The Weekend Wanderer: 26 March 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 the articles


127791“The Stunning Humility of God” – Fernando Ortega in Christianity Today: “Many times I’ve stared at Titian’s famous painting “Christ on the Way to Calvary,” which depicts Simon of Cyrene as he helped Jesus carry the cross up the hill to Golgotha. In the painting, it looks as though there is some kind of communication happening between the two—Christ sorrowfully glancing up over his left shoulder and Simon gazing down with kindness at the face of Jesus. What would I have said were I in Simon’s shoes? Maybe it would have been something along the lines of ‘Ah, holy Jesus, how have you offended, that mortal judgement has on you descended.’  The other day, as I was driving my 12-year-old daughter Ruby to school, we saw a weather-beaten woman sitting at the top of the freeway exit, begging for money in the Albuquerque sun. I said to Ruby, ‘That’s Jesus right there.’ ‘What do you mean?’ she asked. I explained how Christ continually identified himself with the downtrodden and marginalized in the world—with beggars, lepers, tax collectors, harlots, thieves—with the ‘least of these,’ according to the society of his day. She still looked at me quizzically. Thrilled to have gained her attention on the subject, I said, ‘The humility of God is a pearl of great beauty in this desolate world.'”


623afa7e567af_humanrightscouncilCropped“Since summer 2021, ‘thousands of Afghans who espoused the Christian faith are hiding in fear'” – Evangelical Focus – Europe: “The Geneva office of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) was present in the 49th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The evangelical body representing 600 million Christian worldwide has been working for a long time in the issue of religious freedom for faith minorities. Addressing the situation of Afghanistan, the WEA alarmed on 8 March in a joint statement with the Baptist World Alliance and The Jubilee Campaign that ‘religious minorities in Afghanistan are threatened. Thousands of Afghans who espoused the Christian faith are hiding in fear since August of last year.’ They called on the Office of the High Commissioner for human Rights to ‘closely monitor’ the situation or religious minorities. ‘We look forward to working with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan. We recommend to maintain a strong human rights pillar of the United Nations Assistance Mission to support the Special Rapporteur in continued monitoring of human rights, specifically women and minorities rights.'”


RNSHILLSONGABUSE101714“Hillsong pastor Brian Houston resigns after revelations of indiscretions with women” – Roxanne Stone at Religion News Service: “Less than a week after the Hillsong board released a statement revealing its cofounder, Brian Houston, had sent inappropriate text messages to a staff member and spent time in a woman’s hotel room, the board of the global megachurch has announced the longtime global senior pastor has resigned. In a statement posted on its website Wednesday (March 23), the board said it had accepted Houston’s resignation and acknowledged ‘there will be much emotion at this news.’ Houston, 68, a New Zealand native, founded Hillsong Church with his wife Bobbie in the suburbs of Sydney in 1983. The Pentecostal powerhouse now boasts 30 locations around the world, with an average global attendance of 150,000 weekly. Hillsong’s music program has produced some of the most popular worship songs used in evangelical churches around the world, including ‘Oceans,’ ‘What a Beautiful Name,’ and ‘Shout to the Lord.'”


medicalgraphembed“Will Technology Enhance or Deplete Relationships?” – Matthew Loftus in Plough Quarterly: “If you’ve been to the doctor’s office lately, you probably only had the good fortune to look into your doctor’s eyes for a few seconds in a brief respite between her feverish note-taking on a swivel screen. In the past decade, all medical practitioners in the United States have been forced to switch from paper charts to electronic medical records (EMRs), a technology designed primarily for the purposes of billing. EMRs give little added value to clinicians, and they don’t help patients very much either; they increase medical professionals’ workload, while decreasing their face-to-face time with patients. These systems have been imposed with little care for their impact on the practice of healthcare. I work in a hospital in East Africa, and the EMRs we use there are much like those used in the Baltimore hospital where I completed my residency, only less functional. In the country where I serve, politicians run campaigns promising “a laptop for every child in school” when many of these same children do not have running water at home. There is a painful irony in this mindless celebration of technology. Tamara Winter describes this phenomenon as ‘mimetic misdirection,’ a stubborn belief that the accoutrements of successful development (highways, flashy buildings, digital technology) will be the means by which a country will be uplifted. Suckered by the promise of progress, administrators in hospitals where electricity is unreliable and computers are scarce have bought the lie that an EMR is better than a paper system, and have installed a ‘solution’ that creates more problems than it solves.”


