The Weekend Wanderer: 13 October 2018

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.

 

1536560855288“Chinese officials burn bibles, close churches, force Christian to denounce faith amid ‘escalating’ crackdown” – This was shared with me by a friend directly connected to the situation of the house church in China. President Qi has increasingly put pressure on religious groups, particularly the underground church, as he seeks to reestablish a more pure communist agenda in China. What is new here is the aggressive measures being taken, including against the “Three-Self Church,” which is the government-approved church.

 

LX7EOIGOEQI6RI7GITNKHU263Y“October 12 Update on the Release of Pastor Andrew Brunson” – On Friday international news reports indicated that a Turkish court ruled today to release Pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been detained for the past two years and has been remanded to house arrest since July due to health concerns. Following this case over the past two years, it is clear that Brunson has been a pawn used in the midst of political tensions between Turkey and the United States. Throughout his detainment, he has claimed he is innocent of the charges that he is somehow connected to organizations working against the Turkish government.

 

83523“A Dying Child and a Living Hope” – When Kelly and I went through the painful experience of a miscarriage, I pulled a book off my shelf that a friend had once bought for me called The Shaming of the Strong by Dr. Sarah Williams, a professor at Regent College in Vancouver, BC. A couple of days ago, I read on Christianity Today that Dr. Williams has released a new book, which looks to be either a revision of the earlier book or a reappraisal of her own journey through carrying a child, Cerian, whom doctors told her would die upon birth. Aaron Cobb reviews that new book by Sarah Williams, Perfectly Human: Nine Months with Cerian, showing the grace and insight that Williams brings in the valley of the shadow of death as she reflects on what it means to be human.

 

_103770368_20171028_123422“The young Americans who are bucking the divorce trend” – This should catch your attention: between 2008 and 2016 the divorce rate in the US fell by 18%, according to a study by the University of Maryland. Of course, the related fact is that marriage rates have also dropped, with millennials three times less likely to get married than their grandparents’ generation. The abstract of the study concludes with this line: “The U.S. is progressing toward a system in which marriage is rarer, and more stable, than it was in the past, representing an increasingly central component of the structure of social inequality.” Looking at five couples that span the spectrum of modern marriage relationships, a BBC reporter highlights reasons why this may be the case, including a rare, fair-minded look at Christian marriage in couple #5.

 

alan jacobs“Christianity and Resistance: An Interview with Alan Jacobs” – The Los Angeles Review of Books has a wonderful interview with Alan Jacobs about his recent book The Year of Our Lord 1943: Christian Humanism in an Age of Crisis. It’s no secret that I have a great admiration for Jacobs’ writing and thinking, and this interview only adds to that admiration. Setting up the interview, the interviewer writes, “That mid-20th-century moment when civilization looked into the abyss — and large portions of humanity plunged into it — seems to resonate strongly for a lot of writers and thinkers these days, and not only because of Trumpism’s neo-fascist and ‘Christian’ nationalist tendencies.”  [Thanks to Wesley Hill for sharing this article.]

 

trump-with-evangelical-leaders“‘Evangelical’ has become too political and needs to be ‘reclaimed’, says WEA head” – The ongoing debate about what the word ‘evangelical’ means and whether it is still a helpful term rose to the surface in recent comments by the General Secretary of the World Evangelical Alliance, Bishop Efraim Tendero. This dovetails with a recent report that nearly 40 evangelical leaders came out with a statement against Donald Trump and the Alt-Right, in light of many contested surveys that say 80% of white evangelical voters supported Donald Trump. A wide-ranging group of authors wrestled with that question in the book Still Evangelical?: Insiders Reconsider Political, Social, and Theological Meaning, published by InterVarsity Press.

 

John-Lennox“Should We Fear Artificial Intelligence?” is a lecture given as part of the “Trending Questions” series of the Zacharias Institute by Dr. John Lennox, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and an Emeritus Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College, Oxford. Lennox digs into some of the most pertinent questions related to AI today, touching upon the domains of science, philosophy, ethics, and theology. This is a long video, but you can skip ahead of the introduction to Dr. Lennox’s lecture directly at 18′ 23″. [Thanks to Jeff Davis for sharing this link with me.]

