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From the Fall 2017 issue of Knowing & Doing:

Where’s Waldo

by David George Moore, M.A.
President of Two Cities Ministries

 
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  Transcendentalism lives on in the ways in which we see Christianity experiencing its present challenges. One example would be the “nones,” that new moniker for a growing group of Americans, many of whom still claim orthodox Christian beliefs. They just no longer affiliate with a local church. There are many reasons for this, and some of them are understandable, as in cases of abusive or autocratic church leaders. For other “nones,” there simply is not enough room for gathering with other Christians because the “self,” as Walker Percy memorably put it, is “stuffed with itself.” What Percy found troubling, Emerson deemed virtuous.
  Emerson’s ghost indeed still prowls our fruited plains. In answer to the question, “Where’s Waldo?,” we can safely answer, “everywhere.” America is more haunted by him than you possibly thought.

This article expands on a previous work that was published in the March 2017 online issue for The Gospel Coalition. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/wheres-waldo


 

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Notes:
1 Quoted in Philip F. Gura, American Transcendentalism: A History (New York: Hill and Wang, 2007), 92.
2 Ibid., 93.
3 Ibid., 97.
4 Roger Lundin, Believing Again: Doubt and Faith in a Secular Age (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), 107. Emphasis added.
5 I was pleased to see that the newest edition of Understanding the Times, now with coauthor Jeff Myers, interacts some with Emerson.
6 Merold Westphal, “Atheism for Lent,” The Other Journal, February 28, 2008 at https://theotherjournal.com/2008/02/20/atheism-for-lent/
7 Richard Mouw, “The Women at the Concord Tombs,” Books & Culture, January–February 1999: 34.
8 Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance,” in Selected Essays (New York: Penguin Books, 1982), 203.
9 For a helpful discussion, see Rodney Clapp, A Peculiar People: The Church as Culture in a Post-Christian Society (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1996), 90–93.
10 Emerson, “Self-Reliance, in Selected Essays, 185.
11 Emerson, “An Address Delivered before the Senior Class in Divinity College, Cambridge,” in Selected Essays, 118–19.
12 Emerson, “The American Scholar,” in Selected Essays, 97.
13 Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor: A Pattern for Personal Growth and Ministry (Portland, OR: Multnomah, 1982), 97.
14 Karen Swallow Prior, Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More—Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2014), 27, see also 157.
15 Quoted in Fred Sanders, “The Strange Legacy of Wolfhart Pannenberg,” Christianity Today, September 28, 2014, at www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/september-web-only/strange-legacy-theo....
16 Emerson, “The Over-Soul,” Selected Essays, 223.
17 See David George Moore, “Which of Us Can Cast the First Stone at OJ?” Austin American-Statesman, op-ed piece, August 16, 1995; David George Moore, “Tiger’s Biggest Challenge: Looking Within,” The Huffington Post, March 10, 2010.

David George Moore lives in Austin, Texas and ministers through Two Cities. He holds degrees from Arizona State University, Dallas Theological Seminary, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. His most recent book is The Last Men’s Book You’ll Ever Need (B & H Publishing Group). Dave is a regular contributor to Patheos/Jesus Creed. His interview show can be found at www.mooreengaging.com. He and his wife Doreen have two sons.

 


Recommended Reading:
Roger Lundin, Believing Again: Doubt and Faith in a Secular Age (Eerdmans, 2009)

In Believing Again Roger Lundin brilliantly explores the cultural consequences of the rather sudden nineteenth-century emergence of unbelief as a widespread social and intellectual option in the English-speaking world. Lundin’s narrative focuses on key poets and novelists from the past two centuries – Dostoevsky, Dickinson, Melville, Auden, and more – showing how they portray the modern mind and heart balancing between belief and unbelief.
  Lundin engages these literary luminaries through chapters on a series of vital subjects, from history and interpretation to beauty and memory. Such theologians as Barth and Balthasar also enter the fray, facing the challenge of modern unbelief with a creative brilliance that has gone largely unnoticed outside the world of faith. Lundin’s Believing Again is a beautifully written, erudite examination of the drama and dynamics of belief in the modern world.

 
COPYRIGHT NOTICE:  Knowing & Doing is published by C.S. Lewis Institute; 8001 Braddock Road, Suite 301; Springfield, VA 22151. Portions of the publication may be reproduced for noncommercial, local church or ministry use without prior permission. Electronic copies of the PDF files may be duplicated and transmitted via e-mail for personal and church use. Articles may not be modified without prior written permission of the Institute. For questions, contact the Institute: 703.914.5602 or email us.

 

 
 
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