This past weekend at Eastbrook Church, I continued our series on the book of Daniel by turning our attention to chapter 7, which begins the markedly different second half of the book. Chapters 1-6 are court narratives, while chapters 7-12 are apocalyptic visions. This first vision serves as a sort of parallel to Daniel 2 and overview of where the rest of the book is going.
God, if this day my journey end,
I thank You first for many a friend,
The sturdy and unquestioned piers
That run beneath my bridge of years.
Next, for the power You’ve given me
To view the whole world mirthfully,
For laughter, paraclete of pain,
Like April suns across the rain.
Also that, being not too wise
To do things foolish in folks’ eyes,
I gained experience by this,
And saw life somewhat as it is.
Next for the joy of labor done
And burdens shouldered in the sun;
Not less, for shame of labor lost,
And meekness born of a barren boast.
For every fair and useless thing
That bids us pause from laboring
To look and find the larkspur blue
And marigolds of a different hue;
For eyes to see and ears to hear,
For tongue to speak and news to bear,
For hands to handle, feet to go,
For life, I give You thanks also.
For all things merry, quaint and strange,
For sound and silence, strength, and change,
At last, for death, which only gives
Value to everything that lives;
For these, good God, who still makes me,
I praise Your name; since, verily,
I of my joy have had no dearth,
Though this day were my last on earth.
By Dorothy Sayers, 20th century Anglican author and lay theologian.
“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.
“Ebola outbreak in Congo likely to last 6 more months, WHO says” – This is devastating news for friends who are in this region. “The Ebola outbreak in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, which has already killed more than 200 people, is expected to last until mid-2019, a senior World Health Organization official said on Tuesday. ‘It’s very hard to predict time frames in an outbreak as complicated as this with so many variables that are outside our control,’ WHO emergency response chief Peter Salama told reporters, ‘but certainly we’re planning on at least another six months before we can declare this outbreak over.'” If you want to support the work in Congo, I highly recommend getting behind Congo Initiative, led by Drs. David and Kaswera Kasali. [Thanks to Paul Sinclair for sharing this article with me.]
“Presbyterian Hostages Freed in Cameroon, But Conflict Carries On” – “Kidnappers released this week the last of more than 80 hostages taken from a Presbyterian school in Cameroon amid an escalating crisis in the Central African country’s English-speaking regions….And the kidnappings, as heart-wrenching as they are, represent just a small portion of the violence that has left the Anglophone region on the brink of civil war.”
“A lot of white evangelical voters aren’t evangelicals” – There are polls and more polls around the concept of evangelical voters. I intentionally write ‘the concept of evangelical voters’ because I’m not sure some of the polls are getting at the right thing here. “Appearances can be deceiving, and in this case they are. That’s because a lot of the voters identified as white evangelicals weren’t Baptists, Pentecostals and non-denominational Christians. They were mainline Protestants and Catholics. Here’s how I know this.”
“The Varieties of American Evangelicalism” – And since we’re talking about the difficulties of understanding ‘the concept of evangelical voters,’ I was happy to discover that USC’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture (CRCC) developed a study on the varieties of evangelicalism related to the politics. The CRCC outlines five types of evangelical voters: 1) Trump-vangelicals, 2) Neo-fundamentalists, 3) iVangelicals, 4) Kingdom Christians, and 5) Peace and Justice evangelicals. You will have to read the entire article if you want to understand this somewhat helpful lense on the topic.
“How I Drew My Mental Map of Politics” – Still on that topic, Alan Jacobs shares his own journey of drawing his mental map of politics. This is, in many ways, a personal response to a conversation facilitated by Rod Dreher (“Your Political Mental Map”) happening over at The American Conservative, which really generates some fascinating conversation from his respondents. Here’s Dreher: “I’d like to start a thread about how the mental map we — that is, you readers and me — had laid down for us in childhood (up to age 21, let’s say) affected the way we see the world.”
“Mothers of the Reformation” – Kristen Padilla explores the ways in which Martin Luther’s doctrine of the priesthood of all believers shook the foundations of the world at its time. She asks a question rarely explored about the Reformation: “But could this priestly ministry even extend to women?” The rest of her article examines historical examples around this question. “Let’s look at the work of three women who broke the boundaries of their society by speaking out boldly through print, and how they appropriated Luther’s doctrine of the priesthood of all believers to defend their speaking.”
“And All Shall Be Well” – John Wilson glowingly reviews Timothy Larsen’s new biography of George MacDonald published by InterVarsity Press, George MacDonald in the Age of Miracles: Incarnation, Doubt, and Reenchantment. For those not familiar with George MacDonald, he was a Victorian-era pastor and author, whose imaginative works influenced many people. C. S. Lewis, in fact, was so deeply impacted by MacDonald’s Phantastes that in his introduction to George MacDonald: An Anthology he wrote: “Now Phantastes . . . had about it a sort of cool, morning innocence … What it actually did to me was to convert, even to baptise … my imagination.”
“The Emperor and the Empty Tomb: An Ancient Inscription, an Eccentric Scholar, and the Human Need to Touch the Past” – Over at The Los Angeles Review of Books, Kyle Harper takes stock of the Nazareth Inscription, which some purport to be the oldest archaeological link to Christianity. “Decades of scholarship have not yielded conclusive answers, and the original circumstances behind the Nazareth inscription may remain forever beyond our grasp. But any attempt to approach the ancient stone confronts its modern history — a story of this eccentric scholar, the vanished world of dealers, collectors, and savants in which he moved, and the enduring human need to touch the past.”
“The Writing and Legacy of Eugene Peterson with Drew Dyck” – Chase Replogle of the “Pastor Writer” podcast has a conversation with author and editor Drew Dyck about Eugene Peterson’s writing and legacy. This is a great reflection on Peterson’s unique ministry and calling as a pastor who was also a very gifted writer.
National Book Award Winners Announced – Since everyone reading this probably knows that I love books, I couldn’t fail to mention that recipients of the National Book Award here in the US were announced this week. There are five categories for the National Book award: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, translated literature, and young people’s literature. NPR has a nice feature on the uniqueness of this year’s awards recipients, as well as further news on national lifetime achievement awards.
[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.]
Josef Pieper writes about strenuous effort versus free spontaneity in living the virtuous life with God:
The strain of self-mastery, which for us countrymen of Kant is inseparable from any concept of upbringing and moderation and is generally tied to and fused with the concept of virtue, is an accompanying phenomenon only of less perfect and beginner stages, whereas authentic, perfected virtue, by dint of the very definition of the concept, bears the happily radiant seal of spontaneity, of freedom from constraint and of self-evident inclination. (From A Brief Reader on the Virtues of the Human Heart, p. 10)
I love the way Pieper highlights the difference between immature and mature virtue. The effort-driven, straining of self-mastery is a reflection of beginning in virtue. The movement toward maturity is marked by an increasing spontaneity of virtuous action.
The Apostle Paul’s words ring in my mind here: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. . . . If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:15, 26 ESV). As we increasingly walk by the Spirit and keep in step with the Spirit, like someone learning a dance, we become increasingly overcome by the rhythms and patterns and less conscious of the effort it takes to move our feet to the rhythms of the dance.
Self-conscious spiritual effort feels tense and difficult to watch, yet it is the necessary first steps of growing with God, sensing His Spirit’s work in us, and learning the patterns of life with God. But it is the spontaneous living with God that brings out the sweetest rhythms of grace, overflowing into the most beautiful dance of life in step with God’s calling for holy living.