Liberty is a dangerous concept. It's sure to be misused and, if left unchecked, will likely bring not social harmony and happiness but their opposites. Nonetheless, liberty is absolutely necessary: without it there can be no authentic community. People are not free to do the right thing unless they are free to do the wrong thing; if they can't be wrong, they can't be right. Thus does Glenn Tinder, in this provocative work, argue emphatically for "negative liberty" -- the liberty that wants primarily to be left alone, with the authorities interfering as little as possible in the lives of people -- and against "positive liberty" -- a liberty that seeks to guide people into a "fulfilling" life. One of America's major thinkers on Civic life, Tinder approaches the ideal of liberty with a blend of pervasive pessimism and strong optimism. He writes from an open, nondogmatic Christian point of view, believing strongly in reason and in the primary importance of free communication and dialogue, and he insists that Christians can learn from such non-Christians as Nietzsche, Freud, and Marx. The substance of Tinder's book lies at the intersection of several major themes -- communication, human fallenness, the necessity of liberty, standing alone, and eschatology -- each considered in light of learning what liberty truly is and how it will affect the world at large.
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