“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.
*Note: Next weekend I’ll take a break from the Weekend Wanderer but plan on being back after that. See you in the new year!*
“The Many True Meanings of Christmas” – From Timothy Larsen, edtior of The Oxford Handbook of Christmas, and professor of Christian thought at Wheaton College: “While the season of Christmas often brings out the best in people, somehow the subject of Christmas does not. In fact, the holiday often elicits a taunting tendency. Discussions of Christmas are rife with the genetic fallacy. The supposed origins of things are weaponized in order to insist that they somehow contradict a person’s stated beliefs. People have a strange tendency to insist that Christmas cannot mean to you what, in fact, it does mean to you. Religious people are told that Christmas is really secular, and secular people that it is really religious. Christians are told it is pagan, and pagans are told it is Christian. Somehow the poor Christmas tree gets all these charges heaped upon it – it is, by turns, too religious, too secular, too pagan, and too Christian.”
“When I Didn’t Want Christmas to Come: A holiday spent in grief helped me to take Christ’s coming more seriously” – When I moved to Milwaukee, I served as the college pastor at Elmbrook Church for five years. Mel Lawrenz was the Senior Pastor of Elmbrook at that time, and his daughter, Eva, was part of the college ministry I served. I still remember hearing the shocking news that Eva passed away unexpectedly in 2017 at the age of 30. Mel wrote about walking through this grief and trauma in his recent book, A Chronicle of Grief. Here is an article summarizing large portions of the book and particularly attuned to the challenges of walking through grief during Christmas.
“Covid: Vatican says coronavirus vaccines ‘morally acceptable'” – In a turn of thought that may not have been there for most of us, the Vatican offered a moral statement on the coronavirus vaccine and its development in connection with fetal tissue. From the BBC: “The use of Covid-19 vaccines developed using cell lines derived from aborted foetuses is “morally acceptable”, the Catholic Church announced on Monday. In the absence of any alternative, such vaccines “can be used in good conscience”, the Vatican said. It added that this would “not constitute formal co-operation” with the terminations that took place. Several vaccine candidates were developed using cells derived from foetuses aborted decades ago. However, no foetal cells are present in any of the vaccines.”
“God, Freedom, and Love” – Tim Keller speaks to cultural engagement in light of idolatry and Christian freedom: “Because Christians disagreed about whether or not to engage in various aspects of daily life with a culture steeped in idolatry, a bitter division existed between Christians in Corinth. Some Christians believed they should withdraw almost completely from society since idolatry was behind nearly every gathering and even the food in the shops. Some Christians wanted to withdraw deeply into the church to form their own alternate social world, while others thought that there was no real problem with participating in society (with the obligatory idol-feasts) as long as you didn’t worship them in your hearts. Today, many Christian believers—who often share virtually identical doctrinal beliefs—are just as divided over how to relate to our increasingly pagan culture even though the issues are often presented as political.”
“There’s no theological education pipeline anymore” – In this personal essay, theologian Justo L. González, perhaps best known for his widely used two-volume church history, The Story of Christianity, reflects on his life in general and the pathways God has graciously opened for him over the years as a professor. As he goes along, he traces the ways God has guided his thinking and writing, as well as some of his concerns and thoughts about theological education both within academia and the local church.
“Luter, Greear latest Southern Baptist leaders to weigh in as turmoil over race theory grows” – From RNS: “New Orleans pastor Fred Luter, the only Black person to have served as president of the predominantly white Southern Baptist Convention, has added his name to a statement on justice and repentance released Friday (Dec. 18). The ‘Justice, Repentance, and the SBC‘ statement comes as Black Baptists and others continue to object to the rejection of ‘critical race theory,’ a set of ideas about systemic racism, by the six white SBC seminary presidents. Luter joined more than 230 other signers of the statement, which was issued on the 155th anniversary of the proclamation of the 13th Amendment, which officially abolished slavery in the U.S. It had more than 230 signatures by noon Eastern on Saturday.”
Music: Over the Rhine, “Silent Night (duet),” from The Darkest Night of the Year