“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 these articles but have found them thought-provoking.
“Elizabeth II, longest to rule Britain and Church of England, dies at 96” – Catherine Pepinster at Religion News Service: “Elizabeth II of England, Britain’s longest-serving monarch and official head of the Church of England, died Thursday (Sept. 8) at Balmoral Castle in Scotland at age 96. She came to the throne in 1952 but had dedicated her life to service of her nation six years earlier, as a 21-year-old princess, saying, ‘God help me to make good my vow.’ When Elizabeth was crowned, following her father, George VI, Britain was still recovering from World War II and its heavy bombing campaigns; Winston Churchill was prime minister and the country still had an empire. The young queen’s coronation suggested a new era — as the millions of television sets purchased to watch the live broadcast of the ceremony from London’s Westminster Abbey signaled. But the coronation itself was steeped in tradition and confirmed the monarchy’s intertwining of the monarchy and religion. The more-than-1,000-year-old ceremony involves the anointing of the monarch, who commits himself or herself to the people through sacred promises. One of those, to uphold the Protestant religion, is also a reminder of the religious divisions of the nearer past. The queen’s two titles of Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England, given to her at her accession, also owe their existence to Reformation history. The first was first bestowed on Henry VIII by a grateful pope for the king’s rebuttal of the teachings of Martin Luther. Henry defiantly held onto it even after breaking with Rome to declare himself head of the new Church of England.”
“How the Spiritual Formation of the Pastor Affects Spiritual Formation in the Congregation” – Ruth Haley Barton in Beyond Words: “I remember sitting in a staff meeting once at a church I was serving; the purpose of the meeting was to talk about how we could attract more people to join the church. At one point someone counted the requirements for church membership already in place and made the startling discovery that there were at least five time commitments per week required of those who wanted to become church members! Outwardly I tried to be supportive of the purpose for the meeting, but on the inside I was screaming, Who would want to sign up for this? I was already trying to combat CFS (Christian fatigue syndrome) in my own life and couldn’t imagine willingly inflicting it on someone else! As I sat with my discomfort a whole new awareness opened up: all of us leaders sitting around the table that day only knew one speed in life and that was full steam ahead—and we had been stuck in that speed for a very long time. The kind of frenetic, unworkable schedules that we were all living was exactly the kind of life-style we had been leading others into and if we didn’t pay attention, this meeting was only going to produce more of the same. If we as leaders did not deal with ourselves and establish saner rhythms for our lives—rhythms that would curb our unbridled activism and allow space for the work of God in our own lives—we would not have much of value to offer others. We would not be able to lead others into a way of life that allowed time and space for the patient, plodding, and mysterious process of spiritual transformation.”
“Pastor Timothy Keller Speaks to the Head and the Heart” – Emily Bobrow in The Wall Street Journal: “As a first-year student at Bucknell University in 1968, Rev. Timothy Keller began having doubts about his faith. Growing up Lutheran in Allentown, Pa., he gathered that being a Christian simply meant trying to be good and going to church on Sundays. When he was in high school, however, his parents switched to a conservative evangelical congregation, where he was taught that being a Christian meant ‘surrendering’ his life to Christ. By the time Dr. Keller got to college, he didn’t know what to believe. ‘I was trying to figure out who I was,’ he recalls. He soon met some evangelical students who introduced him to books by C.S. Lewis and other Christian writers who approached their faith with scholarly rigor. ‘Here were these very smart people who believed the Bible, who believed Jesus really rose from the dead. I thought, oh my goodness you really can be a thoughtful person and be a Christian,’ Dr. Keller says over video from his book-lined home on Roosevelt Island in New York City. Invigorated by a take on Christianity that spoke to both his head and his heart, he says he never looked back: ‘That was the beginning of my Christian journey.'”
