The Weekend Wanderer: 29 October 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.


Gordon Fee“Died: Gordon Fee, Who Taught Evangelicals to Read the Bible ‘For All Its Worth'” – Daniel Silliman in Christianity Today: “Gordon Fee once told his students on the first day of a New Testament class at Wheaton College that they would—someday—come across a headline saying ‘Gordon Fee Is Dead.’ ‘Do not believe it!’ he said, standing atop a desk. ‘He is singing with his Lord and his king.’ Then, instead of handing out the syllabus like a normal professor, he led the class in Charles Wesley’s hymn, ‘O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.’ Fee, a widely influential New Testament teacher who believed that reading the Bible, teaching the Bible, and interpreting the Bible should bring people into an encounter with a living God, described himself as a “scholar on fire.” He died on Tuesday at the age of 88—although, as those who encountered him in the classroom or in his many books know, that’s not how he would have described it. Fee co-wrote How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth with Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary colleague Douglas Stuart in the early 1980s. The book is now in its fourth edition and has sold around 1 million copies, becoming for many the standard text on the best way to approach Scripture. Fee also wrote a widely used handbook on biblical interpretation, several well-regarded commentaries on New Testament epistles, and groundbreaking academic research on the place of the Holy Spirit in the life and work of the Apostle Paul. ‘If you had asked Paul to define what a Christian is,’ Fee once told CT, ‘he would not have said, “A Christian is a person who believes X and Y doctrines about Christ,” but “A Christian is a person who walks in the Spirit, who knows Christ.”‘”


221020-newsmentalhealthfade“How to Read the News Without Sacrificing Your Mental Health” – Mitchell Atencio in Sojourners: “When Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, Daniel Burke felt overwhelmed by the pace of the news cycle. ‘The images and the stories, particularly about young children and schools … being bombarded [were overwhelming.] I have young kids and I felt pretty deeply affected by these stories,’ Burke told Sojourners. ‘The way we make news these days … it’s like a firehose … it’s really easy to become overwhelmed.’ Burke, a former religion editor at CNN and contributing editor at Tricycle, is not alone in feeling overwhelmed. Forty-two percent of people in the U.S. will ‘sometimes or often actively avoid the news,’ according to a 2022 Reuters Institute and University of Oxford report, and nearly half of those respondents said they felt the news had a negative effect on their mood. Yet the majority of people in the U.S. — 81 percent — say that news is ‘critical’ or ‘very important’ for democracy, according to Gallup and the Knight Foundation. This can be especially true for Christians who follow 20th century theologian Karl Barth’s adage to ‘take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.’ If God is calling us to build more just communities, we are first called to know what is happening in those communities — and for that, we often need the work of journalists. But engaging news should not come at the expense of one’s mental health and emotional wellbeing. Here’s how engaging the news can be a personally and societally beneficial process.”


131502“Christians Say Sayfo Martyrs Should Get Genocide Status” – Jayson Casper in Christianity Today: “In the waning days of the Ottoman Empire, evangelicals laid down their lives for their Lord. Living in Nusaybin, once home to the ancient theological school of Nisibis, they were among the firstfruits of the Sayfo (‘sword’) martyrs. Overall, modern estimates posit half a million deaths of Syriac-Aramean Christians at the hands of Turkish and Kurdish soldiers, concurrent with the Armenian genocide that claimed 1.5 million lives. Today this Christian community, still speaking the language of Jesus, seeks its own recognition. In June 1915, the Muslim-majority city—now located on Turkey’s southeastern border with Syria—had about 100 Syrian Orthodox families, and an equal number belonging to other Christian sects. The Protestants were rounded up with Armenians and Chaldeans, marched to the front of town, and shot dead. The Orthodox families were promised peace by the local leader, but 30 men fled and sought refuge in the rugged mountains. A monk, trusting authorities, led soldiers to their hideout seeking to reassure the frightened band. According to reports, along the way they turned on the monk, demanding he convert to Islam. Upon his refusal, they cut off his hands, then feet, then head. Returning to Nusaybin, the soldiers assembled the remaining Christians, leading them out of town. In joyful procession the believers sang hymns of encouragement: Soon we will be with our Lord Jesus Christ.”


