“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.
“NASA Astronaut Asks for Prayer for Moon Mission” – Daniel Silliman in Christianity Today: “Victor Glover will pray his way to the moon. When the Artemis 2 takes off sometime late next year, four astronauts will strap into a gumdrop-shaped capsule atop a tower of rockets taller than the Statue of Liberty. Mission control will count down—10, 9, 8, …—and a controlled explosion with 8.8 million pounds of force will fire, throwing the four astronauts from the coast of Florida into high-earth orbit, where another engine, setting spark to a mixture of liquid hydrogen and oxygen, will thrust them beyond the bonds of Earth for the first time in more than half a century. And Glover, the pilot of the spacecraft, will say a few words to God. He told CT he will listen to God, too, attending to the quiet stillness in his mind where he can lay down his own personal interests and desires and truly say, ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. I know that God can use us for his purposes,’ Glover said. ‘When Jesus was teaching the disciples to pray, he used that very specific prayer that we all know, “Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name …” So, listen, I am a messenger of his kingdom; his will be done.'”
“The Death of God and Our Death: Why the human body matters now and in eternity” – Kenneth Tanner: “These days we rarely see death up close, in-person. A hundred years ago, at least one sibling would die in childhood, and our parents often died before they saw our children. Now not only do our siblings and parents very often survive into our adulthoods, our parents usually live well past the life expectancy of a hundred years ago. When we do die, we too often die alone in nursing homes or hospitals (I know, because I am too often called to attend these deaths when no one comes). In older times, you died at home, surrounded by your family, who washed your body after you died, and dressed your body for burial, and then put you on ice while everyone came by the house to visit for a day or two; then they dug your grave themselves and lowered you into the ground. Now the body is taken away immediately, handled by strangers, often cremated, and the body is not present at whatever church or funeral home service occurs, if one occurs, often months later, often as ‘memorials’ or ‘celebrations’ of the person’s life. If it sounds like we too often sweep dying and death under the rug of our common life, are rarely proximate to it, this is the experience of this pastor.”
“Almighty assurances: The curious popularity of a Psalm that seems ‘the very definition of over-promising'” – Timothy Larsen reviews Philip Jenkins’ latest book on Psalm 91 in TLS: “For both Jews and Christians one of the most popular scriptural passages is the psalm that begins: ‘He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty’ (Authorized Version). Although Jews and Protestants know it as Psalm 91, and Catholic and Orthodox Christians as 90, it is beloved by them all. It has been inscribed on everything from ancient lamps to medieval amulets to contemporary combat bandanas. Still, as Philip Jenkins’s book points out, it is often considered a problem passage. Sometimes called “the Protection Psalm” because of its blanket assurances, it seems the very definition of over-promising: ‘A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.’ Different translations and traditions foreground different interpretations of ‘it’ – plagues, military assaults, demonic attacks. Many religious leaders have therefore found Psalm 91 a bit of an embarrassment. They have been at pains to point out that it reflects a naive, primitive kind of belief; as such, it is best for moderns to not take its words too much to heart. Yet the faithful can demonstrate a devotion to the psalm that is hard for the sophisticated to grasp. Perhaps surprisingly, given that it assures the reader that ‘There shall no evil befall thee,’ it is particularly cherished by the grieving. It is recited in the traditional Jewish funeral service. A popular hymn version, ‘On Eagle’s Wings,’ is often selected for funeral masses and has become a standard response to tragedies, including those on the scale of 9/11. When the missionary Jim Elliot was killed, his wife’s account of his death became an evangelical spiritual classic, Shadow of the Almighty (1958). Moreover, Psalm 91 is admired by many foes of organized religion. The Marxist intellectual Max Horkheimer prayed it regularly. The Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor has recorded two versions of it. It even makes for a popular tattoo among members of criminal gangs.”
“There’s a reason every hit worship song sounds the same” – Bob Smietana at Religion News Service: “On Easter Sunday, the worship band at Bethel Community Church in Redding, California, opened the service with ‘This Is Amazing Grace,’ a 2012 hit that has remained one of the most popular worship songs of the past decade. Chances are thousands of other churches around the country also sang that song — or one very similar to it. A new study found that Bethel and a handful of other megachurches have cornered the market on worship music in recent years, churning out hit after hit and dominating the worship charts.
The study looked at 38 songs that made the Top 25 lists for CCLI and PraiseCharts — which track what songs are played in churches — and found that almost all had originated from one of four megachurches. All the songs in the study — which ranged from ‘Our God’ and ‘God Is Able’ to ‘The Blessing’ — debuted on those charts between 2010 and 2020. Of the songs in the study, 36 had ties to a group of four churches: Bethel; Hillsong, a megachurch headquartered in Australia; Passion City Church in Atlanta, which runs a popular youth conference that fills stadiums; and Elevation, a North Carolina congregation with ties to the Southern Baptist Convention. ‘If you have ever felt like most worship music sounds the same,’ the study’s authors wrote, ‘it may be because the worship music you are most likely to hear in many churches is written by just a handful of songwriters from a handful of churches.’ The research team, made up of two worship leaders and three academics who study worship music, made some initial findings public Tuesday (April 11). More details from the study will likely be released in the coming weeks.”
“How Humble Leadership Really Works” – Dan Cable in Harvard Business Review: “When you’re a leader — no matter how long you’ve been in your role or how hard the journey was to get there — you are merely overhead unless you’re bringing out the best in your employees. Unfortunately, many leaders lose sight of this. Power, as my colleague Ena Inesi has studied, can cause leaders to become overly obsessed with outcomes and control, and, therefore, treat their employees as means to an end. As I’ve discovered in my own research, this ramps up people’s fear — fear of not hitting targets, fear of losing bonuses, fear of failing — and as a consequence people stop feeling positive emotions and their drive to experiment and learn is stifled. Take for example a UK food delivery service that I’ve studied. The engagement of its drivers, who deliver milk and bread to millions of customers each day, was dipping while management was becoming increasingly metric-driven in an effort to reduce costs and improve delivery times. Each week, managers held weekly performance debriefs with drivers and went through a list of problems, complaints, and errors with a clipboard and pen. This was not inspiring on any level, to either party. And, eventually, the drivers, many of whom had worked for the company for decades, became resentful. This type of top-down leadership is outdated, and, more importantly, counterproductive. By focusing too much on control and end goals, and not enough on their people, leaders are making it more difficult to achieve their own desired outcomes. The key, then, is to help people feel purposeful, motivated, and energized so they can bring their best selves to work.”
“What is the Curriculum for Christlikeness?” – Dallas Willard at the Renovaré blog: “‘So those who hear me and do what say are like those intelligent people who build their homes on solid rock, where rain and floods and winds cannot shake them. (Matthew 7:24-25). ‘Train them to do everything I have told you’ (Matthew 28:20). These words from Jesus show that it must be possible to hear and do what he said. It also must be possible to train his apprentices in such a way that they routinely do everything he said was best. That may seem a dream to us today, or it may even be perceived as a threat to our current vision of the Christian hope – indeed, of our personal hope. But that is only because we now live in a time when consumer Christianity has become the accepted norm, and all-out engagement with and in Jesus’ kingdom among us is regarded as just one option people may take if it suits them – but probably as somewhat ’overdoing it.’ By contrast, the biblical pattern is, from beginning to end, ’Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only.’ Because that is so, and we have insisted upon it, we now must deal with the question of ways and means. What could we teach apprentices to Jesus, and how could we train them in such a way that they would routinely do the things he said were right? Indeed, what can we do to put ourselves in position actually to do what he has said?”
Music: Jpg., “Mileage”