Weekend Wanderer: 14 July 2018

The “Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly post in which I gather a smattering of news, stories, resources, and other media you could explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like.

82591“Guess Who’s Coming to Church: Multiracial Congregations Triple Among Protestants” –  “The percentage of Protestant churches where no one racial group makes up more than 80 percent of the congregation tripled from 4 percent in 1998 to 12 percent in 2012, according to new research out this week from Baylor University. Evangelicals and Pentecostals show even higher levels of diverse churches, up to 15 percent and 16 percent, respectively. Overall, nearly 1 in 5 of all American worshipers belong to a multiethnic congregation.” This is something that is really important where I serve presently at Eastbrook Church. Of course, this is not just a trend, but something significant within the trajectory of salvation history toward Revelation 7:9-11[Thanks to Bryan Loritts for sharing this article.]

 

ows_152950853349496Then, at the same time, we read an article like this “As Churches Close, a Way of Life Fades.”  The subtitle for the article is: “Minnesota’s mainline Christian denominations face unprecedented declines, altering communities and traditions celebrated for generations.” As you would guess, this is an examination of mainline church declines in the Midwest, and the chart in the middle of the article is worth viewing in itself. This is an echo of the larger trend of the decline of Christianity in North America, particularly in mainline Christianity. Of course, we must not miss the fact that the world is simultaneously becoming more religious, not less.

 

soccer“Understanding the ‘Beautiful Game’” – As the World Cup winds down, you may want to read Alan Jacob‘s review of Laurent Dubois’ The Language of the Game. “It might be easy to conclude that soccer is the sort of game that you either get or don’t get, yet Laurent Dubois takes up the noble and difficult task of trying to make soccer comprehensible and interesting to people who are used to games that follow a different logic. It’s a task he handles very well.” If that’s not enough, then you should watch the famous Pele move that Alan refers to midway through the article (seen at 4:19 in this video).

 

82639“How Charles Taylor Helps Us Understand Our Secular Age” – Christianity Today’s “Quick to Listen” podcast takes a look at why the work of Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor is influencing so many Christian thinkers. I have read Taylor fairly deeply over the last two years after encountering his thought both in the work of Pastor Tim Keller and Professor James K. A. Smith. Taylor’s thought factored into a recent series I preached on identity, “Who Am I?”, fairly significantly. If you want to dip into Taylor’s writings, there is no easy place to begin, but his most well-known book is A Secular Age. If you want a good to his thought, then I’d suggest Jamie Smith’s How (Not) to Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor.

 

cross-and-lynching-tree-e1530797675581In other reading news, here’s Timothy Thomas at The Witness offering a compelling look at “Why You Should Read ‘The Cross and the Lynching Tree.'” Thomas is new to James Cone’s work, which has spanned decades. This gives him fresh eyes in looking at Cone’s pivotal work on racial issues in America. If you’re unfamiliar with Cone or this book, please read Thomas’ reflections on this penetrating and important book published in 2011.

 

1_amXomiXpD9wDJ2xSS7On1w“The Tech Industry’s War on Kids: How psychology is being used as a weapon against children” – Adolescent and Child Psychologist Richard Freed writes: “What none of these parents understand is that their children’s and teens’ destructive obsession with technology is the predictable consequence of a virtually unrecognized merger between the tech industry and psychology. This alliance pairs the consumer tech industry’s immense wealth with the most sophisticated psychological research, making it possible to develop social media, video games, and phones with drug-like power to seduce young users.” [Thanks to Andy Crouch for sharing this article.]

 

starbucks straws.pngThis week Starbucks announced that it would cease using plastic straws by 2020. This is great news for the environment, especially when you get a view of the impact of plastic round the world (see “What Happens to the Plastic We Throw Out” from The Weekend Wanderer: 2 June 2018). Sure, it would be great if they would move more quickly, but as Ethan Epstein points out hopefully this sort of self-regulation would catch on with other companies.

 

mr rogersAnd last, but not least, here’s David Brooks with “Fred Rogers and the Loveliness of the Little Good.” David Brooks is an insightful social critic and here he holds up the life and legacy of Mr. Rogers as an important model in our divided days. While I resonate with Brooks’ desire, I’m beginning to lose my optimism that a return to the kindness of Mr. Rogers will do anything in the face of the increasing rifts between people in our nation. Brooks’ essay is, at least in part, a reflection on the new documentary about Rogers’ life, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” which I do hope to view sometime.

 

[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.]

Weekend Wanderer: 7 July 2018

The “Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly post in which I gather a smattering of news, stories, resources, and other media you could explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like.

