The Weekend Wanderer: 24 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.


c3a88de3-3f75-48c8-a590-f64d16f580bd_696x357“Intermission: Last Post for Christian England” – Paul Kingsnorth at The Abbey of Misrule: “I spent much of the day, along with several hundred million other people around the world, watching the funeral of the late Queen Elizabeth on TV. It was full of remarkable, beautifully choreographed and often moving moments, as you would expect of an event which has been prepared for since the 1960s. A lot of things don’t work very well in Britain anymore, but this kind of pageantry is something we can still do well. We will not see its like again, I don’t think. I say ‘pageantry’, but this is a dismissive word. What happened today was a rolling, dense mat of symbolism, replete with historical meaning, anchored in a very particular nation and time period. What did it symbolise? Above all, I think, it symbolised something that our culture has long stopped believing in, and as such can’t really process effectively, or even perhaps quite comprehend. This was brought home to me by one particular moment in the ceremony.”


Taylor - Silence“In Praise of Silence” – W. David O. Taylor at his blog: “I’m excited to be speaking at the Liturgy Collective conference in Nashville on October 13-14. It’ll be a wonderful opportunity to connect with other musicians, pastors, and liturgists. This year, the theme of the conference is ‘rest,’ which I think is perennially needed, but even more so these days. The topic of my two talks will be on the nature of Silence in Worship, and my basic argument is that we need far more of it than we usually presume. Silence is fundamental to faithful prayer, I suggest, because prayer begins with the act of listening, not talking. God gets the first word—not the pastor, not the musician, not any of us. Silence also is fundamental to faithful singing because in silence, we attune our ears to ‘the chief Conductor of our hymns,’ as John Calvin once put it. We do so in order to be reminded that we were not the first to arrive on the liturgical scene. In humility, we listen first—then we sing. Silence is likewise fundamental to faithful preaching because the preacher must make time for the people of God to inwardly digest the word of God so that it has a fighting chance to take root in our hearts and bear good fruit in our lives.”


HTB“Wanted: Creation Care Coordinator for Major British Evangelical Church” – Ken Chitwood in Christianity Today: “The job ad was a little different than the ones normally posted by London’s largest churches. It wasn’t for a pastor, priest, choir director, or organist. Instead, the large evangelical Anglican congregation wanted an environmental project manager. Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB), perhaps best known as the birthplace of the evangelistic Alpha course, has advertised a position for someone who will help ‘oversee the strategy, planning and execution of HTB’s approach to Creation Care.’ The individual will work closely with other lead team members to put an ‘environmental response at the heart of church life.’ Jobs like this at places like HTB are notable, said Jo Chamberlain, national environment policy officer for the Church of England. Such roles, she said, signal a sea change. Evangelical churches in the UK—and perhaps elsewhere—are embracing the critical importance of creation care and environmental stewardship at the congregational level.”


Charles Spurgeon“The Secret to Spurgeon’s Success” – Stephen Story at The Gospel Coalition: “Everyone is a theologian, R. C. Sproul rightly observed. Anyone with ideas or beliefs about God is doing theology. It may be poorly considered, but it’s theology nonetheless. By the same token, it might be said that everyone has an ecclesiology, a doctrine of the church. We all have beliefs or assumptions about what the church is, why it exists, and how it ought to function. Rarely do we pause, though, to think deeply about these things. Even among pastors, the incessant demands of ministry often pull us toward fixing urgent problems while neglecting larger questions. What does healthy pastoral ministry look like? What matters most in the life of my church? Am I shepherding God’s flock in a way that pleases him? In Spurgeon the Pastor: Recovering a Biblical and Theological Vision for Ministry, Geoffrey Chang shows why the 19th-century Baptist expositor should be regarded as more than ‘the Prince of Preachers’—he should be studied as an example of a faithful pastor. Chang—assistant professor of church history and historical theology and curator of the Spurgeon Library at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary—contends there’s “no better model of faithful pastoral ministry and commitment to the local church” than Spurgeon (2).”


Wirzba - This Sacred Life“What in the World is the World?: A review of This Sacred Life: Humanity’s Place in a Wounded World” – Doug Sikkema in Front Porch Review: “In The Myths We Live By, the late Mary Midgley explores how we humans are deeply storied creatures. Myths—the grand narratives that give shape and meaning to our lives—tether us to each other, to time, to place. They tell us who we are, where we came from, how we might live and, possibly, why we are even here at all. One might think myths belong to that benighted classical world of pagan ritual or even that Dark Age of Christendom teeming with its irrational superstitions, but that’s only because, Midgley would argue, we’ve been held captive by another, more potent, set of stories….What is one to do? Perhaps one thing is that we can live by a better myth. Or perhaps recover such a story that’s been ignored and largely forgotten. This is what Norman Wirzba sets out to do in This Sacred Life: Humanity’s Place in a Wounded World. For Wirzba, a possible antidote for our dis-ease in the Anthropocene is to recover some of the essential pieces of the narrative, the lived mythology, of Christianity.”


005“London Goddess Purée: Is the celebration of ancient goddesses female empowerment or rank patriarchy?” – Matthew J. Milliner in Comment: “The British Museum has good reason to put together the exhibition Feminine Power. After all, when girls are actually being advised, with the full endorsement of the psychological and medical establishments, to surgically remove their breasts in an attempt to become male, misogyny has reached a new apogee. (See, for just one example, the harrowing interview recorded here.) Accordingly, any museum’s effort to signal the importance of being female should be welcomed. Clipboard-bearing curators at this show collect viewer responses and display them on a large screen. One of them boldly proclaims, ‘Woman, an adult human female,’ surely indicating this visitor knows that very definition is under baffling new attack. Even so, the subtitle of this particular show at the British Museum suggests problems: Feminine Power: The Divine to the Demonic. The images here gathered span epoch and geography, their only commonality being ‘profound influence on human lives, both past and present.’ Which is to say, every global goddess within reach has been thrown into the curatorial blender for this exhibition, and—not unlike the $25 smoothie I recently saw advertised and sampled in Los Angeles—the results are less than invigorating. And that may be part of the point.”


