The Weekend Wanderer: 1 May 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.


“Died: C. René Padilla, Father of Integral Mission” – Here is David C. Kirkpatrick at Christianity Today remembering a leading missiologist of the last century: “C. René Padilla, theologian, pastor, publisher, and longtime staff member with the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students, died Tuesday, April 27, at the age of 88. Padilla was best known as the father of integral mission, a theological framework that has been adopted by over 500 Christian missions and relief organizations, including Compassion International and World Vision. Integral mission pushed evangelicals around the world to widen their Christian mission, arguing that social action and evangelism were essential and indivisible components—in Padilla’s words, ‘two wings of a plane.'” You may also appreciate the further article: “Leaders and Friends Remember C. René Padilla.”


“Despite multiracial congregation boom, some Black congregants report prejudice” – Adelle M. Banks at Religion News Service reporting on a recent study by Barna and the Racial Justice and Unity Center: “Most practicing Christians believe the church can enhance race relations in this country by welcoming people of all races and ethnicities, new research finds. But 29% of Black practicing Christians say they have experienced racial prejudice in multiracial congregations, compared to about a tenth who report such an experience in monoracial Black churches. And a third of Black Christians say it is hard to gain leadership positions in a multiracial congregation. The new report, released Wednesday (April 28) by Barna Group and the Racial Justice and Unity Center, examines the views of what researchers call ‘practicing Christians,’ people who self-identify as Christians, say their faith is very important to them and say they attended worship in the past month.”


“How Quebec went from one of the most religious societies to one of the least”– Church historian Philip Jenkins in The Christian Century: “Religious Americans sometimes look nervously at the rapid secularization of European nations and wonder if something similar could happen to them. The last decade has witnessed a notable drift to the secular in the United States, measured for instance by the substantial rise in nones, those who reject any religious affiliation. Meanwhile, the current pandemic will assuredly have wide-ranging effects on institutions of all kinds. But we don’t have to look as far away as Europe for an example of a quite sudden and irrevocable decline of religious faith and practice and the general re­placement of old congregations by new populations. To see just how speedily an old religious order can collapse, look no further than the Canadian province of Quebec.”


pastors read“Why Pastors Should Read Literature” –  Karen Swallow Prior at The Center for Pastor Theologians: “It’s always seemed strange to me that reading good literary works—poetry, drama, short stories, novels—is something that needs defending, particularly among Christians. After all, most people seem to understand (even if we don’t make time to do it often) why we visit art galleries, attend symphonies, and go to plays….But the truth is that we are made of words, by words, and for words. Immersing ourselves in beautiful words (even if only for a few precious minutes most or a few days) is like getting a burst of oxygen in air-deprived lungs. Most of us live and work in polluted environments. We are surrounded by words of anguish, anger, anxiety, and—most of all—efficiency. Literary language, on the other hand, is evocative, rich, resonant, and inviting.”


“A Law of Deceleration: How I dumped the internet and learned to love technology again”  – Paul McDonnold at Plough: “The monster had taken over my work life, home life, and many of the spaces in between. My one-time enchantment was now disgust, and in 2019 I decided to disconnect, or at least pull way back. As much as possible, I began reading and writing with paper and pen instead of pixels. I dropped my home broadband service. My only personal internet came from a smartphone, which had a 3-gigabyte monthly limit. Beyond that, I used public wi-fi at the library. Email became a once-a-day thing, and I stopped scanning Google News. I let my Facebook page languish for weeks, then months. Then I deleted it. My life decelerated, and time seemed to expand. I was able to do more, read more, and think more. And I felt better. But with so many people still paying near-constant obeisance to digital screens, I also began to feel like I was in a science fiction movie – the only human who had snapped out of the monster’s malevolent hypnosis. Then Covid-19 hit, and I had to make some concessions to the monster.”


friendship“Friendship is a place of sacrifice—and sanctification” – Eve Tushnet at America reviews a recent book on friendship: “There is a way of praising friendships that unintentionally undermines them. We often picture friendship as our refuge—romantic relationships bring drama, work brings hassle, family is chaos, but with friends you can relax. You’re understood. Friendship is ‘The Golden Girls,’ where every tiny comic tiff is resolved by the end of the half-hour. Friendship is sweet because friendship is easy. Friendship is safe, because friendship is too small to really hurt you. This is not the only Christian model for friendship. It isn’t even the most obvious Christian model. The greatest friendships in the Bible are sites of sacrifice. Jonathan, having made a covenant of friendship with David, gladly sacrifices personal safety, his relationship with his father and the kingship. Jesus identifies friendship with discipleship and with his own sacrifice for us on the cross, in Jn 15:13-15 (of course it’s in John, the Gospel of the “beloved disciple”): ‘No one has greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.’ That model, in which friendship can be the site of our sanctification because it is a site of sacrifice, animates much of St. Aelred’s dialogues, Spiritual Friendship.”


