the of the parties involved and what
is best for world politics. there are other ways to honor the wounded and dead, such as taking care of their widows, building monuments, taking care of the orphans, the wounded. we did not do that well as a society in 1971, 19 need to come in 1973. so there is a dishonor that happened -- 1972, 1973. so there is a dishonor that happened. when we are talking about hubris, that is different definition that is a problem for christian realists. and the third is dicing when a politician or christian realist says we are going to honor something, what are we honoring it are we doing it in a way that comes back to fundamental loves?
thanks. >> anymore questions -- any more questions, comments? >> any final comments from either or both of you? >> niebuhr used to say that these were perennial issues, and the hubris of any generation is to say, what we are going through right now [indiscernible] history is doomed to repeat itself. it only repeats itself. christian realists would disagree in part with both of those. what they would say is that the conditions of individual sin,
the hidden sin in power politics of a society that prides itself on all its good and hides all its weaknesses, that all these problems are part of the human condition. so they are natural, they recur, but that does not mean we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over. there is hope. there is hope for progress at times. there is hope for change. there is hope for making a difference in the lives of some people. think about the high points in history, george washington, abraham lincoln, our own tradition in the united dates. -- united states. in a sense, they are this view of balancing the people we live within the -- live with in the world to not only
ameliorate the effects of people, but to build its best. >> a word of thanks to "providence" magazine. i know the evening was entitled in defense of christian realism. i've every rarely need to defend christian realism to my students. they come as blank slates on this question. [laughter] in many cases, they come baked in with a kind of easy instrumental is him -- instrumentalism. so, if force has to be used, that is a bad thing, but you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette. sometimes, you have to do bad to get good. that tends to be the easy come instrumental logic that dominates coming in. i think providence magazine and i hope this reader, and christian realism as a tradition more generally, is essential in this moment. because it gives an opportunity for students who are coming in
to learn about the ethical complexity of their own tradition, that they haven't been catechized into, educated into and it is very rich. and it is very available. and i am very grateful. my journey went from amsterdam to england back to more famous sources in the united states, for which i am grateful. but i am grateful those sources were there to be read, to be wrestled with, because of people like eric and magazines like "providence," so thank you that work. my students benefited from it as well, even in canada, perhaps even more where we badly need it there. i am very grateful to the magazine and institute for your work. thank you. [applause] [captions copyright national
>> so glad to be here with my esteemed colleagues to talk about these weighty issues that we confront as writers and, you know, john oliver is a pillar. he's really a bridge between those of us who have been writing for the last 30 years and the folks that wrote 30 years before him so when he asks this question, you know, what then is the responsibility of the black writer to the black community as he posed at the first conference in 1986?
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