“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.
“The Greatest Care Is Needed: Augustine on Moral Discernment and Church Leadership” – Joey Sherrard at Center for Pastor Theologians: “Augustine of Hippo was one of the first and greatest catechists of the church. He was a pastor in a time of great conflict and schism, a time when the church was beset by external challenges and internal turmoil. And one his most important pastoral responses to the crises he faced was the work of catechesis – the instruction and formation of men and women in the truths and implications of the Christian faith. A fruit of that ministry was a catechetical handbook he wrote for his fellow pastors, On Instructing Beginners in the Faith. It’s a remarkable combination of theological conviction and practical counsel, and from that little volume I’d like to draw two implications for pastors today in our own time of turmoil – specifically the turmoil caused by abuse within the local church.”
“Varieties of the Noonday Demon” – Kurt Armstrong in Comment: “A quick scan of the Canadian Mental Health Association website tells me that in a normal year, one in five Canadians will experience some sort of mental health problem or mental illness. At least 8 or 9 percent will suffer major depression at some point in their lives, 2 percent live with chronic depression, 1 percent are bipolar. If we were to zoom in then on an average Sunday morning at my little neighbourhood Anglican church, it would follow that about thirty-five people will suffer some kind of mental illness this year, fourteen will suffer major depression at some point, three or four are chronic depressives, and one or two are bipolar. No doubt the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed all those numbers higher. But even before the pandemic, the actual numbers at my church would have been above average. Not because Anglicanism is especially bad for mental health, but because the little congregation I am a part of attracts a disproportionate number of sensitive, creative, and intelligent women and men, precisely the kind of people who tend to suffer more mental health trouble than most. It’s a good place to be when you’re low, especially the Sunday evening service, when the lights are dimmed, attendance is sparse, and the service includes long periods of silence. Plus, the chances of hearing a cheery, don’t-worry-be-happy kind of sermon are next to nil. If you are depressed, it’s a good place to sit for an hour at the end of a Sunday.”
“Young more likely to pray than over-55s – survey” – From Harry Farley at the BBC: “Young people in the UK are twice as likely as older people to pray regularly, a new survey has found. Some 51% of 18 to 34-year-olds polled by Savanta ComRes said they pray at least once a month, compared with 24% of those aged 55 and over. It also found 49% of the younger age group attend a place of worship every month, compared with 16% of over-55s. The associate director of Savanta said the numbers could reflect the move to online worship during the pandemic. Chris Hopkins added that there were ‘a few theories’ as to why young people made up such a large proportion of the religious landscape.”
“Kirk Franklin rereleases ‘Lean on Me’ with virtual global children’s choir” – Adelle M. Banks at Religion News Service: “Kirk Franklin, like many musicians, has pivoted to online performances during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 16-Grammy winner brought his contemporary gospel music to NPR’s Tiny Desk, and he took part in a virtual benefit to draw attention to poor children across the world whose lives have been changed by COVID-19. On Friday (Sept. 24), Franklin’s entertainment company and Compassion International jointly rereleased a remake of his “Lean on Me” single featuring a virtual choir of more than 120 youth who live in 25 countries where the humanitarian organization has a presence.”
“Reading Dante’s Purgatory While the World Hangs in the Balance” – Judith Thurman in The New Yorker: “Fifty years ago, I was a guest at the baptism of a friend’s son in the ancient church of a Tuscan hamlet. It was Easter, and lambing season. A Sardinian shepherd who tended the flocks of a local landowner came to pay his respects to the new parents. He was a wild-looking man with matted hair whose harsh dialect was hard to understand. Among our party was a beauty of fifteen, an artist’s daughter, and the shepherd took such a fancy to her that he asked for her hand. The girl’s father politely declined, and the shepherd, to show that he had no hard feelings, offered us a lamb for our Paschal dinner. My friends were penniless bohemians, so the gift was welcome. It came, however, with a condition: we had to watch the lamb being slaughtered. The blood sacrifice took place after the baptism. That morning, the baby’s godfather, an expatriate writer, had caused a stir in the church, since none of the villagers, most of them farmers, had ever seen a Black man in person. Some tried to touch his hands, to see if the color would rub off; there was a sense of awe among them, as if one of the Magi had come to visit. Toward the end of the ceremony, the moment came for the sponsors to ‘renounce Satan and . . . all his seductions of sin and evil.’ The godfather had been raised in a pious community, and he entered into the spirit of this one. His own experience of malevolence had taught him, as he wrote, that life ‘is not moral.’ Yet he stood gravely at the font and vowed, ‘Rinuncio.'”
“Christian author Josh McDowell steps away from ministry after comments about Black, minority families” – Bob Smietana at Religion News Service: “A best-selling Christian author and speaker denounced the idea of systemic racism at a national gathering of Christian counselors, saying Black Americans and other minorities were not raised to value hard work or education. Josh McDowell, best known for his book Evidence that Demands a Verdict and other books defending the Christian faith, gave a speech Saturday (Sept. 18) at a meeting of the American Association of Christian Counselors. The talk, entitled ‘The Five Greatest Global Epidemics,’ identified a series of threats McDowell claims face the Christian church. The first, he said, was critical race theory, an academic field of study on the nature of systemic racism. Known by the acronym CRT, critical race theory has become controversial among Christian conservatives and political conservatives alike.”