Music: U2, “The Troubles,” Songs of Innocence

The Weekend Wanderer: 20 July 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.

5779.thumb“Richard Rohr: A Field Guide” – When you’re a pastor you encounter trends within people’s spiritual conversations that make you wonder what is going on. When an author is referenced often in conversation, you have to pay attention. A number of years ago, authors like Rob Bell or Donald Miller were some of those sort of authors. These days, I can barely take ten steps without someone mentioning Richard Rohr. Love him or hate him, you have to reckon with Richard Rohr in discussions of faith. About two months ago, I was thinking of writing an engagement with Rohr, but didn’t get to it. Just in time, Matthew Milliner steps up to provide this helpful “field guide” to Rohr.

 

Screen Shot 2019-07-15 at 10.41.30 AM“In Brooklyn, ‘tradpunk’ Christianity meets millennial counterculture” – I didn’t see this one coming. Tara Isabella Burton writes about “a goth garden party in Brooklyn, New York’s historic Green-Wood Cemetery with a few people I’d met on the fringe corners of what the internet.” She reflects on millennial faith, her specific Anglo-Catholic tradition, and the countercultural nature of Christianity. “At its core, Christianity is a faith of resistance, of questioning dormant assumptions, of breaking apart easy cycles of power and consumption. It’s been a faith of strangeness: and of strangers in a strange land. For me, at least, the addition of incense, or the old Rite 1 Liturgy, helps to highlight that strangeness. Keeping theology Weird is key to keeping it alive.”

 

<> on September 27, 2017 in Washington, DC.“House chaplain prays to cast ‘spirits of darkness’ from Congress” – “House Chaplain Pat Conroy’s opening prayer: ‘This has been a difficult and contentious week in which darker spirits seem to have been at play in the people’s house. In Your most holy name, I now cast out all spirits of darkness from this chamber, spirits not from You.'”

 

gettyimages-613689090_wide-f793694fd7703b4ad760ad27c9ef4406d30abdee-s1400-c85“Democrats Have The Religious Left. Can They Win The Religious Middle?” – Via NPR: “Democrats this year are making a more determined effort to reach voters whose political preferences are driven in part by their religious faith. Two presidential candidates — Sen. Cory Booker and Mayor Pete Buttigieg — are recruiting faith advisers to help in their campaigns, and the Democratic National Committee has hired a new ‘faith engagement’ director, the Rev. Derrick Harkins….The new efforts have Democrats hopeful they can mobilize a religious left to counter the religious right, long a bedrock Republican constituency. Less clear is whether the outreach will resonate with those voters who make up the religious middle.”

 

91429“Pompeo: Why We’re Hosting the World’s Biggest Event on Religious Persecution” – From Christianity Today: “This week, the US State Department invited more than 100 countries to come to DC and discuss how to stop the dramatic decline of religious freedom worldwide. CT’s global director, Jeremy Weber, interviewed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on what has changed between last year’s first-ever ministerial on international religious freedom (IRF) and this week’s second, bigger event.”

 

Iraq ISIL“‘The situation is very vulnerable’: Iran-backed militias ethnically cleansing northern Iraq” – Given the discussion in the previous article, it is very pertinent to pay attention to what is happening in the Middle East in recent years. “The official story is that northern Iraq is at peace. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) has largely been defeated; the Iraqi Army and its allies are in charge. But for Christians, the persecution continues. Those who can are getting out. Those who stay are preparing themselves for more violence.”

