Counterculture for the Common Good

Timothy Kleiser | June 27, 2016

In a dusty spot along the ancient King’s Highway in Jordan lies a cultural oasis: King’s Academy. Modeled after New England’s fabled Deerfield Academy, the academy was founded by King Abdullah II to train up a new generation of Arabs to lead the Middle East into a pluralistic future. The academy itself embodies the pluralism it envisions: actual princes and paupers from all religious and cultural backgrounds live, study, and play alongside one another.

Not long ago, I visited King’s Academy to participate in a roundtable discussion on the promises of pluralism in the Middle East. A philosophy teacher boasted of the academy’s own commitment to pluralism and told of Buddhist students observing Ramadan, Muslim students observing Easter, and Christian students practicing transcendental meditation—all in a show of solidarity with one another. I later asked the philosophy teacher how these syncretistic practices might disrupt a student’s commitment to his or her own faith. “That’s the price of pluralism,” he replied.

But is syncretism and assimilation really the only way to survive in a pluralistic context?

Not according to David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons in their latest book, Good Faith: Being a Christian When Society Thinks You’re Irrelevant and Extreme. Kinnaman is the…

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