“Pastors battle skyrocketing burnout amid politics, pandemic: ‘Wearing on the soul'” – Jon Brown at Fox News: “Bitter divisions over politics and the pandemic have seeped into churches and led to increasing rates of job burnout among pastors, multiple clergy members and those who counsel them told Fox News Digital. ‘Our faith does not exempt us from anxiety, depression, temptation or COVID, so that’s to be expected,’ said David Ferguson, executive director of the Great Commandment Network, which provides counseling initiatives to help pastors. ‘But in addition to that, we obviously are in a real divided, polarized, politicized world, where sadly at times pastors feel the pressure to take positions on every imaginable topic.’ A study of Protestant pastors conducted in March by the faith-based research organization Barna Group suggested that unprecedented numbers are thinking about quitting the ministry. The poll showed that rates of burnout among pastors have risen dramatically during the past year, with a staggering 42% of ministers wondering if they should abandon their vocation altogether.”
“The Adventure of Obedience: It’s not popular but obedience can transplant us to places we never expected” – Norann Voll in Plough: “The Greek meaning of the word obedience is to ‘listen under.’ Twenty years ago, my husband, Chris, and I left New York and arrived Down Under on the back of the Millennial Drought. A vow of obedience got us here. After the longest journey of our lives, we emerged exhausted into the arrivals hall at Sydney airport, our two-year-old and ten-week-old sons clinging to us like little koalas. Knowingly, Chris looked at me, dug in my handbag and, holding out my hairbrush, said, “I’ve got the kids.” When I returned newly brushed, a glass of white wine sweated by a bowl of Thai noodle soup. My first sip of crisp Australian chardonnay (‘chardy,’ as I’d soon learn to call it) conjured up tears. My man knew just what I needed. But the day did not finish there. We boarded smaller and smaller planes, flying over scorched earth, empty farm ponds (“dams”), and thin cattle. As the local mail plane landed in Inverell, apparently the ‘Sapphire City,’ kangaroos bounded over brick-red dirt alongside the runway. We were four and a half years into our marriage. Five years is the sapphire anniversary, I thought. Please let us be rid of this place by then. An hour later, we arrived, welcomed by our Bruderhof church-community, forty other brothers and sisters, most of whom were imports like us. They had been braving this land for a couple of years already, and had set about the task of converting our new home, ‘Danthonia,’ from a single-family sheep farm to a place of welcome for many. Chris and I and our boys were ushered to our new apartment, in the original homestead. The freshly cleaned wool carpets gave off a gentle lanolin odor. We collapsed gratefully into bed, waking the next morning to the scent of jacaranda and the song of magpies, and butterflies tapping a tattoo on our window.”
“What if the suburbs were just a first draft?: Remote work, the arrival of home-owning millennials, and other forces can be an opportunity to remake them for the better” – Addison Del Mastro in Vox: “The Covid era has produced a number of mixed narratives about housing, land use, and migration patterns. People are leaving the city, but also returning. Remote work is a historic shift in how Americans work, but 50 percent of workers actually can’t work from home. Construction is accelerating at the exurban edge of many metro areas — but many of the homes going up are dense multifamily structures and mixed-use developments, mimicking what you might find in an urban downtown. Some interesting trends are taking shape in American suburbia. One thing we know, for example, is that the ‘flight,’ or return, to the suburbs is real (though the death of the city is greatly overstated). We also know that more people are spending more time in the suburbs, and that many who moved there under remote work arrangements are likely to stay. In major American metro areas in East and West Coast cities, suburban prices grew rapidly during the pandemic compared with prices in the urban core, according to one Brookings Institution paper. ‘Further,’ it states, ‘the gap between the two areas — urban and suburban — widened as the pandemic prolonged.’ This trend was most pronounced in the Boston and Washington, DC, metro areas; the DC metro area is a premier example of many of these trends, and where they may be going today. ‘It’s a very strong phenomenon right now, staying within the metro area but moving to a suburban neighborhood rather than central, dense neighborhoods,’ says economist Stephan Whitaker. It could look like another round of flight from the city. Or what we may be witnessing is a ‘second draft’ of the American suburbs.”
Music: Mark Heard and Kate Miner, “My Redeemer Lives,” from At the Foot of the Cross, vol. 1