“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.
“Where’s the Next Brick?: Finding God Among the Ruins of Christianity” – Francis Spufford in Mockingbird: “Once there was a great building. Mighty with towers, spiky with spires, a-bubble with domes. Inside it opened into gallery after gallery, vault after echoing vault, so high that human beings who set off across its marble pavements sometimes mistook its roof for the sky and the building for the world itself. And though it showed signs of many styles, and had been built by many different architects over many centuries, it had been standing so long than no one could remember when it wasn’t there, or suspected that it could ever fall. But it did. Whether it was the rain that got in and dissolved the mortar, or whether the foundations had been questionable all along, or whether the maintenance had been neglected, people are arguing still: but in any case, down it came with shocking speed, the collapse of one part setting off the tumbling of the next, and the next, and the next, until all of it lay in rubble. Some of the rubble was gathered up by those who had particularly loved the building and assembled back into a much smaller structure — somewhere in size, say, between a cottage and a garden shed. The rest, however, lay where it had fallen; and the grass grew over it, and creepers disguised the biggest pieces of the ruin till they looked almost like outcrops of rock; and with a speed just as astonishing as the collapse had been, those who walked there forgot there had ever been a building, and took the bumpy hill beneath them for the plain and natural ground.”
“Christian Conservationists Sue to Protect Ghana Forest” – Ryan Truscott in Christianity Today: “A Christian conservation group is fighting the Ghana government in court over plans to mine bauxite in the Atewa Range Forest Reserve. The protected highland forest north of the capital, Accra, is home to more than 700 species of butterflies, 239 different birds, and 1,134 plants and also provides water for millions of people. The government reportedly granted a license to the Chinese state-owned Sinohydro Corp. to mine bauxite and build a refinery for the production of aluminum to pay back a $2 billion loan for infrastructure projects across the country. Experts say the mine would be catastrophic for plants and wildlife, not to mention the climate and clean water. ‘We thought that if we didn’t take this step of faith, then we would not have acted well as Christians who are stewards of God’s creation,’ said Seth Appiah-Kubi, the national director of A Rocha Ghana. ‘We’ve done all we’ve done because we are Christians.’ A Rocha Ghana is leading the legal challenge, joined by six other civil society groups and four private citizens. The case was filed three years ago and made its way to the Accra High Court in February. The conservation group has never filed suit before. ‘Even though we’ve done advocacy and campaigns as part of our work, this is the first time we’ve taken legal action,’ Appiah-Kubi said. ‘It’s a big learning curve.'”
“Why the Mental Health of Liberal Girls Sank First and Fastest: Evidence for Lukianoff’s reverse CBT hypothesis” – Jonathan Haidt in After Babel: “In May 2014, Greg Lukianoff invited me to lunch to talk about something he was seeing on college campuses that disturbed him. Greg is the president of FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression), and he has worked tirelessly since 2001 to defend the free speech rights of college students. That almost always meant pushing back against administrators who didn’t want students to cause trouble, and who justified their suppression of speech with appeals to the emotional “safety” of students—appeals that the students themselves didn’t buy. But in late 2013, Greg began to encounter new cases in which students were pushing to ban speakers, punish people for ordinary speech, or implement policies that would chill free speech. These students arrived on campus in the fall of 2013 already accepting the idea that books, words, and ideas could hurt them. Why did so many students in 2013 believe this, when there was little sign of such beliefs in 2011? Greg is prone to depression, and after hospitalization for a serious episode in 2007, Greg learned CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). In CBT you learn to recognize when your ruminations and automatic thinking patterns exemplify one or more of about a dozen “cognitive distortions,” such as catastrophizing, black-and-white thinking, fortune telling, or emotional reasoning. Thinking in these ways causes depression, as well as being a symptom of depression. Breaking out of these painful distortions is a cure for depression. “
“Fermentation as Metaphor: An Interview with Sandor Katz” – By the editors of Emergence Magazine: “In this interview, Sandor Katz discusses his new book, Fermentation as Metaphor. A world-renowned expert in fermented foods, Sandor considers the liberating experience offered through engagement with microbial communities. He shares that the simple act of fermentation can give rise to deeply intimate moments of connection through the magic of invisible forces that transform our foods and our lives, generation by generation.
Emergence Magazine: You describe yourself as a fermentation revivalist so I wonder if we could start by having you share a bit about what that means to you.
Sandor Katz: Well, sure. The reason I started calling myself a fermentation revivalist is from my sense of how common fermentation has been in the not too distant past and it’s so integral to all of our food traditions. Whatever part of the world our ancestors came from, fermentation is an essential part of how people make effective use of whatever food resources are available to them, but in the last several generations and at different paces in different parts of the world, people have become increasingly distanced from the production of food and all of the processes that we use to transform the raw products of agriculture into all of the foods that people eat and drink. And it so happens that the same time period where these processes became more mysterious and distanced to people is also the time when the war on bacteria developed.”
“18 Readers on Their Relationship With Religion” – Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic: “Last week, I asked readers to describe their relationship with organized religion. What follows is but a fraction of the outpouring of responses—in fact, I’ll be sending another email next week with more replies. (And I’ll be back tomorrow with this week’s conversations and provocations.) Andrew loves his big-city church: ‘I was raised and still consider myself an evangelical Christian. For the last nine years, I’ve lived on the South Side of Chicago and attended a small church in my neighborhood. I have worshipped side by side with people raised on the South Side and people born on four other continents, people with multiple doctorates and others who have not finished high school. We have eaten together, been at the bedside of newborns and in the ICU together, grieved over untimely deaths together, and celebrated triumphs small and large together. We have supported each other when experiencing homelessness and joblessness, returning from or entering prison, suffering deep mental-health crises, and seeking justice for violence done. It is with my church that I experienced the tragedy of lost learning for kids left behind in under-resourced schools, the struggle against rising gun violence, the harms of police brutality, and protests for reform….'”
“A Brutal Cosmos” – Jonathan Clarke in First Things: “Cormac McCarthy seems firmly established as a canonical American novelist, but it may be several decades before we determine the precise nature of his achievement. His career has taken an odd shape. His early, Faulknerian novels, set in his native Tennessee, bore ample evidence of his talent but didn’t find an audience. His first Western novel, Blood Meridian (1985), set in the mid-nineteenth-century borderlands, is now widely regarded as his greatest achievement, but it initially confounded critics, who recognized its brilliance but were puzzled by its apparent celebration of violence. His next book, All the Pretty Horses (1992), the first volume of his Border Trilogy, brought him broad recognition. Unperturbed by success, he completed the trilogy, erecting his monuments even as he remained pointedly aloof from public life. And then, following the publication of the noir No Country for Old Men (2005) and the visionary, apocalyptic The Road (2006), he stopped publishing….For whatever reason, though, he could not—or at least did not—stop writing, only publishing. His two new, intertwined novels, The Passenger and Stella Maris, seem to have had their creative genesis in the same period as The Road. They arise out of the interests McCarthy has developed at SFI, including theoretical physics, the human capacity for language, and the role of the unconscious in mathematical problem-solving. Such subjects are not easily dramatized. These novels are intermittently fascinating, and they form an interesting coda to McCarthy’s career. They are also frequently frustrating.”
Music: Poor Bishop Hooper, “Psalm 1,” from Every Psalm Project