The Weekend Wanderer: 26 November 2022

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.


featured-deeper-journey“The Deeper Journey for Leaders: From the False Self to the True Self” – M. Robert Mulholland, Jr., in Beyond Words – The Transforming Center blog: “Once I asked the pastor of a large, vigorous, dynamic, growing church with a strong emphasis on the deeper life in Christ—a church that confirmed fifty to seventy-five new members each week—where these people were coming from.  His response surprised me.  He told me almost all of these people had begun their journey in Christ in an even larger, more vigorous, more dynamic church whose worship was leading-edge contemporary, whose focus was strongly charismatic and whose corporate life centered in highly emotional expressions of faith in God. These people would stay in that church for about two to three years and then the novelty and excitement would become ritualized and dry for them.  They began to hunger, in his words, ‘for something deeper.’  They began to sense there was more to the Christian life. You may have felt the same thing and asked yourself, Isn’t there more to the Christian life than being active in a Christian community, affirming a certain set of beliefs, adopting a particular behavior pattern?   The answer is Yes. The ‘more’ is the journey from living out one’s false self to living as our true self in Christ—a self that is deeply centered in and utterly abandoned to God.”


5acd2ae5-9c6f-4a8c-ad81-89f8608d9ce9“The State of the Multiethnic Church Movement: Glimpses of the future from Dallas and Indianapolis” – David Swanson in his Occasional Newsletter: “Last week was full of travel. It started with a flight to Dallas for the Mosaix Conference, an every-three-year gathering focused on the multiethnic church. I’ve attended many of these conferences over the years and am always impressed how the organizers, led by Pastor Mark DeYmaz, manage to include so many different practitioners, academics, and other advocates for multiethnic ministry. If there was one theme which raised to the surface for me at this year’s event, it was the role of BIPOC leaders in the multiethnic movement. While not a new theme, it was emphasized by many of the speakers from the main stage. The one workshop I was able to attend was led by Dr. Oneya Okuwobi, professor of sociology at the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Okuwobi’s research focuses on the impact of multiethnic churches (often white-led) on leaders and staff of color. It’s not a pretty picture! Dr. Okuwobi detailed the cost extracted from most of the leaders of color whom she interviewed. Having to navigate church cultures which value them mostly for their representation rather than for the experiences and expertise they bring is exhausting. It is demoralizing coming to realize that what these churches said about their goals for justice and reconciliation are nowhere near their intentions.”


Michael Gerson“Opinion Michael Gerson followed his faith — and America was better for it” – Karen Tumulty in The Washington Post: “One of the biblical injunctions sometimes cited by Michael Gerson, who died Thursday at the age of 58 after a long battle with cancer, comes from the New Testament book of Colossians: ‘Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.’ That advice works not only for Christian believers such as he was, but also in the sometimes brutal political world in which he made his mark. He was a presidential speechwriter whose own words were, indeed, singularly seasoned and notably full of grace. For the past 15 years, he enriched the pages of this newspaper as a columnist for the Opinions section. But civility, as Mike also noted, does not preclude tough-mindedness. Nor should it be mistaken for a lack of principles or perspective. His own were rooted in the faith that fueled and defined his involvement with politics, and he was scorching in his assessment of his fellow evangelicals when theirs took what he saw as a more cynical turn. In a September essay, he wrote these supposedly conservative Christians ‘have broadly chosen the company of Trump supporters who deny any role for character in politics and define any useful villainy as virtue. In the place of integrity, the Trump movement has elevated a warped kind of authenticity — the authenticity of unfiltered abuse, imperious ignorance, untamed egotism and reflexive bigotry. This,’ Mike wrote, ‘is inconsistent with Christianity by any orthodox measure.'”


therapyoffice.jpeg“Is Therapy the Cure?: The therapist’s chair could be replacing our community and the pulpit.” – Cali Yee at Mockingbird: “Christmas in 2018 was one of the worst Christmases to date. My older sister and I were in a heated (but frosty) old western standoff. It wasn’t quite unlike that one scene in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly — where the camera zooms in on Clint Eastwood’s face as he stares down his opponents. As all fights are, it was a competition of who was in the right and who was in the wrong. The real kicker didn’t come until she calmly (bitingly) suggested, ‘I really think you should be going to therapy.’  To which I hurled (screamed) back, ‘You think I should be going to therapy?!? YOU should be going to therapy, you, you, you — ‘ I can’t quite remember how it ended, or what unfortunate nickname I gave her, but I do know that it made for one awkward Christmas dinner. In my family, talk of mental illness and therapy wasn’t common. Therapy wasn’t frowned upon, but it certainly wasn’t praised either. And as you can see in the interaction between my sister and me, the need for therapy was like a silly insult, a weapon of sorts, something you said when you wanted to hurt someone.As the dy-stigmatization of mental illness continues to move at a rapid pace, it appears that going to therapy has taken on a different meaning. It is no longer a weapon, brandished to insult or shame. It has become a crown, adorned by those who pursue their ‘best self,’ or a moral obligation, required on a twenty-something’s dating profile. Of course, this is not the case with all generations and cultures. But the dialogue about how everyone should be going to therapy has certainly increased.”