 

Michigan Central“Michigan Central and the rebirth of Detroit” – My wife, Kelly, is from Detroit, so we always keep our eyes and ears open to the challenges and hopes of Motor City. The BBC offered an insightful look through the lens of the Michigan Central Railway Station. “Michigan Central was once one of the grandest railway stations in the United States – the gateway to a fabulously wealthy city, dominated by the auto industry….But Detroit’s days of lavish prosperity are long gone. The station has been closed and abandoned for more than 30 years. Its tower, like the keep of a derelict fortress, is a poignant symbol of a once-great city’s decline. Now Michigan Central is being given a new life by the industry that created Detroit’s wealth.”

 

A visitor looks at the view of Fountains Abbey near Ripon, northern England“H. S. Cross’s Absorbing World” – John Wilson’s review of H. S. Cross‘ latest book, Grievous, makes me want to run out and read this book. As Wilson mentions in his review, many of his readers may not be familiar with Cross, myself included, but his are enough to pique my interest toward wading into this long work, as well as Cross’ previous novel, Wilberforce. If you’ve read either, let me know what you think.

 

giant jellyfish“Giant jellyfish the size of a human spotted by divers off English coast” – Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction and the seemingly infinite wonders of the created world are stunning. “A giant jellyfish the size of a human has stunned a diver off the south-western coast of England. The incredible creature — a barrel jellyfish — was spotted near Falmouth by broadcaster and biologist Lizzie Daly, who described the encounter as ‘breathtaking.'” Keep your eyes open the next time you go swimming.

 

paul-simon-and-son“Paul Simon: Fathers, Sons, Troubled Water” – Paul Simon’s album Graceland usually makes an appearance during our family roadtrips.  The range of musicianship and the strong song-writing still captures my attention. I read this article by Daniel Drake in The New York Review of Books awhile back but forgot about it until finding it in my electronic “To Read” pile the other day. He writes: “A consummate adult rather than a perpetual teenager, he sang about the compromises of apartment living, the journey through sobriety, divorce, breakdowns, second marriages, second divorces, fatherhood, depression, baseball. At their best, his songs have an erudite lyrical grace that had developed from a tendency to pretension in his early folk records and would shade in his later albums into mystic mumbo-jumbo.”

Music: It seems like it would be a shame not to share some Paul Simon. Here’s “Diamonds on the Soles of His Shoes,” from Graceland: The African Concert, featuring Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

[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: 1 September 2018

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.

 

83267“Many Churchgoers Want Sunday Morning Segregated” – At Christianity Today, Bob Smietana reports on a recent Lifeway Research survey about the desire and tendency for Protestant Christians to worship with others like them. “More than half (57%) of Protestant churchgoers under 50 say they prefer to go to church with people who share their political views. And few adult Protestant churchgoers say they attend services with people of a different political persuasion.” So much for the one new humanity of Ephesians 2

 

Griswold-The-Block-ChurchAnd in other, yet related, news: “Millennial Evangelicals Diverge from Their Parents’ Beliefs.” In The New Yorker, Eliza Griswold charts the recent changes in evangelicalism in terms of socio-political issues, concluding that evangelicalism is in a state of flux in terms of its social engagement on issues such as abortion, immigration, and more, particularly along generational lines. “The result is that younger evangelicals are speaking out on issues like family separation at the border, climate change, police brutality, and immigration reform­­––causes not typically associated with the evangelical movement. In the continuing moral outrage at the border, which includes nearly six hundred children still displaced in New York City alone, many see the faces of themselves and their families.” While I have strong aversions to generational theory, this should come as no surprise, given that the very idea of ‘evangelicalism’ as a monolithic theological, political, or sociological movement is fiercely debated today.

 

aretha“Here is the Aretha Franklin funeral program, and it’s epic” – The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, passed away this week (read the obituary). As with many of her generation of soul and R&B, she began her career by singing in church, including the church where her father was the pastor, New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan. CNN has gathered together some quick facts on her life here. Although I had heard her music before, I hate to say that as a kid my introduction to Aretha came through her appearance with the song “Think” in The Blues Brotherswhich I saw in an edited-for-television version at an early age,  You might want a deeper dive into some of her greatest songs of all time here.

 

Lt. Comdr. John S. McCain is interviewed after the Vietnam War“John McCain Would Have Passed the Anne Frank Test” – After the passing of John McCain last weekend, there have been many reflections on his life and work. I particularly enjoyed this reflection by Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic related to McCain’s integrity and willingness to stand up for the right in difficult situations and in the face of difficult people. The Anne Frank test: “something I learned from a Holocaust survivor almost 40 years ago, is actually a single question: Which non-Jewish friends would risk their lives to hide us should the Nazis ever return?”