Jewish Minyan“Jews say making daylight saving time permanent threatens morning prayer” – Michele Chabin at Religion News Service: “American Jews say they were blindsided by the U.S. Senate’s lightning-fast passage of a bill to make daylight saving time year-round and intend to fight it. The Sunshine Protection Act, which passed the Senate on March 15, will make it nearly impossible for Jews to pray communally in the morning, Jewish advocates say, and still get to work or school on time during the winter months. According to Jewish law, morning prayers must take place after the sun rises. Daylight saving time, which currently begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November, extends darkness on late-winter mornings. ‘It will affect our religious life, our professional life and our family life,’ said Rabbi Abba Cohen, vice president for government affairs for Agudath Israel of America. ‘If congregational and personal prayers begin after 8 in the morning, how will people get to work at 9 a.m. or earlier?'”


rubble-demolished-building-construction-waste-37283447“Some Parts of Evangelicalism Do Not Need To be Deconstructed … They Need To Be Destroyed!” – Michael F. Bird in Word from the Bird: “Jonathan Leeman – a nice guy I’ve interacted with – has an article on Defending Sound Doctrine Against the Deconstruction of American Evangelicalism over at 9Marks. In a nutshell, Leeman rejects the complaint that Christian doctrine, evangelical doctrine, is culturally conditioned and self-interested. Some people, realizing this situatedness and self-interest have been led to question, doubt, re-think, and ‘deconstruct’ their faith. Now, deconstruction is the latest fad, and deconstructing can mean leaving evangelicalism for liturgical churches or else leaving the Christian faith altogether. I have mixed feelings about this. First, I believe in evangelical doctrine, but…we need to be very self-aware of how much of our theology is truly biblical and catholic and how much of our theology is a product of our own perspective, position, and the prevailing philosophy of the day…. Second, some people are wrestling with doubt, regret, and wondering if their whole faith was tied to their social location, inheriting a conservative culture from their parents, a faith that made use of Jesus rather than actually following Jesus.”


Music:Alister Fawnwoda, Suzanne Ciani, Greg Leisz, “Leopard Complex,” from Milan

The Weekend Wanderer: 19 February 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 the articles


pastor trauma

“I’ve Reached My Breaking Point as a Pastor” – Peter Chin in CT Pastors: “A new Barna study discovered that 38 percent of pastors have given real, serious consideration to quitting the ministry in the past year. I am one of that 38 percent. Even in the best of times, pastoral ministry has always felt like a broad and heavy calling. But the events of the past few years have made it a crushing one. The presidential election. Unrest around racial injustice. A global pandemic that has taken the lives of over 800,000 Americans. Never before had I considered health protocols in the context of the church. But today, being too strict with health guidelines might damage the well-being of the church, while being too lax might take the life of a congregant. Pastors like me have to deal with the never-ending conversation about in-person versus online services—and how to serve churchgoers without leaving behind the immunocompromised or disabled. All of this has injected a paralyzing degree of complexity and controversy into every single situation I face, every decision I make. And to make things worse, it feels as if everyone is on a hair trigger, ready to walk away at the merest hint that the church does not line up with their political or personal perspectives. Normally, pastors might rely on their personal relationships to navigate such fraught dynamics. But COVID-19 has taken that away as well, forcing us to rely on phone calls and video screens—which are no substitutes for physical presence.”


