The Weekend Wanderer: 3 September 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.


robert-bye-VkZuNpXxdIg-unsplash“A Life Lived Upward Toward God” – Eugene H. Peterson at Renovare: “An old tradition sorts the difficulties we face in the life of faith into the categories of world, flesh and devil. We are, for the most part, well warned of the perils of the flesh and the wiles of the devil. Their temptations have a definable shape and maintain a historical continuity. That doesn’t make them any easier to resist; it does make them easier to recognize. The world, though, is protean: each generation has the world to deal with in a new form. World is an atmosphere, a mood. It is nearly as hard for a sinner to recognize the world’s temptations as it is for a fish to discover impurities in the water. There is a sense, a feeling, that things aren’t right, that the environment is not whole, but just what it is eludes analysis. We know that the spiritual atmosphere in which we live erodes faith, dissipates hope and corrupts love, but it is hard to put our finger on what is wrong. One aspect of world that I have been able to identify as harmful to Christians is the assumption that anything worthwhile can be acquired at once. We assume that if something can be done at all, it can be done quickly and efficiently. Our attention spans have been conditioned by thirty-second commercials. Our sense of reality has been flattened by thirty-page abridgments….For recognizing and resisting the stream of the world’s ways there are two biblical designations for people of faith that are extremely useful: disciple and pilgrim. Disciple (mathetes) says we are people who spend our lives apprenticed to our master, Jesus Christ. We are in a growing-learning relationship, always. A disciple is a learner, but not in the academic setting of a school-room, rather at the work site of a craftsman. We do not acquire information about God but skills in faith.”


webRNS-Climate-Change1-082922-1536x1024“Evangelical group releases climate change report, urges a biblical mandate for action” – Jack Jenkins at Religion News Service: “The National Association of Evangelicals unveiled a sweeping report Monday (Aug. 29) on global climate change, laying out what its authors call the ‘biblical basis’ for environmental activism to help spur fellow evangelicals to address the planetary environmental crisis. ‘Creation, although groaning under the fall, is still intended to bless us. However, for too many in this world, the beach isn’t about sunscreen and bodysurfing but is a daily reminder of rising tides and failed fishing,’ reads the introduction of the report, penned by NAE President Walter Kim. ‘Instead of a gulp of fresh air from a lush forest, too many children take a deep breath only to gasp with the toxic air that has irritated their lungs.’ But the authors admit persuading evangelicals is no small task, considering the religious group has historically been one of the demographics most resistant to action on the issue. The nearly 50-page report, titled ‘Loving the Least of These: Addressing a Changing Environment,’ opens with a section that insists protecting the environment is a biblical mandate.”


MLK monument“Black Americans Have a Clear Vision for Reducing Racism but Little Hope It Will Happen” – Kiana Cox and Khadijah Edwards at Pew Research Center: “More than a year after the murder of George Floyd and the national protests, debate and political promises that ensued, 65% of Black Americans say the increased national attention on racial inequality has not led to changes that improved their lives.1 And 44% say equality for Black people in the United States is not likely to be achieved, according to newly released findings from an October 2021 survey of Black Americans by Pew Research Center. This is somewhat of a reversal in views from September 2020, when half of Black adults said the increased national focus on issues of race would lead to major policy changes to address racial inequality in the country and 56% expected changes that would make their lives better. At the same time, many Black Americans are concerned about racial discrimination and its impact. Roughly eight-in-ten say they have personally experienced discrimination because of their race or ethnicity (79%), and most also say discrimination is the main reason many Black people cannot get ahead (68%).   Even so, Black Americans have a clear vision for how to achieve change when it comes to racial inequality. This includes support for significant reforms to or complete overhauls of several U.S. institutions to ensure fair treatment, particularly the criminal justice system; political engagement, primarily in the form of voting; support for Black businesses to advance Black communities; and reparations in the forms of educational, business and homeownership assistance. Yet alongside their assessments of inequality and ideas about progress exists pessimism about whether U.S. society and its institutions will change in ways that would reduce racism.”


webRNS-Kallistos-Ware“Remembering Kallistos Ware, revered Orthodox Christian theologian” – John Chryssavgis in Religion News Service: “Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, without a doubt the most renowned and popular Orthodox Christian theologian of recent decades, died on Wednesday (Aug. 24) at 87. A convert to Orthodox faith, he became bishop of the see of Diokleia and was considered the most prolific and proficient communicator of patristic theology and Orthodox spirituality in our generation. For more than 30 years until retiring in 2001, he taught at Oxford University in England (where I studied with him for three years) and was known as an assiduous scholar, punctilious lecturer and conscientious adviser. He also served as parish priest at the Oxford Orthodox community that housed the Greek and Russian congregations. Indeed, what drew many, including me, to Oxford was his rare combination of the scholarly and spiritual, academia and asceticism, of patristic literature and profound liturgy — of Orthodox Christianity as a living and life-changing tradition.”