Music: The Porter’s Gate ft. Liz Vice, “Brother Sun (Giving Glory),” from Climate Vigil Songs

A Prayer for Wholeness: drawn from Psalm 80

Restore us again, O Lord God of hosts;
show the light of your countenance,
and we shall be whole.”
(Psalm 80:19, New Coverdale Psalter)

You, who are beyond me yet near me,
who are at One with Yourself,
yet interacting with a confused world:
speak wholeness into me.

You, who are God of all and over all,
who are holy, holy, holy,
yet are merciful beyond measure:
breathe wholeness into me.

You, whose presence is brilliance and light,
whose majesty is incomprehensible,
yet whose light brings illumination so personal:
shine wholeness into me.

You, who know all things comprehensively,
who have created the world in grandeur,
yet who intimately knows each one:
mold wholeness into me.

You, God, holy and mighty—
You, God, loving and merciful—
You, God, majestic and personal—
make me whole like You.

Denise Levertov, “Living” [Poetry for Ordinary Time]

I’ve enjoyed posting poetry series themed around the Christian year in the past couple of years (see “Poetry for Lent” and “Poetry for Easter“). I will continue that with a series called “Poetry for Ordinary Time.” Ordinary time includes two sections of the church year between Christmastide and Lent and Easter and Advent. The word “ordinary” here derives from the word ordinal by which the weeks are counted. Still, ordinary time does serve an opportunity to embrace the ordinary spaces and places of our lives, and the themes of the poems will express this.

Here is Denise Levertov’s poem “Living” from The Collected Poems of Denise Levertov. Denise Levertov was a twentieth century poet, born in England and later residing in the United States.


The fire in life and grass
so green it seems
each summer the last summer.

The wind blowing, the leaves
shivering in the sun,
each day the last day.

A red salamander
so cold and so
easy to catch, dreamily

moves his delicate feet
and long tail. I hold
my hand open for him to go.

Each minute the last minute.


Previous poems in this series:

James Weldon Johnson, “The Creation” [Poetry for Ordinary Time]

I’ve enjoyed posting poetry series themed around the Christian year in the past couple of years (see “Poetry for Lent” and “Poetry for Easter“). I will continue that with a series called “Poetry for Ordinary Time.” Ordinary time includes two sections of the church year between Christmastide and Lent and Easter and Advent. The word “ordinary” here derives from the word ordinal by which the weeks are counted. Still, ordinary time does serve an opportunity to embrace the ordinary spaces and places of our lives, and the themes of the poems will express this.

Here is James Weldon Johnson’s poem “The Creation” from God’s Trombones. Johnson was a twentieth century American  poet and civil rights activist, perhaps best known for co-authoring (with his brother) the well-known song, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” often referred to as the black national anthem.


And God stepped out on space,
And he looked around and said:
I’m lonely—
I’ll make me a world.

And far as the eye of God could see
Darkness covered everything,
Blacker than a hundred midnights
Down in a cypress swamp.

Then God smiled,
And the light broke,
And the darkness rolled up on one side,
And the light stood shining on the other,
And God said: That’s good!

Then God reached out and took the light in his hands,
And God rolled the light around in his hands
Until he made the sun;
And he set that sun a-blazing in the heavens.
And the light that was left from making the sun
God gathered it up in a shining ball
And flung it against the darkness,
Spangling the night with the moon and stars.
Then down between
The darkness and the light
He hurled the world;
And God said: That’s good!

Then God himself stepped down—
And the sun was on his right hand,
And the moon was on his left;
The stars were clustered about his head,
And the earth was under his feet.
And God walked, and where he trod
His footsteps hollowed the valleys out
And bulged the mountains up.

Then he stopped and looked and saw
That the earth was hot and barren.
So God stepped over to the edge of the world
And he spat out the seven seas—
He batted his eyes, and the lightnings flashed—
He clapped his hands, and the thunders rolled—
And the waters above the earth came down,
The cooling waters came down.

Then the green grass sprouted,
And the little red flowers blossomed,
The pine tree pointed his finger to the sky,
And the oak spread out his arms,
The lakes cuddled down in the hollows of the ground,
And the rivers ran down to the sea;
And God smiled again,
And the rainbow appeared,
And curled itself around his shoulder.

Then God raised his arm and he waved his hand
Over the sea and over the land,
And he said: Bring forth! Bring forth!
And quicker than God could drop his hand,
Fishes and fowls
And beasts and birds
Swam the rivers and the seas,
Roamed the forests and the woods,
And split the air with their wings.
And God said: That’s good!

Then God walked around,
And God looked around
On all that he had made.
He looked at his sun,
And he looked at his moon,
And he looked at his little stars;
He looked on his world
With all its living things,
And God said: I’m lonely still.

Then God sat down—
On the side of a hill where he could think;
By a deep, wide river he sat down;
With his head in his hands,
God thought and thought,
Till he thought: I’ll make me a man!

Up from the bed of the river
God scooped the clay;
And by the bank of the river
He kneeled him down;
And there the great God Almighty
Who lit the sun and fixed it in the sky,
Who flung the stars to the most far corner of the night,
Who rounded the earth in the middle of his hand;
This great God,
Like a mammy bending over her baby,
Kneeled down in the dust
Toiling over a lump of clay
Till he shaped it in is his own image;

Then into it he blew the breath of life,
And man became a living soul.
Amen.      Amen.


Previous poems in this series: