Thursday, October 18, 2007
so classes have started in my program at Marquette, which is partly why I'm not posting hardly at all. I love it! And church stuff is keeping me busy also.
But I'm very excited to announce that beginning next week I'll be contributing to the now collaborative blog at Jesus Manifesto.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
At the end of a chapter where Scot explores Jesus' own interpretation of his death, linking it to Passover, which is the Story of protection from God's wrath (via the blood of the lamb on the door posts) and God's liberation from Egypt. But Scot notes that the early church didn't feel compelled to stick only to this interpretation. That's Jesus' interpretation is not privileged. Paul links atonement as much to Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) as to the Passover; John's Gospel drops Kingdom language and talks of 'eternal life'. And Hebrews links Jesus to the Priesthood and the Temple. And the early church copied Jesus kingdom language and interpretation.
Scot just notes this, but I ask why? Why are they so free to interpret differently?
The answer given by much of critical scholarship is that Jesus never intended his death to be thought of as accomplishing anything between God and man, i.e. Jesus didn't have an atonement theory and the Church just make up whatever was useful for them at the time. But that is too easy.
Instead I would propose that the disciples had freedom to reinterpret, or go beyond Jesus, because the Hebrew Scripture (the OT) already had interpreted God's might acts in various way, all complimenting one another. After there is not one covenant, but three between Abraham, Moses, and David. God does and doesn't want a king, and the king turns into the coming Messiah. God gives the land after the exodus, and then takes it way in the exile. The tension the OT between God's revealed Law and the order of Wisdom (some think there is a shift from one to the other). The interpretation of the rise of David in 1 Kings and 1 Chronicles. There are some many strands of salvation in the OT that the early church gathered them all into Jesus, even if he only emphases the Passover.
And isn't that appropriate? Passover was the beginning for Israel; so too for the church. Jesus interpreted himself as at the beginning of something new, and therefore Passover is his theme, and he lets the disciples reinterpret the rest of the story accordingly. And we continue to this day.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
So I did two things: 1) supported local economics via the ALMIGHTY DOLLAR, and 2) tried to influence national/global economics via DEMOCRACY (or something close to it).
Which is better to do?
Or course the answer is both/and, right? Left, I mean wrong. The way I view the world right now is economically. Of course I view the world that way, they want me to. But what I mean is that I really dont' think that Big Government can do as much to change things (or at least i don't have enough time to MAKE Big G care about what I think, and TIME is MONEY afterall).
But how I spend my money is very much something that I can control and will have an impact. I could lobby Big G to help out the small farmer (and therefore my assistance and my values are mediated thru someone else), or I use my money and ensure that I help them and that I am living by my values.
They same is true for clothing. Let your dollars speak, and if necessary and convenient, speak through the Government.
What do you think? What did I miss?
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Oh that the Church in the US would get involved .
Monday, July 23, 2007
Thursday, July 19, 2007
I was challenged recently that we should be listening to the global church to find out what is going on in the world instead of mega-news agencies who think only through the lenses of economics and state-craft.
Does anyone know how to gather together multiple news sources into one home page or something like that? I'm not smart enough to figure it out.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
I certainly want to uphold a high sacramental position within the Church as the Body of Christ for the life of the world. Too often it seems people are all too ready to jump the ecclesial body and find Christ in the world, separate out the Church and the Kingdom, instead of distinguishing between them. This lead to a lot of misguided political activity.
And yet I do in a sense want to locate the body of Christ beyond the sacramental body (in the Eucharist) which makes the ecclesial body (as the Church). I want this because the story of the Road to Emmaus, with the disciples eyes being opened to see Christ is not merely a Eucharistic reflection, but a continuation of Jesus’ own hospitable table fellowship. And even the narratives of the Last Supper are not merely institution narratives which begin the Eucharistic practice, nor are is it an elaboration on Passover or the Day of Atonement, but they are continuations of Jesus’ revolutionary table fellowship, a radical hospitality toward the loss, excluded, and marginalized. And this table fellowship becomes both the test of discipleship in Matthew 25 (the Sheep and the Goats) as well as the test of the presence of Christ. In Matthew 25 it is not only a question of who are the true disciples (those that mimic and extend Jesus’ table fellowship and hospitality through the giving of food, drink, clothing, and time), but in this process of being like Jesus we discern the presence of Jesus.
But again, I don’t want to disconnect this discernment of Christ in the world from the Eucharistic discernment of Christ in the Sacrament. Indeed to do so is to loss the resources of both discerning Christ and power to be like Christ. Therefore to know Christ’s body (in the world) one must first be Christ Body (in the Church).
Saturday, May 05, 2007
“make ‘Christian’ an adjective, an epithet, a style—when what God offers his people is particular action—verbs—through which they can become and distinctive nouns—people, disciples, witnesses.” (13)God gives us particular Verbs that transform us into particular Nouns. Now I don’t want to get too grammatical, but this is very important. Too often we think we can take this type of lifestyle, and that kind of activity, mix it up with our own personal preferences, and then add a little bit of ‘christian’ to it and feel good that our lives are conforming to the Gospel. We assemble ‘nouns’ and ‘verbs’ of our own liking, and then add the ‘christian’ adjective.
But this is just not how it works. The Gospel is not an adjective that modifies our groups of nouns and verbs, our possessions and actions. Rather, the Gospel comes as a set of Verbs (of actions, an entire life with Christ, care for the outcast, love for one another) which form us into a set of Nouns (children of God, the body of Christ, a temple of the Holy Spirit). The Gospel is the connection of these Nouns and Verbs, of offering grace and peace, a new reality, a new community, not just the modification of an old reality.
‘Christian’ is not an adjective. If it is then we have lost ourselves.
These thoughts brought to you by The Blackwell Companion to Christian Ethics, “The Gift of the Church, and the Gifts God Gives to It.”
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
But where am I going?
1) Well here is the very exciting new. First off I was accepted to the Summer Seminary series on Liturgical Identities: Global, Nation, Ecclesial at Calvin College with Steven Long and Michael Budde.
2) But even more excitingly, I was accepted to the doctoral program in Theology at Marquette University in Milwaukee. This is huge blessing from God and opportunity for me. I have been in a process of discernment for a couple of years about whether or not I should pursue a Ph.d, and the doors always seemed ambiguously open and closed, not clearly shut or open. But then during Lent, appropriately, it really felt that the door was closing. Steve Long, who I really want to study with, took a job away from Garret (one of two schools I applied to), and then I got rejected from Garrett (ouch! I thought for sure I would get it). But then I got accepted to Marquette without funding (hello, who wants to pay $50,000 to go back to school). So that was like as bad as getting rejected too. But then, on Palm Sunday I got a call from the director of graduate studies telling me that some funding had become available. This guy then proceeded to offer me a full ride + TA (teaching assistant) living stipend. And on top of that, Steve Long took a job at Marquette and will most likely be my advisor.
So what does that means? Well I'm going to continue on pastoring at Life on the Vine, but I will be able to quite my part-time job at Starbucks. Hopefully my blogging won't suffer too much, but you all will probably get a bunch of my reading notes.
anyway, that's all for now.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
anyway, the article is very good, and it resonated with me a bit. But b/c I have older siblings, does that mean I'm more X than Y. but like being the oldest of the Yers instead of the youngest of the Xers. So I dub myself leader of Generation Y (provisionally). But Gen Y is really a selfish bit a techno-individualist, the return of the "me" generation, brainwashed by product placement cartoons and video games.
So I'll divest my title and just become a good generation x again. they care about the world and stuff.
But maybe... I just don't know.
what generation are you? do you fit?
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
by Endy M. Bayuni
How Fashion takes advantage on dispute between conservatives and liberals.
"So while the conservatives and liberals are slugging it out to try to impose their values on the rest of society, most Indonesian girls, like their peers around the world, just want to have fun. The question of whether or not to cover their heads for them is really a matter of choice, and it is theirs alone to decide. The fashion industry will only gladly comply and serve their needs either way."
Thursday, March 01, 2007
I won't go into all the stuff about the global economy and sweatshops and what not. If you care about where your clothes are many, or care about innovative economic possibilities, then check out these shirts made in Palestinian and Israeli collaboration. You can get the lowdown here, and watch the youtube below.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
(The 'value' is about $100 million per campaign...but that's getting ahead of myself)
Here are some recent news stories that relate to my recent questioning of elections.
The first two relate to the funding of the candidates (While we may vote for the presented candidates, who decides which candidates are presented? Those with Money of course!)
Death Knell May Be Near for Public Election Funds (01-23-07)
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRIC
The public financing system has failed to keep pace with the torrents of money flowing toward the presidential elections.
Democrats Chasing Big Money (02-15-07)
by Chris Cillizza
Every serious candidate is spending hours each day courting the whales who can write big check.
This next piece explores the possibility of region politics superseding national politics (as in secession from), with my home state of California at the center.
California Split (02-10-07)
by GAR ALPEROVITZ
"Somthing interesting is happening in California. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger seems to have grasped the essential truth that no nation — not even the United States — can be managed successfully from the center once it reaches a certain scale..."
And lastly, what are the prospects of a participatory politics (enabled by blogging)? It is hard
to tell, but Edwards is paving the way.
Edwards Learns Campaign Blogs Can Cut 2 Ways (02-08-07)
By JOHN M. BRODER
tag line: Candidates could face problems as they try to integrate online political discourse into traditional campaigning.
So while the price tag of running a successful campaign is very steep ($100 mil.),
is it really worth it?
Friday, February 09, 2007
If not through a violent coup de taut, how do dictators come to power?
How do seemingly mediocre or blatantly partisan politicians come to power?
Voting. Louis Bonaparte! (Although he probably didn’t come to mind).
While initially seen as the surest means of a fair and equal democracy, has voting turned against (or been turned against) the masses? Has the process of voting becomes a veil of something more sinister (or perhaps a mere banality)?
Japanese philosopher Kojin Karatani, agreeing with Marx, says Yes.
Universal suffrage is, of course, the “system wherein people of all classes participate in the elections” (Transcritique, 151). Now certainly this seems like a great idea because universal suffrage opens the door for every single person to have a stake in her/his future through participation in national politics (i.e. through choosing a representative to hold forth their views). Along with this, the mechanism of secret ballots secures the voter from intimidation and retribution allowing the voter to voter her mind without fearing the consequence. In fact, it is universal suffrage and the secret ballot that distinguished what Marx calls ‘bourgeois parliament’ from the previous representative systems in feudal and monarchist governments.
But as Karatani says, “But this is not all—at the same time, and inversely, in this system, all individuals are, for the first time, separated in principle from all class relations and relations of production…Hiding who votes who for from, secret voting liberates people from their relations; at the same time, however, it erases the traces of their relations” (151, italics added for emphasis). The secret ballot also short circuits responsibility of the elected (representatives) from the electors (represented) such that the elected can think and behave as if everyone (i.e. no one) elected them (and is this not true of Bush recently).
Also this mechanism (voting in general) effectively erases class relations and relations of domination by “temporarily ‘reducing’ people into ‘free and equal individuals’…In elections, the freedom of individuals is guaranteed, but this exists only at the moment that the hierarchical relations in the real relations of production are suspended” (152). So in a sense, the freedom and equality promised by democracy is only actualized when the hierarchy and inequality of their daily relationships are suspended/bracketed. In other words democracy only comes into existence during elections and ends after elections (again b/c the representatives are severed from the electors and keep company with the bureaucrats). We are free and equal only one day a year, the day we pretend that there are no other relationships of importance! Oh, the wonderful fiction!
Karatani's conclusion is that universal suffrage and elections are “an elaborate ritual to give a public consensus to what has already been determined by the state apparati (military and bureaucracy)” (152).
…On the State
Now I don’t bring this all up to merely say that voting is irrelevant and unnecessary (although at times I think that), but to point out that elections are oriented toward the State, i.e. State-Power. But this is not the only arena of power.
Civil Society is an equal site of power and resistance. A possible objection to Karatani is that people all over the world have been denied the right to vote and have fought in order to vote (especially African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement). But I would point out that radical movements precisely began in the civil arena, hence the name “Civil Rights”, and typically end with reception of the vote. But this is generally more an uneasy truce than a true victory. The Civil Rights Movement never did effectively take over the Democratic Party, and African Americans have yet to by represented in relations to their population. Being given the ‘right to vote’ in many cases is the right to be distracted from doing what you were doing (changing concrete, civil society) and offered the chance to begin something else (the improbable task of changing State politics).
So, in short, might not the Church be wiser abstaining from the mechanism (voting) by which the “dictatorship of the bourgeois” functions (a mechanism to which both the religious right and left cling), and instead creatively partner with the “dictatorship of the proletariat” (i.e. the exploited/resisting side of globalization) via means of civil actions and innovative protests, through on the ground associations?
Monday, February 05, 2007
What’s a Pound of Prevention Really Worth?
By DAVID LEONHARDT
Preventive medicine just doesn’t pay in the current American medical system.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
She has been reading scripture as a catalyst for prayer and devotion, moving between word and prayer, the Book and her Life. But recently she became a ministerial study program that is teaching her the RIGHT way to read scripture: hermeneutics, exegesis, historical method, etc. We were talking yesterday and she told me that once she started LEARNING how to read the Bible that it no longer functioned as a base for prayer, but instead has died in her hand. The Spirit had left the Word. That is exactly what she said!
Why is it that when someone learns the historical-grammatical method that the Bible becomes less a means of devotion and more a task to be mastered?
There is a subtle lure about learning how to properly read the Bible. It is the ever-present shift from communing with God to learning about God; from listening/talking with God to overhearing someone else’s conversation; from conversation to monologue.
This is the parallax of Scripture: at one moment it is the means of communion with God, listening to the Spirit’s whispers, integrating life and text, present and past (and future); while in another moment it is document to researched and argued over, to be investigated and analyzed. The same object can lead us on the paths of God, even while it functions only as a map; in it sings the songs of salvation even while it only notes the score; it overflows with the Spirit even as it dries up as a dead Letter.
The paradox of Scripture: Divine Prayer is always in need of guidance; Exegesis is always in need of Life. The danger is there, but it can’t be resolved. Prayer and Theology must walk with one another.
Monday, January 29, 2007
--Median household income in 2000: $47,599
--Median household income in 2005: $46,326
(US Census Bureau, Table H-8. Median Household Income by State: 1984 to 2005)
--Salary of a full-time minimum wage employee without vacation: $10,712
--Average time for top CEOs to earn that sum: 2.06 hours
(Forbes Magazine. "What the Boss Makes." April 20, 2006)
--Federal minimum wage in 2000: $5.15/hr
--Federal minimum wage in 2006: $5.15/hr
--Loss in purchasing power, full time worker annually: $1,562
ON ENERGY PRICES:
--Average price of home heating oil on Jan. 3, 2000: $1.15 per gallon
--Average price of home heating oil on Jan. 1, 2007: $2.42 per gallon
(U.S. Energy Information Admin. Jan. 4, 2007)
--Average price of gasoline on Jan. 3, 2000: $1.31 per gallon
--Average price of gasoline on Jan. 1, 2007: $2.38 per gallon
(U.S. Energy Information Admin. Jan. 5, 2007)
--Exxon Mobil profits in 2000: $7.9 billion
--Exxon Mobil profits in 2006: $36.1 billion
(CNNMoney.com, accessed Jan. 19, 2007)
ON CLIMATE CHANGE:
--Year Bush said Kyoto Protocol emission targets were “not based upon science”: 2000
--Decrease in NASA budget for Earth observation since 2000: 30 percent
--Year with highest average U.S. temperature ever recorded: 2006
(The White House, June 11, 2001; New York Times, Jan. 21, 2006; National Climate Data Center. U.S. Dept. of Commerce. Jan. 9, 2007)
--Average cost of a year at a public four-year college in 2000: $9,958
--Average cost of a year at a public four-year college in 2006: $12,796
(Costs include tuition, fees, room & board. MSN Money 2000/Associated Press. Jan. 14, 2005. College Board. Trends in College Pricing 2007)
ON RETIREMENT SECURITY:
--Workers without retirement plans at work in the private sector 2006: 80 percent
--Baby boom Americans approaching retirement: 76 million
(Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 2006; The Seattle Times. Jan. 22, 2005)
ON HEALTH CARE COSTS:
--Americans without health insurance, 2000: 38.2 million
--Americans without health insurance, 2005: 46.6 million
(US Census Bureau, Sept. 2001; US Census Bureau, Aug. 2006)
--Average monthly worker contribution for family coverage in 2000: $135
--Average monthly worker contribution for family coverage in 2006: $248
--Personal bankruptcies due to medical bills: 55 percent
(The Kaiser Family Foundation, Sept. 26, 2006; Health Affairs Health Policy Journal, Feb. 2, 2005)
ON THE IRAQ WAR:
--Number of US troops killed in Iraq prior to “Mission Accomplished” speech in 2003: 139
--Number of US troops killed in Iraq as of Jan. 22, 2007: 3,056
--Number of Iraqi civilians killed in 2006, according to the United Nations: 34,452
(iCasualties.org, Jan. 22, 2007; U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq, Jan. 16, 2006)
--Number of US troops wounded in Iraq prior to “Mission Accomplished” speech in 2003: 542
--Number of US troops wounded in Iraq as of January 10, 2007: 22,834
(iCasualties.org. Jan. 10, 2007)
--Total US military expenditures (including in Iraq and Afghanistan) in 2006: $522 billion
--Total military expenditures of the 10 next top spenders combined: $386 billion
(Includes China, Russia, the UK, Japan, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Italy, and Australia. Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. Feb. 16, 2006.)
