The Weekend Wanderer: 25 April 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.


116902“We May Be ‘Safer at Home.’ But Many At-Risk Kids Aren’t” – Here’s Chris Palusky, President and CEO of Bethany Christian Services: “While most children in the country are dealing with the frustrations of missing their friends, a hiatus in sports seasons, and closed playgrounds, others worry about the very real possibility of homelessness, abuse, or neglect. Most of all, they face the fear and uncertainty of wondering if they are alone. This is a fear no child should ever endure. As we stay home to protect the medically fragile and elderly, we can’t forget this other highly vulnerable group. I won’t parse words: The number of children in foster care will dramatically increase because of the coronavirus pandemic.”


Beaty-GettyImages-1215355325-780-x-508“NYC Medical Ethicist: It’s Time We Learned to Talk about Death” – Katelyn Beaty in Religion & Politics: “Lydia Dugdale, director of the Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at Columbia University, is perhaps prepared more than most to face death….In addition to her medical degree from the University of Chicago, she earned a master’s in ethics from Yale Divinity School, and she co-directed the Program for Medicine, Spirituality, and Religion at Yale School of Medicine. Dugdale has also spent more than a decade recovering ancient wisdom from the tradition of Ars Moriendi, which translated from the Latin means ‘the art of dying.’ Beginning in the fourteenth century, as the bubonic plague ravaged Western Europe, the Ars Moriendi was a handbook on how to prepare for death. ‘A central premise [of the handbook] was that in order to die well, you had to live well,’” writes Dugdale in a new book, The Lost Art of Dying. ‘Part of living well meant anticipating and preparing for death within the context of your community over the course of a lifetime.'”


Kidd - tactile religion“Tactile Religion in a Time of Pandemic” – Here is Thomas Kidd, author of the recent acclaimed book, Who Is an Evangelical?: The History of a Movement in Crisis, on the impact of the pandemic on tactile aspects of our religious gatherings, such as hand-shakes, hugs, and passing the peace. “Whenever we are able to go back to some sort of normalcy, I don’t see those contact rituals coming back until an effective COVID-19 vaccine is available (sometime in 2021, Lord willing). That will mean that church will remain strange, because tactile religion is such a common feature of Christianity that we don’t notice it until it is gone.”


Kierkegaard Harpers“Difficulties Everywhere” – My first exposure to Søren Kierkegaard that I remember was through my sister-in-law’s brother, who was the same age as me and obsessed with the Danish philosopher when we met during our college years. It was only later that I really came to appreciate Kierkegaard’s unique approach to faith and Christianity, as well as being credited as the founder of existentialist philosophy. Kierkegaard is perhaps best known for advocating the ‘leap of faith,’ a phrase he never formally used, which refers to moving beyond mere rational understanding by engaging the will and trust in the crisis of decision-making and living. Christopher Beha’s review of Clare Carlisle’s Philosopher of the Heart: The Restless Life of Søren Kierkegaard is well worth the read as a minor introduction to Kierkegaard.


Austin Kleon prayer“On praying, whether you believe or not” – I have really enjoyed Austin Kleon’s work on creativity. A fun father-son highlight for me with one of my kids this past year was seeing Kleon when he visited Milwaukee and gave a lecture at Boswell Books. In this post, Kleon reflects on prayer from a very interesting perspective. Describing it as “the best proselytizing I ever heard”, he shares Mary Karr‘s advice on prayer: “Why don’t you pray for 30 days and see if your life gets better?” I think you’ll enjoy Kleon’s thoughts here, regardless of whether you believe or not.


Ideas_Art-Crisis-Productivity-200020298-001-“Productivity Is Not Working” – Our culture is frenetically busy and often assesses value based in terms of what we can produce. The nature of our faith reminds us that we are more than what we do, but we still wrestle with it. In WIRED magazine, Laurie Penny offers a refreshingly honest depiction of how the pandemic heightened her struggle with the need to produce. “There has always been something a little obscene about the cult of the hustle, the treadmill of alienated insecurity that tells you that if you stop running for even an instant, you’ll be flung flat on your face—but the treadmill is familiar. The treadmill feels normal. And right now, when the world economy has jerked to a sudden, shuddering stop, most of us are desperate to feel normal.”


AP-immigration-trump-cf-170126_12x5_1600“World Relief on the White House’s Proposed Immigration Restrictions: ‘This Is Unacceptable'” – Some of you may know that, after a short stint working at a bookstore, I began my working career with World Relief, working with the Africa Regional Director for several years. I am aware that a lot of attention has been given to the topic of immigration in recent years with vastly different opinions on the topic. However, I do agree with President of World Relief, Scott Arbeiter, who writes: “World Relief is supportive of the administration’s efforts to manage and prevent the further spread of COVID-19, but urges the government to reconsider measures that contradict both public health advice and the principles on which the U.S. is formed.”