Matt Chandler“Matt Chandler Steps Aside After Inappropriate Online Relationship” – Daniel Silliman in Christianity Today: “The Village Church pastor Matt Chandler announced on Sunday that he had an inappropriate online relationship with a woman and is taking an indefinite leave of absence from preaching and teaching. The relationship was not sexual or romantic, Chandler told his church, but the elders believed the frequent and familiar direct messages exchanged over Instagram were ‘unguarded and unwise’ and ‘revealed something unhealthy in me.’ Chandler said he agreed with their assessment and was grateful for the spiritual oversight. ‘We cannot be a church where anyone is above the Scriptures and above the high heavenly call into Christ Jesus,’ Chandler said. ‘The Word of God holds me to a certain standard. And I fell short.'”


_126477935_57024a47-535b-4c2d-9b8c-c62a53e638bb“‘Man of the Hole’: Last of his tribe dies in Brazil” – Vanessa Buschschlüter at BBC News: “The last remaining member of an uncontacted indigenous group in Brazil has died, officials say. The man, whose name was not known, had lived in total isolation for the past 26 years. He was known as Man of the Hole because he dug deep holes, some of which he used to trap animals while others appear to be hiding spaces. His body was found on 23 August in a hammock outside his straw hut. There were no signs of violence. The man was the last of an indigenous group whose other remaining six members were killed in 1995. The group lived in the Tanaru indigenous area in the state of Rondônia, which borders Bolivia. The majority of his tribe were thought to have been killed as early as the 1970s by ranchers wanting to expand their land. The Man of the Hole is thought to have been about 60 years old and to have died of natural causes.”


Music: Fernando Ortega, “Trisagion,” from Come Down, O Love Divine

The Weekend Wanderer: 16 May 2020

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.


Joyce Lin“Died: Joyce Lin, Missionary Pilot Transporting Coronavirus Supplies” – “A 40-year-old American missionary pilot delivering COVID-19 supplies to remote villages died in a plane crash in Indonesia on Tuesday. oyce Lin, a pilot with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), was transporting rapid test kits and school supplies to a village in Papua, the easternmost province in the far-flung island chain. She took off from the city of Sentani at 6:27 a.m. and made a distress call two minutes later, MAF spokesman Brad Hoagland said. A search-and-rescue team found her Kodiak 100 airplane crashed into nearby Lake Sentani and recovered her body from about 40 feet under the water, according to local police.”


Esau McCaulley“Ahmaud Arbery and the America That Doesn’t Exist: Black Americans need more than a trial and a verdict” – I have had a lot of conversations in the past couple weeks about the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in southern Georgia. There is a lot that could be said, but I found the perspective of Esau McCaulley, assistant professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, very helpful and worth reading. You may also benefit from Rachel Conner’s exhortation, “White Evangelicals, This Is Your Moment: A Response to Ahmaud Arbery,” at Scot McKnight’s “Jesus Creed” blog.


information overload“Can we escape from information overload?” – That is a question many of us are wondering about right now, particularly as increased physical distancing appears to have led us into the crosshairs of increased online living. “One day in December 2016 a 37-year-old British artist named Sam Winston equipped himself with a step-ladder, a pair of scissors, several rolls of black-out cloth and a huge supply of duct tape, and set about a project he had been considering for some time….He’d been troubled by nervous energy and stress since he was young, was an intermittent insomniac, had difficulty filtering noise and distractions in public spaces, and was someone who – like so many of us – increasingly relied on his phone and computer. So Winston decided to hole up for a few days. No screens. No sun. No visual stimulation of any kind. He was going to spend some time alone in the dark.”


philosophy“Despite Bad News, Evangelical Philosophy Is Flourishing” – Augustine’s Confessions, Dallas Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy, and Alvin Plantinga’s God, Freedom, and Evil helped me navigate critical questions in my faith toward growth with God. I am forever thankful for the good gifts of these true Christians who were also great philosophers. In this article Michael W. Austin, President of the Evangelical Philosophical Society, speaks to the importance of philosophy and the way evangelical philosophy is thriving today.