 

he held radical light.jpgHe Held Radical Light – Image Journal, in their latest email update, reviews Christian Wiman’s latest book. “This slim new volume of essays on art, death, and eternity, demands to be read with a level of focused attention that is hard for me to come by these days, but it repays the effort. Picking up where My Bright Abyss left off, it’s a chain of essays about contemporary poets, including A.R. Ammons, Denise Levertov, Seamus Heaney, Susan Howe, Donald Hall, and many others, in which Wiman probes his own youthful desire to write ‘a poem that would live forever’—a wish intensified by his battle with cancer. That goal might seem ludicrous, if Wiman were not so self-aware, so sincere, and such a thirsty reader of poems. As it is, the idea of such a poem, possible or not, feels worthy of every attention.”

 

Orlean-LibrariesAnd since we’re on the topic of books, why not travel through memory and the stacks of the public library with Susan Orlean in her wonderfully written essay, “Growing Up in the Library,” over at The New Yorker. As a chronic reader who spends time at our local library every week, and as one taken to the library as a child by my parents who continues that legacy with my own children, I resonate with Orlean’s first lines: “I grew up in libraries, or at least it feels that way.” [Thanks to Micah Mattix for sharing this in the Daily Prufrock.]

[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 Weekend Wanderer: 6 October 2018

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.

 

nobel prize“Nobel Peace Prize for anti-rape activists Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege” – From the BBC: “The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize has gone to campaigners against rape in warfare, Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege. Ms Murad is an Iraqi Yazidi who was tortured and raped by Islamic State militants and later became the face of a campaign to free the Yazidi people. Dr Mukwege is a Congolese gynaecologist who, along with his colleagues, has treated tens of thousands of victims.” As Christianity Today reports, Dr. Mukwege is a Christian who has dedicated his career to caring for victims of rape. “If Christians do not live out the practical implications of their faith among their communities and neighbors, ‘we cannot fulfill the mission entrusted to us by Christ,’ he said at a keynote for the Lutheran World Federation last year.”

 

83718“What Tim Keller Wants American Christians to Know About Politics” – Christianity Today‘s “Quick to Listen” podcast has an interview with Tim Keller this week on the hot topic of Christian approaches to politics. “Shortly after the [Kavanaugh] hearing, a book excerpt from Tim Keller, the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, appeared in The New York Times. ‘Christians cannot pretend they can transcend politics and simply “preach the Gospel,”‘ he wrote in his latest book Prodigal Prophet: Jonah and the Mystery of God’s Mercy. ‘Those who avoid all political discussions and engagement are essentially casting a vote for the social status quo. … To not be political is to be political.’ But that doesn’t mean that Christians have to hold convictions about every moment of political life, said Keller.” About twenty minutes in, Keller speaks some wise words about the way in which politics can easily become our identity or are religion, and how the gospel might strengthen us within the church to have meaningful discussion about these divisive issues in order to bridge gaps.

 

merlin_144839694_a3396ea5-3907-4a24-8669-225c037f5985-superJumbo“A Complete National Disgrace” – David Brooks writes on themes of the Kavanaugh hearing, political polarization, institutional thinking, and the possibility of a way forward. “Over the past few years, hundreds of organizations and thousands of people (myself included) have mobilized to reduce political polarization, encourage civil dialogue and heal national divisions. The first test case for our movement was the Kavanaugh hearings. It’s clear that at least so far our work is a complete failure….What we saw in these hearings was the unvarnished tribalization of national life.” I do believe that  [Thanks to Alan Jacobs for sharing this article.]

