The Weekend Wanderer: 10 December 2022

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.


advent-1“Advent: Waiting for the Light” – Ruth Haley Barton at Beyond Words: “My favorite time of any day is the pre-dawn moments before the light comes. The world is dark and quiet, stretching out before me in a hopeful sort of way. Having just awakened from sleep, I am alert enough to savor everything—the dance of light and shadow in the yard, the breeze that plays through the wind chime on the porch, the warmth of a favorite coffee mug, the comfort of a blanket against the cold.  The nearness of God seems especially real in these early hours.  As I wait for the light, time feels rich and abundant—full of possibility!—rather than scarce and limited and impossible. In the absence of stimulation—before any words have been spoken—my soul is calm and clear like the stillness of a quiet pond. There is never any doubt that the light will come; just a sense of quiet anticipation for something I know will happen because it happens every day. Without fail. As wonderful as it is to wake up to the light of a new day, morning solitude has taught me that it is even better to be there when the light comes. Being there helps me “make contact” with this God who comes and is always coming… like the sun… when it is time. It helps me find my true-self-in-God again. Advent is a season for waking up to all the ways Christ comes to us. Yes, the themes of Advent help us celebrate and commemorate his first coming in the Incarnation. They encourage us to anticipate his second coming in glory—of course! But there is also such a thing as the third coming of Christ: that is, all the ways in which Jesus comes to us now, bringing light for our darkness, peace for our turmoil, hope for our despair.”


Raphael Warnock.jpg“A Pastor and Politician Who Sees Voting as a Form of Prayer” – Katie Glueck in The New York Times: “He likened voting to a ‘prayer for the world we desire,’ and called democracy the ‘political enactment of a spiritual idea,’ that everyone has a divine spark. He invoked the legacies of civil rights heroes and ‘martyrs’ who fought and sometimes died for the right to vote, even as he promised to pursue bipartisanship in pressing his policy ambitions. Exulting in his victory Tuesday night, Senator Raphael Warnock showcased the dualities that have defined his career in public life. He is a man of deep faith, the senior pastor at the Atlanta church where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once preached. And he is also a political tactician who has long believed that ‘the church’s work doesn’t end at the church door. That’s where it starts.’ ‘I am Georgia,’ Mr. Warnock said after winning Tuesday’s runoff election, nodding to both the hopeful and the dark aspects of the state’s past. ‘I am an example and an iteration of its history. Of its pain and its promise. Of the brutality and the possibility.’  He is also now poised, some Democrats say, to be a more prominent national figure, as an ardent supporter of voting rights, a next-generation voice in the party — or, as Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey put it, a leader who can speak to ‘a lot of the hurt in our country.'”


Russell Moore Best Books of 2022“My Favorite Books of 2022” – Russell Moore at his blog: “It’s December, so that means it’s time for the annotated list of my favorite books of the past year. All my usual caveats apply. These 12 books are in no particular order—just the order in which I pulled them off the shelf.
1. Malcolm Guite, The Word within the Words (Fortress) – Last year I sat around a fire at a friend’s house with his guest, the poet Malcolm Guite. Guite recited entire poems—his and others’—from memory and blew smoke rings from his pipe. I came home and told my wife, ‘I’ve never felt more like a hobbit.’ (That’s saying something, since I feel like a hobbit much of the time and, occasionally, on a really bad day, an orc.) This little book, less than 90 pages, is an articulation of Guite’s theology. Many such books become position papers of sterile syllogisms and axioms. Not this one. Guite writes, ‘My vocation as a poet attunes me particularly to the mysteries and beauties of language: the magic of words, the cadences and music of speech, but most of all, kindling and glimmering through all the words we use, the mystery of meaning itself and the wonderful vehicle of metaphor whereby one thing can be transfigured by the meaning of another.’ Guite asserts that his entire theology can be summed up in the prologue to the Gospel of John—showing how the “Word made flesh” informs how he reads the Bible, how he worships and prays. He discloses how reading the Psalms for a study on the “backgrounds” of medieval poetry changed him.”


