The Weekend Wanderer: 13 August 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.


Joni Eareckson Tada“New Resolve After 55 Years in My Wheelchair” – Joni Eareckson Tada in The Gospel Coalition: “I sometimes wonder, Who am I, God, that you have brought me this far?Lately, I’ve been whispering that question from 1 Chronicles 17:16: ‘Then King David [said], “Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?”‘ Who am I to enjoy a platform on national radio for 40 years? Who am I that I should be so blessed in marriage to Ken for 40 years? And how did I ever have the strength to survive 55 years as a quadriplegic in a wheelchair? The truth is, I don’t have the strength. I still wake up every morning needing God desperately. Like David, I often confess, ‘I am poor and needy’ (Ps. 40:17). Perhaps that’s how God brought me this far. I cannot say, but I do know that ‘the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him’ (2 Chron. 16:9, NIV). God is searching high and low for weak people who love him so that he can pour into them his strength. Maybe that’s my story, but how I arrived here is not for me to say. I just keep praising my sovereign God with every milestone I pass.”


Stuart Briscoe“Died: Stuart Briscoe, Renowned British Preacher and Wisconsin Pastor” – Daniel Silliman in Christianity Today: “Stuart Briscoe preached his first sermon at 17. He didn’t know much about the topic assigned him by an elder. But he researched the church of Ephesus until he had a pile of notes and three points, as seemed proper for a sermon. Then he stood before the Brethren in a British Gospel Hall and preached. And preached. And preached. He kept going until he used up more than his allotted time just to reach the end of the first point and still kept going, until finally he looked up from his notes and made a confession. ‘I’m terribly sorry,’ he said. ‘don’t know how to stop.’ Briscoe recalled in his memoir that a man from the back shouted out, ‘Just shut up and sit down.’ That might have been the end of his preaching career. But he was invited to preach again the next week. Then he was put on a Methodist preaching circuit, riding his bike to small village churches where a few faithful evangelicals would gather to worship and encourage the fumbling young preacher with exclamations of ‘Amen’ and ‘That’s right, lad.'”


Sandra Valabregue, ‘Circle in the tree’“Our Technology Sickness—and How to Heal It” – Micah Goodman in Sources: “Such explanations are locally defined, but polarization is far from unique to Israeli society. It is a global problem. Twenty years ago, political identity did not demarcate our intellectual or social horizons. Today, however, in contrast to the Talmudic ideal of nurturing an intellectual world wider than one’s practice, our intellectual world has shrunk to fit the narrower dimensions of policy and practice. The books we read, the lectures we hear, and the videos we watch are all produced by people in our own camp. In short, we have sunk into an anti-Talmudic world. To understand why this is so, I turned to several leading thinkers, each of whom can help us understand what is going on. In his book The Upswing: How We Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again (2020), Robert D. Putnam, who teaches public policy at Harvard University, presents a fascinating study on polarization. In the 1950s, Americans were asked whether they would be bothered by their son or daughter marrying a person of a different race. About fifty percent responded in the affirmative. They were also asked if they would be bothered by their son or daughter marrying a person who affiliated with a different political party. About ten percent answered yes. When the same questions were posed in the 2010s, fewer than ten percent said it would bother them if their son or daughter married someone of a difference race, but over fifty percent said it would bother them if their child married a person with opposing political views. In other words, Americans are growing more open to people of different races and growing more closed to those who hold different political views.”


Petrusich-WendellBerry-2“In Distrust of Movements” – Wendell Berry in Orion Magazine: “I have had with my friend Wes Jackson a number of useful conversations about the necessity of getting out of movements—even movements that have seemed necessary and dear to us—when they have lapsed into self-righteousness and self-betrayal, as movements seem almost invariably to do. People in movements too readily learn to deny to others the rights and privileges they demand for themselves. They too easily become unable to mean their own language, as when a ‘peace movement’ becomes violent. They often become too specialized, as if finally they cannot help taking refuge in the pinhole vision of the institutional intellectuals. They almost always fail to be radical enough, dealing finally in effects rather than causes. Or they deal with single issues or single solutions, as if to assure themselves that they will not be radical enough. And so I must declare my dissatisfaction with movements to promote soil conservation or clean water or clean air or wilderness preservation or sustainable agriculture or community health or the welfare of children. Worthy as these and other goals may be, they cannot be achieved alone. They cannot be responsibly advocated alone. I am dissatisfied with such efforts because they are too specialized, they are not comprehensive enough, they are not radical enough, they virtually predict their own failure by implying that we can remedy or control effects while leaving causes in place. Ultimately, I think, they are insincere; they propose that the trouble is caused by otherpeople; they would like to change policy but not behavior.”