 

Hybels“Randy Alcorn on Evangelical Sex Scandals: Bad Pastors Just Reappear at New Churches, Repeat Sins” Randy Alcorn, famous as a pastor and Christian author made veiled references to the Bill Hybels/Willow Creek saga, with some reflections on how the evangelical church grapples with leadership and integrity. In light of the systemic leadership coverup of the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandal, Alcorn’s words feel more poignant: “Countless churches have hired a pastor who ends up in immorality, only to find out that he had been guilty of the same in his previous church, which they had failed to ask about his character, morality and reputation.”

 

inside out“Outside In: What do we see when we look at ourselves?” – You really do not want to miss Alan Jacobs’ astute exploration of the human condition and the contemporary suggestions of what it means to be a self (or not to believe in a self at all). Touching on St. Paul, Charles Taylor, the Invisibilia podcast, Rebecca West, Pokémon, Friederich Nietzsche, the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, and Inside Out, you will be delightfully provoked to thought.

 

ubang“Uban: The Nigerian Village Where Men and Women Speak Different Languages” – Just when you thought you had a difficult time communicating with someone else, a friend shared this fascinating piece about the village of Ubang in Nigeria, where men and women speak in different languages that are still understandable to one another. “In Ubang, a farming community in southern Nigeria, men and women say they speak different languages. They view this unique difference as ‘a blessing from God’, but as more young people leave for greener pastures and the English language becomes more popular, there are concerns it won’t survive.”

 

58581-canva-photo-editor-60.800w.tn“Australia’s New Prime Minister Is an Evangelical Christian” –  I’m not sure what evangelical means anymore, particularly when used by new agencies, but this was in the news this week. “Australia’s newest prime minister is a church-going evangelical Christian who isn’t afraid to stand up for his faith in a country largely viewed as secular. Scott Morrison became prime minister Friday when the Liberal Party voted him in as its leader after ousting Malcolm Turnbull, the former prime minister and party leader. The Liberals are a center-right party in Australia, while the Labor Party is more center-left. Morrison is a member of Horizon Church, a Pentecostal congregation in Sydney where he and his family are involved in ministries.”

 

the good lifeI’m thankful Micah Mattix highlighted Karen Swallow Prior‘s new book On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great BooksHere is an excerpt: “Reading great literature well has the power to cultivate virtue. Great literature increases knowledge of and desire for the good life by showing readers what virtue looks like and where vice leads. It is not just what one reads but how one reads that cultivates virtue. Reading good literature well requires one to practice numerous virtues, such as patience, diligence, and prudence. And learning to judge wisely a character in a book, in turn, forms the reader’s own character. Acclaimed author Karen Swallow Prior takes readers on a guided tour through works of great literature both ancient and modern, exploring twelve virtues that philosophers and theologians throughout history have identified as most essential for good character and the good life. In reintroducing ancient virtues that are as relevant and essential today as ever, Prior draws on the best classical and Christian thinkers, including Aristotle, Aquinas, and Augustine. Covering authors from Henry Fielding to Cormac McCarthy, Jane Austen to George Saunders, and Flannery O’Connor to F. Scott Fitzgerald, Prior explores some of the most compelling universal themes found in the pages of classic books, helping readers learn to love life, literature, and God through their encounters with great writing. In examining works by these authors and more, Prior shows why virtues such as prudence, temperance, humility, and patience are still necessary for human flourishing and civil society.”

 

o-PARIS-facebook“Gorgeous Photos of the World’s Most Beautiful Libraries” – Because you need some inspiration as the school year starts, why not imagine that you are completing your studies in an environment like this. Or maybe, like me, you just needed a new desktop image to keep you feeling like you’re part of something bigger than our computer-laden world.

 

JohnM-502x630Makoto Fujimura, “The Four Holy Gospels” – Take a moment to enjoy the wondrous artistry of Makoto Fujimura’s work commissioned for an edition of the four canonical Gospels in the English Standard Version, published in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the King James Version (KJV) Bible in 1611. More info here.

 

[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.]