Wingfeather_BoxSet_View_3_01“The Gospel in Wingfeather” – Thomas M. Ward in Plough: “Originally published between 2009 and 2014, Andrew Peterson’s four-book Wingfeather Saga was already popular within the evangelical world when it was re-released in 2020 by Penguin Random House. Since then, its popularity has surged, and it is now poised to break into the mainstream – thanks in part to a successful Angel Studios crowdfunding campaign which will put the books on screen as an animated TV series. Somehow, I hadn’t heard of the series until last year, when it started circulating among my kids’ circles of friends. Then a strangely enthusiastic recommendation from a friend and fellow dad (and professor of literature) finally prompted me to read the books. I didn’t know what I was in for. I was prepared to enjoy a good yarn and have something to talk to the kids about; I was not prepared to find such a believable depiction of love for one’s enemies and such heartbreaking reflection on the cost of redemption. I don’t say this lightly: I don’t think children’s literature has achieved the theological depth of Wingfeather since the Chronicles of Narnia.”


Waverly Abbey yew“Ancient yew in ruined Surrey abbey crowned UK tree of the year” – Patrick Barkham in The Guardian: “A gnarled yew whose twisted trunk has been growing for more than half a millennium has been crowned tree of the year. The roots of the yew snake around the ruins of Waverley Abbey in Surrey, which was the first monastery founded in Britain by the Cistercian religious order in 1128. The ancient tree, which won 16% of the total votes in the popular Woodland Trust competition, beat the spectacular ‘portal tree’ in Midlothian (11%), a rowan shaped like an archway. The Waverley Abbey yew will go on to represent the UK in the European tree of the year contest, with its success highlighting the unique wealth of ancient yews in the country. The Ancient Yew Group has identified 978 ancient or veteran yews (more than 500 years old) in England and 407 in Wales; France has 77, while Germany and Spain have only four each. Scotland is home to the Fortingall yew, estimated to be about 3,000 years old and the oldest yew in Britain.”


Music:The Porter’s Gate, “Isaiah (O Come),”Advent Songs

The Weekend Wanderer: 19 November 2022

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.


Landscape“The Roof Always Caves In: Why there is nothing wrong with being doomed.” – Kate Bowler in Comment: “It was in the cowboy days of subprime mortgage lending and a bank was dumb enough to give me money to purchase a bungalow in Durham, North Carolina. I was a twenty-five-year-old graduate student in religion, and my husband and I had recently moved from Canada, where our credit scores were purely hypothetical and the meagre stipend that I received for teaching, researching, and correctly pronouncing Kierkegaard’s name to my classmates (no, look, it’s more like Kierkegore) had really only furnished us with friend-making stories about the time we got vitamin deficiencies and all the skin on my husband’s hands inexplicably peeled off. But we had a house we couldn’t afford, which was still a treat, and the previous owner had left not only a bright green mini-golf carpet in the living room but an entire Elvis Presley tribute in what later would become our guest room. There was a shed in the backyard with all kinds of promise—a simple peaked structure that was two floors high and lined with thick white oak. It had been a carpenter’s workshop for the owner who had built the main house and even bothered to line the edges of the property with elegant masonry quarried from the same blueish gray stone that makes Duke University look like Duke University. But the problem with the shed was the crater, where the roof had sunk so low that termites and wet wood were threatening to pull the whole thing down. We tried to prop it up as best we could—beams here, brackets there—but the only real solution would be a religious one.”


