The Weekend Wanderer: 15 December 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.

85517“When Gospel Music Sparked a ‘Worship War'” – I began my calling into vocational ministry as a music director at a church after serving as a worship leader in various settings. Music is always divisive because it ties into personal tastes, cultural perspectives, and communicates things to people beyond just the sounds and words. Kathryn Kemp writes about how the Great Migration in the early 20th century impacted the life of African American churches and sparked a ‘worship war’ of sorts during that time. This is fascinating reading for the influence that gospel music had at that time and into the church today.

 

Multicultural friends group using smartphone with coffee at university college break - People hands addicted by mobile smart phone - Technology concept with connected trendy millennials - Filter image“How Facebook Deforms Us” – I gave up Facebook over two years ago and have never wanted to go back. What I realized is that it was subtly shaping me and others into the sort of person that I did not want to be. L. M. Sacasas gets to this in his astute review of Siva Vaidhyanathan‘s new book, Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy. Sacasas’ thoughtful engagement with Vaidhyanathan, as well as other notable authors, provides a meaningful essay on the challenges we all face with a system of social media over which we exert limited control while it simultaneously exerts control over us.

 

image04newamericans“CIVA December Featured Artist” – The featured artist for Christians in Visual Arts (CIVA) in December is Asher Imtiaz, a portrait and documentary photographer from Pakistan currently working in the US (and a member of the church I pastor, Eastbrook Church). Describing his work, Imtiaz writes, “I believe the human face is the greatest of landscapes to capture.” Click here see more of his photography and to read about his work at the CIVA website. You could also visit his personal website here.

 

pew-846021_640“Why Evangelicals Should Care More About Ecclesiology” – Someone shared this article from a few years back with me, and my wife, Kelly, and I have been talking about it ever since. Tish Harrison Warren, author of Liturgy of the Ordinary, suggests that one of the significant factors in the crisis of moral leadership in the evangelical church today is a failure of institutional accountability. This is particularly a problem where there are not clear lines of authority within denominational structures or episcopal layers of authority. Warren’s argument is important to her out, even if there are similar issues with failure in moral authority in church contexts with institutional accountability (e.g., Roman Catholic sex abuse scandal). The fundamental dearth of ecclesiological thinking in evangelicalism is the heart of the issue, it seems to me.

 

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“People of African descent face ‘dire picture’ of racism in EU” – “Almost a third of people of African descent polled in a new EU survey say they have experienced racial harassment in the last five years, a report that claims racial discrimination is ‘commonplace’ across 12 European countries reveals. People of African descent face ‘a dire picture’ of discrimination in housing, the workplace and everyday life, the survey of 5,803 people by the European Union’s fundamental rights agency states.”

 

Screen Shot 2018-12-12 at 10.53.15 AM“Stephen Colbert’s conversion from atheism back to Catholicism” – Late Night television host and comedian, Stephen Colbert, talks with Father James Martin about his return to Catholicism from atheism, which was sparked by having someone hand him a pocket New Testament on the wintry streets of Chicago at an anxious season in his life.

 

higgins-inklings-243x300.jpg“An Inherently Meaningful Cosmos” – For those who follow the Oxford scholarly group knowns as the Inklings – that group gathered around the nucleus of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien – you begin to notice certain themes return in many of their works. Certainly the engagement with fantasy is there, but those familiar with “the other Inkling,” Charles Williams, begin to notice attention to Arthurian legends. A recent collection of essays on this theme, The Inklings and King Arthur: J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, C. S. Lewis, & Owen Barfield on the Matter of Britain edited by Sørina Higgins, receives worthy attention in a review by Ben Lockerd.

 

85542“Christianity Today’s 2019 Book Awards” – There are so many booklists floating around these days that it is hard to know which of them to pay attention to. John Wilson always has one of the most diverse and interesting favorites listsMaureen Corrigan pulls together a great look at some of the best books of 2018 at NPREnglewood Review of Books offers a fun Advent Calendar of the best books of the year.  In the midst of the many, I always appreciate Christianity Today’s annual book awards, which helps me pay attention to some of the most insightful biblical-theological books, as well as helps for discipleship and the life of faith. This year is no exception.

 

merton“Merton & Blake, Revisited” – Michael Higgins looks at two of the most fascinating and enigmatic characters within church history of the last 250 years: Thomas Merton and William Blake. Blake’s imagination-laden approach to Christian faith during the late 18th and early 19th centuries and Merton’s iconoclastic monastic faith during the mid-20th century has attracted many interested readers and scholars. Leaning more to an examination of Merton, Higgins wonders why he still fascinates us? Higgins suggests the “stark and vibrant display of paradox is part of his enduring appeal.”

 

[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: 8 December 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.

85262“John the Baptist Points to the Real Hope of Advent” – Fleming Rutledge reflects on how both Advent and John the Baptist are apparently out of touch with the cultural currents that surround Christmas. Connecting with the longing for Jesus to come as Judge, “John does not proclaim Jesus as a captivating infant smiling benevolently at groups of assorted rustics, potentates, and farm animals. Instead, he cries out, ‘He who is coming after me is mightier than I. . . . His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire’ (Matt. 3:11–12).” Her entire article is compelling. [Thanks to David Bier for sharing this with me.]

 

brunson22a“‘A living martyr’” – World Magazine names Andrew Brunson as their “Daniel of the year,” following accusations against him in Turkey and his recent release from imprisonment.  “Jailed in October 2016 and subsequently charged with espionage and terrorism, Andrew Brunson found himself catapulted to the center of global headlines and U.S.-Turkey relations. Norine, jailed briefly then released, never left Turkey, knowing she might not be allowed to return to support her husband. Now they were home to family and friends.”

 

Mar Mattai Monastery Iraq“The Vanishing: The plight of Christians in an age of intolerance” – Janine di Giovanni reports on something that many of us have been highlighting for the past few years: the excavation of a persecuted Christian minority from the Middle East. “The Christians here have endured invasions by Persians, Kurds, and Turks, but they have recovered after each persecution. This is, in part, their tradition: they believe in their sacred right to their land. . . . The persecution of Christians in Iraq began as early as the thirteenth century. But in recent years it has reached a tipping point, setting off a mass exodus. In 2002, when I was living in Baghdad, six months before the US invasion, there were nearly 1.4 million Christians in Iraq. Today there are between 250,000 and 300,000 left, according to Samuel Tadros, a fellow at the Hudson Institute.” You may also want to read this recent, similar statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury: “Christians on brink of extinction in Middle East, warns Archbishop of Canterbury.”

 

2013_9-16-The-Russian-Orthodox-Church“Israel expropriates almost 70 acres of Catholic Church property” – On a related topic, The Middle East Monitor reports: “Israel’s occupation authorities expropriated almost 70 acres of Palestinian land in the Jordan Valley and West Bank on Tuesday, Shehab news agency has reported. The land is owned by the Roman Catholic Church — the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem — in the villages of Bardala and Tayaseer near the West Bank city of Tubas and in the Jordan Valley respectively.” Is it for security or settlements? Either way, the church just lot its property to the state.

 

A Uyghur woman walks pass a statue of Mao Zedong in the“The Uighurs and China’s Long History of Trouble with Islam” – On a related topic, in The New York Times Review of Books, Ian Johnson offers an extended reflection on Islam in China, with particular attention to the Uighurs in northwest China. He also gives some helpful reflections on why China has struggled to accept Christianity, as well as other religions viewed as subversive.

 

Screen Shot 2018-12-06 at 11.36.26 AM“All the presidents at the Bush funeral service together recited this core prayer. Except one.” – There was a little kerfuffle in the Twitter-sphere when people noticed that President Donald Trump and the First Lady Melania Trump did not recite the Apostles Creed after the homily during George H. W. Bush’s funeral at the National Cathedral. Michelle Boorstein offers an even-handed reflection on the history and significance of the Apostles Creed, and also why the Trumps did not recite it during the service. You can also read my article about why we now recite the Apostles Creed when taking communion at Eastbrook Church.

 

pexels-photo-684387“The Dominant Approach to Leadership in the Church and Why Jesus Means to Upend It”Kyuboem Lee over at Missio Alliance: “There’s a reason many pastors feel used and abused—they’ve been living as cogs in the wheels of the Church Industrial Complex (as my friends JR and Dan White say in their book, Church as Movement). What is the remedy? It’s certainly not trying harder to keep the machine going. Jesus said there is a different kingdom—and a different way of governing, or leading. A different theology of power for a different kingdom. And out of it, a different way of structuring ourselves as society or organization or community. The greatest in this society will be the servant of all.”

 

civil war“Battle Lines: Recovering the profound divisions that led to the Civil War” – Numerous people have recommended that I read Andrew Delbanco’s The War Before the War: Fugitive Slaves and the Struggle for America’s Soul from the Revolution to the Civil War. I haven’t had the chance to get there yet, but a tantalizing appetizer came this past week in Gordon Wood’s in-depth review of both Delbanco’s book and Sean Wilentz’s No Property in Man: Slavery and Antislavery at the Nation’s Founding. The review sends you deep into the history of slavery in our country to some profound wrestling with what was really going on.

 

3309“Unknown John Donne manuscript discovered in Suffolk” – This might just be the English-major in me, or it might be the poetry lover in me, but I found this article about a recently discovered manuscript of John Donne’s poetry fascinating. Donne is that well-known 17th-century love poet, who eventually became an Anglican priest and metaphysical poet. “A previously unrecorded handwritten manuscript of John Donne’s poetry has been found in a box at an English country house in Suffolk. Dating back 400 years, the bound collection was kept for at least the last two centuries at Melford Hall in Suffolk.”

[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: 1 December 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.

jo saxton“Calling Versus Narcissism” – In this ten-minute message given at Q Ideas, Jo Saxton reflects on the slight difference between calling and narcissism. Building off of the myth of Narcissus and the contemporary discussion of the narcissistic personality disorder, Saxton speaks to Christians about how we can view calling through the eyes of God, and authentically position our service for the good of others.

 

Jean Pierre Gatera“He Led Churches in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp. Now He Waxes Floors” – You will be moved by this powerful account of Jean Pierre Gatera, a bivocational pastor in the US, who is also a refugee. He spent 20 years in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in northwestern Kenya, where he pastored several congregations.

 

85361“US Missionary Killed by ‘World’s Most Isolated’ Tribe” – “A 26-year-old American missionary was killed on a remote island off the coast of India, where he attempted to share the gospel with the most isolated tribe in the world. All Nations, a Christian missions agency based in the US, confirmed that John Allen Chau traveled to North Sentinel Island after years of study and training to evangelize its small indigenous population, who remain almost entirely untouched by modern civilization.” You can read the BBC’s initial report here and updates on attempts to retrieve Chau’s body here. You can find out more about the Sentinelese people here. This also gives us an opportunity to reflect on the way that we tell missionary stories. Read Lucy Austen’s article on this dilemma, “From Jim Elliot to John Allen Chau: The Missionary-Martyr Dilemma,” over at Christianity Today.

 

img_3744_slide-6b53600232d81844eff1806355dec33c4a5e739f-s1500-c85“In Iraq, A Race To Protect The Crumbling Bricks Of Ancient Babylon” – In the midst of our series on the book of Daniel at Eastbrook Church, I have spent quite a bit of time researching the history of ancient Babylon. NPR reports here on the challenges of preserving that cultural history as a result of the conflicts that have raged in the midst of Iraq over the past ten years and more.

 

luke-palmer-305434-unsplash.jpg“How to experience the Bible in a digital world” – “Spark and Echo, cofounded in 2010 by the composer Jonathan Roberts and the actor and musician Emily Clare Zempel, aims to “illuminate” every single verse of the King James Bible by the year 2030. The way it works is this: Patrons contribute funding and have a chance to mark with a ‘spark’ particular verses they would like to see ‘echoed’ by an artist, writer or musician. Then, the program commissions—and pays for—an original work based on those verses.”

 

Old-Vintage-Books“8 Works of Fiction Every Christian Should Read”Karen Swallow Prior, author of On Reading Well, shares eight fiction books that every Christian should read. You will find treasures from Charlotte Bronte, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Flannery O’Connor, and Charles Dickens, as well as a few surprises. This is a fantastic list worth taking a look at for your Christmas list or just for adding to your to-read list for 2019.

 

christopher tolkien“The Steward of Middle-Earth” – Speaking of good literature, you might enjoy Hannah Long‘s fascinating reflection on the work of Christopher Tolkien, son of J. R. R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. “In 1975, Christopher Tolkien left his fellowship at New College, Oxford, to edit his late father’s massive legendarium. The prospect was daunting. The 50-year-old medievalist found himself confronted with 70 boxes of unpublished work. Thousands of pages of notes and fragments and poems, some dating back more than six decades, were stuffed haphazardly into the boxes. Handwritten texts were hurriedly scrawled in pencil and annotated with a jumble of notes and corrections. One early story was drafted in a high school exercise book.”

 

Andy Crouch“Tech Wise”Andy Crouch, author of Culture Making and The Tech-Wise Family, speaks at Menlo Church about what he calls “the upgrader’s dilemma.” What is that? That dilemma is the simultaneous reality that even as technology is progressing through upgrades that astound us, other things in our world and our lives do not feel like they are progressing at all, but might be getting worse. Crouch explores the possibility that the very things that are progressing are contributing to our failure to progress in other areas.

 

151103120643-italian-elderly-man-exlarge-169“Drug overdoses, suicides cause drop in 2017 US life expectancy; CDC director calls it a ‘wakeup call'” – “Life expectancy in the United States declined from 2016 to 2017, yet the 10 leading causes of death remained the same, according to three government reports released Thursday. Increasing deaths due to drug overdoses and suicides explain this slight downtick in life expectancy, the US Centers for Disease Control says. Overdose deaths reached a new high in 2017, topping 70,000, while the suicide rate increased by 3.7%, the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics reports.” If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please don’t delay in reaching out for help. Find support resources here.

 

[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: 24 November 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.

 

83973“Five Books for Believers Struggling with Unanswered Prayers” – At Christianity Today, Jason Hague, author of Aching Joy: Following God through the Land of Unanswered Prayer, shares a list of five recommended books that help us grapple with unanswered prayer. Perhaps most interesting to me is that, along with books on prayer, Hague suggests two fiction works, C. S. Lewis’ The Last Battle and, one of my favorite books, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. McCarthy is not for the faint of heart, but, then, neither is unanswered prayer. Read Hague’s complete list here.

 

old“No Country for Old Age” – Over at The Hedgehog Review, Joseph E. Davis writes about the the devaluation of old age in our society, despite advances in care for the aged through Social Security and increases in caring facilities. “In our society, to come directly to my point, old age is understood and framed in ways that lead inevitably to its devaluation. Its status is low and arguably is falling. On its face, such a claim might sound preposterous. Surely, the opposite is true.”

 

armenia-crab“The Prophets, Angels, & Churches of ‘Armenia!’” – “One small display in an exhibition can grab you by the collar. In the case of ‘Armenia!’ at the Metropolitan Museum, it was the image of a spherical wide-eyed crab in a ridged armor swallowing Alexander the Great, along with his ship and retinue, set against a wavy sea that might have been drawn by a child. It is attributed to Zak‘ariay of Gnunik and appears in an illuminated manuscript of the Alexander Romance (1538–1544), the legends surrounding the exploits of Alexander the Great, much loved by Muslims, Orthodox Christians, and Armenians alike. Dr. Helen Evans, the Met’s curator of Byzantine Art, told me, ‘That crab is too good not to be recognized as the type of art we don’t expect from East Christians.'”  [Thanks to Micah Mattix for sharing this in the Daily Prufrock.]


180224-049-13B3FE7D“Antisemitism Is Our Problem”
– As Christians we must wrestle with the way that antisemitism has often taken root in Christianity. Editor Samuel Loncar reflects on Christianity’s antisemitic legacy over at the Marginalia blog of The Los Angeles Review of Books. “Most Christians today will think of the ‘God of the Old Testament’ as harsh, perhaps even cruel, a judge, to which they contrast Jesus as loving and kind. This is a form of Marcionism, one of the earliest and most anti-Judaic heresies that claimed Jesus has nothing to do with Judaism, that he and his God were a revelation of pure love in contrast to the stern God of the Jewish people. No serious reading of either the Old or New Testament can justify such a contrast, yet it is perhaps the dominant way most Christians will think of the relationship between the Old and New Testament. This is one of many reasons that antisemitism is our problem, for we are a culture shaped by Christianity.”

 

bae17228f34cea7e30605f58696e1fbda760c447“Giant Damien Hirst uterus sculptures catch eye at Qatar hospital” – “Fourteen giant bronze sculptures by British artist Damien Hirst graphically charting the moment of conception to birth greet patients arriving at an $8-billion hospital in Gulf state Qatar. The vast open-air installation, named “The Miraculous Journey”, shows a foetus growing in the womb and culminates with a 14-metre (46-feet) of a naked baby just after birth. The monumental work is the centrepiece of an impressive modern art collection at the Sidra Medicine Hospital, officially opened this week in Doha, that would be the envy of many galleries around the world.” [Thanks to Christina Edmondson for sharing this link.]

[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: 17 November 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.

181113-ebola-outbreak-congo-who-cs-1234p-3_0cdc1eae37b6711aeffb35064f16bd37.fit-1240w“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.]

 

85237“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.”

 

pew-846021_640“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.”

 

EvangelicalIconBanner_1400x400-1024x293“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.

 

7sRRdUyVEm2nvNWmOHfqlzl72eJkfbmt4t8yenImKBVvK0kTmF0xjctABnaLJIm9“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.”

 

85217“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.”

 

5373“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.”

 

nazareth“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.”

 

Screen Shot 2018-11-14 at 1.46.18 PM“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.

Screen Shot 2018-11-15 at 8.03.02 AM.pngNational 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.]