82668“The 2018 CT Pastors Book Recommendations: Six recent books that will aid you in your ministry.” – I have read two of the six books on this list, and only really enjoyed one of them. However, I am always eager to hear of resources that have helped others in ministry recommended by those who are in ministry. Thanks to CT Pastors for sharing this list.

 

658.attachment-3“Eating as Discipleship” – In a review of Lisa Graham McMinn’s new book To the Table, Jeffrey Bilbro looks at the rising interest in food and how it may relate to our life as disciples of Christ. “The social architecture of the developed world encourages us to imagine food as a fuel that we consume….Lisa Graham McMinn’s To the Table: A Spirituality of Food, Farming, and Community joins a chorus of other books that call Christians to resist this consumerist view of food. McMinn’s book begins with Leslie Leyland Fields’s proclamation that “food is nothing less than Sacrament.”

 

062718-iwmf-church-030-copy-1681720abc42d6fa795cab36ff420ab41add3b90-s700-c85“For Some Gang Members In El Salvador, The Evangelical Church Offers A Way Out” – NPR offers a unique look at how evangelicals in El Salvador are reaching out to gang members and showing the opportunity of a better life. “In  [José Miguel] Cruz’s research, more than half of the Salvadoran gang members he surveyed identify as evangelicals and attend church services an average of 15 times a month. In contrast, just 17 percent of gang members identify as Catholic. ‘They feel the evangelicals are more welcoming despite their criminal past. And they feel embraced in these conversions by the [evangelical] church,’ he says.” [Thanks to Skye Jethani for sharing this.]

 

82688“Brazil’s Soccer Stars Love Jesus. Not Everybody Loves Their Christian Celebrations” – For all the World Cup fans out there: “In Brazil, the country of football, the relationship between religion and the soccer ball is old. Athletes have long played with crucifixes, medals of saints, or wrist tapes honoring the deities of the local Candomblé cult. But in recent years, explicit evangelical expressions of the faith in Christ have dominated the sporting scene. Perhaps not surprising in a country where nearly 25 percent of the population is Protestant, Brazil’s national team prays before and after games and celebrates goals by displaying T-shirts with Christian messages. At least six athletes on the current national team playing in this summer’s World Cup have declared themselves evangelical, including Fernandinho, Thiago Silva, Alisson, Douglas Costa, Willian and its star, Neymar.”

 

Wilson“In a Strange Land” – The inimitable John Wilson reviews Matthew Kaemingk’s Christian Hospitality and Muslim Immigration in an Age of Fear over at The Weekly Standard. While citing some frustrations with the book, Wilson makes a strong statement about its timeliness and value. “Kaemingk’s book should move to the top of the reading list for participants in four distinct but often overlapping conversations: (1) on Christian-Muslim interaction generally, post-9/11, and the “framing” of this subject in the West; (2) on Muslim immigrants to the United States; (3) on the “hegemony” of liberalism in modernity; and (4) on Abraham Kuyper’s theological case for genuine pluralism.”

 

75683“Learning from a Legend: 2 life lessons we can learn from Gardner C. Taylor” – In an inspiring article drawn from his book on Gardner C. Taylor, Jared Alcántara highlights two traits of this outstanding preacher that today’s preachers would do well to emulate: caring more about faithfulness than success and emphasizing the greatness of the Gospel more than the greatness of the preacher. As quickly as that and I’ve added Alcántara’s book to my reading list.

 

Screen Shot 2018-07-02 at 9.49.13 AM“How Great Is Our God (World Edition)” – I was speaking with some students at CRU’s Inner City summer experience this past Sunday night on multi-ethnic ministry in cities when someone shared this video with us afterwards. This is a version of “How Great Is Our God” that we often sing at Eastbrook Church, however, I had never seen this video before.

 

[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.]

Weekend Wanderer: 23 June 2018

The “Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly post in which I gather a smattering of news, stories, resources, and other media you could explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like.

Jeff SessionsRomans 13 and Illegal Immigration? This past week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions referenced Romans 13 in support of the Trump administration’s policy of dealing with illegal immigration by separating children from parents. Daniel Burke attempts to look at the text in light of our current democratic context. Matt Soerens of World Relief highlights the fact that Romans 13 cannot justify separating children from families. Then there’s Greg Strand of the Evangelical Free Church of America who speaks out against separating children from families on the basis of love for God and love for neighbor. David Gerson offers a pointed critique of the current administration’s policy: “the centerpiece commitment of Christian social ethics is not order; it is justice. For a good introduction to the concept, Sessions might read the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail.’ ‘A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God,’ King argued. ‘An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.’ And how should justice be defined? ‘Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.'” It’s always interesting when parts of the Bible become headline news.