Makoto Fujimura“Makoto Fujimura Awarded Kuyper Prize” – Emily Belz at Christianity Today: “Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary named artist Makoto Fujimuraas its 2023 Kuyper Prize winner, which is named for Reformed theologian Abraham Kuyper, who argued that art was vital to renewing God’s world. Fujimura is the first visual artist to receive the prize, which Calvin has given out annually since 1998. On Tuesday when Calvin announced the prize, Fujimura was in the middle of a private meeting with Pope Francis. A Japanese American and Christian, Fujimura has always related Reformed theology about renewal to his work. He practices kintsugi, taking broken pottery and restoring it with precious metals. He also practices the Japanese technique of nihonga, painting with pulverized minerals that in his work symbolize brokenness and renewal. He has long talked about a framework of ‘culture care’ as opposed to ‘culture wars.’ ‘As Christ followers, we are called to the work of renewal,’ said Jul Medenblik, president of Calvin Theological Seminary in a statement about the prize. ‘What Fujimura is doing through his work is reminding us of the Kuyperian perspective that “The final outcome of the future … is not the merely spiritual existence of saved souls, but the restoration of the entire cosmos, when God will be all in all in the renewed heaven on the renewed earth.”‘”


ddaba2f3-3fb6-4b58-a5c7-c533973e7d2e-AP_Immigration_Border_Crossings“Evangelical voters want the broken immigration system fixed. Will GOP leaders listen?” – Daniel Darling in USA Today: “A record number of migrants – border agents recorded 2.4 million encounters – crossed the U.S.-Mexican border illegally in fiscal year 2022, which ended Sept. 30. Americans are increasingly frustrated with the Biden administration’s hapless border policy. It’s a top issue as voters go to the polls Tuesday in the midterm elections. Evangelicals are among the most influential of those voters and, in new data from Lifeway Research, they told pollsters that they’d like the nation’s leaders to stop posturing and start acting to fix a clearly broken system. Among the evangelicals polled, 71% said it is imperative for Congress to pass immigration reform. What do evangelicals want in a reform package?

►92% demand legislation that supports the rule of law.

►90% say policy should ensure secure national borders.

►94% say it should be fair to taxpayers.

►78% would support legislation that would both increase border security and establish a rigorous process to earn legal status and apply for citizenship.”


wendellberrysocial2“Media-Friendly Sins of Other People” – Jeffrey Bilbro in Plough: “Wendell Berry’s new book The Need to Be Whole: Patriotism and the History of Prejudice covers many topics: family history, the Civil War, racism, the nature of good work. But, odd though it may seem, at its heart is an entire chapter about sin. Berry suggests that beneath all the political vitriol and public condemnation of people who don’t share our views lies a distorted understanding of sin. He offers an older, broader conception of sin that might enable us to debate contentious public questions honestly while still loving those with whom we strenuously disagree. The public certainly retains a keen sense that some actions and attitudes are wrong, and public figures often condemn particular offenses with totalizing ferocity. As Berry notes, the ‘old opposition to sin’ remains, but he worries we have narrowed the acts that count as sin. He warns that ‘nothing more reveals our incompleteness and brokenness as a public people than our self-comforting small selection of public sins.’ There are a few egregious ‘media-friendly sins’ that provoke ‘vehement public antipathy,’ but as long as we manage to refrain from committing one of those, we can feel pretty good about ourselves. Different political or cultural groups might have different lists of unforgivable sins, but the narrowness of the list – and the resulting self-congratulatory feeling most of us maintain – is widespread. Sure, we may be guilty of run-of-the-mill venial sins that everyone slips into, but we’ve avoided thosemortal sins: we haven’t said the n-word or applied blackface or had an abortion or sexually harassed someone.”


Cancel Luther Calvin“Should We Cancel Luther and Calvin?” – N. T. Wright in Christianity Today: “Cancel culture knows no bounds, even historical ones. Based on some un-Christlike writings by Protestant reformers John Calvin and Martin Luther—along the lines of burning heretics—there have been some recent discussions about “cancelingthese paragons of church history. The debates sound similar to conversations we’ve had about secular historical figures being canceled for owning slaves, for example. Unfortunately, it seems every generation of Christian leaders and teachers has had its own problems and blind spots. We should seize these opportunities for self-reflection, to determine if we ourselves might have similar weaknesses. In 200 or 300 years (if there are still 200 or 300 years of history left ahead of us!), what are we going to look back on as seriously problematic? It’s only recently that most Christians I know have given up smoking, for instance. There have been great social changes since the 16th century, a time when most Christian leaders considered burning heretics an acceptable practice. In their view, heresy on key issues of the faith was such a serious problem that genuine apostates could not be allowed to live and had to be put to death as a lesson to others. I live in the middle of Oxford, a few hundred yards down the street from the Memorial to the Martyrs Ridley and Latimer, who were burned at the stake in the 1550s. Those were terrible times. We look back and say, ‘How could they possibly have done that out of misplaced zeal and loyalty to God and the gospel? What was that about?'”