Hannah-Arendt-1963“Thoughtlessness, Sloth, and the Call to Think: What happens when we give up on thinking? Hannah Arendt warned us years ago.” – Continuing on a theme, Hannah LaGrand offers this reflection on the work of Hannah Arendt, particularly her book The Life of the Mind, and why being thoughtful is so important for us. Slothfulness of the mind is so common in our day, particularly in these information-soaked times. As T. S. Eliot writes in the opening stanza of Choruses from the Rock: “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? / Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” Perhaps what we need is to re-learn how to think.


Thank you Ravi“Ravi Zacharias tributes flow in response to terminal cancer diagnosis” – Speaking of those who help us think well, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries announced that the famous apologist-evangelist has received a terminal cancer diagnosis. “We have just learned that while the tumor in my dad’s sacrum has been responding to the chemotherapy, the area where the cancer metastasized has actually worsened. His oncologist informed us that this cancer is very rare in its aggression and that no options for further treatment remain. Medically speaking, they have done all they are able.” Tributes are already flowing in. Author of many books with a renowned ability to speak to academic as well as popular audiences, Zacharias has had a profound ministry for Christ of the years and in many venues.


Darrin Patrick“Friends mourn Darrin Patrick, megachurch pastor and author, who died of apparent ‘self-inflicted gunshot wound'” – Some of you may know Darrin Patrick, who founded the St. Louis church, The Journey, and was also deeply involved with the early days of the Acts 29 church planting network founded by Mark Driscoll. Last week, Seacoast Church, where Patrick currently served as Teaching Pastor, announced that he died of apparent an self-inflicted gunshot wound while target shooting with a friend. This is incredibly sad news for his family and for many impacted by his ministry. Patrick was notably removal from his church leadership role and from leadership at Acts 29 and The Gospel Coalition in 2016 for “historical patterns of sin.” He took ownership for his wrongs, walked through a very deliberate and extensive restoration process, and talked openly about his failures and restoration so others could learn from his failure and restoration. I first heard Patrick speak at the Exponential church planting conference in 2010 on church planting in the city, and found his words very helpful. Ed Stetzer offers this remembrance at his blog, “Darrin Patrick’s Death, His Love for Pastors, and How We Need One Another.”


Walking changes us“How Walking Changes Us” – I love being out in nature generally, but especially hiking in wide open spaces. One of my favorite activities on my day off, when possible, is to head out to the Ice Age Trail here in Wisconsin and hike for the day. It is refreshing to my body, mind, and spirit. David Ulin’s review of two recent books, In Praise of Walking: A New Scientific Exploration by Shane O’Mara and In Praise of Paths: Walking Through Time and Nature by Torbjørn Ekelund, offers insights into why walking and hiking are so meaningful to many of us, through first a neuroscientific and then an experiential lens.


Music: Bruce Cockburn, “All the Diamonds in the World,” Mummy Dust

[I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.]

The Weekend Wanderer: 15 February 2020

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.

Wright“Loving to Know” – N. T. Wright addresses the importance not only of what we know, but how we know.  Stepping into the divide between “subjective” and “objective” knowledge, Wright explores the ways in which not only his own discipline of New Testament studies has been impacted by this supposed distinction, but also our broader experience as religious beings. “The way out is an understanding of ­creation as the gift of love, to which love is the appropriate response. But we cannot reach that true understanding of ­creation by a direct approach, for it quickly leads us back to idols. We must start with the center of creation: Jesus himself.”

 

Walley, Thomas, 1817-1878; George Whitefield Preaching in Bolton, June 1750“The Political Captivity of the Faithful” – Here is Nathan Hatch, religious historian and President of Wake Forest University, on the way both conservatives and liberals are held captive to the politicization of our day. “Today, I look in vain for religious leaders whose theological convictions creatively bridge the chasm between conservative and progressive views of the world not for political reasons, but for religious ones. One regularly sees this point made about the conflation of evangelical and conservative values, but I think there is much the same pattern among mainline and progressive Christians. When mainline churches develop an agenda on social policy, it has typically gravitated to those issues, however worthy, that have been defined by others.”

 

Steve Timmis“Acts 29 CEO Removed Amid ‘Accusations of Abusive Leadership'” – It’s hard not to cry out when I read these articles, “Not again!” Lord, have mercy upon us. “As CEO of Acts 29, Steve Timmis was an effective and respected leader. During his seven years at the helm, the church planting network rebounded from the fallout around its co-founder Mark Driscoll and expanded from 300 mostly US churches to 800 around the world.A gray-haired British pastor with sharp Bible teaching and deep passion for mission, Timmis was known for the model of intensive gospel community developed at his 120-person church in the middle of England, The Crowded House. He emphasized ‘ordinary life with gospel intentionality.’ But while his international reputation grew, some who knew Timmis in his ordinary life—who prayed, fellowshipped, and evangelized with him in living rooms, offices, and pubs—saw a different side.”

 

DeGroat Narcissism“Narcissism is not a ‘leadership style'” – After that last article––and the apparent endless stream of similar stories––it’s probably as good an opportunity as ever to hear from Chuck DeGroat about narcissism in leadership. Speaking directly of Driscoll, Acts 29, and Timmis, DeGroat writes: “Let me be crystal clear: bullying, controlling, and scaring are not characteristics of any ‘leadership style’ I find worthy of ‘Christian” leadership. These descriptors do not remotely approach the character of a Jesus-following leader. These pastors described an abusive pastor and abusive culture.'”

 

Brooks - 5 lies“Five Lies Our Culture Tells: The Cultural Roots of Our Political Problems” – David Brooks addresses the deeper look at our political divides to address five core lies that our culture believes and lives by that are just, plain, wrong. Part of this material is drawn from Brooks’ book The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life.

 

Ross Douthat“Back to the Future” – Peter Thiel reviews Ross Douthat’s new book, The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success, which critiques our prevailing sense of inevitable progress over the years. “Douthat outlines four aspects of decadence: stagnation (technological and economic mediocrity), sterility (declining birth rates), sclerosis (institutional failure), and repetition (cultural exhaustion).” You can read a summary of Douthat’s argument in “The Age of Decadence” at his regular column in The New York Times.

 

Music: L.S.U., “Blame,” from Grace Shaker.

[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.]

Darrin Patrick and Matt Carter, “Church for the City” (#Exponential 2010)

Darrin Patrick – lead pastor of The Journey in Saint Louis, MO, and Vice President of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network – and Matt Carter – lead pastor at Austin Stone Community Church, which he planted in 2002 – lead an outstanding workshop session at Exponential 2010 entitled “Church for the City.” Apparently, this material is drawn from a forthcoming book that they co-authored. I cannot wait to read the book. This was a very good session with some helpful Q&A at the end. Here are my notes from that session.

Darrin Patrick

Acts 2:37-47

Christians are people who are cut to the heart because of their sins and respond to the grace found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Christians do…they join a church; a community on mission

“A city is density plus diversity.”

  • Density: OT cities were only about 3,000 people, but were dense because of walled cities
    • Outside the city – justice dealt with by family and tribe; Outside the city – justice dealt with by government
    • Outside the city – generalist for provision of needs; Inside the city – specialist for provision of needs (clothier; food preparation)
    • Outside the city –  no next door neighbors; inside the city – you have close neighbors
    • Twice as many people living close together in OT cities than in New York city
    • Tim Keller: a city is a “mixed-use walk-able human settlement”
    • Cities create civilization
    • If you can walk to multiple types of businesses and activities within 10 minutes, then you are in a city
    • Diversity:

What is a church?

  • We need a working definition of what the church is; we desperately need a working ecclesiology!
  • See definition in Vintage Church
  • See Acts 2:42-46
    • Need to go back to the Scripture to think through our authority
    • “Everything rises and falls on leadership” – John Maxwell
    • Leadership/authority in the church (2:42)
      • Elders: serve the church by leading – overseers; teachers; inspecting; they work on the church; people know that there are leaders; BUT need a lead visionary – first among equals
      • Deacons: lead the church by serving – caring for practical needs
  • Taught the Scripture (2:42) with a view of Jesus (Luke 24) – how is Jesus the hero of every problem; how do you make
  • Fellowship (2:42) – take meals together; a theology of meals; connecting & relationship
  • Fervent prayer (2:42)
  • Supernatural activity is happening (2:43) – converts; physical healing; emotional healing
  • Had favor in the city as a result of the rest (2:47)

Matt Carter

People of God in exile in Babylon

Jeremiah 29:4-7 – “seek the welfare of the city”

‘welfare’ = shalom = peace; ‘universal flourishing’

Go in to Babylon and seek the universal flourishing of this pagan city

  • Economic flourishing
  • Educational flourishing
  • Artistic flourishing

“Because if it prospers, you too will prosper”

  • Our flourishing is tied to the flourishing of the city

A lot of churches are just IN the city…we gather, we do programs for the city…we’re not really impacting the city

Some churches are AGAINST the city…we’re good, the city is bad…God’s people are good, the city people are bad…don’t be with them, don’t go with them…us against them

Some churches are WITH the city…being cultural relevant without being salt and light…so bent toward the culture that you are not making an impact or difference at all (cf. Nicolaitans in Rev. 2:4-6)

What we should be are churches who are FOR the city

Example: Metropolitan Tabernacle in London in the 1850s; Charles Spurgeon

  • 15 alms houses started – places for the poor to meet and be cared for; only 1 existed in London prior to this
  • Started orphanage that helped 500 orphans
  • Started business (business as missions)
  • Their influence began to grow…the poor loved the church…the rich saw that this was a church who was about more than themselves…the city became so dependent upon them that if the church would have folded, the city would have grieved

If we closed our doors tomorrow, would our city even care?!

Jesus is the center of our church, but for the sake of the gospel and Jesus, we care for the city

Darrin Patrick

The definition of the gospel is “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures”, but the implication from that is caring for the poor

Abraham Kuyper: institutional church (preaching, sacraments, etc.) vs. the organic church (going out into the world); be BOTH/AND

What is the Journey doing:

  • Caring for 60+ languages within reach of the city
  • Gathering place for artists
  • Providing free counseling
  • These are becoming independent non-profits in the area; we help them with start-up costs, help them develop their own board, and push them out independently

Matt Carter

Fire in apartment complex where a lot of refugees were at

  • Rallied church through Twitter
  • People gathered resources
  • Helped them find temporary housing
  • FOX News: “If you want to know how to help this community, don’t call the Red Cross…call Austin Stone Community Church.”

Q&A:

Q: What about places where there isn’t a clear culture or great opportunity…one restaurant

A-Darrin: Going in and helping to start businesses in places like that. Creating culture. What are your dreams for this city? Listening. Takes time. It’s not sexy or easy.

A-Matt: help the people who are already there. I guarantee that there are already people there who have been working for 30+ years.

Q: What do you do when you’re trying to go in and not be the ‘great, white hope’ but the existing organizations are not effective or organized?

A-Darrin: Start with those places and then see the people within your church begin to get a bigger vision and clarity on how this can happen more effectively. Just keep plugging away and getting vision. Start with one thing. Do one thing well. Partner with other groups.

Q: How do you go about forming independent non-profits from the church?

A-Darrin: Give them start-up costs (year-end offerings) and offices and provide administration. Eventually, they need to get their

A-Matt: The non-profit independence opens the doors for people. Many people don’t want to come to a church. The non-profit is less threatening and helps you love on those who you most want to reach.

Q: Do you go in and meet the need by planting the church there or planting a ministry that will meet the specific need?

A-Matt: be okay with releasing people from your church. Release people from your church to get invested in your community.

Q: What about relationships with governmental officials

A-Darrin: you have to cultivate this. Ask the alderman

A-Matt: whenever there’s a meeting with the government officials, we try to be there

Q: what

A-Matt: you need to preach against the myth that Christianity isn’t safe

A-Darrin: at the same time, just because people are in the suburbs, you need to hear some of their input; ex: provide ways that people can connect, such as children’s ministry

Q: how do you engage with this when you live in a non-dense area?

A-Darrin: find out contextual ways to connect with people; community events, ball games, etc.; are there poor people and ways for people to engage with those needs

[This is part of a series of note-posts from the Exponential 2010 conference.]