Gerhard Richter: <i>Birkenau</i> (installation view), 2014“The Master of Unknowing” – Two years ago, when Kelly and I traveled to London in celebration of our twentieth wedding anniversary, we meandered our way through many of the museums in the city. While visiting the Tate Modern, we stumbled into a room displaying the work of Gerhard Richter. I wasn’t familiar with Richter’s work, but it was stunning in person. I enjoyed reading more about Richter and his work in this feature by Susan Tallman in The New York Review of Books. One quotation from Richter just captured me: “It is my wish, to create a well-built, beautiful, constructive painting. And there are many moments when I plan to do just that, and then I realize that it looks terrible. Then I start to destroy it, piece by piece, and I arrive at something that I didn’t want but that looks pretty good.”


 

Music: Ludovico Einaudi, “Night,” from Elements

[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.]

The Weekend Wanderer: 3 August 2019

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.

Last week I was on vacation with my family, so I took a break from pulling together the weekend wanderer. We enjoyed a circle tour around Lake Superior, starting with the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, then into Ontario in Canada, and concluding with a stops in Minnesota and northern Wisconsin. It was a beautiful journey in God’s creation with those I love the most. Here are a few photos, although I could share even more.

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Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan.
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Upper Falls on the Pigeon River at the border of Ontario and Minnesota.
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Mist over Lake Superior at Grand Portage, MN.

Okay, back to this weekend’s collection for “The Weekend Wanderer.”

Joshua Harris“Questioning Faith After Purity Culture: In Conversation with Joshua Harris” – For those who grew up in evangelicalism, particularly conservative evangelicalism, Joshua Harris was a household name. This was largely due to the popularity of his book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, which advocated courtship and became a big hit in the purity movement. For those on the outside, like me, much of Harris’ material seemed laughable and worth ignoring. Others, who grew up within the purity movement, have found some aspects of it painful and confusing.  So it was rather big news recently when Harris, who had already stepped away from pastoral ministry and distanced himself from his previous work, announced not only that he was separating from his wife but that he had also left the faith. That is, he was no longer a Christian, or was, at least, going through a deconstruction of faith that would, according to him, hardly be characterized as Christianity. Two very different reads on this come from Katelyn Beaty at Religion News Service (“Joshua Harris and the sexual prosperity gospel”) and Al Mohler in The Briefing (“The Tragedy of Joshua Harris: Sobering Thoughts for Evangelicals”).

 

kissing christianity goodbye“Kissing Christianity Goodbye” – While this article by Carl Trueman jumps off from the previous news about Joshua Harris, it is really something broader than that. Noticing the tendencies within the group known (or formerly known) as “the Young, Restless and Reformed,” Trueman critiques modern evangelicalism, calling everyone to account for what is happening. If you’re not familiar with “the Young, Restless, and Reformed” group, it’s not a daytime soap opera, but a movement toward a somewhat simplistic Reformed theology within evangelicalism in the early 2000s and sometimes called “the New Calvinists.” Collin Hansen’s 2006 article at Christianity Today provides a good summary, and was eventually turned into a full-length book. Trueman’s article at First Things deserves a read or two.

 

Screen Shot 2019-08-01 at 3.03.39 PM“The Village Church sued for more than $1 million over alleged abuse at church camp” – I was so saddened to hear of this terrible situation at The Village Church, where Matt Chandler serves as Lead Pastor. “A young woman who was allegedly sexually assaulted by a youth minister at a church camp is suing the Village Church for more than $1 million for gross negligence and the emotional distress the alleged abuse has caused her.”

 

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“Learning from a Legend: 2 life lessons we can learn from Gardner C. Taylor” – In an inspiring article drawn from his book on Gardner C. TaylorJared Alcántara highlights two traits of this outstanding preacher that today’s preachers would do well to emulate: caring more about faithfulness than success and emphasizing the greatness of the Gospel more than the greatness of the preacher. As quickly as that and I’ve added Alcántara’s book to my reading list.

 

Rob Moll

“Remembering Rob Moll” – Those familiar with Christian journalism and writing may know the name Rob Moll from his books, articles, or presence for several years at Christianity Today. It was terrible to hear of his untimely death while hiking at Mount Rainier. Here is Ted Olsen, a longtime colleague and friend, writing about Moll: “For years, Rob thought a lot about death. He volunteered as a hospice chaplain and took a part-time job at a funeral home even before he decided to write his first book, The Art of Dying. Why, I wondered, was such a young guy so interested in learning how to die well? Isn’t that something to think about after midlife? Few healthy and athletic 41-year-olds are as prepared for their death as Rob was.” You can read a selection of his articles after Olsen’s remembrance, including his poignant reflection on the writing of Albert Camus, “Saved by an Atheist.”

 

Music: Harrod and Funck, “Walk into the Wild” from the self-titled album.

[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.]