J I Packer“J. I. Packer and the Next Wave of Evangelicalism: Foundations for Renewal” – Paul R. House in Themelios: “This article surveys the life and ministry of James Innell Packer (1926–2020), evangelical Anglican, theologian, author, Bible translator, and church renewal advocate. It suggests that Packer’s ministry is especially informative because it had roots in pre-war evangelical circles and extended through the growth of the evangelical movement from the 1950s to the 1990s and the movement’s ebbing afterwards. It asserts that Packer’s efforts to aid theological and church restoration provide principles for much-needed biblical renewal in current evangelicalism.”


deanevangelicalurkaine“Evangelical preacher and son murdered in Ukraine” – Evangelical Focus – Europe: “A leader of a Pentecostal church near the city of Kherson (in Ukraine) and his 19-year-old son have been found dead. This has been reported by the Christian organisation Release International, based on informations of two agencies In Ukraine: the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group and the Centre for Journalistic Investigations. Anatoliy Prokopchuk and his son Oleksandr were abducted on the evening of 22 November. They happened to be working in their garage in the city where they live, Nova Kakhovka, when Russian forces forcibly took the two in direction to a neighbouring village. The wife of Anatoliy and other relatives alarmed about their disappearance on social media, but no sign of life appeared until 4 days later, when their bodies were found in a nearby forest. Their murder leaves a widow and five other children. A source on the ground quoted by Release International, said Anatoliy was a deacon and preacher in the Pentecostal church in the city where they lived. According to the same source, their bodies had signs of torture. ‘Ukrainian investigators continue to discover the bodies of civilian victims in all areas liberated after months of Russian occupation,’ writes the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group. ‘Sometimes the victims were bound or had in some other way clearly been subjected to torture before being murdered. In other cases, the Russians appear to have simply shot and killed people who were unfortunately enough to be on the road when they passed.'”


Brian Houston trial“Police knew of allegations against Hillsong founder Brian Houston’s father, court told” – Jenny Noyes in The Sydney Morning Herald: “The number of people with knowledge of child sexual abuse committed in the 1970s by Pentecostal pastor Frank Houston, the father of Hillsong founder Brian Houston, was in the “tens of thousands” before Frank’s death in 2004, a Sydney court has been told. And, according to Houston’s lawyer, those people would have included members of the NSW Police. Brian Houston, 68, was charged last year with concealing a serious indictable offence over his decision not to inform police about the allegation made against his father – and his father’s subsequent admission – in the late 1990s. In a hearing that commenced at Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court on Monday, Houston’s barrister Phillip Boulten, SC, said the actions of Frank Houston, and his client’s knowledge of it, were not in question. Rather, the case would turn on whether the younger Houston had a ‘reasonable excuse’ not to bring the matter to the attention of police. In opening statements to the court on Monday, prosecutor Gareth Harrison said the Crown would make the case that Houston’s reason for failing to report it ‘was to protect his father, and primarily to protect the church.'”


Music: Of The Father’s Heart Begotten,” traditional hymn arranged by Sir David Willcocks and performed by the Ely Cathedral Choir

The Weekend Wanderer: 26 November 2022

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.


featured-deeper-journey“The Deeper Journey for Leaders: From the False Self to the True Self” – M. Robert Mulholland, Jr., in Beyond Words – The Transforming Center blog: “Once I asked the pastor of a large, vigorous, dynamic, growing church with a strong emphasis on the deeper life in Christ—a church that confirmed fifty to seventy-five new members each week—where these people were coming from.  His response surprised me.  He told me almost all of these people had begun their journey in Christ in an even larger, more vigorous, more dynamic church whose worship was leading-edge contemporary, whose focus was strongly charismatic and whose corporate life centered in highly emotional expressions of faith in God. These people would stay in that church for about two to three years and then the novelty and excitement would become ritualized and dry for them.  They began to hunger, in his words, ‘for something deeper.’  They began to sense there was more to the Christian life. You may have felt the same thing and asked yourself, Isn’t there more to the Christian life than being active in a Christian community, affirming a certain set of beliefs, adopting a particular behavior pattern?   The answer is Yes. The ‘more’ is the journey from living out one’s false self to living as our true self in Christ—a self that is deeply centered in and utterly abandoned to God.”