Warren - angels“Praying in the Night: Our Q&A with Tish Harrison Warren” – Mockingbird interview Tish Harrison Warren for their upcoming sleep issue: “The book begins in darkness — under the fluorescent lights of a hospital room. Enduring a brutal miscarriage, Tish Harrison Warren enters what she refers to as her “dark night of the soul,” a term coined by the sixteenth-century Spanish priest and mystic Saint John of the Cross to describe a time of spiritual crisis, when God seems absent. Prayer in the Night details Warren’s journey through that night, and serves as a guide for others in the midst of it. Written in direct, accessible prose, Warren’s honesty about suffering is matched only by her enduring faithfulness through it all. Of the weeks following her miscarriage, Warren writes, ‘Unlit hours brought a vacant space where there was nothing before me but my own fears and whispering doubts.’ At such a time, especially if you’ve been raised to believe you have to come up with it on your own, prayer can seem taxing and absurd — a kind of one-sided conversation in which the person praying does all the work. In such a case, following a script written by someone else might be helpful. Warren explains: ‘When my strength waned and my words ran dry, I needed to fall into a way of belief that carried me. I needed other people’s prayers.’ Specifically, she means Compline, an age-old service of evening prayers, a portion of which goes like this: Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen. In Prayer in the Night Warren meditates on each line of this remarkable invocation.”


Cultural Humility“Cultural Humility” – B. Hunter Farrell and S. Balajiedlang Khyllep at the Renovaré Blog: “One day I had an all-day meeting at a mission hospital an hour away from the seminary where my wife, Ruth, and I worked in DR Congo. Ruth decided to visit a sick friend and invited two young Congolese boys to go with her for some fun exploring the hospital grounds. The boys seemed to enjoy the day, and at the end of the hot afternoon they sat, watching some of the hospital personnel playing tennis. One of the employees asked the boys if they would each like to have a tennis ball. The boys’ eyes lit up and they eagerly accepted. When we returned home, Ruth asked the boys if they wanted her to write their names on the balls so people would know whose they were. They did. Then seven-year-old Mikobi asked if she would write his brother Tshejo’s name on the ball too. She thought how nice that was and wrote ​Tshejo.’ Then, Mikobi asked if she would write his friend Dilunda’s name on the ball. Something stopped her in her tracks — maybe it was a fear that there would be confusion over whose ball it really was. So Ruth paused and said, ​Mikobi, this is your ball.’ He looked at her, confused, and finally said, ​Mamu, if my friends had gone on the trip wouldn’t they have gotten a ball?’


Abraham Kuyper study“Kuyper the Mystic” – Clay Cooke and Steven Garber write this 2010 article in Comment: “The truest truths are never new. And the most important questions are always the perennial ones, the ones that human beings always ask. As my favorite poet, Steve Turner, once put it: History repeats itself. Has to. Nobody listens. I am an Augustinian, and I am a Bernardian, and I am a Calvinist, and I am a Kuyperian—and in and through it all, with the Puritan Richard Baxter and the Oxbridge don C.S. Lewis, I am a mere Christian. I would not have it be any other way. What are the Confessions if not an autobiographical yearning, from the first page on, for intimacy with God? I want to know you, and be known by you. Is it possible? The story of Augustine’s first 30 years of life is one of an increasingly hard heart, knowing the truth about God and himself, but resisting its metaphysical and moral meaning. And then, strange grace, he was awakened to reality—and his vision of God and the human condition shaped the next millennia, and for many all over the world, the centuries beyond. Bernard of Clairvaux’s marinated meditations on a true love for God, moving beyond creedal orthodoxy and intellectual assent, still echo across the centuries for those with ears to hear. Calvin quoted Bernard second only to Augustine, and when he set forth one of the deepest of all truths in the first pages of the Institutes, we hear him remembering his teachers. We cannot really know ourselves unless we know God; and then he argues, the reverse is also true. Everything else grows out of that thesis. Everything. But as I am shaped by this story of Augustine, Bernard, and Calvin, I am also shaped by Kuyper.”


