The Weekend Wanderer: 22 April 2023

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, 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.

134178“A Witness for the Creator (Part One): Creation Care as Stewardship” – Christi Huizenga Renaud and Lynne Marian in The Better Samaritan: “In a recent blog post, we shared that believers are the most well-equipped to lead in the face of a global climate crisis because of our faith in Christ. Many people read that article and asked, “What should I do?” This two-part feature provides a framework and helpful tips for getting started. ‘There is a tendency at every important but difficult crossroad to pretend that it’s not really there,’ said author and environmentalist Bill McKibben in his seminal book, The End of Nature. That rings especially true as we face our global climate crisis. It’s truly overwhelming, but just as we wouldn’t ignore a house fire or bald tires on our car, we as Christians must courageously take action to prevent greater suffering. Thankfully, we are not alone. When we take action, we join our global church family, as believers from Europe, Asia, South America and many climate-vulnerable countries are already taking a leading role as advocates for people and the planet. Even small steps make a difference. Begin where you are, then keep walking. As we take action, God uses moments along the way to cultivate our hearts, pruning and shaping us. We’ve seen individuals, families, and entire communities respond to God through environmental stewardship. It regularly leads to greater awareness of God’s presence and love.”

GeorgeVerwer-scaled-e1681738964622Charles StanleyThis past week marked the passing of two well-known Christian leaders: Dr. Charles Stanley (1932-2023), known for his Bible teaching ministry, and George Verwer (1938-2023), renowned as a catalyst for world mission with Operation Mobilisation. Reflections on their respective legacies can be viewed at the links above, but there are many powerful reflections on their lives by others. Missions leader Greg Livingstone writes about how “One Night with George Verwer Changed My Life.” NPR news carried this news piece and reflection on the influence of Charles Stanley: “Charles Stanley, whose Christian broadcasts spanned the world, dies at 90.”

134219“The Bible Does Everything Critical Theory Does, but Better” – Mark Talbot interviews Christopher Watkin in Christianity Today: “Many people become suspicious at the mention of critical theory, especially as it applies to controversial matters of race, gender, law, and public policy. Some see the ideologies traveling under that banner as abstruse frameworks only minimally related to real-world affairs. Others see critical theory as a ruse meant to confer unearned scholarly legitimacy on highly debatable political and cultural opinions. Christopher Watkin, an Australian scholar on religion and philosophy, wants to reorient discussions of critical theory around Scripture’s grand narrative of redemption. In Biblical Critical Theory: How the Bible’s Unfolding Story Makes Sense of Modern Life and Culture, he shows how God’s Word furnishes the tools for a better, more compelling critical theory—one that harmonizes the fragmentary truths advanced by its secular alternatives. Mark Talbot, professor of philosophy at Wheaton College, spoke with Watkin about his book.”

red-yarn-enlarged“Unraveling and Un-othering” – Prasanta Verma at Three-Fifths: “I stood three feet away from my mother, holding the dark red knotted up ball of yarn. She held one end of the yarn, and began patiently unraveling the knots, creating a new mound of usable fiber. The yarn was perfectly wrapped in an oblong skein when purchased; at some point, it unraveled and tangled. Undoing the knotty mass was the only way to put it back together again. ‘Othering’ can feel like being a tangled web of yarn. People of color, and those who are different, are viewed as tangles (or perhaps, mistakes) and aren’t being seen for their beauty and potential; we aren’t seen as in the image of God. To undo all of this, of course, isn’t as easy as standing three feet apart and rewrapping a single thread. There are centuries of layers of yarn to unravel; a thicket of pains and sorrows to crawl through. As an Asian American, I often live in a liminal space in between a white and Black binary. Othering and invisibility were part of my ‘normal’ upbringing, though I didn’t fully name it until I was an adult. Until then, I maneuvered my way through the brambles as an ‘other’. Naming my identity wasn’t a straightforward task. I grew up around few Asians. Forms that asked me to check the box identifying my race or ethnicity were baffling. I didn’t know what to call myself: Indian American? Asian American? Indian? Asian? I didn’t have the vocabulary to name myself. It took years before I could confidently name myself.”

Age of Average“The age of average” – Alex Murrell at his blog: “In the early 1990s, two Russian artists named Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid took the unusual step of hiring a market research firm. Their brief was simple. Understand what Americans desire most in a work of art. Over 11 days the researchers at Marttila & Kiley Inc. asked 1,001 US citizens a series of survey questions. What’s your favourite colour? Do you prefer sharp angles or soft curves? Do you like smooth canvases or thick brushstrokes? Would you rather figures that are nude or clothed? Should they be at leisure or working? Indoors or outside? In what kind of landscape? Komar and Melamid then set about painting a piece that reflected the results. The pair repeated this process in a number of countries including Russia, China, France and Kenya. Each piece in the series, titled ‘People’s Choice’, was intended to be a unique a collaboration with the people of a different country and culture. But it didn’t quite go to plan. Describing the work in his book Playing to the Gallery, the artist Grayson Perry said: ‘In nearly every country all people really wanted was a landscape with a few figures around, animals in the foreground, mainly blue.’ Despite soliciting the opinions of over 11,000 people, from 11 different countries, each of the paintings looked almost exactly the same.”

Austrailian view on decline in mental health“Do the Kids Think They’re Alright?: It’s hard to find members of Gen Z who think their phone-based childhoods benefitted their generation” – Jon Haidt and Eli George in After Babel: “A common criticism I have received since 2015 is that I am misunderstanding the younger generation; I’m just another in a long line of older people lamenting the behavior of ‘kids these days.’ As a social psychologist long active in the field of cultural psychology, I know that this could be true. Even more than previous generations, Gen Z has created an online culture that us older folk can’t even see, let alone understand. So I have been on the lookout for writings by members of Gen Z explaining their generation to outsiders, and I would especially like to find criticisms of The Coddling of the American Mind, or of my more recent writings about social media.  So far, I have found almost none. When I speak to high school and college audiences, I usually ask those who think I got the story wrong to raise their hands and then come forward and ask the first questions. I rarely get a hand raised or a critical question. I therefore asked my two research assistants, Zach Rausch and Eli George, for help finding voices of Gen Z. Zach was born in 1994, so he’s a late millennial. Eli, however, was born in 1999, so he’s Gen Z, and he took on the task. He graduated last May from Harvard with majors in philosophy and musicology and with a good deal of academic research in the humanities. Below is his report. He too, failed to find much disagreement about the path Gen Z is on, although he found some keen observations about additional sociological and economic factors that are contributing to Gen Z’s difficulties. I hope in particular that members of Gen Z will read it and tell us what they think Eli got wrong.”

Music: All Sons & Daughters., “Rest in You,” from Poets & Saints

One thought on “The Weekend Wanderer: 22 April 2023

  1. Matt,

    Just a quick word of thanks for your emails etc. from your extended audience. Though we are almost immaterial in our presence, yet…

    I really appreciate Eastbrook’s ministry, from afar, and especially appreciate the Weekend links to interesting, constructive, often provocative stuff.

    As an old friend to Elmbrook (I came to Christ via Chris Thomas and was baptized by Peter Wilkes… I know, talk about The Way Back Machine!) and someone who knew your father Marc back in the day, just wanted to drop this quick note and say thanks.


    JM Oak Island, NC ____

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