Tim Keller“Scraps of Thoughts on Daily Prayer” – Tim Keller at his blog: “There are three kinds of prayer I try to find time for every day – meditation (or contemplation), petition, and repentance. I concentrate on the first two every morning and do the last one in the evening. Meditation is actually a middle ground or blend of Bible reading and prayer. I like to use Luther’s contemplative method that he outlines in his famous letter on prayer that he wrote to his barber. The basic method is this – to take a Scriptural truth and ask three questions of it. How does this show me something about God to praise? How does this show me something about myself to confess? How does this show me something I need to ask God for? Adoration, confession, and supplication. Luther proposes that we keep meditating like this until our hearts begin to warm and melt under a sense of the reality of God. Often that doesn’t happen. Fine. We aren’t ultimately praying in order to get good feelings or answers, but in order to honor God for who he is in himself.”


126914“Learning to Love Your Limits” – An interview with Kelly M. Kapic by Erin Straza for Christianity Today: “Being human can be very frustrating. We’re always long on demands but short on time and energy. And so we redouble our efforts, searching for the magical time-management hack that will allow us to cram more life into our waking hours so that we can live the most efficient and productive life possible. Yet even as we strain against our natural limits, ultimately they cannot (and should not) be overcome, because God designed them for our good. That’s the premise underlying Covenant College theologian Kelly M. Kapic’s latest book, You’re Only Human: How Your Limits Reflect God’s Design and Why That’s Good News. Persuasion podcast cohost Erin Straza spoke with Kapic about the beauty of our human limits and the freedom that comes when we learn to embrace God’s design for a meaningful life.”


roots“Can You Go Home Again?” – Bill Kauffman reviews Grace Olmstead’s Uprooted: Recovering the Legacy of the Places We’ve Left Behind in Modern Age: “Uprooted is the young, Idaho-bred, D.C.-area journalist Grace Olmstead’s book-length grappling with the question ‘Will I move back?’ It’s a good and thoughtful and searching book, comprising equal parts family memoir, meditation on the cause and cost and consequences of uprooting, and reportage on her native ground’s besiegement by ‘economic consolidation, suburban development, and brain drain.’ The only member of her clan who departed the Mountain Time Zone, Olmstead is acutely aware of the place she left behind, in that self-conscious way of the expatriate. Lord Acton said that exile is the nursery of nationalism, but in Uprooted Olmstead is a clear-eyed and analytical guide to her home state, oozing neither treacle nor bile.”


post-traumatic“When Jesus Doubted God: Perspectives from Calvin on Post-Traumatic Faith” – Preston Hill in The Other Journal: “The willingness to witness trauma is often autobiographical. This is true of me in my role as a professor of theology who is active in our university’s Institute of Trauma and Recovery. During my postgraduate education, I tried to stay in one lane and focus solely on Reformation theology and history. That would have been clean and tidy—theology in the academy, and trauma in the real world. But trauma and recovery has pursued me and refused to let go. No one starts from nowhere. We all carry stories that frame our daily professions and relationships. So how did I end up teaching integration of theology and psychology to trauma therapists after completing postgraduate research in John Calvin? I am still not sure. But I do know that these thought worlds, separate as they might seem, are deeply integrated in me, the person; that we cannot help but be who we are; and that there is a clear reward to integrating our professional lives with our lived experiences. A person-centered, holistic approach to life may just be what the world, divided as it is today by endless abstract classifications, is hungry for. What we may need is to encounter reality fresh and face-to-face, whether that reality is violent or beautiful.  As a professor of theology and pastoral counselor, I have had the privilege of witnessing countless students and friends share stories of surviving violence. I have also had the privilege of sharing my story with them. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I live daily with the symptoms of complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) that affect every aspect of my life. Recovery has been slow and steady. The journey is long, but the friends on the road are more numerous than I had assumed, even in the academy. Indeed, it has been a privilege to research trauma with fellow survivors and witnesses who are keen to explore how theology can be reimagined in our ‘east of Eden’ world.”