 

william-willimon“Court Preachers” – Speaking of this sort of thing, Will Willimon, professor at Duke Divinity School and co-author, with Stanley Hauerwas, of Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony, writes a provocative essay against “court preachers.” What are court preachers? “Preachers attempting to ingratiate themselves with the powerful; some clergy are always willing to sacrifice the gospel in exchange for proximity to the crown.” Who might be a court preacher today? Willimon takes aim at Franklin Graham on this account, and for some good reasons, it seems. I continue to ask myself: have we lost who we are as evangelicals in this season of time, or are we trapped within the endless cycle of ideological polarization?

 

Screen Shot 2018-10-03 at 8.20.23 AM“Overcoming Our Greatest Affliction”Andy Crouch, author of such books as Culture Making and Strong and Weak, opens up an important cultural discussion for those of us naming Christ as our Lord. “We are the most powerful generation in history, but also the loneliest, most anxious, and most depressed. We’re meant to flourish in heart, soul, mind, strength, and relationship — yet culture asks us undermine our personhood to acquire power. ”

 

Stalin“Among the Disbelievers” – Gary Saul Morson, in a wide-ranging essay in Commentary, traces the ways that atheism was not just a part of Soviet communism, but “central to the Bolshevik project.” He explores the place of “ethics” within that ideology, as well as the loss and recovery of “conscience,” particularly as seen in the work of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. He writes: “As Richard Dawkins explains in The God Delusion: ‘What matters is not whether Hitler and Stalin were atheists, but whether atheism systematically influences people to do bad things. There is not the smallest evidence that it does.’ This comment displays an ignorance so astonishing that, as the Russian expression goes, one can only stare and spit.” [Thanks to Micah Mattix for sharing this in the Daily Prufrock.]

 

83607

“Azusa Pacific Reverses Approval for Gay Student Couples” Last week I shared an article on Azusa Pacific University’s (APU) change of stance in relation to human sexuality and, more specifically, attempting to not shine the spotlight in a discriminatory manner on same-sex attraction or those with gender dysphoria. Apparently, the board of trustees of the university weren’t asked about it, and APU has reversed course on that move after receiving severe criticism about this change.

 

83694“No Refuge: Persecuted Christians Entering US Dwindle to Record Low” – “Refugee resettlement hit a record low over the past year, with the United States taking in fewer than half the amount permitted under a reduced refugee ceiling of 45,000….Though most of the refugees welcomed over the past year are Christians, the overall drop means far fewer believers are finding refuge in the US than in prior years. In the 2018 fiscal year, 15,748 Christian refugees entered the country, a 36.4 percent decline from the previous year and a 55 percent decline from fiscal year 2016.” Of course, as the article points out at the beginning, all of this is a subset of the overall reduction of refugee resettlement both in the past year and now in the coming year.

 

merlin_141072990_3f059377-d122-45a7-ba46-95c7e81bf387-jumbo“Migrant Children Moved Under Cover of Darkness to a Texas Tent City” – “In shelters from Kansas to New York, hundreds of migrant children have been roused in the middle of the night in recent weeks and loaded onto buses with backpacks and snacks for a cross-country journey to their new home: a barren tent city on a sprawling patch of desert in West Texas. Until now, most undocumented children being held by federal immigration authorities had been housed in private foster homes or shelters, sleeping two or three to a room. They received formal schooling and regular visits with legal representatives assigned to their immigration cases. But in the rows of sand-colored tents in Tornillo, Tex., children in groups of 20, separated by gender, sleep lined up in bunks. There is no school: The children are given workbooks that they have no obligation to complete. Access to legal services is limited.”

 

83583“The Unintended Impact of The Church Planting Industry on Our Evangelistic Impact”Ed Stetzer, a seasoned church planter and trainer of church planters, reflects on some issues that have led me to pull back from modern expressions of church planting. Primarily, he begins to question one of the driving assumptions behind the modern, American church planting movement since its beginnings in the 1980s. That assumption (given to us by missiologist C. Peter Wagner): “church planting is the most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven.” Ed asks some meaningful questions, while admitting that an industry has arisen around church planting. His admissions don’t go far enough in my mind, but I still encourage you to read this essay.

