The Weekend Wanderer: 3 July 2021

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like. Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.


“Millions skipped church during pandemic. Will they return?” – David Sharp in APNews: “With millions of people having stayed home from places of worship during the coronavirus pandemic, struggling congregations have one key question: How many of them will return? As the pandemic recedes in the United States and in-person services resume, worries of a deepening slide in attendance are universal. Some houses of worship won’t make it. Smaller organizations with older congregations that struggled to adapt during the pandemic are in the greatest danger of a downward spiral from which they can’t recover, said the Rev. Gloria E. White-Hammond, lecturer at the Harvard Divinity School and co-pastor of a church in Boston. On the Maine coast, the pandemic proved to be the last straw for the 164-year-old Waldoboro United Methodist Church. Even before COVID-19 swept the world, weekly attendance had dipped to 25 or 30 at the white-clapboard New England church that could hold several hundred worshippers. The number further dwindled to five or six before the final service was held Sunday, said the Rev. Gregory Foster. The remaining congregants realized they couldn’t continue to maintain the structure, and decided to fold the tent, Foster said.”


Discipleship in the Age of Conspiracy Theories“Discipleship in the Age of Conspiracy Theories: How Church Leaders Can Nurture the Evangelical Mind”
– Ed Stetzer and Andrew MacDonald in the NAE’s Evangelicals: “In the quarter-century since Mark Noll famously pointed out that the scandal of the evangelical mind was that there was not much of an evangelical mind, many church leaders have dedicated considerable time and effort to addressing the problem. The results of this effort have been mixed at best. As Noll acknowledged recently, he was ‘more optimistic, though not overwhelmingly so.’ Despite the quality work done in evangelical seminaries and universities as well as significant published work by evangelical thinkers across disciplines, recent events suggest that the evangelical mind in its totality seems be continuing its decline. The past few years have been a painful reminder of the consequences of this decline as we’ve witnessed the growing popularity of conspiracy theories in our churches. While we have taught our people to serve, evangelize, worship and lead, too frequently our pragmatism limits our commitment to discipling our people to think well (Romans 12:2). The result is that a disturbing number of our people — and more than a few pastors — have been ensnared by conspiratorial leaders.”


“Nepal Churches Struggle to Serve as COVID-19 Kills 100+ Pastors” – Surinder Kaur in Christianity Today: “Congregations in Nepal are reeling after a deadly surge in COVID-19 cases this spring threw the Himalayan nation into chaos, overflowing hospitals and crematoriums and leaving the national army to deal with 100 bodies a day in the Kathmandu Valley alone. The Nepali church has lost more than 130 pastors during a second wave of the pandemic that has pushed reported cases past 635,000 and confirmed deaths past 9,000. Half of those cases and two-thirds of those deaths have been tallied since April. ‘In the month of May, pastors were dying almost every day,’ said B. P. Khanal, a pastor, theologian, and leader of the Janajagaran Party Nepal. ‘I have never seen something like that.'”


“The Books Are Already Burning” – Abigail Shrier in Bari Weiss’ Common Sense newsletter: “One hundred and forty-six people in Halifax, Nova Scotia wait on a list to borrow a library book. A question hangs over them: Will activists let them read it? The book is mine Irreversible Damage — and it is an investigation of a medical mystery: Why is the number of teenage girls requesting (and obtaining) gender reassignment skyrocketing in the United States, Canada, Scandinavia and Europe? In Great Britain, it’s up 4,400% over the last decade.  Though it shouldn’t be, this has become a highly controversial area of inquiry. The book is an exploration of why so many girls would, in such a short timeframe, decide they are transgender. And it raises questions about whether they’re getting appropriate medical treatment. The book is not about whether trans people exist. They do. And it is not about adults who elect to medically transition genders. As I have stated endlessly in public interviews and in Senate testimony, I fully support medical transition for mature adults and believe that transgender individuals should live openly without fear or stigma. Yet since publication, I have faced fierce opposition — not just to the ideas presented, challenged, or explored — but to the publication of the book itself. A top lawyer for the ACLU called for it to be banned. Powerful organizations like GLAAD have lobbied against it and pressured corporations — Target and Amazon among others — to remove Irreversible Damage from their virtual shelves.”


waider-3-640x960@2x“Sweltering Photos Capture the Charred and Molten Rock Rippling Down from an Icelandic Volcano” – This feature on Jan Erik Waider’s photography from volcanic activity in Iceland is well worth a look, as is his other work at Northland Landscapes. “Whether shooting in the harsh snowy regions of Greenland or on the basalt-lined waters of Iceland’s Stuðlagil canyon, Jan Erik Waider highlights the textures and fleeting shapes of the earth’s landscapes. His photographs often isolate monumental subject matter like glaciers and deep, rocky canyons in a way that makes the abstracted forms appear like mysterious, otherworldly environments, an approach he continues in his recent LAVA series.”


Multiethnic Church“Five Types of Multicultural Churches: A New Paradigm Evaluated and Differentiated” – Bob Whitesel in The Journal for the Academy of Intercultural Church Research: “This article puts forth a comprehensive and reconciliation-based paradigm through which to view multicultural congregations as one of five models or types. It updates the historical categories of Sanchez, adds contemporary models and then evaluates each through a 10-point grid of: nomenclature, mode of growth, relationships, pluses, minuses, degree of difficulty, creator complex, redistribution, relocation and reconciliation. The five models are: 1) the asset sharing Multicultural Alliance, 2) the collaborative Multicultural Partnership, 3) the asymmetrical Mother-Daughter model, 4) the popular Blended approach and 5) the Cultural Assimilation model. The result is a comprehensive five-model paradigm that includes an assessment of each model’s potential for spiritual and intercultural reconciliation.”


Music: Sting, “Fragile,” from …Nothing Like the Sun

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