The Russell Moore Show 0 David Brooks“David Brooks Wants to Save Evangelicalism” – Russell Moore interviews New York Times columnist David Brooks on The Russell Moore Show: “‘Are the times we’re living in really as crazy as they seem?’ This is the first question that Russell Moore has for David Brooks, a New York Times op-ed columnist, author, and commentator. Brooks’s recent column “The Dissenters Trying to Save Evangelicalism From Itself” details some of the unsettling, disheartening events within evangelicalism over the past few years and highlights several individuals who are trying to forge a different path. On this episode of The Russell Moore Show, Brooks and Moore discuss many types of people that ‘evangelical’ can describe. They talk about the difficulties of resisting the climate of the times. And they talk about what politics are meant to do and be.”


Music: Jon Foreman, “The House of God Forever,” from Spring and Summer

The Weekend Wanderer: 6 November 2021

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 the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.


fracturing“The Six Way Fracturing of Evangelicalism” – Michael Graham with Skyler Flowers at Mere Orthodoxy: “The last few years have highlighted major differences in how Americans have processed the same cultural moments. Every month seems to bring another national Rorschach Test as to how we parse the times. Unlike Rorschach Tests these national events are not always neutral blobs of cultural ink. The same rending of the fabric of America is also happening (maybe not so) quietly within evangelicalism. I regularly hear from about six dozen pastors from around the United States. Over the past year, each of them have expressed to me that they are exhausted, and I have yet to hear from a single one that they are thriving. When drilling down on these things much of the exhaustion revolves around what we have all been intuitively feeling and objectively observing: evangelicalism is fracturing.”


joustra-001-scaled“Unity in Diversity: Understanding pluralism in light of the imago Dei”– Jessica Joustra in Comment: “We are hungry for dignity. What Charles Taylor calls the politics of recognition—the perverse and often baffling need for each one of us to be affirmed in our uniqueness—is a hunger at the heart of so much North Atlantic hurt. Christians, cautious of these therapeutic politics, often fall back on the image of God as a sure rock on which to base our recognition of human worth. But what does it mean to image the divine? What does it actually tell us about who we are, and how we should live? One of the places we can go to best answer this question is—perhaps surprisingly—Calvinism. Yes, you read that right. The same tradition branded as racist segregationists in the American South, South Africa, and elsewhere; as misogynists and abusers; as argumentative, ill tempered, bearded theobros.Can grounding for human dignity really come out of John Calvin and his tribe? I want to argue that in Calvin’s tribe, and particularly in his student Herman Bavinck, we find a beautiful, pluralistic, and foundational doctrine of human dignity and human diversity. This gift comes to us now at an urgent time, certainly for all Christians, but especially, perhaps, for Calvinists. This doctrine begins—as Calvinists so love to—with the triune God.”


mosaic-rehov-imj“What Did People Eat and Drink in Roman Palestine?” – Megan Sauter in Bible History Daily: “In a land flowing with milk and honey, what kinds of food made up the ancient Jewish diet? What did people eat and drink in Roman Palestine? Susan Weingarten guides readers through a menu of the first millennium C.E. in her article “Biblical Archaeology 101: The Ancient Diet of Roman Palestine,” published in the March/April 2019 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review. Although it is difficult to reconstruct the diet of the average person in Palestine during the Roman and Late Antique periods, Weingarten, as both a food historian and an archaeologist, is well equipped for the task. Using archaeological remains and ancient texts, such as the Mishnah, Tosefta, and Talmuds, she pieces together the ancient Jewish diet.”


126179“In Plain Prayer: Why Missionary Families Are Showing Love to Haiti Kidnappers” – Donald B. Kraybill and Steven M. Nolt in Christianity Today: “Like many others, we have been following the story of the 12 adults and five children associated with Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) who were kidnapped in Haiti on October 16 and are being held for ransom. The situation is difficult to contemplate, and we join countless individuals around the globe in praying for their release. Unfortunately, circumstances in Haiti have allowed kidnapping to become all too common, routinely placing the lives of locals—and sometimes those of foreigners—at risk. But although the CAM abduction story fits a sad pattern of sorts, the official response has provoked queries from both religious and secular observers. The nature and tone of CAM’s public statements and the prayer requests from the captives’ families have surprised many people because they have included prayer for the kidnappers and a desire to extend love and forgiveness to the gang members holding the 16 Americans and one Canadian captive.”