 

[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 Weekend Wanderer: 29 September 2018

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.

 

83478“She Shaped Me: 10 Exemplars of Faith” – “Throughout history, God has used faithful women in powerful ways for the good of the church and the world. They are women of character and virtue, women who struggled and made mistakes, women who took risks and devoted their lives to answering God’s call. Above all, they are women who deeply loved God. Here, ten contemporary women reflect on the examples of ten women from Christian history who have significantly influenced their own faith in Jesus.”

 

fear“Fear Factor”John Wilson reviews Martha Nussbaum’s The Monarchy of Fear: A Philosopher Looks at Our Political Crisis in his typically insightful fashion.  “The Monarchy of Fear is deeper and more subtle than many current accounts of fear, but at the same time (as the title suggests) it is even more sweeping in its assertion of fear’s role in our common life: ‘It is both chronologically and causally primary, getting its teeth into us very early and then coloring the rest of our lives to a greater or lesser degree.'”

 

_103598823_man2“Ethiopia’s Meskel festival: Bonfires, robes and crosses” – Ethiopians are celebrating the annual Meskel festival, the first big festival of the Ethiopian religious year. According to Ethiopian Orthodox Christian tradition, the national holiday marks the finding of the cross that Jesus was crucified on. Thousands celebrated the eve of the festival, known as Demera, by gathering in Meskel Square in the heart of the capital city, Addis Ababa.

 

larry norman“The Unlikely Endurance of Christian Rock” – Kelefa Sanneh reviews and interacts with religious historian Randall J. Stephens’ exploration of the relationship between Christianity and rock and roll in The Devil’s Music: How Christians Inspired, Condemned, and Embraced Rock ‘n’ Roll. Walking through the history of American Christianity’s relationship with culture, Sanneh touches upon Martin Luther King, Jr., Larry Norman, contemporary worship music, and Imagine Dragons, just to name a few. And if that last piques your interest, well, you may just want to read the article over at The New Yorker.

 

83607“Azusa Pacific Okays Gay Romance (But Not Sex and Marriage)” – Azusa Pacific University (APU) made changes to their human sexuality policy that attempts to be more general and not shine the spotlight in a discriminatory manner on same-sex attraction or those with gender dysphoria. However, it seems the impulse creates a tension within the statement in relation to what is allowed and what is ideal that is not necessary. This further highlights the challenge to a united stance within the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) on such issues. “APU dropped the section on ‘Same-Sex Relationships’ from its Student Standards of Conduct. It earlier read: ‘9.0 Same-Sex Relationships: Students may not engage in a romanticized same-sex relationship.’ In addition, it made several revisions to its sexuality statement.” You can read further reporting on this, including various opinions on its significance, and the original statement at Christianity Today.

 

painIn light of the challenges to the church and failures of leadership, Alan Jacobs’ brief reflections on the difference between inconsistency and hypocrisy are invaluable. “We’re all inconsistent (in my case quite often): we hold certain values but don’t live up to them all the time; we want always to act in certain ways but manage to act in those ways only occasionally. That’s the universal human experience. Hypocrisy is something different. Hypocrisy is deceptive: the hypocrite pretends to certain virtues that he doesn’t hold and doesn’t even really want to hold.”

 

autotune-header-edit2“How Auto-Tune Revolutionized the Sound of Popular Music” – Over at Pitchfork, Simon Reynolds takes us his readers into “An in-depth history of the most important pop innovation of the last 20 years, from Cher’s “Believe” to Kanye West to Migos.” I have occasionally enjoyed the bizarre uses of auto-tune, such as Kanye’s 808s & Heartbreak or Bon Iver’s recent work with it, but usually you will find me bemoaning the ways that auto-tune has ruined music forever. From what I read, Reynolds and I could probably commiserate about this together.

 

atlanta“Busiest Airport’s in the World” – “It’s not just you: Airports really are getting busier.
Close to 104 million passengers passed though Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in 2017, making it the world’s busiest passenger airport for another year.
That’s according to 2017 travel data released Thursday by Airports Council International.
Globally, there were significant increases in passenger numbers, air cargo traffic and total aircraft movements.”

[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 Weekend Wanderer: 22 September 2018

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.

 

melani mcalister“Look Outside America for Fresh Insight on American Evangelicals” – “Melani McAlister, a professor of American studies at George Washington University, wants to tell a broader story by looking outside American borders. Studying American evangelical missionary and humanitarian activity in Egypt, South Africa, Congo, and South Sudan, she says, reveals a movement that has always seen itself as part of a global communion. In her book, The Kingdom of God Has No Borders, McAlister applies this international lens to the past half-century of American evangelical history.”

 

puerto rico maria“The State of the Puerto Rican Church, One Year After Maria” – Gadiel Ríos reports on the challenges to the church in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, and how this disaster is entirely changing the way churches do ministry. ” The church in Puerto Rico and the spiritual lives of its citizens have not been spared of all of this pain and desolation, but their story is still one of grace and love overcoming loss and suffering.”

 

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 10.19.57 AM“Leave no dark corner: China is building a digital dictatorship to exert control over its 1.4 billion citizens. For some, ‘social credit’ will bring privileges — for others, punishment” – If you like dystopian literature or film, Matthew Carney’s exploration of China’s in-depth digital tracking of its citizenry may intrigue you. But it also may disturb you. As others have noted, privacy may be a thing of the past, but it reaches a very new level when one’s government agenda includes this: “a vast network of 200 million CCTV cameras across China ensures there’s no dark corner in which to hide.”

 

beth moore“The Tiny Blond Bible Teacher Taking on the Evangelical Political Machine” – Emma Green interviews evangelical Bible teacher Beth Moore about her recent venture into tense conversations within evangelicalism about politics. “On a chilly Texas evening recently, Moore and I sat in rocking chairs on her porch. It was the first time she had invited a reporter to visit her home, on the outskirts of Houston. Moore, who is 61, was the consummate hostess, fussing about feeding me and making sure I was warm enough beside the mesquite-wood fire. But as we settled into conversation, her demeanor changed. She fixed her perfectly mascaraed eyes on me. ‘The old way is over,’ she said. ‘The stakes are too high now.'”

 

webRNS-Abuse-Research-46-091818“Survey shows more pastors preach about abuse in #MeToo age” – “Half of Protestant pastors say they preach to their churches about domestic and sexual violence, an increase from four years ago, when only a third said they raised the issue, a new survey shows. LifeWay Research took a detailed look at Protestant clergy’s attitudes toward abuse and harassment and what they’ve done about it, surveying 1,000 pastors by phone during the summer of 2018 as the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements dominated the news.”

 

Gettys3“Towards a Deeper Song: Why Keith and Kristyn Getty Are Helping the Church to Sing (Again)” – “Often credited with re-inventing the traditional hymn-form, they are passionate about the importance of congregational singing and how we learn truth through song. This year alone, their journey has taken them from the Global Hymn Sing to the UK Houses of Parliament and recently to their own Sing! Conference in Nashville. A few days before the conference, Keith shared more about Getty Music’s vision and why we must never stop singing.”

 

iraqi-refugees“Evangelical Leaders Denounce Trump Administration Refugee Cap, Call for Increase” – “National leaders from the Evangelical Immigration Table sent a letter asking the Trump administration to admit more refugees…The announced new cap is even lower than this year’s historic low of 45,000 for this FY 2018, and the U.S. is on track to take in fewer than 22,000 refugees this fiscal year, also a record low.” This statement was fashioned by conservative evangelicals, including Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, who says: “America has long been a beacon of freedom and safety for those fleeing persecution, including many persecuted for their Christian faith, but the proposed cap of just 30,000 refugees would mean stepping back from our historic role of global leadership. We can both be a secure nation and a compassionate nation, leading the world in resettling the most vulnerable refugees who have been identified and vetted abroad and ensuring due process for those who reach our country to request asylum.”

