The Weekend Wanderer: 14 November 2020

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.


Carl Lentz“Fired Hillsong NYC Pastor Carl Lentz Apologizes for Infidelity” – I am more than tired of the failures of ministry leaders in North America. Here is one more example of a charismatic personality who has fallen into moral failure, bringing untold pain and confusion to his own family, congregation and others. There is a sickness at work within the church. While it does require appropriate accountability, we also need better guides for ministry, both old and new, as well as an adequate look at our dark side that we often hide from. This speaks of a deep need for radical repentance and different approaches to ministry. We must repent and re-learn ministry.


The Great Litany“The Great Litany” – Maybe a good place to start would be to pray great prayers of times past that lead us into silence, reflection, and repentance before God. Here is one time tested resource for that sort of approach to our spiritual need in this hour.


Heather Cirmo - accountability“How to Prevent the Next Evangelical Leadership Scandal” – Heather Cirmo at Christianity Today writes: “Working as a public relations professional in the Christian world, I’ve had an up-close and personal view of how quickly crises can develop and how easily they can engulf an organization in controversy and confusion. I have been called on to help numerous ministries in crisis, many of which were struggling to come to terms with revelations of sexual impropriety or abusive leadership. My role is to try to minimize the public damage. But in many situations, it becomes clear that organizational problems existed far before the sin was ever made public.”


Hunter - on the brink“Dissent and Solidarity: Times of crisis are always times of reckoning” – James Davison Hunter at The Hedgehog Review: “If you were a forty-year-old in 1955, your life would have already spanned most of World War I, the Spanish flu pandemic, the convulsive birth of the Soviet Union, the Great Depression, the rise of fascism in Italy and Germany, World War II, the communist takeover in China, and the Korean War; closer to home, you would have witnessed McCarthyism and the growing pressures for remediation of ongoing and unresolved racial injustice—for all of the manifest good of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, Emmett Till was murdered in 1955. During those four decades from 1915 to 1955, the nation had faced crisis after crisis, and, had this been your life, you would have known little else but a nation on the brink. Then, as now, these national trials were rightly recognized as existentially momentous, and then, as now, there was wide and deep controversy over how to make sense of them.”


Seychelles President“Anglican Priest elected Seychelles President in first victory for Seychelles Democratic Alliance” – “An Anglican priest, Wavel Ramkalawan, has been elected to serve as the fifth President of the Seychelles. It is the first time in the country’s 44 years of independence from Great Britain that the President is not from the United Seychelles Party. President Ramkalawan came close to winning power in the 2015 election, falling just 200 votes short of victory. But he triumphed in last month’s elections, winning 54.9 per cent of the vote against incumbent President Danny Faure’s 43.5 per cent.”


f14f8836c81d05f92479de92da21695b-729x1024“The Power of Love: Grace in Augustinian Perspective” – Simeon Zahl at The Mockingbird blog: “There is a particular challenge that emerges when we speak about divine grace. On the one hand, God’s grace is given to sinners. There is something about the deep structure of divine love that is revealed in the fact that it makes a bee-line for those whose lives are most broken (Mk 2:17; 2 Cor 12:9). Indeed in some mysterious sense it is the nature of God’s grace to burn the brightest where it is least deserved (Rom 5:6, 5:20). On the other hand, God’s grace also transforms the sinners it encounters, at least in some minimal sense: grace redeems (Col 1:13-14) and heals (Jer 30:17; Mt 4:23), breaks chains (Gal 5:1) and gives life (Rom 4:17; Jn 10:10). If grace offered us no help at all in our distress it is not clear how it could ever become attractive to us in the first place.”


Music: Jpk., “Rosewater

[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.]

Bibliography for Faith and Politics

When I conclude a sermon series, I usually share the resources I used to help me study and prepare my sermons. Here is the second of two bibliographies for our recently completed series, “The Kingdom of God” (you can find the first one here). This bibliography has a backstory.