most-evangelicals-still-giving-to-church-charity-the-nonprofit-times“Most Evangelicals Still Giving To Church, Charity” – Mark Hrywna in The NonProfit Times: “When it comes to charitable giving, evangelical Protestants are just like everyone else — more or less. Those who attend church or read the Bible more often tend to give more to church and/or charity, as do those who are older and have higher incomes, but there are some who don’t give at all. ‘The Generosity Factor: Evangelicals and Giving,’ a 32-page report released by Infinity Concepts and Grey Matter Research, estimates that only 13% of Protestants, about one in eight, give anything close to tithing, which authors estimated at 8% of household income. Almost one in five (19%) give nothing at all. The study was limited to those who did not identify with a non-Protestant group, such as Mormon, Roman Catholic, or Orthodox. American evangelical Protestants represent an estimated 23% of American adults, roughly 59 million people. Evangelical giving broke down as follows, according to respondents:

  • 74% give to church;
  • 58%, charity;
  • 51%, church and charity;
  • 22%, only church;
  • 19%, did not give in the last 12 months; and,
  • 7%, only to charity.”

Austin Kleon mind map“How to make a map of your mind” – Austin Kleon at his blog: “When ideas aren’t coming, or I’m confused about what’s going on in my head, I’ll make something called a mind map. Starting in the middle of a notebook page, I’ll draw a picture, or write a word or phrase with a box or a circle around it, then I’ll write the first word or phrase that comes to my mind next to it, enclose it with a box or a circle, and draw a line connecting them. I’ll repeat this process until the page is full. There’s not a whole lot to this simple technique, but it’s one of the easiest ways I know to get myself going when I’m stuck. It does at least 2 things for me:

  1. It serves as a form of “free writing” — it gets things out of my head quickly so I can look at them on the page. (I think because you’re starting in the middle and working out, the radial pattern tricks your brain into loosening up.)
  2. Because it’s nonlinear and the words are spread out, I can see or make connections between things that I might not if I were just writing straight prose.

I’ve made so many of these maps over the years…”


Music: Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, “Moanin’,” from Moanin’.

The Weekend Wanderer: 30 October 2021

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 the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.


Lord's Prayer Luke“Christ’s Prayers Can Transform Ours” – Catherine J. Wright: “Alongside Jesus’ astonishing miracles and teachings, the Gospels depict something just as compelling: Jesus—who is himself fully God—prayed. In fact, he prayed a lot. Luke, the go-to
Gospel for a theology of prayer, includes more descriptions of Jesus’ own prayer habits than any other Gospel. When we look closely at how Jesus’ prayer life is depicted Luke, we discover how essential prayer is for the life of faith and our participation in God’s kingdom….Luke draws a vital connection between Jesus’ faithfulness in prayer and the inauguration of and empowerment for his earthly ministry. If we want to be used by God for God’s kingdom work, the preliminary step for us also is to be faithful in prayer.”


church breaking apart“The Evangelical Church Is Breaking Apart” – Peter Wehner in The Atlantic: “The election of the elders of an evangelical church is usually an uncontroversial, even unifying event. But this summer, at an influential megachurch in Northern Virginia, something went badly wrong. A trio of elders didn’t receive 75 percent of the vote, the threshold necessary to be installed. ‘A small group of people, inside and outside this church, coordinated a divisive effort to use disinformation in order to persuade others to vote these men down as part of a broader effort to take control of this church,’ David Platt, a 43-year-old minister at McLean Bible Church and a best-selling author, charged in a July 4 sermon….What happened at McLean Bible Church is happening all over the evangelical world. Influential figures such as the theologian Russell Moore and the Bible teacher Beth Moore felt compelled to leave the Southern Baptist Convention; both were targeted by right-wing elements within the SBC. The Christian Post, an online evangelical newspaper, published an op-ed by one of its contributors criticizing religious conservatives like Platt, Russell Moore, Beth Moore, and Ed Stetzer, the executive director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center, as “progressive Christian figures” who “commonly champion leftist ideology.” In a matter of months, four pastors resigned from Bethlehem Baptist Church, a flagship church in Minneapolis. One of those pastors, Bryan Pickering, cited mistreatment by elders, domineering leadership, bullying, and ‘spiritual abuse and a toxic culture.’ Political conflicts are hardly the whole reason for the turmoil, but according to news accounts, they played a significant role, particularly on matters having to do with race.”