TASS_20426370“How Russia’s War in Ukraine Has Impacted its Christian Image” – Ryan Bauer in The Moscow Times: “Over the past decade, the Russian government has taken pains to present itself as a bastion of Christianity and traditional values. The Kremlin has used this image of religiosity and its close relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church as a mechanism to promote its interests domestically, as well as cultivate ties with similarly fundamentalist-minded supporters abroad. Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, however, there have been noticeable cracks in the receptivity of this messaging strategy. Traditional religious allies of Russia in the West have begun speaking out against the war and, in particular, the Russian Orthodox Church’s support of it. This recent trend of criticism, and declining global support for both Moscow and the Church, presents a significant and under-appreciated challenge for Russia’s ability to promote its interests and influence. In the U.S., Russia has long garnered support from various groups and figures in America’s conservative Christian communities. In these communities, Putin and the Church have successfully cast themselves as champions of Christian values, willing to do battle with what many parishioners perceive as a moral decay in the West. Russian propaganda has bolstered this perception, as well as the supposed danger of liberalism pushed by Western governments, which Russia portrays as a threat to conservative ideals.”


Music: U2, “Grace,” from All That You Can’t Leave Behind

The Weekend Wanderer: 12 November 2022

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.


benediction election season“A Benediction for Election Season” – Kenneth Tanner in Sojourners: “May you remember that all politics and all platforms and all legalities and all borders and all leaders are temporary.

May you recall that political movements and boundaries and personalities and programs are here one day and gone the next. All of these are passing away.

May you resist the temptation to place ultimate trust in any person, policy, party, movement, or nation — even a beautiful idea that is embodied by a nation — because there is no nation with an eternal foundation.

May you know that your kingdom is not of this world but of the world that is coming to this world and that is not yet here.

May you in the same breath grasp that engagement with the things of this world — not escape from its harsher, darker realities — is the sacrificial pattern of Jesus Christ.

May you discover your role in the just and merciful governance of the world God made good and pursue that cosmos-converting vocation with love amid the world’s brokenness and grittiness…”


11-1-RichVillodas-750x490“Formation for a Newly Disrupted Generation” – Rich Villodas at Missio Alliance: “Nearly 80 years ago, a young, German pastor-theologian, writing from prison, asked a question the Church has returned to ask time and time again. It was at its core, christologically anchored. Dietrich Bonhoeffer asked, who is Christ for us today? ‘What is bothering me incessantly is the question what Christianity really is, or indeed who Christ really is, for us today,’ Bonhoeffer said. Some 80 years later, that question remains; but we also must ask a second deeply penetrating question—an important formational one—namely, what is the Church to be for Christ today? Before the Church can properly engage the world in mission, there must be a clear and comprehensive exploration of formation. The great need and opportunity before us is to reimagine a paradigm of discipleship that truly shapes people into the image of Jesus for the sake of the world. In the words of the late Robert Mulholland, the call is to be ‘in God for the world’ rather than ‘to be in the world for God.’ What is the Church to be for Christ today? Very simply, people formed into his image.”


131721“Christians Meeting in Nairobi Call for Climate Change Promises to be Fulfilled” – Ryan Truscott in Christianity Today: “Busiswa Dlamini is frustrated at the slow pace as her country confronts the effects of climate change. The Christian activist from Eswatini, the semi-arid southern African kingdom previously known as Swaziland, says as a young person, it is difficult to come up with solutions in the face of a system designed to continue the status quo. ‘Yes, we do come up with solutions, but where there are no policies, it’s very hard for us to implement the ideas and innovations that we have,’  she told CT. ‘There’s a gap in my country between what the youth are trying to do and what the government is doing.’ She and representatives from dozens of other Christian churches and church-related groups in Africa, the United States, and Europe gathered in Nairobi, Kenya, last month for a two-day convocation about climate and its impact on hunger. The meeting was organized by Bread for the World and hosted by the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), which represents half a million Christians. The convocation produced a statement ahead of the 27th annual Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), which began in Egypt on Sunday. The meeting led to the signing of a faith leaders’ statement—A Faithful Voice on Hunger and Climate Justice—that organizers call ‘bold and prophetic.'”