Music: Rich Mullins, “Growing Young,” from The World as Best as I Remember It, Volume 2

The Weekend Wanderer: 27 August 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.


130547“Dallas Willard’s 3 Fears About the Spiritual Formation Movement” – James Bryan Smith in Christianity Today: “As a young man, I was privileged to be an eyewitness to the rise of the Christian spiritual formation movement. It began, in its modern form, in 1978, when Richard Foster wrote what has become the perennially standard text on the spiritual disciplines, Celebration of Discipline. Within a few years of its publication, Christians who had never heard of solitude, silence, or meditation were now practicing these disciplines. A lot of good was happening, but Richard saw that many Christians were practicing the disciplines in isolation and needed more guidance. So in 1988, he asked Dallas Willard, me, and a few others to join him in forming a spiritual formation ministry called Renovaré (Latin for “to renew”). Dallas, who served as a philosophy professor at the University of Southern California for 40 years, was one of the most important pioneers in the spiritual formation movement among evangelicals and mainline Protestants. He was close friends with Richard; in fact, Dallas first taught Richard about the spiritual disciplines, which of course were nothing new but were rooted in the ancient church….But privately, I noticed something else during those decades: Dallas was voicing serious concerns about the movement’s future.”


Isaac Adams“An Interview with Isaac Adams on ‘Talking About Race'” – Bill Melone interviewing Isaac Adams at Mere Orthodoxy: “Isaac Adams serves as lead pastor at Iron City Church in Birmingham, Alabama, and is the founder of United? We Pray, a ministry devoted to praying about racial justice. The following transcripted interview revolves around his book, Talking About Race: Gospel Hope for Hard ConversationsBill Melone: Isaac, thank you for participating in this discussion! Your book is a thoughtful and careful work that I hope is widely read, and I hope this discussion will connect people to the book and other work, and perhaps also give insights that connect your work to current issues in evangelicalism. I wanted to start by talking about hope. You wrote in your book:

I believe we still have an opportunity to stun the world with our love for one another, and I pray that we all are asking, ‘How can Christians love each other today on matters of race in such a way that the world has no choice but to say, “Wow! Look at how those Christians love one another!”‘

It’s impossible to write words like this without hope. But with all the division in America and in the American Church right now, it’s hard to have hope like this. Can you give a brief pitch for why I should question my pessimism about hope?”


image 3 - fire“Tending the Inner Fire” – David G. Benner in Conversation Journal: “Christian spirituality should never be a passionless spirituality. It invites us to come in from the cold and be awakened to love by Love. Love is right at the center of Christian spirituality: love of God, love of ourselves, love of our neighbors, and caring love for our world. Eros is an important source of fuel for this love. Brought to life by the Spirit as the flame of Love touches our soul, our passions awaken us and point us toward others and the Other. But as any good spiritual director knows, tending our inner fires is not simply for the purpose of self-fulfilment. Christian spirituality calls us to channel these fires in such a way that it moves us with (com)passion into the world. Passion for God should lead to passionate engagement with the world and the others who share it with us. Christian spirituality is not supposed to be a private matter, something within us or between God and us. Spiritual direction should never focus on the inner journey to the neglect of the outer. Henri Nouwen described the three movements of the spiritual journey as reaching in, reaching up, and reaching out. All three are essential for contact with and discernment and channeling of our inner fire.”


