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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Isaiah vs. Machiavelli

Do they speak to us today?

Walter Wangerin’s letter to the president-elect ("Between us: If it weren't difficult, I wouldn't write you," December) exemplifies the philosophical stand of the organization for which I work: The Faith & Politics Institute. As French political thinker Alexis de Tocqueville said, “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.” It’s not about legislating faith, but it is about leading from a place of moral values and spiritual wholeness. The kind of leaders that our country—and the world—needs cannot allow moral ends to justify Machiavellian means. They must walk the talk, always with an eye to the big picture and the common good.

Caitlin Jacobs
Washington, D.C.

Hold officials accountable

For the first time since I studied Machiavelli in college, I’m glad I did. Wangerin has hit a hard truth for our nation. We’ve been a two-faced nation wanting Isaiah in public but betting on Machiavelli in the backrooms where deals are made. I’m heartened that our president-elect has addressed in his “Blueprint for Change” the use of the Internet for transparency. Will we as the governed people rise to the occasion and actively participate in how and what our government is doing? We can hold our elected and appointed officials accountable.

Valorie Sundby
Louisville, Colo.

Why choose Isaiah?

As a Christian struggling against the hypocrisy behind a failed president’s administration, I’m offended by Wangerin’s letter to the president-elect, suggesting he should choose Isaiah as his mentor. Wasn’t Jesus sent to repudiate Isaiah’s conviction about the supremacy of law? Instead of the old command to love your neighbor as yourself, Jesus’ new commandment was to love your neighbor as he had loved—not himself, but selflessly and with understanding, sacrificially and forgivingly.


Joanna C. Rovelstad
Rochester, Minn.


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