UAE monastery“Christian monastery possibly pre-dating Islam found in UAE” – Jon Gambrell in AP: “An ancient Christian monastery possibly dating as far back as the years before Islam spread across the Arabian Peninsula has been discovered on an island off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, officials announced Thursday. The monastery on Siniyah Island, part of the sand-dune sheikhdom of Umm al-Quwain, sheds new light on the history of early Christianity along the shores of the Persian Gulf. It marks the second such monastery found in the Emirates, dating back as many as 1,400 years — long before its desert expanses gave birth to a thriving oil industry that led to a unified nation home to the high-rise towers of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The two monasteries became lost to history in the sands of time as scholars believe Christians slowly converted to Islam as that faith grew more prevalent in the region. Today, Christians remain a minority across the wider Middle East, though Pope Francis was arriving in nearby Bahrain on Thursday to promote interfaith dialogue with Muslim leaders. For Timothy Power, an associate professor of archaeology at the United Arab Emirates University who helped investigate the newly discovered monastery, the UAE today is a ‘melting pot of nations.'”


Millner - Mary“A Womb More Spacious Than Stars” – Matthew Milliner interviewed at the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: “‘Don’t dare think that somehow your conversation with Mary and your interest in her is in competition with your relationship with Christ. … You are flirting with heresy if you do not have a doctrine of Mary as mother of God.’ —Matthew Milliner. What is the role of the Virgin Mary in Christian spiritual formation? Art historian Matthew Milliner (Wheaton College) joins Evan Rosa for a conversation about beauty of Mary in Christian spirituality—particularly for Protestants, for whom the abuses of the past have alienated them from a core component of creedal Christianity, Mary as ‘Theotokos,’ the Mother of God. They discuss the history of iconoclasm against Mary, the struggle of contemporary Christianity with art and aesthetics, unpacking the ‘Woman Clothed with the Sun’ from Revelation 12, the feminist objection to Mary, and how the Virgin Mary upends an ancient pagan goddess culture invented to maintain patriarchy. They close with an appreciation of Mother Maria Skobtsova, who’s life and witness in the Ravensbruck death camp during the Holocaust exemplifies how the example and presence of Mary Theotokos today might inform the pursuit of a life worth living.”


_127413121_weic2218c.jpg“James Webb telescope’s ghostly ‘Pillars of Creation'” – Jonathan Amos at the BBC: “Why satisfy yourself with one course when you can have a double helping? The US space agency Nasa has issued a second image of the famous ‘Pillars of Creation’ taken by the new super space telescope, James Webb. This week we get a rendering of the active star-forming region as seen by Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI). Last week, it was the observatory’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) that was highlighting this remarkable location some 6,500 light-years from Earth. The pillars lie at the heart of what astronomers refer to as Messier 16 (M16), or the Eagle Nebula. They are the subject of intense study. Every great telescope is pointed in their direction to try to understand the physics and the chemistry in play as new stars are birthed in great clouds of gas and dust.”


Music: Rachel Wilhelm, “Daniel’s Song,” from Mystery Canticles (EP)

The Weekend Wanderer: 5 November 2022

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.


Bono on Morning Edition“Bono discusses his new memoir, ‘Surrender,’ and the faith at U2’s core” – Rachel Martin interviews Bono on NPR’s Morning Edition: “It was 1976. An Irish kid named Paul Hewson was trying to figure a lot of things out; his mom had died a couple years earlier, when he was just 14. Bono, as he was known, spent a lot of time at home, in Dublin, arguing with his dad and his older brother. But two goals kept him focused — to win over the heart of a girl named Alison Stewart and to become a rock star. And in the same week, he asked Alison out — (she said yes) — and he ended up in Larry Mullen JR’s kitchen for an audition. Two other guys were there — Adam Clayton and David Evans, also known as The Edge. The four of them would go on to become one of the biggest bands of their time: U2. And he is still married to Alison Stewart 40 years later. Bono writes about these foundational relationships in his new memoir, called Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story, releasing Tuesday Nov. 1. In it, he also delves into another core relationship: his spirituality. Though never a Mass-on-Sundays kind of Catholic, from a young age he was fascinated with mysticism and ritual – and Jesus.”


webRNS-Calvin-Butts3Calvin Butts, leader of Harlem’s historic Abyssinian Baptist Church, dies at 73″ – Adelle M. Banks at Religion News Service: “The Rev. Calvin O. Butts III, the senior pastor of New York’s historic Abyssinian Baptist Church, who followed in the footsteps of prominent Black ministers and paved his own path of leadership in education, health and political circles, died Friday (Oct. 28), his church announced. ‘It is with profound sadness, we announce the passing of our beloved pastor, Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts, lll, who peacefully transitioned in the early morning of October 28, 2022,’ the church stated on its website and on Twitter. ‘The Butts Family & entire Abyssinian Baptist Church membership solicit your prayers.’ Butts, 73, succeeded the Rev. Samuel DeWitt Proctor as pastor in 1989 after starting as a minister of the congregation in 1972. He became the church’s 20th pastor, according to the church’s website. ‘When we think about Dr. Butts we know that he served the community of Harlem but he served the wider community as well,’ said the Rev. James A. Forbes Jr., senior minister emeritus of Riverside Church, whose church was about two miles away from Butts’. ‘We have lost a great leader, one who really was a champion of justice and freedom for all.'”