 

closed“Let’s bring back the Sabbath as a radical act against ‘total work’William R. Black, a professor of history and religion, offers an interesting critique of our fast-paced, work-oriented culture. He writes: “We usually encounter the Sabbath as an inconvenience, or at best a nice idea increasingly at odds with reality. But observing this weekly day of rest can actually be a radical act. Indeed, what makes it so obsolete and impractical is precisely what makes it so dangerous.”

 

Bill Hybels“Here’s Who Willow Creek Chose to Investigate Bill Hybels” – This past week Willow Creek Community Church announced the leadership of the investigative team looking at the allegations against Bill Hybels reported earlier this year. “The new Willow Creek Independent Advisory Group (IAG) is co-chaired by Jo Anne Lyon, general superintendent emerita and current ambassador of The Wesleyan Church, and Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals. The other two members are Margaret Diddams, provost of Wheaton College and a professor of psychology, and Gary Walter, past president of the Evangelical Covenant Church in Chicago, Illinois.”

 

failure“6 Warning Signs You’re Risking A Moral Failure – And How To Avoid A Fall” – On that note, over at the Vanderbloemen Search Group’s blog, Jay Mitchell writes for those in ministry about six warning signs that may lead you into a moral failure. He follows that with three suggestions about how to safeguard yourself against such a failure. In the current climate of moral failures, both inside the church and outside the church, ministers cannot fail to pay attention to this topic.

 

blue“The Bible described it as the perfect, pure blue. And then for nearly 2,000 years, everyone forgot what it looked like” – This is not your typical exploration of Scripture. “Forty-nine times the Bible mentions a perfect, pure blue, a color so magnificent and transcendent that it was all but impossible to describe. Yet, for most of the last 2,000 years, nobody has known exactly what ‘biblical blue’ — called tekhelet in Hebrew — actually looked like or how it could be re-created.” [Thanks to Micah Mattix for sharing this in the Daily Prufrock.]

[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 Weekend Wanderer: 15 September 2018

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.

 

The head pastor of the Zion church in Beijing Jin Mingri poses for picures in the lobby of the unofficial Protestant "house" church in Beijing“China outlaws large underground Protestant church in Beijing” – Those connected to the church in China are aware that the government has been putting increasing pressure on churches in China. This latest news is one more example of that. “Beijing city authorities have banned one of the largest unofficial Protestant churches in the city and confiscated ‘illegal promotional materials’, amid a deepening crackdown on China’s ‘underground’ churches.” See Christianity Today‘s helpful write-up about this here.

 

O6THYFTPZII6NGJ7OPDJHKEYEA“John MacArthur’s ‘Statement on Social Justice’ Is Aggravating Evangelicals” according to Christianity Today‘s “Quick to Listen” podcast. And they’re not alone, as is evidenced by a lot of mainstream attention to “The Statement on Social Justice & the Gospel” authored by John MacArthur and others (see last week’s “Weekend Wanderer” for more info). In one of his columns this week at The Washington Post, Michael Gerson writes in response to the statement that “Christians are suffering from complete spiritual blindness.”  Over at the Missio Alliance blog, Dennis Edwards posted a two-part response to the statement. I keep intending to write something on this, but have not had the time to get there this week. However, I did mention in my message last weekend at Eastbrook Church that the church should be a kingdom-oriented community that is so heavenly minded that we are more earthly good than anyone else.

 

girl-1192032_1280“Gen Z’s Biggest Legacy: Has Social Media Hacked a Generation?” – Rachel Seo, a sophomore at UC San Diego, reflects on social media’s impact on her generation. “There is research now that, in addition to paralleling with my own experiences, reveals the darker effects of social media, most particularly its long-lasting impact on Gen Z. Did anyone predict the impact of how a few apps could lead my generation into a mental health crisis? Could anyone have predicted it? Or, perhaps more hauntingly, did some people know about the potential effects that it would have on others—and simply not care enough to share?”