webRNS-Refugees-Afghanistan1-100821-768x512“Showing Hospitality to Strangers: Texas Churches Welcome Afghan Refugees” – Heather Sells in CBN News: “As many as 50,000 Afghan refugees will soon be re-settling in US communities, most fleeing right after the Taliban takeover of their country in August. The regime change happened at breakneck speed, forcing many, like former US Army interpreter ‘Zaheer’ and his family, to flee with little more than a small bundle of personal items. Zaheer initially applied for his SIV visa in 2018 but admits he struggled in August when it became clear he and his family must go. ‘It’s very difficult to walk away,” he said. “I got only one small bag with me, a little bit of clothes.’ Thanks to the faith-based resettlement agency World Relief and church volunteers in the Ft. Worth area, Zaheer and his family were able to rent an apartment and find furniture. Zaheer’s priority now is to find a car and a job. He’s willing to take anything to provide for his family.”


Blanchard Hall“Wide Awoke at Wheaton?” – Vince Bacote in Current: “I experienced a range of emotions—including exasperation and anger—upon reading Gerald McDermott’s “Woke Theory at Evangelical Colleges” in First Things last week, an article written as an exposé of what is happening at my own institution, Wheaton College, and elsewhere. McDermott charges Wheaton, Baylor, and Samford, among others, with a compromising submission to standards and practices identified with the broader social justice movement in American higher education at large. The use of minimal evidence, anonymous voices, and suggestions of infidelity to the faith presented a genuine temptation to respond in anger and take the road of holy rage in reply to an ephemeral and thin article—ephemeral, because of the ongoing avalanche of media content; thin, because the article seems not to be the result of an effort to know what is really happening at institutions like my own and others. One wonders whether McDermott thought to go to the sources of purported wokeness at Wheaton, Baylor, and Samford, instead of merely to the voices of concern or worry.  But rather than anger, I write from a place of lament.”


Self-Portrait-with-Grey-Felt-Hat-846x1024“Vision, Leadership & van Gogh” – Derek R. Nelson at Wabash Pastoral Leadership Program: “Before he was a great-but-not-much-appreciated painter, Vincent van Gogh was a lousy-but-very-much-appreciated pastor. The details of this little-known chapter in his life are of some interest, I think, to those who are wondering about how early career pastors find sources of resilience to sustain them in their ministries, and also how pastors seeking to exercise leadership in their communities can do so effectively….After some failings in love, work and art, van Gogh needed a new start. He hoped to become a preacher like his father. He was not considered a strong candidate by the theological faculty at Amsterdam because of his volatility and apparent mental instability. His refusal to learn Latin — he already was fluent in four “living” languages and did not wish to learn a dead one! — gave them the pretext they needed to deny him admission. Lacking a path to the usual credentials, Vincent volunteered to be a missionary preacher to the Borinage, a very impoverished mining region in Belgium. He went at the age of 25 and remained there two years.”


online radio concept
rivalry between old and new:laptop computer and retro radio on the table

