There is a truism in political science that "politics follows culture," meaning that no political systems exist in a vacuum and very few political decisions can withstand cultural opposition to them. Yet what have the campaigns, election, and transition revealed of American culture? Urban/rural divisions, the impact of the media, political tribalism and cynicism, racism, misogyny, and classism: certainly these things, yet these things, in various forms, are perpetually a part of the character of American politics. In the three essays below, Brennan Breed, Dave True, and Kevin Carnahan explore other aspects of contemporary American culture that seem to play a new and troubling role in American politics: the reshaping of civil religion, the blurring of the personal and the public, and the advent of postmodern political sensibilities.
Democracies are sustained by a few basic practices, foremost among them citizens talking freely with each other and then voting. Both conversation and voting were, in various ways, threatened during the 2016 election. In the two essays below, Jake Myers and Rebekah Miles explore questions about why these two practices were threatened and how we, as Christians and citizens, might respond to such threats toward rebuilding a healthier body politic.
Social scientists remind us that people do not vote based on what they think; they vote on the basis of what they feel. The 2016 election was remarkable not only for the levels of passion it produced in the electorate but the range and confusions of those passions. In the two essays below, Mark Douglas and Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty explore the complex way that thought, feeling, and identity intersected in the election and offer both warnings about unmoored emotions and advice about how to train those emotions toward constructive political engagement and social welfare.
"Now what?" This is the question that many of us—regardless of political persuasion—have been asking in light of the 2016 campaign and election and the transition from the Obama to the Trump presidencies. Grounding their explorations in solid historical and theological analysis, William Yoo and John Senior offer deeply insightful responses to that question, not so much by suggesting new things to do but by helping us get a better grasp on why we should do what we do next and how to understand what we do.
The following sermon was preached at the November 15, 2016 meeting of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta. The editorial board is grateful to Prof. Moore-Keish for sharing it with us. If we are, indeed, people of the word who live—as Prof. Moore-Keish notes below—in "in between times," then concluding this edition of @ this point with a sermon is especially apropos. The church best engages the cultures it finds itself in and the events that shape those cultures when it turns not only to its first text (The Bible) but to its deepest liturgical structures, including the Word of God rightly preached.
The following is a list of helpful articles for further research and study on the "Divided Kingdom" in America after the 2016 election. The resources are divided into four sections: the votes, the right, minority questions and answers, religious leaders' thoughts and actions, and moving forward.
An introduction to the edition by the editor.