Askonas-Puzzle-Piece-Part-2-B-300x300-1“Reality Is Just a Game Now” – Jon Askonas in The New Atlantis: “On the recent twentieth anniversary of 9/11, I reflected on how I would tell my children about that day when they are older. The fact of the attacks, the motivations of the hijackers, how the United States responded, what it felt like: all of these seemed explicable. What I realized I had no idea how to convey was how important television was to the whole experience. Everyone talks about television when remembering that day. For most Americans, ‘where you were on 9/11’ is mostly the story of how one came to find oneself watching it all unfold on TV. News anchors Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, and Tom Brokaw, broadcasting without ad breaks, held the nation in their thrall for days, probably for the last time. It is not uncommon for survivors of the attacks to mention in interviews or recollections that they did not know what was going on because they did not view it on TV. If you ask Americans when was the last time they recall feeling truly united as a country, people over the age of thirty will almost certainly point to the aftermath of 9/11. However briefly, everyone was united in grief and anger, and a palpable sense of social solidarity pervaded our communities. Today, just about the only thing everyone agrees on is how divided we are.”


liturgy a la carte“Why We Shouldn’t Practice Liturgy ‘A La Carte'” – Benjamin Vincent in Christianity Today: “If you told an evangelical pastor in 2005 that the Book of Common Prayer might soon be trendier than church-lobby coffee shops, he would almost certainly have laughed. It was not so long ago that countless evangelical churches abandoned the use of prayer books and traded their hymnals for high-resolution projectors. The use of the historical church calendar to order services became a rarity as most churches began to develop thematic sermon series or preach through the Bible one book at a time. Liturgical prayer and call-and-response confession fell by the wayside, and even the names of churches changed in ways that distanced congregations from their denominational roots—as many a Hometown Baptist Church became a Wellspring Christian Community. In short, the rhythms, readings, patterns, and prayers of historical liturgies fell decidedly out of style. Over the past several years, however, a new trend has begun to emerge. Anyone who spends time among Christians in their 20s or early 30s has likely noticed a major uptick in the use of the word liturgy, which has become commonplace in both corporate worship and private spiritual practice.”


Music:Vampire Weekend, Sunflower,” (feat Steve Lacy) from Father of the Bride

The Weekend Wanderer: 6 August 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.


im-591119“Pope’s Canada Visit Highlights Complex Relationship Between Catholicism and Indigenous Cultures” – Francis X. Rocca in The Wall Street Journal: “Pope Francis’s visit to Canada, which he has described as a penitential pilgrimage, took a more celebratory turn on Tuesday [of last week] when he presided at Mass in an Edmonton stadium and took part in a traditional lakeside ceremony with indigenous Catholics. Although organizers of the papal visit and the pope himself have made it clear that its purpose is to apologize for Catholics’ role in what Francis called government-sponsored ‘projects of cultural destruction and forced assimilation,’ his second full day in the country highlighted a more harmonious legacy of the church’s relationship with indigenous Canadians. On Monday, the pope apologized repeatedly for Catholic participation in the country’s system of residential schools which, for more than a century, assimilated indigenous children to white culture. On Tuesday, he pointed to the church’s practice of presenting its teachings in forms compatible with local cultures.”


Nicky and Pipa Gumbel“Nicky Gumbel’s Fitting Farewell to HTB Church: ‘The Best Is Yet to Come'” – Krish Kandia in Christianity Today: “What does a lifetime of fruitful public ministry look like? Last Sunday, Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) tried to answer this question in a video montage marking the end of Nicky Gumbel’s 46 years of leadership at the London multisite church. Images of people whose lives had been impacted by the senior pastor and author flashed across the screen as one incredible statistic after another scrolled past: 30 million people introduced to the Christian faith through the Alpha Course, across 140 countries and 170 languages; 2 million people fed spiritually by a Bible reading app; and 2 million meals delivered during the pandemic from HTB alone. The July 24 video was a fitting homage to a nowadays unusual career, spanning almost five decades in the same congregation. It is rare in Anglican churches in the United Kingdom for a trainee leadership position to last more than the minimum requirement of three years, with many moving regularly to the next parish. But Nicky sat under the tutelage of HTB’s then senior leader, bishop Sandy Millar, for 19 years. He was 49 years old when he took over the church, and admitted to uncertainty about it all—feeling both too young and too old to do so.”


