JKAS: You kind of wanted the resolution of the eschaton before its coming.
RD: Exactly, exactly. What does this have to say to our public life? When people read The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, I dont want them to think, “We must all move to a small town”, but I do want them to consider that maybe you should go home. Maybe you have a calling there that you can do great work there. Changing the world doesnt mean becoming a great theologian or a pastor or a great journalist or whatever it is. God sees things differently. We have to see it through his eyes.
But also if you go home, or if you dont go home, wherever you live, really live there. Work to live in community, but dont think that there is utopia here. Utopia cannot be bought here or obtained here. As a conservative, I ought to have known that.
JKAS: But there are so many forces that encourage us to forget that. We were talking about Jim Bratts biography of Abraham Kuyper earlier. On the one hand, Kuyper was somebody who was quite taken with really grand visions of social architectural renewal, which I think are inspiring and inform a lot of what I care about.
But Kuyper had a critic, later in the twentieth century, a totally minor Dutch theologian named Klaas Schilder, who saw how many Christians had been captivated by this, “Oh, Ive got to move to Manhattan and change the world” mentality. In contrast, Schilder cautions, “Dont underestimate your wise ward elder. He is a cultural force when he visits homes and prays with the sick.” To me, thats kind of the lesson of The Little Way of Ruthie Leming in a nutshell: that God can both be working and calling people to both of those kinds of vocations. For some reason, we fall off the wagon, one way or the other, so easily.