D400-1839-085_Low_res_comp“6 ways to pray for our country during the election” – Katie Taylor at the World Vision blog: “How can we be more Christlike — in word and deed — during the 2022 U.S. election? We know a few things for sure: We’re called to love others (John 15:12). We’re called to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2). And we’re called to live in unity (Ephesians 4:3). In an election year, choosing love feels extra challenging when your environment often pushes you to pick one side and shun the other. How can we keep choosing to love rather than burying our heads under our pillows until Nov. 8? God sees our frustration and confusion. And He promises that when we pray, He’ll give us guidance and peace. ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:6-7). It seems too simple. And sometimes our voices feel too small. But when we pray, we allow God to start growing our capacity to love each other as Jesus does — even people who are the most different from us. As we approach the 2022 midterm election, we’re humbled that God saw our anger, confusion, and prejudice and still loved us enough to send His Son to be our Savior. That perspective calms our frustration and calls us to prayer.”


re-wilding faith“Exodus 3-4: Call and Response” – James Amadon at The Ecological Disciple: “The power and potential of places that are not dominated by humans is especially important in our age. Modern, industrial humanity has been exceptionally good at domesticating almost anything it touches. To ‘civilize’ something, or someone, has been an unquestioned good, and so ‘wild’ places, people, and other creatures have been tamed or destroyed. This civilizing impulse has included religion and religious spaces – we have domesticated God by reducing theology to what serves modern humanity (when was the last time you heard a sermon on the purpose/future of creation?), by confining the divine presence to the built environment (such as churches and other ‘sacred spaces’), and by controlling access to divine presence or approval (think about how religious communities define who is in/out, saved/unsaved, etc.). Moses lived in one of the most civilized societies of his time, yet it was also one of the most brutal – a paradox that, sadly, repeats itself through history. Leaving the civilized world opened Moses to new possibilities for himself and his place in the world, and to an encounter with the wild God of creation, who can never be civilized (just read the bewildering story of Exodus 4:24-26). When I ask people where they feel closest to God, almost everyone says “Nature.” This makes sense because we are fundamentally part of nature, creatures among creatures. It is often the false ideologies of ‘civilization’ that makes us less at home in the world. We need to re-wild our faith, remembering that our relationship to God is connected to our relationship with our local land and waterways, and with the creatures that share our home. This is true whether we live in a condo in the city or a cabin in the mountains. Finding ways to connect with the wildness around us can also connect us to the wildness of God, who tends to show up in surprising ways in these places.”


131335“What Ancient Italian Churches Tell Us About Women in Ministry” – Photo Essay by Radha Vyas in Christianity Today: “The Bible tells us of the important place of women in the early church. Women were the first to reach the empty tomb and to proclaim the Resurrection (Matt. 28:1–10; Mark 16:1–8; Luke 23:55–24:10; John 20:1–2, 11–18). They contended for the gospel alongside Paul (Phil. 4:2–3), taught new converts (Acts 18:24–28), prophesied (Acts 21:9), had churches in their homes (Acts 16:14–15, 40; 1 Cor. 16:19), served the church (Rom. 16:1), delivered Paul’s epistles (v. 2), and were considered ‘outstanding among the apostles’ (v. 7). There is also a lesser-known visual record of women in ministry in Italy’s oldest churches. From around the time of the First Council of Nicaea down to the 12th century, Christians created depictions of women preaching, women marked as clergy, and even one carrying a Communion chalice, with which believers have always recalled Christ’s words ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’ (Matt. 26:28). Radha Vyas, a photographer and a student at Dallas Theological Seminary, takes us on a tour of this artistic record of women in ministry.”


jacobs-thomasmerton-2“Thomas Merton, the Monk Who Became a Prophet” – Alan Jacobs in The New Yorker back in 2018: “On December 10, 1941, a young man named Thomas Merton was received as a novice by a monastery in Kentucky, the Abbey of Gethsemani. Precisely twenty-seven years later, he died by accidental electrocution in his room at a retreat center in Bangkok, Thailand. He entered the monastery three days after Pearl Harbor; he died a month after Richard Nixon was elected to his first term as President. It had been an eventful time. Merton was a remarkable man by any measure, but perhaps the most remarkable of his traits was his hypersensitivity to social movements from which, by virtue of his monastic calling, he was supposed to be removed. Intrinsic to Merton’s nature was a propensity for being in the midst of things. If he had continued to live in the world, he might have died not by electrocution but by overstimulation….Merton lived the public world, the world of words and politics, but knew that living in it had killed him. (‘Thomas Merton is dead.’) He sought the peace of pure and silent contemplation, but came to believe that the value of that experience is to send us back into the world that killed us. He is perhaps the proper patron saint of our information-saturated age, of we who live and move and have our being in social media, and then, desperate for peace and rest, withdraw into privacy and silence, only to return. As we always will.”