5acd2ae5-9c6f-4a8c-ad81-89f8608d9ce9“The State of the Multiethnic Church Movement: Glimpses of the future from Dallas and Indianapolis” – David Swanson in his Occasional Newsletter: “Last week was full of travel. It started with a flight to Dallas for the Mosaix Conference, an every-three-year gathering focused on the multiethnic church. I’ve attended many of these conferences over the years and am always impressed how the organizers, led by Pastor Mark DeYmaz, manage to include so many different practitioners, academics, and other advocates for multiethnic ministry. If there was one theme which raised to the surface for me at this year’s event, it was the role of BIPOC leaders in the multiethnic movement. While not a new theme, it was emphasized by many of the speakers from the main stage. The one workshop I was able to attend was led by Dr. Oneya Okuwobi, professor of sociology at the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Okuwobi’s research focuses on the impact of multiethnic churches (often white-led) on leaders and staff of color. It’s not a pretty picture! Dr. Okuwobi detailed the cost extracted from most of the leaders of color whom she interviewed. Having to navigate church cultures which value them mostly for their representation rather than for the experiences and expertise they bring is exhausting. It is demoralizing coming to realize that what these churches said about their goals for justice and reconciliation are nowhere near their intentions.”


Michael Gerson“Opinion Michael Gerson followed his faith — and America was better for it” – Karen Tumulty in The Washington Post: “One of the biblical injunctions sometimes cited by Michael Gerson, who died Thursday at the age of 58 after a long battle with cancer, comes from the New Testament book of Colossians: ‘Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.’ That advice works not only for Christian believers such as he was, but also in the sometimes brutal political world in which he made his mark. He was a presidential speechwriter whose own words were, indeed, singularly seasoned and notably full of grace. For the past 15 years, he enriched the pages of this newspaper as a columnist for the Opinions section. But civility, as Mike also noted, does not preclude tough-mindedness. Nor should it be mistaken for a lack of principles or perspective. His own were rooted in the faith that fueled and defined his involvement with politics, and he was scorching in his assessment of his fellow evangelicals when theirs took what he saw as a more cynical turn. In a September essay, he wrote these supposedly conservative Christians ‘have broadly chosen the company of Trump supporters who deny any role for character in politics and define any useful villainy as virtue. In the place of integrity, the Trump movement has elevated a warped kind of authenticity — the authenticity of unfiltered abuse, imperious ignorance, untamed egotism and reflexive bigotry. This,’ Mike wrote, ‘is inconsistent with Christianity by any orthodox measure.'”


therapyoffice.jpeg“Is Therapy the Cure?: The therapist’s chair could be replacing our community and the pulpit.” – Cali Yee at Mockingbird: “Christmas in 2018 was one of the worst Christmases to date. My older sister and I were in a heated (but frosty) old western standoff. It wasn’t quite unlike that one scene in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly — where the camera zooms in on Clint Eastwood’s face as he stares down his opponents. As all fights are, it was a competition of who was in the right and who was in the wrong. The real kicker didn’t come until she calmly (bitingly) suggested, ‘I really think you should be going to therapy.’  To which I hurled (screamed) back, ‘You think I should be going to therapy?!? YOU should be going to therapy, you, you, you — ‘ I can’t quite remember how it ended, or what unfortunate nickname I gave her, but I do know that it made for one awkward Christmas dinner. In my family, talk of mental illness and therapy wasn’t common. Therapy wasn’t frowned upon, but it certainly wasn’t praised either. And as you can see in the interaction between my sister and me, the need for therapy was like a silly insult, a weapon of sorts, something you said when you wanted to hurt someone.As the dy-stigmatization of mental illness continues to move at a rapid pace, it appears that going to therapy has taken on a different meaning. It is no longer a weapon, brandished to insult or shame. It has become a crown, adorned by those who pursue their ‘best self,’ or a moral obligation, required on a twenty-something’s dating profile. Of course, this is not the case with all generations and cultures. But the dialogue about how everyone should be going to therapy has certainly increased.”


Wingfeather_BoxSet_View_3_01“The Gospel in Wingfeather” – Thomas M. Ward in Plough: “Originally published between 2009 and 2014, Andrew Peterson’s four-book Wingfeather Saga was already popular within the evangelical world when it was re-released in 2020 by Penguin Random House. Since then, its popularity has surged, and it is now poised to break into the mainstream – thanks in part to a successful Angel Studios crowdfunding campaign which will put the books on screen as an animated TV series. Somehow, I hadn’t heard of the series until last year, when it started circulating among my kids’ circles of friends. Then a strangely enthusiastic recommendation from a friend and fellow dad (and professor of literature) finally prompted me to read the books. I didn’t know what I was in for. I was prepared to enjoy a good yarn and have something to talk to the kids about; I was not prepared to find such a believable depiction of love for one’s enemies and such heartbreaking reflection on the cost of redemption. I don’t say this lightly: I don’t think children’s literature has achieved the theological depth of Wingfeather since the Chronicles of Narnia.”


Waverly Abbey yew“Ancient yew in ruined Surrey abbey crowned UK tree of the year” – Patrick Barkham in The Guardian: “A gnarled yew whose twisted trunk has been growing for more than half a millennium has been crowned tree of the year. The roots of the yew snake around the ruins of Waverley Abbey in Surrey, which was the first monastery founded in Britain by the Cistercian religious order in 1128. The ancient tree, which won 16% of the total votes in the popular Woodland Trust competition, beat the spectacular ‘portal tree’ in Midlothian (11%), a rowan shaped like an archway. The Waverley Abbey yew will go on to represent the UK in the European tree of the year contest, with its success highlighting the unique wealth of ancient yews in the country. The Ancient Yew Group has identified 978 ancient or veteran yews (more than 500 years old) in England and 407 in Wales; France has 77, while Germany and Spain have only four each. Scotland is home to the Fortingall yew, estimated to be about 3,000 years old and the oldest yew in Britain.”


Music:The Porter’s Gate, “Isaiah (O Come),”Advent Songs

The Weekend Wanderer: 5 November 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.


Bono on Morning Edition“Bono discusses his new memoir, ‘Surrender,’ and the faith at U2’s core” – Rachel Martin interviews Bono on NPR’s Morning Edition: “It was 1976. An Irish kid named Paul Hewson was trying to figure a lot of things out; his mom had died a couple years earlier, when he was just 14. Bono, as he was known, spent a lot of time at home, in Dublin, arguing with his dad and his older brother. But two goals kept him focused — to win over the heart of a girl named Alison Stewart and to become a rock star. And in the same week, he asked Alison out — (she said yes) — and he ended up in Larry Mullen JR’s kitchen for an audition. Two other guys were there — Adam Clayton and David Evans, also known as The Edge. The four of them would go on to become one of the biggest bands of their time: U2. And he is still married to Alison Stewart 40 years later. Bono writes about these foundational relationships in his new memoir, called Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story, releasing Tuesday Nov. 1. In it, he also delves into another core relationship: his spirituality. Though never a Mass-on-Sundays kind of Catholic, from a young age he was fascinated with mysticism and ritual – and Jesus.”


webRNS-Calvin-Butts3Calvin Butts, leader of Harlem’s historic Abyssinian Baptist Church, dies at 73″ – Adelle M. Banks at Religion News Service: “The Rev. Calvin O. Butts III, the senior pastor of New York’s historic Abyssinian Baptist Church, who followed in the footsteps of prominent Black ministers and paved his own path of leadership in education, health and political circles, died Friday (Oct. 28), his church announced. ‘It is with profound sadness, we announce the passing of our beloved pastor, Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts, lll, who peacefully transitioned in the early morning of October 28, 2022,’ the church stated on its website and on Twitter. ‘The Butts Family & entire Abyssinian Baptist Church membership solicit your prayers.’ Butts, 73, succeeded the Rev. Samuel DeWitt Proctor as pastor in 1989 after starting as a minister of the congregation in 1972. He became the church’s 20th pastor, according to the church’s website. ‘When we think about Dr. Butts we know that he served the community of Harlem but he served the wider community as well,’ said the Rev. James A. Forbes Jr., senior minister emeritus of Riverside Church, whose church was about two miles away from Butts’. ‘We have lost a great leader, one who really was a champion of justice and freedom for all.'”


D400-1839-085_Low_res_comp“6 ways to pray for our country during the election” – Katie Taylor at the World Vision blog: “How can we be more Christlike — in word and deed — during the 2022 U.S. election? We know a few things for sure: We’re called to love others (John 15:12). We’re called to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2). And we’re called to live in unity (Ephesians 4:3). In an election year, choosing love feels extra challenging when your environment often pushes you to pick one side and shun the other. How can we keep choosing to love rather than burying our heads under our pillows until Nov. 8? God sees our frustration and confusion. And He promises that when we pray, He’ll give us guidance and peace. ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:6-7). It seems too simple. And sometimes our voices feel too small. But when we pray, we allow God to start growing our capacity to love each other as Jesus does — even people who are the most different from us. As we approach the 2022 midterm election, we’re humbled that God saw our anger, confusion, and prejudice and still loved us enough to send His Son to be our Savior. That perspective calms our frustration and calls us to prayer.”


re-wilding faith“Exodus 3-4: Call and Response” – James Amadon at The Ecological Disciple: “The power and potential of places that are not dominated by humans is especially important in our age. Modern, industrial humanity has been exceptionally good at domesticating almost anything it touches. To ‘civilize’ something, or someone, has been an unquestioned good, and so ‘wild’ places, people, and other creatures have been tamed or destroyed. This civilizing impulse has included religion and religious spaces – we have domesticated God by reducing theology to what serves modern humanity (when was the last time you heard a sermon on the purpose/future of creation?), by confining the divine presence to the built environment (such as churches and other ‘sacred spaces’), and by controlling access to divine presence or approval (think about how religious communities define who is in/out, saved/unsaved, etc.). Moses lived in one of the most civilized societies of his time, yet it was also one of the most brutal – a paradox that, sadly, repeats itself through history. Leaving the civilized world opened Moses to new possibilities for himself and his place in the world, and to an encounter with the wild God of creation, who can never be civilized (just read the bewildering story of Exodus 4:24-26). When I ask people where they feel closest to God, almost everyone says “Nature.” This makes sense because we are fundamentally part of nature, creatures among creatures. It is often the false ideologies of ‘civilization’ that makes us less at home in the world. We need to re-wild our faith, remembering that our relationship to God is connected to our relationship with our local land and waterways, and with the creatures that share our home. This is true whether we live in a condo in the city or a cabin in the mountains. Finding ways to connect with the wildness around us can also connect us to the wildness of God, who tends to show up in surprising ways in these places.”


131335“What Ancient Italian Churches Tell Us About Women in Ministry” – Photo Essay by Radha Vyas in Christianity Today: “The Bible tells us of the important place of women in the early church. Women were the first to reach the empty tomb and to proclaim the Resurrection (Matt. 28:1–10; Mark 16:1–8; Luke 23:55–24:10; John 20:1–2, 11–18). They contended for the gospel alongside Paul (Phil. 4:2–3), taught new converts (Acts 18:24–28), prophesied (Acts 21:9), had churches in their homes (Acts 16:14–15, 40; 1 Cor. 16:19), served the church (Rom. 16:1), delivered Paul’s epistles (v. 2), and were considered ‘outstanding among the apostles’ (v. 7). There is also a lesser-known visual record of women in ministry in Italy’s oldest churches. From around the time of the First Council of Nicaea down to the 12th century, Christians created depictions of women preaching, women marked as clergy, and even one carrying a Communion chalice, with which believers have always recalled Christ’s words ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’ (Matt. 26:28). Radha Vyas, a photographer and a student at Dallas Theological Seminary, takes us on a tour of this artistic record of women in ministry.”


jacobs-thomasmerton-2“Thomas Merton, the Monk Who Became a Prophet” – Alan Jacobs in The New Yorker back in 2018: “On December 10, 1941, a young man named Thomas Merton was received as a novice by a monastery in Kentucky, the Abbey of Gethsemani. Precisely twenty-seven years later, he died by accidental electrocution in his room at a retreat center in Bangkok, Thailand. He entered the monastery three days after Pearl Harbor; he died a month after Richard Nixon was elected to his first term as President. It had been an eventful time. Merton was a remarkable man by any measure, but perhaps the most remarkable of his traits was his hypersensitivity to social movements from which, by virtue of his monastic calling, he was supposed to be removed. Intrinsic to Merton’s nature was a propensity for being in the midst of things. If he had continued to live in the world, he might have died not by electrocution but by overstimulation….Merton lived the public world, the world of words and politics, but knew that living in it had killed him. (‘Thomas Merton is dead.’) He sought the peace of pure and silent contemplation, but came to believe that the value of that experience is to send us back into the world that killed us. He is perhaps the proper patron saint of our information-saturated age, of we who live and move and have our being in social media, and then, desperate for peace and rest, withdraw into privacy and silence, only to return. As we always will.”


Music: The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, performing Ralph Vaughan Williams, “For All The Saints” (Sine Nomine), from A Vaughan Williams Hymnal

The Weekend Wanderer: 25 September 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.


125581“The Afghan Immigration Crisis Is Bigger, Faster, More Traumatic. Are Ministries Ready?” – Stefani McDade at Christianity Today: “Eileen Wilson pulled up to work at the Hope Center for refugees and immigrants in Cleveland, only to find Afghan families from the surrounding area and beyond standing in line at its entrance and waiting in cars in the parking lot. Some had driven hours, even from out of state. The crowds were a spillover from an emergency legal clinic held earlier that week in partnership with Catholic Charities. They were there to get help for their family members trapped in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover. Every day for weeks, Afghans have showed up at the Hope Center. They’re placed on a waiting list to be assigned a pro bono lawyer to help them file immigration paperwork for up to three family members back home.”


shang-chi-reclaim“Communal Heroism in Shang-Chi & The Legend of the 10 Rings” – Michelle Ami Reyes at The Asian American Christian Collaborative: “Family is often an afterthought in the MCU. In the movies, we are rarely introduced to a superheroes’ parents. From Captain America and Captain Marvel to Ant Man, a vast number of these individuals are disconnected from their parents, siblings, and grandparents. In the case of Tony Stark, Spiderman, Bruce Banner, and Monica Rambeau, their parents are deceased. We discover Hawkeye’s family in Avengers 2, but it is immediate (wife and kids), not generational (parents, grandparents). The list goes on. Throughout the Marvel franchise, we’ve become accustomed to the phenomena of discovered families—lone superheroes who find their people through a shared mission. The Marvel superhero paradigm has only been challenged twice: first in 2018 with the release of Black Panther and now with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021). Both films challenge the glorification of an all-powerful individual swooping in to save the day; the former through the power of an uncolonized African country, the latter through the strength of the Asian family.”


092221st-thomas-varanasi“The roots of India’s united churches” – Philip Jenkins in The Christian Century: “In the mid-20th century, ecumenism was a lively topic of debate within Protestant churches. As so often in Christian history, some of the boldest and most innovative experiments occurred on the mission frontier, in what we today call the Global South. We are approaching the 75th anniversary of a critical development in that story. When the British ruled India, they established their familiar denominations, which built churches along familiar lines. Those structures symbolized the imperial associations of the faith, in an overwhelmingly non-Christian society that was anxious to end British domination. As national independence approached in 1947, Christians faced challenging questions about their place in the emerging order.”


90“How the ‘Culture War’ Could Break Democracy” – An interview with James Davison Hunter in Politico: “In 1991, with America gripped by a struggle between an increasingly liberal secular society that pushed for change and a conservative opposition that rooted its worldview in divine scripture, James Davison Hunter wrote a book and titled it with a phrase for what he saw playing out in America’s fights over abortion, gay rights, religion in public schools and the like: ‘Culture Wars.’ Hunter, a 30-something sociologist at the University of Virginia, didn’t invent the term, but his book vaulted it into the public conversation, and within a few years it was being used as shorthand for cultural flashpoints with political ramifications. He hoped that by calling attention to the dynamic, he’d help America ‘come to terms with the unfolding conflict’ and, perhaps, defuse some of the tensions he saw bubbling. Instead, 30 years later, Hunter sees America as having doubled down on the ‘war’ part—with the culture wars expanding from issues of religion and family culture to take over politics almost totally, creating a dangerous sense of winner-take-all conflict over the future of the country.”


IC18-David-Fitch-400x400“A Different Kind of Leadership for the Church’s Future” – David Fitch at The Intersection Journal: “As evangelicalism and other movements proximate to it continue to fray and the dark underbelly is revealed, what comes next? Many are (justifiably) walking away from churches, deconstructing the christianity they received, on account of the oppressive and anti-Christic forces like racism, christian nationalism, patriarchy, and abuse being unveiled, not as side-issues, but as central to the animating life of what they knew as ‘church.’ For those who serve and lead in the wake of this mess, what could moving forward possibly mean or require? Should we walk away and let it burn? I believe that a faithful Christian witness is possible in the midst of (and perhaps because of) what is coming unraveled, but faithful witness requires a different kind of leadership.”


Myanmar Pastor“Baptist pastor shot dead amid continued attacks by the military” – From Christian Solidarity Worldwide: “A Baptist pastor was shot dead in Chin state in Myanmar/Burma on 18 September amid continued attacks by the Myanmar military on civilians in the state. Pastor Cung Biak Hum, 31, was shot by soldiers as he tried to help extinguish a blaze caused by artillery fire, which destroyed 19 homes in the Thantlang township. The Chin Human Rights Organization reported that soldiers proceeded to remove the pastor’s finger and steal his wedding ring. In response to the killing, Tom Andrews, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar tweeted: ‘The murder of a Baptist minister and bombing of homes in Thantlang, Chin State are the latest examples of the living hell being delivered daily by junta forces against the people of Myanmar. The world needs to pay closer attention. More importantly, the world needs to act.'”


early Christian hermit grave“Possible Grave of Medieval Christian Hermit Excavated in Spain” – News release in Archaeology: “According to a statement released by the National Research Center on Human Evolution (CENIEH), a team of researchers has excavated a rock-lined burial placed near the entrance to the San Tirso and San Bernabé Hermitage, a medieval Christian site in Ojo Guareña, a series of caves in northern Spain’s Cantabrian Mountains. Archaeologist Ana Isabel Ortega said the site has been dated to the early eighth century A.D., pushing back the founding of the hermitage by several centuries to about the time of the arrival of Islamic Moors in Spain. The burial is thought to hold the remains of one of the first Christian hermits to live an isolated life in the caves.”


Music: Michael Grigoni, “Call,” from Mount Carmel.

The Weekend Wanderer: 17 July 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.


“One million hours of prayer for Olympic host Japan” – Emily Anderson in Eternity: “Christians in Japan are asking the world for one million hours of prayer for their nation throughout the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Japan 1 Million is led by the Japan international Sports Partnership (JiSP) and Japan Evangelical Missionary Association (JEMA). They are calling on churches, individuals and families across the world to unite in prayer for Japan as it takes centre stage from the Opening Ceremony on Friday, 23 July. ‘What a gift to Japan from the global Church – one million hours of prayer for God’s Glory to fall upon our land,’ said JiSP leader Pastor Keishi Ikeda. When it comes to the good news of Christianity being spread, Japan is the second largest un-reached people group in the world. Less than one per cent of its 126 million population attend church.”


Rene Magritte - The Lovers (detail)“Why We Confess: From Augustine to Oprah” – Elizabeth Bruenig in The Hedgehog Review: “Confession, once rooted in religious practice, has assumed a secular importance that can be difficult to describe. Certainly, confessional literature is everywhere: in drive-by tweets hashtagged #confessanunpopularopinion, therapeutic reality-television settings, tell-all celebrity memoirs, and blogs brimming with lurid detail set to endless scroll. Public confession has become both self-forming and culture-forming: Although in some sense we know less about each other than ever, almost every piece of information we do learn is an act of intentional or performative disclosure. It’s easy to chalk up this love of confessional literature to the seemingly modern impulse to overshare, but public confession itself has an ancient history.”


Jesus-Way“Truth, Justice, and the Jesus Way” – This is an older post from Eugene Peterson at the Renovare blog: “Jesus’ metaphor, kingdom of God, defines the world in which we live. We live in a world where Christ is king. If Christ is king, every thing, quite literally, every thing and every one, has to be re-imagined, re-configured, re-oriented to a way of life that consists in an obedient following of Jesus. A total renovation of our imagination, our way of looking at things — what Jesus commanded in his no-nonsense imperative, ‘Repent!’ — is required. We can — we must! — take responsibility for the way we live and work in our homes and neighborhoods, workplaces and public squares. We can refuse to permit the culture to dictate the way we go about our lives.”


“In Kenya, faith groups work to resettle youth returning from al-Shabab” – Fredrick Nzwili in Religion News Service: “In Kenya’s coastal region, interfaith efforts to slow down or end youth recruitment into the militant Islamist group al-Shabab are gaining progress, with some recruits abandoning the extremist group’s training grounds in Southern Somalia to return home. The group — al-Qaida’s affiliate in East Africa — had stepped up secret recruitments in the coastal and northeastern regions since 2011, when the East African nation’s military entered southern Somalia. The radicalized youth, many of them younger than 30, were often sent across the border to train as jihadists. But now, the activity has slowed down, partly due to efforts by the interfaith groups. More than 300 such youths who had traveled to Somalia for training as jihadists had been rescued and brought back to the country.”


Henri, Vincent and Me“Henri, Vincent, and Living in the World with Kindness” – Joseph Johnson in Englewood Review of Books: “Carol Berry first met Henri Nouwen in the bookstore at Yale Divinity School back in the 1970’s. As she recounts in her moving (and brief) book, Learning from Henri Nouwen and Vincent van Gogh, he initially appeared like “a man dressed in a well-worn, baggy, moth-eaten sweater with a woolen scarf around his neck” (4). Though Nouwen may have looked like a disheveled, older student, he was actually teaching at Yale at the time, and Berry was deeply moved while sitting in on Nouwen’s lecture on Vincent van Gogh and the nature of the compassionate life. Nouwen is known by many as a deeply kind Catholic spiritual writer, and for me, his writings—and especially letters—have been a real gift. Nouwen felt a deep connection with van Gogh as a fellow wounded healer who desired to connect with other and provide them with comfort, and he worked hard to share this connection with his students (8). As Berry puts it, the hope was that, “Through Vincent’s story, through the parable of his life, we were to come closer to an understanding of what it meant to be a consoling presence” (52). Her book aims for a similar purpose.”


“Sierra Leonean evangelicals approach death penalty abolition process with caution” – Jonatán Soriano in Evangelical Focus: “Pressure from the international community and, above all, NGOs has led to a massive process of abolition of the death penalty in Africa. In 2016, Guinea took this step, joining Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and Togo. In 2018 it was Burkina Faso. In 2019 Equatorial Guinea announced an abolitionist bill, and in 2020 Chad removed capital punishment from its legal system. This year Malawi declared it unconstitutional. As among several sectors of society, within the evangelical sphere in Sierra Leone, abolition is viewed differently.”


Music: Vigilantes of Love, “Skin,” from Blister Soul.