 

Andrew Brunson 2“Experts Say Turkey’s Indictment of Rev. Brunson Full of ‘Blatant Lies'” – Lela Gilbert, an adjunct fellow at the Center for Religious Freedom, speaks to the terrible situation that Andrew Brunson is going through in Turkey. She writes: “Turkey’s formal indictment of U.S. Presbyterian Pastor Andrew Brunson is so tenuous and thinly supported it strongly suggests humanitarian groups are justified in their argument that he is a diplomatic hostage rather than a legitimate criminal suspect.”

 

3000“To survive our high-speed society, cultivate ‘temporal bandwidth'” – So says Alan Jacobs in a recent essay in The Guardian. “It is hard to imagine a time more completely presentist than our own, more tethered to the immediate…to find a healthier alternative, we must cultivate what the great American novelist Thomas Pynchon calls ‘temporal bandwidth” – an awareness of our experience as extending into the past and the future.”

 

82470“4 Ways to Share God’s Love in Summertime” – In light of recent studies revealing that American Christians are unlikely to share their faith, Tina Osterhouse offers four practical ways we can share God’s love in the “ordinary time” of summer. Take a look at this realistic and down-to-earth approach to evangelism. Then, go out and try something that she mentions.

 

milky-way“It Is Highly Unlikely That Any of This Exists: On the Origins of the Universe” – Over at Literary Hub, Oren Harman tells us honestly, that any of this exists at all is so very, very random. He delves into the search for dark matter at the beginning of the universe.

 

elevator“What Was the Point of Elevator Music?” – Since you probably have been thinking about this (or not) for quite some time, Patrick Carrajat comes to the rescue to save us from false thinking about the rationale behind elevator music. “‘I don’t think elevator music was really designed to soothe the raging beast,’ says Patrick Carrajat. Instead, he says, elevator music was there to…” Well, I guess you will have to read the article in order to find out why. [Thanks to the Prufrock News for this article.]

[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.]

Weekend Wanderer: 16 June 2018

The “Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly post in which I gather a smattering of news, stories, resources, and other media you could explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like.

 

82253“Fleming Rutledge: Why Being ‘Spiritual’ Is Never Enough” – If you’re a preacher you should read this article. If you’re a Christian, you probably should read it to and consider passing it along to your pastor. Rutledge writes: “I, too, would argue that our crisis of discipleship stems in part from a dearth of biblical preaching. Many people, clergy and lay people alike, think we are hearing biblical preaching because the sermons we hear on Sunday seem to be based on a biblical text, but that is not what makes a sermon biblical. If the preacher is not personally invested in expounding the text, so that he or she seems to be risking something, it’s not biblical preaching. If the sermon does not seem to be coming out of the preacher’s inmost convictions, it’s not biblical preaching.” (Thanks to my friend, David Bier, for sharing this one with me.)

 

Aleksandr_Solzhenitsyn_1974b“40 Years Ago Today: When Solzhenitsyn Schooled Harvard” – This articles comes from last week, but marks an important anniversary of a serious rebuke of Western secularism by Aleksander Solzhenitsyn for its overemphasis upon personal freedom. If you’re unfamiliar with Solzhenitsyn’s commencement speech, “A World Split Apart,” then read it or watch it.

 

Religion-and-Film“Religion Goes to the Movies” is Robert Sinnerbrink’s in-depth review of  S. Brent Plate’s book, Religion and Film: Cinema and the Re-creation of the World. Starting with the recent uptick in religious film-making, Sinnerbrink track’s Plate’s look at how film and religion relate in the contemporary culture. “Religion and Film is a fascinating and impressive text, both engaging and illuminating. It opens up new ways of thinking for the uninitiated as well as providing thought-provoking theses for the more expert reader. And it makes the otherwise confusing relationship between religion and film perspicuous and persuasive in ways that few academic studies have been able to achieve.”

 

82310“Moving Our Congregations to More Effective Evangelism”Ed Stetzer points out three ways that leaders can move their congregations to become not only evangelistically-minded but evangelistically effective.  It all flows from a healthy understanding of what evangelism is, our role in it, and how we can work with God in sharing Christ verbally with others.

 

Nietszche“Reading Dangerously: The illiberal philosophers and our fractured politics” – Ian Marcus Corbin takes a critical look at the book Dangerous Minds by Ronald Beiner that leads him into a deeper exploration of our fractured politics. In the end, he suggests that perhaps looking at everything through a political lens may create the fractures that we experience today.

 

[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.]

Weekend Wanderer: 9 June 2018

The “Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly post in which I gather a smattering of news, stories, resources, and other media you could explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like.

WRD-2018_WR_Homepage-Banner_1400x350.jpg“Help Refugees Rebuild Their Lives” – June 20 is World Refugee Day and many organizations are encourage people to help refugees rebuild their lives. I always like to promote the work of World Relief because as a distinctly Christian organization they approach this in a way that I believe is more coherent with our faith and wholistic in terms of care. Maybe you could join me in supporting their invaluable work here.

 

170905122613-anthony-bourdain-parts-unknown-trinidad-exlarge-169“CNN’s Anthony Bourdain dead at 61” – Sad news came in on Friday that Anthony Bourdain, famous for his work on “Parts Unknown,” passed away. I still remember watching his outstanding work in Palestine, including a visit to Gaza. From CNN: “Anthony Bourdain, the gifted chef, storyteller and writer who took TV viewers around the world to explore culture, cuisine and the human condition for nearly two decades, has died. He was 61. CNN confirmed Bourdain’s death on Friday and said the cause of death was suicide.” There are too many people tragically lost to suicide these days. If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, reach out for help. Don’t try to deal with it on your own.

 

web3-father-mcgovern-france-normandy-beach-d-day-public-domain-us-army-signal-corps“D-Day, 74 years later: Remembering the heroic chaplains and priests of Normandy” – This past week we marked 74 years since D-Day. In a feature on the role of chaplains and priests at Normandy, Katherine Ruddy brings together a series of powerful images of these ministers serving in the midst of devastatingly difficult circumstances.  If you are interested in digging into this topic even more deeply, you might enjoy reading the historical work, Serving God and Country: United States Military Chaplains in World War II,  by my friend and mentor, Dr. Lyle Dorsett.

 

Alt_Immagination_Summit_2017-203“Andy Crouch and the Culture Makers” is a great look at the outstanding writings of Andy Crouch and the efforts of ‘culture making,’ or cultural transformation, that is finding a resurgence within evangelicalism these days. Giving attention to Praxis Labs and other efforts at integration of faith and work, Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra highlights how certain figures are “helping to spread, as C. S. Lewis might say, a ‘good infection,’ integrating the good works to which Christ has called us with good work, well done.”

 

Pro-Life Demonstrators Face Pro-Choice Demonstrators“The Man Who Discovered ‘Culture Wars’” –  James Davison Hunter coined the phrase ‘culture wars’ in the 1980s and wrote one of the most important books on culture and faith in the last decade, To Change the World. In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Hunter reflects on what has changed over the last thirty years in the culture wars.

 

82298“Christian Baker Wins Supreme Court’s Masterpiece Cakeshop Case” – Speaking of culture wars, this past week baker Jack Phillips won his case that went all the way to the Supreme Court related to his refusal to decorate a cake for a same-sex wedding.  The 7-2 decision avoided setting a precedent in relation to the larger issue of the intersections of faith convictions and civil rights issues, instead citing that lower state courts had demonstrated an unconstitutional hostility toward his Christian faith.  Will this help the cause of faith-based organizations or individuals? The jury is still out on that, but it is likely not a victory for religious freedom according to some.

 

merlin_136365531_4fa18cff-0fac-4c81-aa65-1ad3ae301d4b-jumbo“Family Separation at the Border” – “Even before the zero-tolerance policy was implemented, the New York Times reported that 700 children had been separated from an adult claiming to be their parent from October 2017 to April 2018. More than 100 of these children were under the age of four. These numbers have since grown exponentially. On May 23, 2018, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that 638 parents traveling with 658 children had been ‘processed for prosecution’ under the new zero-tolerance policy between May 6 and May 19, 2018. Given that the Administration has said that parents referred for prosecution will be separated from their children, the testimony means that more than 600 families have been separated under the new policy in less than two weeks.” The UN has now said these actions are illegal under international law. You may also benefit from understanding how US policies relate to those of other nations around the world.

 

take five“Famous Songs in Slightly Odd Time Signatures – A Guide to Rhythms” – Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” is one of my favorite songs of all time because it swings in the odd time signature of 5/4. If you find songs like that fascinating, you may enjoy this quirky article that looks at well-known songs in time signatures that are unique, with references to artists as disparate as Aretha Franklin, Radiohead, Björk, Genesis, and more.

 

Abridged_Pride-and-Prejudice-1240x808“Literary Classics Retold as Two-Panel Comics” – Over at Literary Hub, you can get a glimpse into the entertaining book Abridged Classics: Brief Summaries of Books You Were Supposed to Read but Probably Didn’t by John Atkinson. Do not use this for your high school or college literature classes because it probably will not help you.

 

Screen Shot 2018-06-07 at 1.10.55 PM“Backwards commute: Car escapes traffic by driving in reverse” – And last, but not least, we must remember not to follow the example of this driver caught on camera.  Still, we can marvel at the skills of a driver so bold as to exit the highway and drive for another mile completely in reverse. There’s a future for this driver, but I am not sure what it is.

[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.]