Music: The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, performing Ralph Vaughan Williams, “For All The Saints” (Sine Nomine), from A Vaughan Williams Hymnal

The Weekend Wanderer: 29 October 2022

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.


Gordon Fee“Died: Gordon Fee, Who Taught Evangelicals to Read the Bible ‘For All Its Worth'” – Daniel Silliman in Christianity Today: “Gordon Fee once told his students on the first day of a New Testament class at Wheaton College that they would—someday—come across a headline saying ‘Gordon Fee Is Dead.’ ‘Do not believe it!’ he said, standing atop a desk. ‘He is singing with his Lord and his king.’ Then, instead of handing out the syllabus like a normal professor, he led the class in Charles Wesley’s hymn, ‘O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.’ Fee, a widely influential New Testament teacher who believed that reading the Bible, teaching the Bible, and interpreting the Bible should bring people into an encounter with a living God, described himself as a “scholar on fire.” He died on Tuesday at the age of 88—although, as those who encountered him in the classroom or in his many books know, that’s not how he would have described it. Fee co-wrote How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth with Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary colleague Douglas Stuart in the early 1980s. The book is now in its fourth edition and has sold around 1 million copies, becoming for many the standard text on the best way to approach Scripture. Fee also wrote a widely used handbook on biblical interpretation, several well-regarded commentaries on New Testament epistles, and groundbreaking academic research on the place of the Holy Spirit in the life and work of the Apostle Paul. ‘If you had asked Paul to define what a Christian is,’ Fee once told CT, ‘he would not have said, “A Christian is a person who believes X and Y doctrines about Christ,” but “A Christian is a person who walks in the Spirit, who knows Christ.”‘”


221020-newsmentalhealthfade“How to Read the News Without Sacrificing Your Mental Health” – Mitchell Atencio in Sojourners: “When Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, Daniel Burke felt overwhelmed by the pace of the news cycle. ‘The images and the stories, particularly about young children and schools … being bombarded [were overwhelming.] I have young kids and I felt pretty deeply affected by these stories,’ Burke told Sojourners. ‘The way we make news these days … it’s like a firehose … it’s really easy to become overwhelmed.’ Burke, a former religion editor at CNN and contributing editor at Tricycle, is not alone in feeling overwhelmed. Forty-two percent of people in the U.S. will ‘sometimes or often actively avoid the news,’ according to a 2022 Reuters Institute and University of Oxford report, and nearly half of those respondents said they felt the news had a negative effect on their mood. Yet the majority of people in the U.S. — 81 percent — say that news is ‘critical’ or ‘very important’ for democracy, according to Gallup and the Knight Foundation. This can be especially true for Christians who follow 20th century theologian Karl Barth’s adage to ‘take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.’ If God is calling us to build more just communities, we are first called to know what is happening in those communities — and for that, we often need the work of journalists. But engaging news should not come at the expense of one’s mental health and emotional wellbeing. Here’s how engaging the news can be a personally and societally beneficial process.”


131502“Christians Say Sayfo Martyrs Should Get Genocide Status” – Jayson Casper in Christianity Today: “In the waning days of the Ottoman Empire, evangelicals laid down their lives for their Lord. Living in Nusaybin, once home to the ancient theological school of Nisibis, they were among the firstfruits of the Sayfo (‘sword’) martyrs. Overall, modern estimates posit half a million deaths of Syriac-Aramean Christians at the hands of Turkish and Kurdish soldiers, concurrent with the Armenian genocide that claimed 1.5 million lives. Today this Christian community, still speaking the language of Jesus, seeks its own recognition. In June 1915, the Muslim-majority city—now located on Turkey’s southeastern border with Syria—had about 100 Syrian Orthodox families, and an equal number belonging to other Christian sects. The Protestants were rounded up with Armenians and Chaldeans, marched to the front of town, and shot dead. The Orthodox families were promised peace by the local leader, but 30 men fled and sought refuge in the rugged mountains. A monk, trusting authorities, led soldiers to their hideout seeking to reassure the frightened band. According to reports, along the way they turned on the monk, demanding he convert to Islam. Upon his refusal, they cut off his hands, then feet, then head. Returning to Nusaybin, the soldiers assembled the remaining Christians, leading them out of town. In joyful procession the believers sang hymns of encouragement: Soon we will be with our Lord Jesus Christ.”


