Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Something Dignan is Supposed to Read

Just when I had made about 50 pages more progress into Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, along comes a book which I know that I have to order (I have done so) and read. The book is The Political Teachings of Jesus by Tod Lindberg of the Hoover Institution. The first amazing thing about this book is that if I see a book with "Jesus" and "politics" in the title, my initial instinct is to

Run Away. Run Away.

Such a book is, in my mind, likely to be one of two things: either something in the Social Gospel/Liberation Theology mold of Jesus as Marxist (and if not a Marxist, at least a New Dealer) or something dealing with warm and cuddly individual pietism. Fortunately, this book had the most awesome one paragraph recommendation that I can remember from John Podhoretz on National Review Online, and the recommenders include people from across the political spectrum: E.J. Dionne and Michael Novak for example.

Amazingly, one long section of the book dealing with the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount is available online. I knew when I read this section that I had to read more.

Perhaps the real stunner is that this book is written, if not from the very heart, then at least from inside the tent, of the academic world of politics and economics. Yes, I know that there has been tension between the Hoover Institution and the various academic departments at Stanford, but it is, regardless, a home [or home away from home] to some of the very best economists and political scientists in the country.

OK, so this means that I owe our readers two book follow-ups: one on Jesus and the Eyewitnesses and one on this book. Classes start in less than three weeks. This ought to be interesting. Oh well, when you're on the run from Johnny Law...ain't no trip to Cleveland.

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