 

religious-father-praying-with-children“How parents act on their religious beliefs linked to the onset of atheism in their children” – A recent study at Religion, Brain & Behavior (“Predicting age of atheism: credibility enhancing displays and religious importance, choice, and conflict in family of upbringing“), highlights the fact that the credibility in the way parents live out their faith directly influences the way in which their children lean toward atheism. Eric Dolan writes of the study: “People tend to become atheists at a younger age when their religious parents talk the talk but don’t walk the walk, according to new research published in the journal Religion, Brain & Behavior. The study provides evidence that exposure to religiously-motivated actions plays an important role in the onset of atheism.”

 

virtues“Why You Can’t Name the Virtues” – Speaking of credibility in our faith, Karen Swallow Prior writes about the moral vacuum, not just in terms of action, but in terms of character formation. This is basically an excerpt from her book On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life in Great Books, which was just released. She writes: “For the past several decades, American evangelicalism has been concerned about morality—and for good reason. Sexual promiscuity, pornography, abortion, divorce, materialism, racism, and countless other ills so permeate our culture—even among the churched—that they seem to be the rule rather than the exception. But moral choices flow from moral character. Perhaps if we wish to reform morality, we should turn more attention to the formation of character.”

 

24f547f8af102a02576ce0a9d5d7bda6“When the Ship Has Sailed: Alan Jacobs on Christian Humanism in an Age of Crisis” – Alan Jacobs’ new book, The Year of Our Lord 1943, explores the inheritance of the Christian intellectual tradition in the middle of the twentieth century, weaving together the life and thought of W. H. Auden, T. S. Eliot, C. S. Lewis, Jacques Maritain and Simone Weil.Whether you have or have not read the book, you will likely enjoy this interview with Jacobs by Robert L. Kehoe III at The Point in which they discuss various strands of Jacobs’ argument in the book, with a few loose ends in greater depth, including a few last words about Jacques Ellul.

 

perfect storm“Leadership’s Perfect Storm” – Steve Smith of Potter’s Inn reflects on the leadership failures in the evangelical church, giving attention to four main forces that he finds most concerning in today’s realm of leadership: “a success intoxicated leadership culture; the cult of emphasizing leadership gifts and skills rather than integrity and character; unchecked power in positions of leadership; and the unchecked speed and busyness in the life of a leader.” This is definitely worth a read, and has wider application than simply in the church. [Thanks to Tom Keppeler for sharing this article.]

 

power“Confronting the Toxic Power in Me: High-profile stories of fallen pastors can distract us from ourselves or hold up a mirror to our souls” – This article pairs well with Steve Smith’s above, this time giving attention to our own selves. If you ever read articles about the failure of leaders and say, “I would never do that,” then you are deceiving yourself in some way. Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel offer a very meaningful look at power and the ways in which we all can deceive ourselves. I remember the words of an older Christian who, in the midst of a discussion about temptation, said to me: “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” May we let God’s grace into our lives in ever-more transforming ways.

 

alan lee“Making fantasy reality: Alan Lee, the man who redrew Middle-earth” – With the release of the latest posthumous collection of J. R. R. Tolkien’s stories from Middle-Earth, The Guardian offered a nice interview with Alan Lee. Lee’s illustrations of Tolkien’s world are so closely linked with the works themselves that his vision of Middle Earth was one of the greatest inspirations for the film adaptations, aside from Tolkien’s own illustrations.

 

sub“Eerie photos show dilapidated relics of the Soviet era” – When I saw some of these photos, my mind spun around in all sorts of combinations of post-apocalyptic movies with some tinges of science fiction. If that’s your sort of thing, you should spend some time browsing through this unique photo collection. “Many of the areas where the photos were taken were inaccessible during the Soviet era, as they contained classified technology. They depict monuments, factories, military bases and various kinds of vehicles and technology, most in an advanced state of decay.”

 

[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.]