Kenya General Election“Amid post-election tension in Kenya, evangelicals urge to ‘preserve peace'” – Jonatan Soriano In Evangelical Focus – Europe: “Days after the election results were announced, tensions in Kenya remain high. The memory of the 2007 incidents, when 1,200 people lost their lives and another 600,000 were displaced, does not help. Although for the 2022 elections, religious and civic bodies have made efforts to promote a peaceful and “mature” voting process, the victory of the ‘alternative’ candidate led to riots in the capital Nairobi. With 50.49% of the vote and a lead of barely 200,000 votes over his opponent, the hitherto deputy president William Ruto has been declared winner of the elections. Analysts link his victory to three key factors: the support of the central region of the country (the most populated), the perception of Ruto as an ‘alternative’ to the country’s great political dynasties (the Kenyattas and the Odingas), and the state of the economy. However, the announcement by the electoral commission (IEBC) was met with backlash….The Evangelical Alliance of Kenya also issued a pastoral letter to its member churches. In it they acknowledge the work of ‘evangelical churches and communities across the country for the critical role they have played in this process.’ At the same time, they call on their members to recognise the work of the electoral commission and to maintain the connections that have developed, with several Alliance leaders assisting in the vote counting process. ‘During this period, we urge the church to lead the way in upholding the dignity of women, children and the vulnerable in society”, they add. Christians are called to ‘persist in prayer’, especially ‘for the peace that comes only from God.'”


081022pastors-grief“Ministry with the grieving” – Cornelius Plantinga in The Christian Century: “Christian pastors are more than acquainted with grief. They’re steeped in it. First responders and emergency room personnel meet grief that accompanies trauma, but they don’t usually have to minister to it. Pastors do. Their day job is to weep with those who weep. And not just when a congregant gets injured or dies. Grief arises from a host of causes. People grieve job loss, with all its anxieties. They lament their poverty. They grieve over the diminishments of aging, over their poor judgment that led to a tragic mistake, over family estrangements. They grieve over the disturbance or loss of their faith—often itself caused by grief. Congregants rejoice when their child graduates or gets married, but they also grieve because while we want our children to grow, when they do grow we ache. Some folks lament a normalcy they never had: ‘I so wish I had loved my mother and that she had loved me.’ A fair number of congregants feel sad that their lives haven’t turned out as they had hoped. Their lives seem to them flat and insignificant, a wounding rebuke of their youthful dreams.”


spread of Christianity“5 Ways Christianity Spread Through Ancient Rome” – Becky Little at History: “How did Christianity go from a small sect in a corner of the Roman Empire in the first century, to the religion that the emperor converted to in the early fourth century? Its spread was greatly aided by the empire’s political unification and extensive road system, as well as the belief among many Christians that the religion was something anyone could adopt, regardless of regional or religious background.”


Music: Audrey Assad, “I Shall Not Want,” from Fortunate Fall

The Weekend Wanderer: 20 August 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.


sign of the cross“The Shape of Faith: The sign of the cross is a reminder of whose we are” – Nathan Bierma in Christianity Today: “Pray continually, Paul urged the Thessalonians. The early church fathers took this one step further: continually make the sign of the cross. ‘In all our travels and movements, in all our coming in and going out, in putting on our shoes, at the bath, at the table, in lighting our candles, in lying down, in sitting down, whatever employment occupies us, we mark our foreheads with the sign of the cross,’ wrote Tertullian at the turn of the third century, A.D. In the fourth century, St. John Chrysostom (apparently anticipating an American Express slogan) wrote, ‘never leave home without making the sign of the cross.’ How the sign of the cross — the motion of the hand over the torso, up, down, then side-to-side — made its way from the early church to us today is a lesson in church history, as you can see in two new books: The Sign of the Cross: The Gesture, the Mystery, the History, by Andreas Andreopoulos (Paraclete Press, 2006) and The Sign of the Cross: Recovering the Power of the Ancient Prayer, by Bert Ghezzi (Loyola Press, 2006). (The sign of the cross as a benediction, made outwardly rather than towards the self, also has a varied and murky history, but both books focus primarily mostly on making the cross over one’s self.) More importantly, the sign of the cross is a lesson in discipleship. As Andreopoulos, from an Eastern Orthodox perspective, and Ghezzi, from a Roman Catholic perspective, both show, making sign of the cross is a powerful act of daily prayer, dedication, and remembrance. Ghezzi writes that at its heart, the sign of the cross is ‘a simple gesture and … a simple prayer.'”


RNS-Frederick-Buechner“Frederick Buechner, popular Christian ‘writer’s writer’ and ‘minister’s minister,’ dies at 96” – Emily McFarlan Miller in Religion News Service: “Frederick Buechner was asked on numerous occasions how he would sum up everything he had preached and written in both his fiction and nonfiction. The answer, he said, was simply this: ‘Listen to your life.’ That theme was constant across more than six decades in his career as a ‘writer’s writer‘ and ‘minister’s minister’ — an ordained evangelist in the Presbyterian Church (USA) who inspired Christians across conservative and progressive divides with his books and sermons. Buechner died peacefully in his sleep on Monday (Aug. 15) at age 96, according to his family….Buechner graduated with a bachelor’s of divinity — he’d later receive nine honorary degrees — and was ordained as an evangelist in 1958 at the same church where he had been so moved by [George] Buttrick’s words. That same year, he launched the religion department at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, where he taught for nine years before moving with his family to their farmhouse in Vermont. He later was awarded lectureships at Harvard and Yale universities and held teaching positions at Tufts University, Calvin College and Wheaton College.”


Good Grief“Good Grief: Reflections on a dreaded emotion” – Joseph Epstein in Commentary: “Fortunate is the person who has reached the age of 50 without having had to grieve. To be among the grieving, the bereaved, is an experience most of us go through, excepting only those who die preternaturally young and are themselves the cause of bereavement. The death of a parent, a husband or wife, a brother or sister, a dear friend, in some ways saddest of all, a child, is among the major causes of grief. May grief be avoided? Ought it to be? Is there any sense in which, as Charlie Brown’s favorite phrase had it, there is good grief? Socrates held that one of the key missions of philosophy was to ward off our fear of death. Upon his own death, by self-imposed hemlock, he claimed to be looking forward at long last to discovering whether there was an afterlife. Montaigne wrote an essay called ‘To Philosophize Is to Learn How to Die,’ in which, as elsewhere in his essays, he argues that, far from putting death out of mind, we should keep it foremost in our minds, the knowledge of our inevitably forthcoming death goading us on the better to live our lives. But no one has told us how to deal with the deaths of those we love or found important to our own lives. Or at least no one has done so convincingly. The best-known attempt has been that of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a Swiss psychiatrist, in her 1969 book On Death and Dying and in her later book, written with David Kessler, On Grief and Grieving (2005). Kübler-Ross set out a five-stage model for grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Yet in my own experience of grieving, I went through none of these stages, which leads me to believe there is more to it than is dreamt of in any psychology yet devised.”


Morrison and Baldwin“The Christian Case for Reading Black Classics” – Patricia Raybon interviews Claude Atcho in Christianity Today: “Claude Atcho was shopping at Target when a display of James Baldwin books got him thinking: Who would read them? Or get lost trying? At that moment, Atcho—a Charlottesville, Virginia, pastor who had taught African American literature at the collegiate level—was inspired to write a guide for Christians on reading and discussing Black classics (like Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain). The result, Reading Black Books: How African American Literature Can Make Our Faith More Whole and Just, applies a literary and theological lens to these classics. Journalist and mystery novelist Patricia Raybon spoke to Atcho about his invitation to readers.

What is a Black book? How do you define it?

For me, it’s those classic, canonical texts that look at African American experience, hope, and concern but also—as literature—have stood the test of time. It’s not just about having an interesting plot; these books take up significant themes and ask important questions about human experience universally, but Black experience in particular.”


strafaelembed2“Learning to Wait on the Lord” – Sr. María Gonzalo-García in Plough: “Who likes to wait? Honestly, waiting is not something I’m good at. This is why I need the school of community, which for me is Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, a community of Trappist-Cistercian nuns in Virginia. When the Lord delays – as happened to Martha and Mary of Bethany when their brother was dying (John 11:6) – and I’m stretched by desire, I become more aware that I’m a disciple, a servant and not the master of my life or the lives of those I love. Rafael Arnaiz, the most recently canonized saint of the Trappist-Cistercian Order, has shown me that only those who hope know how to wait. But what happens when hope is scarce? Simply put, we suffer. Such was also Rafael’s experience, the practical way in which he learned how to wait and to accept God’s plan for his life. Like many other saints, Rafael would have passed unnoticed after his brief lifetime if he had not left behind a significant number of journals and letters that rapidly caught the attention of many readers. Rafael synthesizes the knowledge he received during his monastic journey in these words, ‘Our entire science consists of knowing how to wait.’ In my personal experience and also as vocation director of my community, making the effort to stop and take time to pray and discern is now harder than ever. Everyone seems to move so fast around us that it’s easy to feel pressed to move on, even if this means ignoring a profound ache in our hearts. Rafael waited because he knew that nothing but God alone could satisfy his deepest desire.


130325“Moral Failings in the Pulpit Lead to Moral Injury in the Pews” – Laura Howard in Christianity Today: “first encountered the concept of moral injury during my MDiv program at the University of Chicago in an anthropology class called Humans After Violence. The MDiv program required each of us to intern at a site of our choosing for the middle year of the program, and I’d opted to work with the clergy at my church. Earlier that year, our church had discovered reports of our priest’s abuse of power, and he was removed from leadership. Initially, my school supervisors worried it might be a bad idea for me to work at a church where so many of us still felt betrayed and uncertain. But I wanted to conduct my internship at a church that was asking questions about how to do community and how to steward power well—rather than at a church that could gloss over these conversations simply because they were functioning better. Halfway through the internship, I signed up for the class hoping it would help me understand what our community was experiencing. The professor told us she aimed to explore ‘where violence leaves us—or rather, how violence doesn’t leave us.’ Through examining various case studies, I learned that trauma is not necessarily about the way someone is hurt but about how they carry their hurt. I also discovered that the concept of PTSD was developed by mental health professionals who worked with Vietnam veterans.”


Music: U2, “Love is Blindness,” from Achtung Baby!

Rainer Maria Rilke, “It’s Possible” [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 Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem “It’s Possible” taken from his Das Stundenbuch or A Book for the Hours of Prayer. This rendering of the poem was translated by Robert Bly. Rilke was a 19th and 20th century German poet whose lyrical style often explored themes of the inner life.


It’s possible I am pushing through solid rock
in flintlike layers, as the ore lies, alone;
I am such a long way in I see no way through,
and no space: everything is close to my face,
and everything close to my face is stone.

I don’t have much knowledge yet in grief—
so this massive darkness makes me small.
You be the master: make yourself fierce, break in:
then your great transforming will happen to me,
and my great grief cry will happen to you.


Previous poems in this series:

The Weekend Wanderer: 28 August 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.


“What ‘Jesus Wept’ Means for Manhood” – Richard Mouw at Christianity Today: “Conversations in the public square of late have ranged from biblical masculinity to gender roles in the church. We need these debates, and I am a willing participant in those arguments. But for me, the topics have a personal connection to memories about tears—both my own and the tears of Jesus. I was 12 years old when my paternal grandfather died, and when I stood in front of his coffin, I received a memorable—but as I now see it, toxic—lesson in what it means to be a ‘masculine’ Christian. Our extended family was gathered at the funeral home the evening before the day of the memorial service, and my parents encouraged me to approach the coffin to ‘say your goodbyes to Grandpa.’ When I did so, I started to sob. Then I felt a hand on my shoulder, the strong grip of a favorite uncle who was a construction worker. He leaned over and said softly in my ear, ‘Chin up, soldier. Men don’t cry!’ That image of the Christian man as a warrior facing the challenges of life bravely and without tears stayed with me.”


