To Change the World 4: Three Choices Both the Same

Often [I have wondered]( in frustration, Why does everything seem so politicized? Why are the extremes the only apparent option? Where are the sober, even-handed, reasoned, moderate alternatives?

I have partially attributed it to the sound-bite world where a myriad of messages compete for our attention. Thus message makers want to be more extreme so what they say will better stand out amidst the cacophony.

In [*To Change the World*](, Hunter offers another explanation. The New Deal created the mindset that in government we find the solution to public problems—whether they be abortion, the economy, prayer in schools or health care.

> The biggest problem is how to create or reinforce social consensus where little exists or none could be generated organically. This is demonstrated by the simple fact that the amount of law that exists in any society is always inversely related to the coherence and stability of its common culture: law increases as cultural consensus decreases. (p. 102)

The breakdown of general agreement in society means we can’t rely on commonly held values or honest persuasion. Only the state can confer validity on us whether we be gay or Christian or female or Latino.

Ironically, then, the Christian Right, the Christian Left or the Neo-Anabaptists all agree. The Christian Right (Dobson, Neuhaus, Colson and dozens of new organizations) has largely aligned itself with Republican politics. The Christian Left (once dominated by mainline Protestants but now including Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, Randy Balmer and others) largely aligns itself with the Democrats.

The neo-Anabaptists (following John Howard Yoder, Stanley Hauerwas, Craig Carter and others) call for an alternate community that lives out the gospel in dissent from the State and the larger political world. Obviously the Christian Right and the Christian Left define themselves in political terms. But, as [Andy Crouch summarizes]( Hunter, so do the neo-Anabaptists who “in the very ferocity of their dissent from state power and Christian collusion with it . . . end up defining themselves in political terms just as much as the partisan movements they seem to oppose.”

What’s the alternative? Hunter urges us to read on.

Author: Andy Le Peau

I've been an editor and writer for over forty years. I am passionate about ideas and how we can express them clearly, beautifully, and persuasively. I love reading good books, talking about them, and recommending them. I thoroughly enjoy my family who help me continue on the path of a lifelong learner.

2 thoughts on “To Change the World 4: Three Choices Both the Same”

  1. I’ve been thinking about how small conversations change us every day and how followers of Jesus are free to become great listeners. What if individual followers of Jesus had a vision for living above the rigid definitions and instead reached out to listen first?

    Andy: could you sometime address this? I’m writing a book about conversation and I imagine it similar to “The Shallows,” “Outliers” and “Made to Stick”: asking a question and then answering it by hearing from different people in the know.

    I’m trying to imagine how my book will get used and all I can think of (hope, really) is that it will be bought and read by the people who bought and read those three books.

    Could you write about any resource that might discuss the demographics of people who buy particular books? Or even sales figures. I’ve looked on Amazon but cannot sort it out. I’ll sort through your category archives to see if you’ve already discussed this. Thanks.

  2. Here’s one quick resource you may be interested in regarding reading habits and so forth you can find it at

    This is part of an ongoing project by the National Endowment for the Arts that tracks the demographics of reading–age, race, education, genre and so forth. Hope it helps.


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