Warren - angels“Praying in the Night: Our Q&A with Tish Harrison Warren” – Mockingbird interview Tish Harrison Warren for their upcoming sleep issue: “The book begins in darkness — under the fluorescent lights of a hospital room. Enduring a brutal miscarriage, Tish Harrison Warren enters what she refers to as her “dark night of the soul,” a term coined by the sixteenth-century Spanish priest and mystic Saint John of the Cross to describe a time of spiritual crisis, when God seems absent. Prayer in the Night details Warren’s journey through that night, and serves as a guide for others in the midst of it. Written in direct, accessible prose, Warren’s honesty about suffering is matched only by her enduring faithfulness through it all. Of the weeks following her miscarriage, Warren writes, ‘Unlit hours brought a vacant space where there was nothing before me but my own fears and whispering doubts.’ At such a time, especially if you’ve been raised to believe you have to come up with it on your own, prayer can seem taxing and absurd — a kind of one-sided conversation in which the person praying does all the work. In such a case, following a script written by someone else might be helpful. Warren explains: ‘When my strength waned and my words ran dry, I needed to fall into a way of belief that carried me. I needed other people’s prayers.’ Specifically, she means Compline, an age-old service of evening prayers, a portion of which goes like this: Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen. In Prayer in the Night Warren meditates on each line of this remarkable invocation.”


Cultural Humility“Cultural Humility” – B. Hunter Farrell and S. Balajiedlang Khyllep at the Renovaré Blog: “One day I had an all-day meeting at a mission hospital an hour away from the seminary where my wife, Ruth, and I worked in DR Congo. Ruth decided to visit a sick friend and invited two young Congolese boys to go with her for some fun exploring the hospital grounds. The boys seemed to enjoy the day, and at the end of the hot afternoon they sat, watching some of the hospital personnel playing tennis. One of the employees asked the boys if they would each like to have a tennis ball. The boys’ eyes lit up and they eagerly accepted. When we returned home, Ruth asked the boys if they wanted her to write their names on the balls so people would know whose they were. They did. Then seven-year-old Mikobi asked if she would write his brother Tshejo’s name on the ball too. She thought how nice that was and wrote ​Tshejo.’ Then, Mikobi asked if she would write his friend Dilunda’s name on the ball. Something stopped her in her tracks — maybe it was a fear that there would be confusion over whose ball it really was. So Ruth paused and said, ​Mikobi, this is your ball.’ He looked at her, confused, and finally said, ​Mamu, if my friends had gone on the trip wouldn’t they have gotten a ball?’


Abraham Kuyper study“Kuyper the Mystic” – Clay Cooke and Steven Garber write this 2010 article in Comment: “The truest truths are never new. And the most important questions are always the perennial ones, the ones that human beings always ask. As my favorite poet, Steve Turner, once put it: History repeats itself. Has to. Nobody listens. I am an Augustinian, and I am a Bernardian, and I am a Calvinist, and I am a Kuyperian—and in and through it all, with the Puritan Richard Baxter and the Oxbridge don C.S. Lewis, I am a mere Christian. I would not have it be any other way. What are the Confessions if not an autobiographical yearning, from the first page on, for intimacy with God? I want to know you, and be known by you. Is it possible? The story of Augustine’s first 30 years of life is one of an increasingly hard heart, knowing the truth about God and himself, but resisting its metaphysical and moral meaning. And then, strange grace, he was awakened to reality—and his vision of God and the human condition shaped the next millennia, and for many all over the world, the centuries beyond. Bernard of Clairvaux’s marinated meditations on a true love for God, moving beyond creedal orthodoxy and intellectual assent, still echo across the centuries for those with ears to hear. Calvin quoted Bernard second only to Augustine, and when he set forth one of the deepest of all truths in the first pages of the Institutes, we hear him remembering his teachers. We cannot really know ourselves unless we know God; and then he argues, the reverse is also true. Everything else grows out of that thesis. Everything. But as I am shaped by this story of Augustine, Bernard, and Calvin, I am also shaped by Kuyper.”


Music: Rich Mullins, “Growing Young,” from The World as Best as I Remember It, Volume 2