“How to Fix Social Media” – Nicholas Carr in The New Atlantis: “Around two o’clock in the afternoon on October 30, 1973, a disc jockey at the New York City radio station WBAI played a track called ‘Filthy Words’ from comedian George Carlin’s latest album. ‘I was thinking one night about the words you couldn’t say on the public airwaves,’ Carlin began. He then rattled off seven choice examples — ‘f***’ was among the milder ones — and proceeded to riff on their origin, usage, and relative offensiveness for the next ten minutes. A Long Island man named John Douglas heard the broadcast as he was driving home from a trip to Connecticut with his teenaged son. He promptly filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission. ‘Whereas I can perhaps understand an “X-rated” phonograph record’s being sold for private use, I certainly cannot understand the broadcast of same over the air that, supposedly, you control,’ he wrote. ‘Can you say this is a responsible radio station, that demonstrates a responsibility to the public for its license?’…Today, mired as we are in partisan, bitter, and seemingly fruitless debates over the roles and responsibilities of social media companies, the controversy surrounding George Carlin’s naughty comedy routine can seem distant and even quaint. Thanks to the Internet’s dismantling of traditional barriers to broadcasting, companies such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter transmit a volume and variety of content that would have been unimaginable fifty years ago. What’s at issue now is far greater than the propriety of a few dirty words. Arguments over whether and how to control the information distributed through social media go to the heart of America’s democratic ideals.”


Music: Jpk., “Some Days.”

The Weekend Wanderer: 23 October 2021

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 the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.


125694“How Might the COVID-19 Crisis Reshape our Churches for Good?” – Kyuboem Lee in Christianity Today: “In March 2020, as the American public only began to grasp the growing scope of the global pandemic, we suddenly went into a shutdown. Churches could no longer meet in person; many scrambled to find ways to broadcast their Sunday services online instead. Initially, many of us thought (wishfully, as it turned out) that the shutdown would last a few weeks and we would return to normal. But the shutdown dragged out for months and months. Many churches were unable to meet in person for more than a year. Pastors began wondering out loud to me if their churches would survive financially. They fretted about their buildings, sitting empty week after week. They were concerned about giving amid sudden job losses and economic downturn. They worried about a drop-off in online service attendance. There was much cause for deep anxiety, and the pandemic’s long-term impact on churches may be felt for years to come. But I don’t believe that the pandemic is a crisis we simply need to recover from. Instead, the crisis of the pandemic and its aftereffects presents an opportunity to reshape the church in transformative ways. It offers us a moment of clarity to perceive our need for reinvention for the sake of our mission.”


womanlightingcandleembed“Responding to Persecution: Where Western Christians would stand and fight, Eastern Christians have learned to endure – or flee” – Luma Simms in Plough: “In 2007, my friend Ishraq was an Iraqi biologist working in quality control in a government agency testing products coming into the country for contaminants – food products and plants, anything meant for consumption or planting – a job she had studied and worked hard to attain, a job she loved. Her husband, Luay, owned a car dealership. Although other Christians were leaving Iraq after the chaos that engulfed the country after the US invasion and the fall of Saddam Hussein, they didn’t want to leave their homeland. With the increase in crime and the abduction of Christians, they thought it best to sell the dealership and wait it out until things settled back down. One rainy day as Luay got ready to drive Ishraq to work, two cars pulled up in front of them. Men got out and snatched Luay. As they dragged him through the mud, she grabbed hold of his leg, shrieking. One of the kidnappers disentangled her from Luay and flung her off. ‘I lost my mind, I was screaming like a crazy woman, I was screaming for someone to come help us,’ she remembers. The men shoved Luay into one of their cars and left. A minute later a police officer came driving by and stopped when he heard her crying. He got out and stood over her as she lay shaking on the ground. When she told him what had happened, it became clear he knew who the kidnappers were. ‘He gave me his card and told me that when the kidnappers called me to ask for ransom money, to let him know and he’ll see what he can do. I told him, “What you can do is get in the car and go after them right now.” The policeman left and I just sat there in the mud on the side of the street wailing.'”