“The Livelihood of Cairo’s Poorest” – “It has been 35 years since Maggie Gobran abandoned a successful marketing career and an esteemed professorship to care for the poorest of the poor in Egypt. Though she has been named one of the BBC’s 100 most influential women of 2020 and nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize more than a half dozen times, the only accolade she cherishes is a nickname the children gave her many years ago: Mama Maggie. ‘In 1985 when I first visited these places, I was sick from the smell. And I think my soul was sick, asking how come we live so comfortable life and they don’t find even a cup of cold, clean water?’ she says. ‘Then we started to ask God, “If you are merciful, God, how come you allow all this misery in this life?”‘ God seems to have answered: How do you?”


“The Whole World Smells Like That to Me: Learning to love like Jesus on the Bowery, Manhattan’s boulevard of broken dreams” – Jim Cymbala at Plough: “I  have always felt that the ultimate spiritual deception we can experience as believers in Jesus is to emphasize our relationship with God, with little concern for the less fortunate around us. That was exactly the problem in ancient Israel when the prophet Isaiah lifted his voice on behalf of the living God:

They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. … They ask me to take action on their behalf pretending they want to be near me. “We have fasted before!” they say. “Why aren’t you impressed?” … No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Share your food with the hungry and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those that need them. … Feed the hungry and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness. … You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.” (Isaiah 58, NLT)

Those words have challenged me throughout the years I have pastored in the inner city of downtown Brooklyn. But it hasn’t always been easy to put them into practice.”


Rise & Fall of Mars Hill“Unintended consequences of failure porn” – Liam Thatcher at his blog: “I’m seven episodes into The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill and my feelings are more mixed than before. Not particularly towards the podcast itself. I have some questions about particular editorial choices in the more recent episodes, but I still feel it’s an important project, generally well-executed, and a valuable though painful listen. But I am increasingly perturbed by the cult following that is developing around it. The drooling anticipation that fills my Twitter timeline ahead of each episode. The cries of ‘I can’t wait’, or ‘I need the next episode NOW!’ The eager anticipation of what new controversies the next installment may unveil. The plethora of mocking memes that get shared after each installment.”


“Unmarried Sex Is Worse Than You Think” – Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra and Collin Hansen at The Gospel Coalition: “Americans talk a lot about sex. Anyone would think they’re having a lot of it. After all, some behaviors our society used to affirm without question—getting married, staying faithful, even going to church—all seem like they’d put a damper on an exciting romantic life. And the behaviors now espoused—free sex, with anyone, at any time (as long as there’s consent)—seem like they’d lead to nonstop, uninhibited hookups. Instead, the opposite has happened. Young people are having less sex—and are less happy—than the married, churchgoing generation before them.”


“Architectural Shots Frame the Stately Modern Designs of Churches Across Europe” – Grace Ebert at Colossal: “French photographer Thibaud Poirier continues his Sacred Spaces series by capturing the modern architecture of dozens of temples across Europe. Similar to earlier images, Poirier uses the same focal point of the front pulpit and pews in all of the photographs, allowing easy comparisons between the colors, motifs, and structural details of each location. ‘I selected these spaces for the use of original materials, modern for their time in sacred architecture, like steel, concrete, as well as large aluminum and glass panels,’ he tells Colossal. Because travel has been limited due to COVID-19, Poirier has mostly visited 20th- and 21st-century churches in France, Germany, and the Netherlands for Sacred Spaces II, although he plans to expand his range in the coming months.”


Music: Big Red Machine, “New Auburn,” live on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert