“The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like. Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within these articles but have found them thought-provoking.
“Spiritual Timekeeping” – James K. A. Smith talks about his book How to Inhabit Time in Spark: “WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK? There were a few inspirations. The first, to be candid, was my own experience of therapy for depression, which was a personal exercise of reckoning with my past, so I could “live forward” into a different future. In counseling, coming to terms with the past allowed me to hope again. But then reckoning with our collective past is also something we have been undergoing as a country, particularly as we grapple with systemic racism and police brutality, since the murder of George Floyd. Finally, my work is part of a broader conversation about spiritual formation (in the work of Dallas Willard and Tish Harrison Warren, for example), and it seemed to me that we had not yet taken seriously the significance of time in spiritual formation. I hope How to Inhabit Time takes us in new directions.”
“Western Classics Exclude Me. But Christ Can Redeem Them: As an Asian American, God’s great story helps me value literature that often leaves me out.” – Sara Kyoungah White in Christianity Today: “Last year, I began reading Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. At first, I was swept away by Ishmael’s beautiful descriptions of his passion for the sea. But I grew increasingly uncomfortable in chapter two, when Ishmael accidentally stumbles into a Black, presumably Christian, worship service. He shockingly describes the gathering as a ‘great Black Parliament sitting in Tophet’ (another name for hell) and the preacher as ‘a black Angel of Doom.’ In the next chapter, we meet the Native American character Queequeg, whose first words are ‘Who-e debel you? … you no speak-e, dam-me, I kill-e,’ before he is promptly labeled as a cannibal. What do we do with racist passages in classic books like this—especially as readers of color? As a lifelong lover of books, I heartily applaud that many Christians seem to have a vested interest in preserving and championing classic Western literature. In On Reading Well and various articles, Karen Swallow Prior writes about how good books can help cultivate our virtues. Similarly, Jessica Hooten Wilson has said that books help us to be holier. They can sharpen our worldview and help us develop empathy. Reading good books can, as Philip Ryken writes, sanctify our imaginations and nourish our love for beauty; it can even help us be more effective teachers, preachers, and leaders. As a nonwhite Christian, however, I find that most discussions of reading classic Western literature today either fail to acknowledge or only tangentially mention two difficult truths.”
“Why millennial men are turning to the Book of Common Prayer” – David French in The Spectator: “The Book of Common Prayer is enjoying a revival in the Church of England, despite the best efforts of some modernists to mothball it. Over the past two years, more and more churchgoers have asked me about a return to Thomas Cranmer’s exquisite language, essentially unaltered since 1662, for church services and private devotions. Other vicars tell me they have had a similar increase in interest. It helps that the Book of Common Prayer has had a fair bit of attention recently. The late Queen Elizabeth’s insistence on the use of Prayer Book texts in her funeral rites meant that in September more people witnessed the beauty of this liturgical treasure than watched Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the Moon. The hairs on the back of my neck bristled as I heard on TV the solemn words echo around Westminster Abbey: ‘In the midst of life we are in death.’ And in the lead-up to the coronation, the Prayer Book has once again been in the public eye – although not all the publicity has been good. Cambridge University Press’s beautifully bound new Prayer Book, published in time for the coronation, had to be recalled from its first print run when it was noticed that the text mistakenly included France as a dominion under Charles III. Some priests have held on to their misprints in the hope that they might become rare collectors’ items or in case the sorry state of French politics makes them prophetic. What’s interesting is that the C of E’s Book of Common Prayer revival is overwhelmingly led by millennials.”
“The Outer Limits of Liberalism: What happens when a society takes individualism to its logical conclusion?” – David Brooks in The Atlantic: “Many good ideas turn bad when taken to their extreme. And that’s true of liberalism. The freedom of choice that liberals celebrate can be turned into a rigid free-market ideology that enables the rich to concentrate economic power while the vulnerable are abandoned. The wild and creative modes of self-expression that liberals adore can turn into a narcissistic culture in which people worship themselves and neglect their neighbors. These versions of liberalism provoke people to become anti-liberal, to argue that liberalism itself is spiritually empty and too individualistic. They contend that it leads to social breakdown and undermines what is sacred about life. We find ourselves surrounded by such anti-liberals today. I’d like to walk with you through one battlefield in the current crisis of liberalism, to show you how liberalism is now threatened by an extreme version of itself, and how we might recover a better, more humane liberalism—something closer to what the Mills had in mind in the first place. In 2016, the Canadian government legalized medical assistance in dying. The program, called MAID, was founded on good Millian grounds. The Canadian Supreme Court concluded that laws preventing assisted suicide stifled individual rights. If people have the right to be the architect of their life, shouldn’t they have the right to control their death? Shouldn’t they have the right to spare themselves needless suffering and indignity at the end of life?”
“You Have Permission to Be a Smartphone Skeptic” – Clare Coffey in The Bulwark: “Recently, the news that minor British celebrity Sophie Winkelman had pulled her children out of a posh school because students there were going to be issued iPads occasioned the brief return of one of my favorite discursive topics—are the kids all right?—in one of my least-favorite variations: why shouldn’t each of them have a smartphone and tablet? Whenever this subject arises, there are more or less two camps. One camp says yes, the kids are fine; complaints about screen time merely conceal a desire to punish hard-working parents for marginally benefiting from climbing luxury standards, provide examples of the moral panic occasioned by all new technologies, or mistakenly blame screens for ill effects caused by the general political situation. No, says the other camp, led by Jonathan Haidt; the kids are not all right, their devices are partly to blame, and here are the studies showing why. As useful as the statistical correlations in the detractors’ learned studies are, they are not conclusive in either direction, and we should not wait for the replication crisis in the social sciences to resolve itself before we consider the question of whether the naysayers are on to something. And normal powers of observation and imagination should be sufficient to make us at least wary of smartphones.”
“The Most Underrated Sound in Our Society” – Joshua Becker at Becoming Minimalist: “A few months ago, my wife and I took our kids on a short weekend trip to the mountains. As we pulled out of our neighborhood and merged onto the four lane highway, we suddenly realized an important detail for the trip had been left undone. Kim and I both assumed the other person was going to make the necessary arrangements. As a result, neither of us had accomplished the task. And now, the trip had already begun. The problem would ultimately be fixed with a little extra time and money. But in the moment, our conversation abruptly ended. Tenseness ensued. And both of us stared silently out the windshield in disgust. After a few short minutes, one little voice called out from the backseat, ‘Umm, are you guys ever going to talk again?’ The silence had become unbearable. I was reminded again how silence has become a difficult atmosphere in our society. In our homes, we turn on our televisions. In our cars, we turn on the radio. When we exercise, we put on our headphones. Even when waiting in elevators or on hold with customer service, sound fills the void. It seems we have become uncomfortable with the very presence of silence in our lives. We speak of “awkward silences” in a room full of people. We fear that brief moment when we meet someone new and aren’t quite sure what to say.”
Music: The Porter’s Gate, “May the Peace” (feat. Josh Garrels), from Worship for Workers