Before the pandemic we had a two-week series entitled “Faith and Politics” on the schedule with guest speakers NT Wright and Vince Bacote. As an extension site for Trinity Evangelical Divinity School we worked on a wraparound class for that series and I helped develop the first bibliography and reading list for that class, which was the genesis for what I’m sharing below.

As the pandemic accelerated, NT Wright was unable to travel in April (we rescheduled him for 2021) and we delayed the series on politics. I eventually re-worked the two week series on faith and politics into a broader five-week series on the kingdom of God. Thankfully, we were still able to have Vince Bacote join us and you can watch his lecture, as well as a follow-up Q&A, here: “The Political Disciple: A Theology of Public Life.”

It should go without saying that I do not agree with the perspective shared within all of these works. However, many of them which I disagree with are still important for any discussion of faith and politics.

Bibliography for “Faith and Politics”

Augustine. City of God. Edited and translated by R. W. Dyson. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998. (1278 pages – Augustine’s magisterial exploration of the relationship between the city of God and the city of earth)

Vincent E. Bacote. The Political Disciple: A Theology of Public Life. Ordinary Theology Series. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015. (90 pages – a summary of key issues on faith engaging culture)

Robert Benne. Good and Bad Ways to Think About Religion and Politics. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010. (120 pages – written out of frustration with current failures of thinking, Benne offers some core convictions about Christian political engagement and how that should shape public policy and political action)

Amy E. Black. Beyond Left and Right: Helping American Christians Make Sense of American Politics. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2008. (254 pages – Wheaton College political science professor offers an engaging look at key issues in political theology with attention to key issues)

________, ed. Five Views on the Church and Politics. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015. (240 pages – part of Zondervan’s Counterpoints series, this book offers outlines of political thought from Anabaptist, African America, Catholic, Lutheran, and Reformed perspectives, with responses to each outline by others)

Gregory A. Boyd. The Myth of a Christian Nation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005. (207 pages – written around the 2004 election, Boyd’s central thesis is “a significant segment of American evangelicalism is guilty of nationalistic and political idolatry”)

John Calvin. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2007. (1059 pages – Calvin’s treatment of law and government were defining for Protestant theology since his time)

D. A. Carson. Christ and Culture Revisited. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2012. (255 pages – an evangelical New Testament scholar offers a revision of Niebuhr’s typology of Christian cultural engagement with a chapter on church and state)

Craig A. Carter. Rethinking Christ and Culture: A Post-Christendom Perspective. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2006. (224 pages – a critique of Richard Niebuhr’s typology and proposes a typology better suited to mission after Christendom)

William T. Cavanaugh, Jeffrey W. Bailey, Craig Hovey. An Eerdmans Reader in Contemporary Political Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2012. (836 pages – a collection of 49 readings from key thinkers on political theology in the past couple centuries)

Eugene Cho. Thou Shalt Not Be a Jerk: A Christian’s Guide for Engaging Politics. Nashville: David C. Cook, 2020. (272 pages – a pastor addresses the manner in which we engage in contemporary political discussions as Christians)

Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw. Jesus for President. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008. (355 pages – the authors offer a progressive evangelical theology that critiques American Christianity’s subjugation to empire)

Andy Crouch. Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2013. (284 pages – while not strictly about politics, Crouch offers a modern approach to broader cultural engagement for evangelicals)

Patrick J. Deneen. Why Liberalism Failed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2019. (264 pages – an evaluation of why liberalism – in contrast to communism and fascism – is the only remaining viable ideology of the 20th century, but also how inherent features of the success of liberalism are generating its own failure)

Rod Dreher.  The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation. New York: Sentinel Books, 2017. (304 pages – a conservative Christian approach to facing into the cultural shifts and political issues of our day)

Jacques Ellul. The Subversion of Christianity. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1986. (222 pages – Ellul was an influential and iconoclastic 20th century thinker, and this book specifically looks at the deviation between the life of the Church and the teachings of Jesus)

John Fea. Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction. Louisville, KY: Westminters John Knox, 2011. (287 pages – a historical survey of American religion and politics with attention to specific figures in response to the question in the title)

________. Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2018. (238 pages – a historian’s evaluation of factors, particularly a politics of fear, that contributed to 80% of white evangelicals voting for Donald Trump)

Frances Fitzgerald. The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2017. (740 pages – a Pulitzer-prize winning historian offers an insightful history of how evangelicalism has shaped American culture and politics)

Greg Forster. The Contested Public Square: The Crisis of Christianity and Politics. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2008. (254 pages –introduces the history of Christian political thought traced out in Western culture—a culture experiencing the dissolution of a long-fought-for consensus around natural law theory)

Justin Giboney, Michael Wear, and Chris Butler. Compassion and Conviction: The AND Campaign’s guide to faithful civic engagement. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2020. (147 pages – a basic guide to political theology as applied to the US political system in the present moment)

Jonathan Haidt. The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. New York: Pantheon Books, 2012. (419 pages – professor of psychology addresses the divisions within our society and a potential pathway forward through mutual understanding)

Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon. Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony, expanded 25th anniversary edition. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2014.  (198 pages –a prophetic vision of how the Church can regain its vitality, battle its malaise, reclaim its capacity to nourish souls, and stand firmly against the illusions, pretensions, and eroding values of today’s world)

James Davison Hunter. To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. (368 pages – the author engages with prevailing Christian approaches to changing the world and political engagement with a suggestion of a way forward through “faithful presence”)

Willie James Jennings. The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race. New Haven: Yale U. P., 2010. (384 pages – a look at the concept of race and the way it shapes our theology and approach to many issues, including politics)

George Kalantzis and Gregory W. Lee, eds. Christian Political Witness. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2014. (240 pages – a collection of essays on biblical, historical and theological proposals for thinking responsibly about the intersection of church and state in the contemporary cultural situation)

Martin Luther King, Jr. A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches. San Francisco: HarperOne, 2003. (736 pages – a collection of the most important writings and speeches by the premier leader of the American civil rights movement, including his invaluable “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”)

David T. Koyzis. Political Visions and Illusions: A Survey and Christian Critique of Contemporary Ideologies, 2nd ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2019. (330 pages – the author examines five common political visions – liberalism, conservativism, democracy, nationalism, and socialism – offering a Christian critique of each and suggested way forward)

Abraham Kuyper. Lectures on Calvinism: Six Lectures from the Stone Foundation Lectures Delivered at Princeton University. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1898, 2008. (182 pages – a classic representation of the Reformed tradition and the basis of what seem view as a distinctly Kuyperian approach to cultural engagement)

Tremper Longman III. The Bible and the Ballot: Using Scripture in Political Decisions. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2020. (310 pages – an Old Testament scholar provides a specifically biblical approach to issues that are divisive in our political sphere)

Richard J. Mouw. Political Evangelism.  Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1973. (111 pages – Mouw reflects on the inadequacies of separatism and activism, while also pointing to an alternative of appropriate political engagement as part of the evangelistic – outward – activity of the church)

Reinhold Niebuhr. Major Works on Religion and Politics. Library of America. New York: Library of America, 2015. (850 pages – Niebuhr was one of the premier thinkers of the early 20th century and his political thought continues to influence writers and practitioners, including Barack Obama)

H. Richard Niebuhr. Christ and Culture. New York: Harper & Row, 1951. (259 pages – this classic work provided the most enduring typology for evaluating Christian engagement with culture since its publication)

Richard John Niehaus. The Naked Public Square: Religion and Democracy in America. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1984. (280 pages – long-time author and founder of the journal First Things, Niehaus offers a conservative evangelical vision of political engagement)

Mark A. Noll. God and Race in American Politics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton U. P., 2008. (226 pages – the premier historian of American evangelicalism evaluates the way that religion and race have factored into American politics)

Oliver O’Donovan. The Desire of Nations: Rediscovering the roots of political theology. New York: Cambridge U. P., 1996. (304 pages – a work of systematic Christian political thought, combining Biblical interpretation, historical discussion of the Western political and theological tradition, theoretical construction and critical engagement with contemporary views)

________ and Joan Lockwood O’Donovan. From Irenaeus to Grotius: A Sourcebook in Christian Political Thought. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999. (858 pages – a reference tool that provides an overview of the history of Christian political thought with selections from second century to the seventeenth century)

C. C. Pecknold. Christianity and Politics: A Brief Guide to the History. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2010. (196 pages – a brief guide to the history of Christianity and politics, showing how early Christianity reshaped the Western political imagination with its new theological claims about eschatological time, participation, and communion with God and neighbor)

Elizabeth Phillips. Political Theology: A Guide for the Perplexed. New York: Continuum Boos, 2012. (208 pages – This is a concise and accessible advanced introduction which distinguishes various approaches to political theology, and which explores several of the central issues addressed in political theologies)

Kaitlyn Schiess. The Liturgy of Politics: Spiritual Formation for the Sake of Our Neighbor. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2020. (207 pages – an application of spiritual formation practices to the political sphere from a younger evangelical perspective)

Ronald J. Sider and Diane Knippers, editors. Toward an Evangelical Public Policy: Political Strategies for the Health of the Nation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2005. (380 pages – a collection of essays from a broadly evangelical perspective, ranging from theological to practical; Nicholas Wolterstorff’s essay, “Theological Foundations for an Evangelical Political Philosophy” is a highlight)

James W. Skillen. The Good of Politics: A Biblical, Historical, and Contemporary Introduction. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2014. (214 pages – the author evaluates the biblical drama, key historical developments, and pathways toward engaging contemporary political issues)

James K. A. Smith. Awaiting the King: Reforming Public Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2017. (256 pages – the third part of Smith’s cultural liturgies series offers an Augustinian model for engaging the current political situation in our culture that is rooted in worship)

Howard Thurman. Jesus and the Disinherited. Boston: Beacon Press, 1976. (128 pages – demonstrates how the gospel may be read as a manual of resistance for the poor and disenfranchised because of Jesus entrance into the pain of the oppressed)

Tom Wright. God in Public: How the Bible speaks truth to power today. London: SPCK, 2016. (190 pages – a little known work of NT Wright that, while somewhat English in application, offers an approach to biblical theology that throws fresh light on political and ethical problems of our day)

Miroslav Volf. A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2011. (192 pages – Volf writes a lot about human flourishing and the common good, and this book serves as a good introduction to his line of thinking and practice on these issues)

Jim Wallis. God’s Politics. New York: Harper Collins, 2005. (384 pages – long-time author and editor of Sojourners, Wallis offers a progressive evangelical vision of political engagement)

John Howard Yoder. The Politics of Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1972. (260 pages – Yoder’s classic outline of an Anabaptist view of cultural engagement has shaped  many thinkers up to this day)

The Weekend Wanderer: 9 June 2018

The “Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly post in which I gather a smattering of news, stories, resources, and other media you could explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like.

WRD-2018_WR_Homepage-Banner_1400x350.jpg“Help Refugees Rebuild Their Lives” – June 20 is World Refugee Day and many organizations are encourage people to help refugees rebuild their lives. I always like to promote the work of World Relief because as a distinctly Christian organization they approach this in a way that I believe is more coherent with our faith and wholistic in terms of care. Maybe you could join me in supporting their invaluable work here.

 

170905122613-anthony-bourdain-parts-unknown-trinidad-exlarge-169“CNN’s Anthony Bourdain dead at 61” – Sad news came in on Friday that Anthony Bourdain, famous for his work on “Parts Unknown,” passed away. I still remember watching his outstanding work in Palestine, including a visit to Gaza. From CNN: “Anthony Bourdain, the gifted chef, storyteller and writer who took TV viewers around the world to explore culture, cuisine and the human condition for nearly two decades, has died. He was 61. CNN confirmed Bourdain’s death on Friday and said the cause of death was suicide.” There are too many people tragically lost to suicide these days. If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, reach out for help. Don’t try to deal with it on your own.