imrs.php“You’re a different person when you travel. Here’s why, and how to transform yourself at home.” – Jen Rose Smith in The Washington Post: “Every so often, I pack a bag for a solo trip that lasts as long as I can manage. The lifelong habit has weathered career changes, a pandemic and marriage. ‘Where is your husband?’ people ask. ‘Why are you here alone?’ ‘He’s at home,’ I say, perhaps while splashing through leech-filled mudholes in Borneo. ‘Because I like traveling by myself.’ I’m after more than sightseeing. Family, home and work are magnetic poles in my life; at times, I need to consult my personal compass away from the strong pull that they exert. When I leave familiar things behind, I look at the world with fresh eyes. Strange foods become new favorites. Curiosity surges. I am a different person when I travel. In her book, Getting Away from It All: Vacations and Identity, sociologist Karen Stein sheds light on the reasons that travelers, whether they’re going it alone or with friends, might feel different when on the road. She argues that travel is a chance to try out alternate identities — a temporary respite from ourselves.”


main-v00-81-1536x1024“China crackdown on Apple store hits holy book apps, Audible” – Matt O’brien at Religion News Service: “Amazon’s audiobook service Audible and phone apps for reading the holy books of Islam and Christianity have disappeared from the Apple store in mainland China, the latest examples of the impact of the country’s tightened rules for internet firms. Audible said Friday that it removed its app from the Apple store in mainland China last month ‘due to permit requirements.’ The makers of apps for reading and listening to the Quran and Bible say their apps have also been removed from Apple’s China-based store at the government’s request. Apple didn’t return requests for comment Friday. A spokesperson for China’s embassy in the U.S. declined to speak about specific app removals but said the Chinese government has ‘always encouraged and supported the development of the Internet.’ ‘At the same time, the development of the Internet in China must also comply with Chinese laws and regulations,’ said an emailed statement from Liu Pengyu. China’s government has long sought to control the flow of information online, but is increasingly stepping up its enforcement of the internet sector in other ways, making it hard to determine the causes for a particular app’s removal.”


29russellmooreembeddove“Integrity and the Future of the Church” – Russell Moore in Plough Quarterly: “Something was happening at the Vatican; I cannot remember if the issue was another sexual abuse cover-up or a contentious synod meeting. But I do remember seeing a woman I knew to be a serious Roman Catholic post on her social media an old music video, with no commentary. The video, R.E.M.’s 1991 song ‘Losing My Religion,’ prompted friends to ask if she had lost her faith. She responded that she hadn’t, but was afraid that she was losing her church. No wonder her friends were concerned. The song, after all, has entered popular culture as the soundtrack to almost any story of an ex-Catholic or an ‘ex-vangelical.’…In light of the current crisis of religion – seen perhaps most starkly in my own American evangelical subculture – I’m not sure that these are entirely different things. Perhaps ‘losing religion’ now is about both interpretations of the song, if not as much about intellect and argumentation as about grief, betrayal, and anger.”


John Coltrane

“Coltrane’s New ‘Love Supreme'” – Adam Shatz in The New York Review: “At a press conference in Tokyo in July 1966, a Japanese jazz critic asked John Coltrane what he would like to be in ten years. “I would like to be a saint,” he replied. Coltrane, who died the following July of liver cancer, at forty, reportedly laughed when he said this; but among his followers, he was already considered a spiritual leader, even a prophet. His reputation rested not merely on his musicianship, but on the example he set, the self-renunciation and good works required of every saint. Unlike the alto saxophonist Charlie Parker, who launched the bebop revolution with the trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, Coltrane was not a fully formed virtuoso when he first emerged, but rather a committed and tireless student of the horn—a hardworking man who arrived at his sound through a practice regime of almost excruciating discipline. “He practiced like a man with no talent,” his friend the tenor saxophonist Benny Golson remembered. The saxophonist Archie Shepp, one of Coltrane’s many protégés, exaggerated only slightly when he remarked that he never saw him take the sax from his mouth. The trumpeter Miles Davis, in whose mid-Fifties quintet Coltrane first rose to prominence, made the same observation, though more in exasperation than worship.”


Music: John Coltrane, “A Love Supreme, Pt IV – Psalm (Live),” A Love Supreme – Live in Seattle.