Can human beings establish good government simply through reflection and choice? Can a free people govern itself? Can a self-governing people sustain its freedom?
These questions, central to the thoughts of the framers of the American republic, are now somewhat unfashionable. But the framers knew that they were embarking on an experiment that would not sustain itself. They saw that the greatest danger the republic would face would be its own success. Additionally, they would be surprised at the current perception of religion in public life as irrational, reactionary, divisive to society, and best quarantined from public life. The framers clearly gave as their best advice for sustaining liberty the maintenance of a socially constructive religion among the citizens. If they are correct, it is freedom itself at stake.
This curriculum is written, first, for all who seek to understand the genius of the American experiment and the framers’ understanding of how it may be sustained. Second, it is for all who have an interest in the continuing vitality of American leadership in the world, including citizens of other countries who realize that the experience of the world’s “first new nation” has lessons, for better or for worse, for all the nations of the modern world. Third, it is for everyone who wants to address the role of faith in public life—who wants to know how we can live with our deepest differences.
The Great Experiment provides a series of readings through which we can explore these issues, looking at the experiences of the first immigrants (winning freedom), the historical and intellectual roots of the Constitution (ordering freedom), the results of the experiment, and the challenges for the current generation (sustaining freedom).
Edited by Os Guinness with Ginger Koloszyc; Study Guide by Karen Lee-Thorp. NavPress 2001, ISBN 1576831620
Steering Through Chaos brings back the classical tradition of the virtues and vices to modern discussions of ethics. In an age that whitewashes evil and ridicules “sin,” this tradition suggests that before asking “What sort of action should I take?” the proper question is “What sort of person should I be?”
The readings in this curriculum reintroduce the seven deadly sins (pride, envy, anger, sloth, avarice, lust, and gluttony) and contrast them with their opposites, the beatitudes of Jesus. Using sources ranging from the Bible and Aristotle to the New York Times, the texts raise questions about the consequences of the deadly sins for a generation that has come to minimize any notion of sin. The vices and virtues, they suggest, offer us a true moral compass by which we can steer through the chaos of modern society.
The goal of the readings is to help us recover a more realistic view of the human inclination to evil—both as individuals and in societies—which is the urgent precursor to the necessity and wonder of redemption.
Edited by Os Guinness with Virginia Mooney; Study Guide by Karen Lee-Thorp. NavPress 2000, ISBN 1576831582. Reprint edition, The Trinity Forum, 2007. Pagination and contents unchanged
When No One Sees offers a series of readings that help us explore, in very practical ways for each level of society, the issues that surround character—the reality of the core of our being, who and what we are when no one else sees. Few issues in our time are more important for individuals and society; few Christian contributions are more decisive and timely; few subjects are more searching for each one of us.
In the opening session, we trace ideas about the substance and nature of character throughout Western history—from Plato and Aristotle to the present—focusing on the reasons character is an essential ingredient of good leadership and a just society. In the second session we examine the role of personal crises as tests of character, both in terms of refining and revealing it. The third session analyzes current cultural conditions that daily shape our lives and threaten to erode our character. Session Four turns to spiritual concepts, habits of mind and action, that have proven to be revolutionary and practical antidotes to the widespread modern erosion of character. In the final session, we examine the lives of various heroes of character whose example can help us envision and model excellence and integrity in our personal and public life.
Edited by Os Guinness with Virginia Mooney