 

web3-father-mcgovern-france-normandy-beach-d-day-public-domain-us-army-signal-corps“D-Day, 74 years later: Remembering the heroic chaplains and priests of Normandy” – This past week we marked 74 years since D-Day. In a feature on the role of chaplains and priests at Normandy, Katherine Ruddy brings together a series of powerful images of these ministers serving in the midst of devastatingly difficult circumstances.  If you are interested in digging into this topic even more deeply, you might enjoy reading the historical work, Serving God and Country: United States Military Chaplains in World War II,  by my friend and mentor, Dr. Lyle Dorsett.

 

Alt_Immagination_Summit_2017-203“Andy Crouch and the Culture Makers” is a great look at the outstanding writings of Andy Crouch and the efforts of ‘culture making,’ or cultural transformation, that is finding a resurgence within evangelicalism these days. Giving attention to Praxis Labs and other efforts at integration of faith and work, Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra highlights how certain figures are “helping to spread, as C. S. Lewis might say, a ‘good infection,’ integrating the good works to which Christ has called us with good work, well done.”

 

Pro-Life Demonstrators Face Pro-Choice Demonstrators“The Man Who Discovered ‘Culture Wars’” –  James Davison Hunter coined the phrase ‘culture wars’ in the 1980s and wrote one of the most important books on culture and faith in the last decade, To Change the World. In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Hunter reflects on what has changed over the last thirty years in the culture wars.

 

82298“Christian Baker Wins Supreme Court’s Masterpiece Cakeshop Case” – Speaking of culture wars, this past week baker Jack Phillips won his case that went all the way to the Supreme Court related to his refusal to decorate a cake for a same-sex wedding.  The 7-2 decision avoided setting a precedent in relation to the larger issue of the intersections of faith convictions and civil rights issues, instead citing that lower state courts had demonstrated an unconstitutional hostility toward his Christian faith.  Will this help the cause of faith-based organizations or individuals? The jury is still out on that, but it is likely not a victory for religious freedom according to some.

 

merlin_136365531_4fa18cff-0fac-4c81-aa65-1ad3ae301d4b-jumbo“Family Separation at the Border” – “Even before the zero-tolerance policy was implemented, the New York Times reported that 700 children had been separated from an adult claiming to be their parent from October 2017 to April 2018. More than 100 of these children were under the age of four. These numbers have since grown exponentially. On May 23, 2018, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that 638 parents traveling with 658 children had been ‘processed for prosecution’ under the new zero-tolerance policy between May 6 and May 19, 2018. Given that the Administration has said that parents referred for prosecution will be separated from their children, the testimony means that more than 600 families have been separated under the new policy in less than two weeks.” The UN has now said these actions are illegal under international law. You may also benefit from understanding how US policies relate to those of other nations around the world.

 

take five“Famous Songs in Slightly Odd Time Signatures – A Guide to Rhythms” – Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” is one of my favorite songs of all time because it swings in the odd time signature of 5/4. If you find songs like that fascinating, you may enjoy this quirky article that looks at well-known songs in time signatures that are unique, with references to artists as disparate as Aretha Franklin, Radiohead, Björk, Genesis, and more.

 

Abridged_Pride-and-Prejudice-1240x808“Literary Classics Retold as Two-Panel Comics” – Over at Literary Hub, you can get a glimpse into the entertaining book Abridged Classics: Brief Summaries of Books You Were Supposed to Read but Probably Didn’t by John Atkinson. Do not use this for your high school or college literature classes because it probably will not help you.

 

Screen Shot 2018-06-07 at 1.10.55 PM“Backwards commute: Car escapes traffic by driving in reverse” – And last, but not least, we must remember not to follow the example of this driver caught on camera.  Still, we can marvel at the skills of a driver so bold as to exit the highway and drive for another mile completely in reverse. There’s a future for this driver, but I am not sure what it is.

[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.]