081022green-church“What does it mean to be a green church during a climate crisis?” – Anna Woofenden in The Christian Century: “At Presbyterian-New England Congrega­tional Church in Saratoga Springs, New York, environmental sustainability is woven into every aspect of church life, from how the church is heated to what happens at coffee hour to the content of sermons to what products are purchased for events. Being a green church has become a way of life, not an issue to be debated. The pastor, Kate Forer, said that church members began this work several years ago by exploring together a series of questions that helped them to connect the dots between their actions and the entire network of creation. Where does our electricity come from? Are there opportunities for us to buy renewable energy, as a congregation and as individuals? If not, how can we as a church work to make those available? What are we doing with our trash? Are there ways to reduce our trash and increase our recycling and composting? What about transportation to church?…Such questions became powerful guides as the congregation navigated the choices and actions they were taking as a community. While people were generally supportive of the idea of being more environmentally active and sustainable, the work limped along for several years as they did a little here and a little there.”


Screen Shot 2022-07-29 at 2.05.26 PM“Are Humans Naturally Good or Evil?” – Chinese house church pastor Yang Xibo in Plough: “Sin is sly and will hide itself. If we ask why there is so much injustice in the world – massacres, war, corruption, and bribery – many people will answer without hesitation, ‘Generally people are good except for a handful of scumbags.’ Consequently, they take away judgment. In fact, this neglects sin. Communism and Marxism teach that only a few people are evil, and they become capitalists who take control over the economy. As long as we can get rid of these few, most people are intrinsically good and the world will become better as human good exceeds human evil. We all subconsciously believe this story, but what happened when the people were granted authority in China? No one wanted to work for the common good. As a result, China’s economy crashed, because people are selfish, and they would rather put more effort into taking care of their own fields than communal ones. The Bible says all have sinned (Rom. 3:23) and the heart is deceitful above all things (Jer. 17:9). Without being taught, the intention of a person’s heart is evil from youth (Gen. 8:21). Humanists and anthropologists often consider humans to be good, because without God that is the only hope they have. They cannot accept or bear the fact that humankind is evil. Yet such hope has been shown to be bankrupt in history.


Timeline of African American Music“Timeline of African American Music: 1600-Present” – Dr. Portia K. Maultsby and colleagues at Carnegie Hall website: “From the drumbeats of Mother Africa to the work songs and Spirituals created in a new land, a path can be traced to the blues, gospel, jazz, rhythm and blues, soul, and hip-hop expressions of African Americans that are celebrated throughout the world. The Timeline of African American Music represents decades of scholarship conducted and led by Dr. Portia K. Maultsby, a pioneer in the study of African American music, as well as the contributions of numerous scholars. From the earliest folk traditions to present-day popular music, the timeline is a detailed view of the evolution of African American musical genres that span the past 400 years. This celebration of African American musical traditions reveals the unique characteristics of each genre and style, while also offering in-depth studies of pioneering musicians who created some of America’s most timeless artistic expressions.”


mechanization and monoculture“Mechanization and Monoculture: Why eliminating the unpredictable leads to unintended consequences” – Alan Jacobs in The Hedgehog Review: “Near the end of his brilliant memoir Tristes Tropiques, anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss describes his visits to various rum distilleries in the Caribbean:

In Martinique, I had visited rustic and neglected rum-distilleries where the equipment and the methods used had not changed since the eighteenth century. In Puerto Rico, on the other hand, in the factories of the company which enjoys a virtual monopoly over the whole of the sugar production, I was faced by a display of white enamel tanks and chromium piping. Yet the various kinds of Martinique rum, as I tasted them in front of ancient wooden vats thickly encrusted with waste matter, were mellow and scented, whereas those of Puerto Rico are coarse and harsh.

Meditation on this contrast leads Levi-Strauss to a more general insight:

We may suppose, then, that the subtlety of the Martinique rums is dependent on impurities the continuance of which is encouraged by the archaic method of production. To me, this contrast illustrates the paradox of civilization: Its charms are due essentially to the various residues it carries along with it, although this does not absolve us of the obligation to purify the stream. By being doubly in the right, we are admitting our mistake. We are right to be rational and to try to increase our production and so keep manufacturing costs down. But we are also right to cherish those very imperfections we are endeavouring to eliminate. Social life consists in destroying that which gives it its savour.

A melancholy reflection, to be sure—but perhaps not an inevitable one. The Puerto Rican rum industry observed by Levi-Strauss is a clear example of what happens when, as Sigfried Giedion put it in his still-essential book from 1948, Mechanization Takes Command, mechanization conquests more and more dimensions of human existence: agriculture, food production, bathing and washing. He even has a chapter on how mass-produced furniture changes our very posture.”


Music: The War on Drugs, “Pain,” from A Deeper Understanding

The Weekend Wanderer: 30 July 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.


authority-980x551“Authority Is Dead, Long Live Authority” – Cassandra Nelson in Comment: “Ten years ago, I was a graduate student studying English literature. Hopefully enough time has now passed to safely confess that I had no idea what I was doing as a teacher in grad school. When undergraduates came to my office hours, we would talk for a while about books on the syllabus, or books off the syllabus, or sometimes a different subject entirely. A few came regularly. Their faces remain vivid in my mind, along with my own mild bafflement after our conversations. What do they want?, I used to wonder at the close of office hours. And do I ever supply it?  Gradually, a calling began to come into focus. I finished my PhD and spent three years teaching literature and composition at the United States Military Academy. But even then, it was still possible to become flummoxed. The last course I taught at West Point was a remedial intro class in the summer. One day our discussion centred on Tobias Wolff’s ‘Bullet in the Brain,’ a short story about an ill-tempered book critic named Anders who is shot in the head during a bank robbery. In the story, the omniscient narrator follows the bullet’s path through Anders’s brain as it sets off ‘a crackling chain of ion transports and neuro-transmissions through synapses containing memories of important moments in his life. Debate veered from the text for a moment when a cadet wondered aloud whether so much of one’s life could actually flash before one’s eyes in the midst of a seemingly instantaneous death. ‘Ma’am,’ he asked, ‘is that really how it happens?’  For a moment I was taken aback. What surprised me wasn’t the number of faces that turned in my direction, but rather the way their expressions implied I might genuinely know the answer.”


Ron Sider CT“Died: Ron Sider, Evangelical Who Pushed for Social Action” – Daniel Silliman in Christianity Today: “Ronald J. Sider, organizer of the evangelical left and author of Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, died on Wednesday at 82. His son told followers that Sider had suffered from a sudden cardiac arrest. For nearly 50 years, Sider called evangelicals to care about the poor and see poverty as a moral issue. He argued for an expanded understanding of sin to include social structures that perpetuate inequality and injustice, and urged Christians to see how their salvation should compel them to care for their neighbors. ‘Salvation is a lot more than just a new right relationship with God through forgiveness of sins. It’s a new, transformed lifestyle that you can see visible in the body of believers,’ he said. ‘Sin is a biblical category. Given a careful reading of the world and the Bible and our giving patterns, how can we come to any other conclusion than to say that we are flatly disobeying what the God of the Bible says about the way he wants his people to care for the poor?’ Sider was a key facilitator of the born-again left that emerged in the 1970s but lived to see American evangelicals largely turn away from concerns about war, racism, and inequality. He continued to speak out, however, and became, as a Christianity Today writer once described it, the ‘burr in the ethical saddle’ of the white evangelical horse.”


Hama_chiesa.jfif“Two people killed in a drone attack during church inauguration in Hama province” – Asia News Agency: “Two people were killed and 12 injured in yesterday’s drone attack against a church in Suqaylabiyah, a town in the central Syrian province of Hama. A large crowd of worshippers and many government officials were in attendance of the inauguration of Hagia Sophia Church, named after the monumental Byzantine Basilica in Istanbul that was turned again into a mosque a few years ago. A video of the incident shows a drone with an explosive charge crashing near the church during the celebrations, killing and wounding people. The terrorist action was blamed on Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an al-Qaeda-affiliated group backed by Turkey that still controls large areas in the provinces of Aleppo, Hama and Latakia, the last pocket of armed opposition to the government of Bashar al Assad eleven years since the start of Syria’s civil war.”


hiddenlife4“Terrence Malick and the Question of Martyrdom” – David Michael in Plough: “In a rare public appearance to discuss his 2016 documentary, Voyage of Time, the director Terrence Malick remarked that he had “lately repented [of] the idea” of working without a script. The comment was in reference to his last three films, the so-called Weightless Trilogy (To the Wonder, Knight of Cups, and Song to Song), which had split critics and been skewered for their unstructured narrative and improvised dialogue. “The last picture we shot, and we’re now cutting, went back to a script that was very well ordered.” His comment made headlines across the internet, where writers speculated that the new film might prove a return to form for the auteur behind Badlands, Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line, and The Tree of Life, for which he won the Palme d’Or at Cannes. A Hidden Life tells the story of Franz Jägerstätter, an Austrian conscientious objector who was imprisoned and eventually executed for refusing to swear the oath of allegiance to Hitler and fight for the Nazis. It is a masterpiece.”


superpowers instruments“We Don’t Need Superpowers. We Need Instruments.” – Andy Crouch in The Praxis Journal: “Technology is a major part of the story we are living in and responsible for as redemptive entrepreneurs. Many members of our community work directly in tech ventures, and more broadly, we all depend on technology in our professional and personal lives. And yet technology prompts a great deal of ambivalence even in those who build it and benefit from it. Many of us sense, at the very least, that we need to be thoughtful and intentional about the devices and systems we are building and adopting—that technology is not in fact “neutral” but can sometimes actively undermine human flourishing, even when in other cases it seems to bring great benefits. The moment you question any given technological development, though, you run into a powerful implicit idea, an idea whose ability to impede healthy thinking and reflection is matched only by how totally it is taken for granted most of the time. It is the belief that the story of technology fundamentally advances along one single line from ‘primitive’ to ‘advanced.’…I think this assumption is mistaken.”


glen-carrie-oHoBIbDj7lo-unsplash“Poetry and the Art of Naming” – Abram Van Engen in Reformed Journal: “In the beginning was the Word. So begins the gospel of John. And so, according to John, begins everything. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and he did so in and through Jesus, who acted as language. The Word. God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. A spoken word and something new. In using language to create, God begins the world in relation. For all language—spoken or written or otherwise employed—comes from a prior relation and extends a new one. Language does not and cannot develop in a vacuum. Isolation never made a single word. Instead, every word signals a community, some relation to another. As each word is spoken or written or in some other way sent out into the world, it reaches for a listener, a reader, a person to respond. Words come from society and go out from individuals in attempts to communicate and connect. In the process, they create. Poetry dwells in words. It uses, as its tool and medium, the words that others have made and use every day for countless tasks other than poetry. As W.H. Auden noted long ago, ‘It is both the glory and the shame of poetry that its medium is not its private property, that a poet cannot invent his words and that words are products, not of nature, but of a human society which uses them for a thousand different purposes.’ For Auden, though, that shared medium served as a constant reminder that the poet is never alone: ‘however esoteric a poem may be,’ he added, ‘the fact that all its words have meanings which can be looked up in a dictionary makes it testify to the existence of other people. Even the language of Finnegans Wake was not created by Joyce ex nihilo; a purely private verbal world is not possible.'”


Music: The National, “Runaway” (Live Uncut), recorded at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on May 15, 2010, originally from High Violet.

The Weekend Wanderer: 23 July 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.


Sri Lanka“The Struggle for Sri Lanka’s Second Birth” – Ivor Poobalan in Christianity Today: “Chaotic scenes unfolded before an incredulous world last weekend in an Indian Ocean island the size of West Virginia yet with a population ten times larger. Since July 9, global media outlets have been running lead stories on the dramatic social ferment in Sri Lanka. A massive citizen mobilization pushed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the most powerful Sri Lankan leader since the days of the country’s ancient kings, to unceremoniously leave by a back door to escape the wrath of hundreds of thousands of protesters that came calling at his presidential palace this past Saturday. He fled Wednesday out to deep sea aboard a naval vessel, next to the Maldives on board a military jet, then to Singapore on a commercial airline. From there he sent his belated resignation Thursday, which enabled some closure so that the nation could look to rebuild from here.”


DallasWillard-sm

“Willard’s Four Critical Commitments: The Essential Quadrilateral for Authentic Spiritual Change and Transformation” – Gary W. Moon at Conversatio Divine: “Dallas Willard’s four critical concerns are simultaneously simple, profound and counter cultural to our modern world. But they are not new. We would go so far as to say that you will find these same four commitments across the centuries in the heart of each Christian saint; and at the heart of every movement of authentic change and transformation within the Christian church that has stood the test of time. These are  bold statements. But they are supported by Willard’s fourth concern. When an individual or a group of individuals are engaged with his first three concerns, the fourth concern, authentic and demonstrable transformation naturally flows forth. If this type of renovation is not happening, look back to his first three concerns to find the problem concerning the experience of Real Presence. In this essay, we will offer an overview of the mission of the Conversatio Divina (conversatio.org) website, provide an overview of Willard four concerns, and then offer insight into why we choose to feature the voices of ancient Christian spirituality, Ignatian spirituality and Dallas Willard.”


00.159.90_PS1..-768x384“The Tales the Carpenter Told: The kingdom of God is not built, but planted.” – Todd Brewer at Mockingbird: “Jesus’ father was a carpenter. Presumably his father was a carpenter as well. And his father before him. We might well imagine a few generations of tradesmen, passing their sophisticated engineering knowledge down from father to son: how to hang a plumb line, sharpen a hand saw, or level a wall. Jesus, likewise, would have learned the highly specialized craft from a young age. Alongside the usual religious education for children, Jesus and his siblings would have at least helped his father in the family business. If your roof caved in from a windy storm, Jesus would have been handy with a bow saw. Everything changed, however, when Jesus turned thirty. Leaving behind his auger, Jesus went into the kingdom of God business. But as mysterious as Jesus’ sudden career change was for his family — and they were none too pleased (see Mark 3:21) — it is more surprising that this traveling preacher famed for his analogies refrained from using imagery from the family business.”


new-nebula-xlarge“Stop for a minute: These space images are worth your time” – Sergio Peçanha in The Washington Post: “This is a nebula — a giant cloud of gas and place where stars are born. It’s called Carina Nebula. Carina is one of the largest star-forming regions in the Milky Way. It is about 7,600 light-years away. This means that it would take 7,600 years traveling at the speed of light to go from Earth to Carina’s region. So this is not Carina Nebula as it looks today but as it did 7,600 years ago, when the light recorded by the new James Webb telescope left its source. Bonkers, right? Everything about the Webb telescope is mind-boggling. Ponder this: Humans sent a telescope the size of a tennis court into space and parked it four times farther away than the moon. There it orbits the sun along with us, just so we can get some pictures. The very first Webb image made public showed thousands of galaxies as they appeared about 13 billion years ago — that’s almost as far back in time as the Big Bang itself.”


Hauerwas - Fully Alive“The Ruins of Christendom” – Brad East reviews Stanley Hauerwas’ latest book, Fully Alive: The Apocalyptic Humanism of Karl Barth, in The Los Angeles Review of Books: “This year Stanley Hauerwas turns 82 years old. To mark the occasion, he has published a book on Karl Barth, who died at the same age in 1968. The timing as well as the pairing is fitting. Barth is the greatest Protestant theologian of the 20th century, and probably the most widely read of any theologian over the last 100 years. As for Hauerwas, since the passing of Reinhold Niebuhr in 1971, he has been the most prolific, influential, and recognizable Christian theological thinker in American public life. Barth somehow graced the cover of Time magazine in 1962, even though he was a Swiss Calvinist whose books on technical theology are so thick they could stop bullets. Hauerwas has never made the cover, but in 2001 Timedid call him ‘America’s best theologian.’ That fall, Oprah even invited him onto her show. In short, given Hauerwas’s age and stature, Fully Alive: The Apocalyptic Humanism of Karl Barth has the inevitable feel of a valediction. In that sense, the book is an invitation to consider Hauerwas’s project more broadly. That project concerns, above all, the visible witness of the church in a secular age. That is to say, Hauerwas wants to envision, and in certain respects to rethink, what it means to live and worship as the Christian community in a liberal society. What this means for Hauerwas is a sort of social and political dispossession. Christians must be exorcised of the demon of presumptive responsibility for America, not to mention ‘the West.’ That demon’s name is Legion, for it is manifested in countless ways.”


_900_sacred_heart_of_jesus_franciscan_sisters_of_christian_charity_reflection“The Heart Has Its Reasons” – Francis Beckwith in the University of Notre Dame’s  Church Life Journal: “In summer 2021, when I realized that on April 28, 2022 it would be exactly fifteen years since I had returned to the Catholic Church, I began ruminating about the Evangelical world from which I had departed and what it was that ultimately carried me back across the Tiber. Because I am a philosophy professor—someone who traffics in concepts, ideas, and arguments, and gets paid to do it—you would think my reversion was purely a matter of the intellect, that my choosing to return to full communion with the Church was the result of a detached rational consideration of the contending arguments offered by competing Christian groups. Although a decade ago I would have agreed with that account, or at least been highly sympathetic to it, I am not too sure about it anymore….Although it all seems so very strange to me now, to my teenage self—a young man who just wanted to follow Jesus—the love, fellowship, and Christian commitment of my Evangelical friends was attractive and overpowering. I felt like I was part of something new and special that was advancing the cause of Christ, but without the historical baggage of the Catholic Church in which I had been born.”


Music: The Smile, “The Smoke,” from A Light for Attracting Attention

The Weekend Wanderer: 25 June 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.


abortion ruling“Dobbs decision and the fall of Roe is met with rejoicing, dismay from faith groups” – Bob Smietana in Religion News Service: “After nearly 50 years, Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, is no more. In a 6-3 decision Friday (June 24), the Supreme Court overruled both Roe, decided in 1973, and a 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed the constitutional right to abortion. The ruling came in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which challenged a Mississippi law that imposed strict restrictions on abortion. ‘Abortion presents a profound moral question,’ the Supreme Court ruled. ‘The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.’ The Dobbs decision has been anticipated since May, when an early draft of the ruling was leaked to Politico. Friday’s decision to overturn the constitutional right to abortion was met with both rejoicing and dismay by faith leaders, who have been loud voices on either side of the abortion debate since before Roe.”


Dates“Charlie Dates to Succeed Retiring Chicago Megachurch Pastor; Will Lead 2 Churches” – Sarah Einselen at The Roys Report: “Nationally known pastor Rev. Charlie Dates is set to succeed Rev. James Meeks next year as senior pastor of Salem Baptist Church—one of Chicago’s biggest megachurches. Meeks, a former state senator, founded Salem Baptist 38 years ago. He announced Sunday he’ll preach his last sermon to the 10,000-member church on January 8, 2023. The 65-year-old has been a pastor for 42 years and said he feels like he’s “got 42 more years in me.’ But Meeks added he’s learned from King David’s life ‘when it’s time to come off the battlefield.’ ‘It’s time for Salem to move forward,” he told his congregants. ‘It’s time for Salem to have younger leadership . . . We need new ideas. We need new opportunities. And God has blessed us with our own son’ as the church’s next pastor. Dates, 41, is senior pastor of Progressive Baptist Church—a position he’ll keep, despite assuming the pastorate at Salem. In a video message to Progressive, Dates said the two churches will stay distinct, though he’ll pastor them both.”


Leithart progress“Radical Hope: When worlds die, we need something sturdier than the myth of technological and social progress” – Peter Leithart in Plough: “The year 2020 came down like the wolf on the fold. Then came 2021. And 2022. It feels like ‘the end of the world as we know it.’ It feels like an apocalypse. It may be one. Worlds do die. Historians and junior high students debate the precise end of the Roman Empire and whether it should be described as a ‘fall,’ but no one doubts the Roman Empire now lies peacefully in the graveyard of history. Remnants of medieval life persist in our world, more than we realize, but we no longer live medievally. Worlds can disappear speedily. Less than a month after the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, France’s National Constituent Assembly abolished feudalism and the mandatory tithe, shattering the foundations of medieval order and slashing the alliance between the French monarchy and the Catholic Church that began with Clovis’s baptism in the early sixth century. Within two years, the royal family fled the palace and early in 1793 Louis XVI was executed. More recently: the world that existed before the Russian invasion of Ukraine is gone, a memory of the age of American unipolarity and what was in retrospect a shockingly fragile European peace. The change was rapid and distinct: the week after the invasion, one felt a nostalgia for a stable geopolitical order that simply didn’t exist anymore. Once it was destabilized, its former stability in retrospect looks illusory.”


harmful social media“How Harmful Is Social Media?” – Gideon Lewis-Kraus in The New Yorker: “In April, the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt published an essay in The Atlantic in which he sought to explain, as the piece’s title had it, “Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid.” Anyone familiar with Haidt’s work in the past half decade could have anticipated his answer: social media. Although Haidt concedes that political polarization and factional enmity long predate the rise of the platforms, and that there are plenty of other factors involved, he believes that the tools of virality—Facebook’s Like and Share buttons, Twitter’s Retweet function—have algorithmically and irrevocably corroded public life. He has determined that a great historical discontinuity can be dated with some precision to the period between 2010 and 2014, when these features became widely available on phones….These are, needless to say, common concerns. Chief among Haidt’s worries is that use of social media has left us particularly vulnerable to confirmation bias, or the propensity to fix upon evidence that shores up our prior beliefs. Haidt acknowledges that the extant literature on social media’s effects is large and complex, and that there is something in it for everyone. On January 6, 2021, he was on the phone with Chris Bail, a sociologist at Duke and the author of the recent book ‘Breaking the Social Media Prism,’ when Bail urged him to turn on the television. Two weeks later, Haidt wrote to Bail, expressing his frustration at the way Facebook officials consistently cited the same handful of studies in their defense. He suggested that the two of them collaborate on a comprehensive literature review that they could share, as a Google Doc, with other researchers. (Haidt had experimented with such a model before.) Bail was cautious. He told me, ‘What I said to him was, “Well, you know, I’m not sure the research is going to bear out your version of the story,” and he said, “Why don’t we see?”‘”


The Convivial Society“Trading Solitude for Loneliness” – L. M. Sacasas in The Convivial Society: “We live in a world of pervasive connection but also rising rates of loneliness. How do we make sense of this state of affairs? I suspect there are a few answers that may come readily to mind, particularly if you already take a dim view of social media. But I’m intrigued by a certain possibility that had not occurred to me until recently. As I’ve thought about loneliness and digital networks over the years, I’ve done so in conversation with the work of the 20th century political theorist, Hannah Arendt. For one thing, I think Arendt was right about the political stakes. Loneliness and isolation, she argued, were the seedbeds of totalitarianism….But Arendt also helps us distinguish among a variety of experiences that may bear a surface resemblance. Loneliness, for example, is to be distinguished from solitude, and solitude is essential to thought.”


webRNS-Gallup-God1“Poll: Americans’ belief in God is dropping” – Yonat Shimron at Religion News Service: “Belief in God has been one of the strongest, most reliable markers of the persistence of American religiosity over the years. But a new Gallup Poll suggests that may be changing. In the latest Gallup Poll, belief in God dipped to 81%, down 6 percentage points from 2017, and the lowest since Gallup first asked the question in 1944. Even at 81%, Americans’ belief in God remains robust, at least in comparison with Europe, where only 26% said they believed in the God of the Bible, and an additional 36% believe in a higher power, according to a 2018 Pew poll. Throughout the post-World War II era, an overwhelming 98% of U.S. adults said they believed in God. That began to fall in 2011, when 92% of Americans said they believed in God and, in 2013, went down again to 87%. The latest decline may be part of the larger growth in the number of Americans who are unaffiliated or say they have no religion in particular. About 29% of Americans are religious ‘nones’ — people who describe themselves as atheists, agnostics or “nothing in particular” when asked about their religious identity. ‘Belief is typically the last thing to go,’ said Ryan Burge, assistant professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University. ‘They stop attending, they stop affiliating and then they stop believing.'”


Music: Sandra McCracken (ft. All Sons & Daughters), “Trinity Song” (Live), originally from God’s Highway