--U.S. Federal Discretionary Budget spent on Military not including Iraq, in 2006: 48.7 percent
--Amount spent on Education: 6.7 percent
(White House Office of Management and Budget, Feb. 6, 2006) ON DEBTS AND DEFICITS:
--Monthly U.S. Trade Deficit in October 2000: $33.8 billion
--Monthly U.S. Trade Deficit in October 2006: $58.9 billion
(U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics. Jan. 10, 2007)
--U.S. Current Account Deficit, FY 2000: $435.4 billion
--U.S. Current Account Deficit, FY 2006: $900 billion
(Economic Policy Institute. March 14, 2001; Economic Policy Institute. March 14, 2006)
--Loss of value of U.S. dollar relative to the Euro, Jan. 24, 2000 to Jan. 23, 2006: 23 percent
(X-rate.com, accessed Jan. 23, 2006)
--US Budget Deficit in FY 2000: $230 billion surplus
--US Budget Deficit in FY 2006: $423 billion deficit
(White House Office of Management and Budget. Budget of the United States Government, Historical Tables, Fiscal Year 2007; White House Office of Management and Budget. Table S-1. 2006 budget totals)
--US National Debt in FY 2000: $5.7 trillion
--US National Debt in FY 2006: $8.5 trillion
(Bureau of the Public Debt, Jan. 16, 2007)
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
A very thoughtful (thought provoking) YouTube film. I've never posted a YouTube before but i thought this was worth it. Thanks to Catholic Joy for the heads up.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
so i'm not sure if now I'm going to be super productive b/c of all the cool features, or if i'm just going to fool around and waste all my time. we'll see.
more substantial post will be coming shortly...
Monday, January 15, 2007
I submit that unless the emerging/missional/organic church of progressive evangelicals moves beyond a critique of corporate influences on ecclesial life and a superficial critique of consumerism (as in “Do buy things you do need!”), to a robust practice of investing in local cooperatives, then we will fail in our attempts to be Incarnational, and remain in the grips of the Incorporational.
Wendell Berry makes the interesting observation that “the folly at the root of this foolish economy began with the idea that a corporation should be regarded, legally, as “a person.” This point is often overlooked in critiques of Capitalism. Usually people make a big deal about the exploitation of workers by those who own the means of production, or there is talk about the ‘fetishism’ of money, how we go around chancing more and more of it, even though it really isn’t anything. But the fiction that a corporation is legally a ‘person’, with rights, aims, and purposes, really begins the step beyond outright oppression and exploitation (say in agragian and feudal societies), to the more insidiou, once removed, form of exploitation otherwise known as the ‘free market.’
Berry goes on: “A corporation, essentially, is a pile of money to which a number of persons have sold their moral allegiance...It goes about its business as if it were immortal, with the single purpose of becoming a bigger pile of money.”
‘Incorporation’ literally means ‘to make into one body’ which is to gather many different human persons into one giant uberperson (whose goal is to make more money). This uberperson remains even if its founders all die off. The modern corporation is immortal, living beyond all it mortal creators (although of course it can be killed by an economic wound).
But this immortality is precisely the problem. Corporations don’t fear natural deaths, they have no being-towards-death. Berry continues: “The limitless destructiveness of this economy comes about precisely because corporations are not a person. As such, unlike a person, a corporation does not age. It does not arrive, as most persons finally do, at a realization of the shortness and smallness of human lives; it does not come to see the future as the lifetimes of children and grandchildren of anybody in particular. It can experience no personal hope or remorse, or change of heart. It cannot humble itself.”
And this is exactly where we see the antithesis in Christ, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross” (Phil 2:6-8). In the Incarnation we see God become man, so that he could die, even a death reserved for the most lowly. A corporation could never sacrifice itself. Its whole purpose is to return back more money to its investors. Anything else is a failure. This ultimately is where the agency of the Corporation exceeds the agency of its individual investors, managers, and executives. Anyone who in their old age finds a humane conscience is asked to leave, to start a charitable foundation, or carry on their philanthropic work somewhere else on their own time.
But those who gathered together in the Incarnation do not try to escape death, but know they must die for the sake of the world. Those gathered together in a Corporation attempt to escape death, storing up riches on earth and kingdoms to rule.
Now of course I’m not advocating that we all quit our corporate jobs and do something else (although that would be good), but rather that we, as much as possible, support alternative ways of grouping people together, which are otherwise known as cooperatives or co-ops. Cooperatives support an alternative to the ‘free market’ by allowing producers and consumer to share the risks and opportunities of generating products. One way it works is like this. My family becomes a ‘member’ of my local CSA, Angle Organics, at the beginning of the year. This guarantees delivers of 20 boxes of organic vegetable (from June to October). The benefit to me is that I get a bunch of great food, grown in a manner that I know is responsible to the Earth (God’s Creation) and fair to its employees (made in God’s image). The benefit to the farm is they get, in advance, the cash necessary to produce the crops of the next year. In this way I assume the risk of a bad crop along with the farm. If the crop is bad, my boxes will not be full. If it is good, they will overflow. This keeps my money, and the farmer's money, from getting tangled up in the financial institutions of multination corporations. Everything stays local; and money is not thrown into a pile of ever increasing money. Along the same lines, there are clothing and food cooperatives, housing and energy, and even healthcare cooperatives, whose goal is not to sells their moral allegiance to a pile of cash, but instead to share in the benefits and dangers of securing the things they need.
So again, I submit that the emerging/missional/organic church of progressive evangelicals mmust move beyond a critique of corporate influences on ecclesial life, to a robust practice of stepping outside of the circulation of money between multinational corporations and instead begin investing in local cooperatives. Only then we will succeed in escaping the grip of the Corporation.
Friday, January 12, 2007
Cynthia Neilsen tagged me to compile a list of what I believe to be the most important and substantial theological works published in the last 25 years (1981-2006). The originator of the meme desires that the focus of our selection be theology (not biblical exegesis, historical studies etc., unless these are of special theological interest!).
John D. Zizioulas: Being as Communion
George A. Lindbeck: The Nature of Doctrine
John Milbank, Theology and Social Theory
Pretty much to above three have formed me significantly. But the one that has really pulled things together for is...
Louis-Marie Chauvet, Symbol and Sacrament: A Sacramental Reinterpretation of Christian Existence.
This book brings together the critique of ontotheology, linquistics, ritual studies, Moltmann, Girard, Trinitarian Theology, and many others. It is outstanding.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
But I can't get to it yet. Must practise self-control and actual finish digesting Transcritique before gorging myself on another book.
Monday, January 08, 2007
The book that I recently finished is Kojin Karatani's Transcritique: on Kant and Marx. There is just too much to go into here. In fact I will probably spend much of the next month posting about it. His understand of the interrelation between the trinity of Capital, Nation, and State true open up helpful ways of understand globalization and individual states, as well as possible resistance to exploitative capitalism. Very philosophical. A tough read.
The one I'm currently reading is Wendell Berry's Art of the Common Place: The Agrarian Essays. It is honestly the most refreshing commentary on American life I have ever read. It is very accessible, written in a journalistic style rather than a academic one. He just pulls all these threads together. If you are at all concerned about ecological issues, the local economy, body and the earth, or if you read (or want to read Crunchy Cons, which is quite good also).
Thankfully, most of Berry's essays you can find online (I love the internet). Here are some that I found and that I strongly recommend:
The Idea of a Local Economy (written a couple of years ago... great critique of our economy)
Feminism, the Body, and the Machine (a response to a hostile reaction created by his essay in Harpers, the response is better than the initial essay)
The Body and The Earth (p. 29 of the pdf...long but interesting.
Health is Membership