The Weekend Wanderer: 12 June 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.

Oran“Pastor of church ordered to close receives suspended sentence and fine in Algeria” – From Evangelical News – Europe: “Less than a week after a a court in Algeria ordered pastor Rachid Seighir’s church to close, a judge in handed him a one-year suspended sentence and a fine for “shaking the faith” of Muslims with Christian literature at his bookstore, sources said. Pastor Seighir’s Oratoire Church building in the city of Oran was one of three ordered to be sealed in western Algeria’s Oran Province on Wednesday (June 2). On Sunday (June 6) he and bookstore salesman Nouh Hamimi were sentenced to one-year suspended sentences and a fine of 200,000 dinars (US$1,494) in a ruling on their appeal of a prior sentence of two years in prison and a fine of 500,000 dinars (US$3,745).”

N T Wright“Anti-Racism in the Church” – NT Wright wrote this originally in The Spectator in March and it was reposted here: “Douglas Murray complains that the C of E has embraced the ‘new religion’ of anti-racism (‘The C of E’s new religion’, 20 March). But the truth, which neither he nor the church seems to have realised, is that the ‘anti-racist’ agenda is a secular attempt to plug a long-standing gap in western Christianity. The answer is to recover the full message, not to bolt on new ideologies. The earliest Christian writings insist that in the Messiah ‘there is neither Jew nor Greek’. The book of Revelation envisages Jesus’s followers as an uncountable family from every nation, tribe, people and language. At the climax of his greatest letter, St Paul urges Christians to ‘welcome one another’ across all social and ethnic barriers, insisting that the church will thereby function as the advance sign of God’s coming renewal of all creation.”

Christian Smith - next generation“Youth Pastors and Parents Cross Wires on the Core Purpose of Church” – Lyman Stone interviews sociologist Christian Smith in Christianity Today: “How religious mothers and fathers balance their children’s growing autonomy with robust discipleship is the topic of a new book, Handing Down the Faith: How Parents Pass Their Religion on to the Next Generation, by Christian Smith, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame, and Amy Adamczyk, professor of sociology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in the City University of New York (CUNY).”

Multicultural friends group using smartphone with coffee at university college break - People hands addicted by mobile smart phone - Technology concept with connected trendy millennials - Filter image

“The Questions Concerning Technology” – L. M. Sacasas in The Convivial Society email newsletter: “I then went on to produce a set of 41 questions that I drafted with a view to helping us draw out the moral or ethical implications of our tools. The post proved popular at the time and I received a few notes from developers and programmers who had found the questions useful enough to print out post in their workspaces….This is not, of course, an exhaustive set of questions, nor do I claim any unique profundity for them. I do hope, however, that they are useful, wherever we happen to find ourselves in relation to technological artifacts and systems. At one point, I had considered doing something a bit more with these, possibly expanding on each briefly to explain the underlying logic and providing some concrete illustrative examples or cases. Who knows, may be that would be a good occasional series for the newsletter. Feel free to let me know what you think about that.”

Ten Commandments for Tech“Ten Commandments for Tech” – Continuing the technology theme, here is Amy Crouch in Comment: “Our tech devices are designed to make life easier, but maybe ease isn’t what we need. They’re designed to captivate us, but maybe we need time to look up and around. Silicon Valley’s technologies promised a revolution in speed and convenience, and they certainly delivered. Yet it’s starting to look like those were the wrong promises. 24/7 communication and distraction haven’t relieved us from stress, boredom, or loneliness. As our lives become increasingly mediated by algorithms and machines, tech designers need to rethink those promises. The following “ten commandments” suggest a way of designing that is centred not on ease or distraction, but flourishing. Perhaps we don’t need greater convenience in our communities and callings. Perhaps instead we need help to venture further on the straight-and-narrow path of righteousness.”

Arrival“Arrival and Annihilation: Cinematic Reimaginings of the Resurrection of the Body” – Here is Jon Coutts writing in The Other Journal about two science fiction movies and their reapproaching of what resurrection means: “When we think of the so-called afterlife, we cannot help but use our imaginations. As a young child in church, I imagined an unending hymn-sing or an eternity spent floating suspended in the clouds. To me, the thought of ceaseless heaven was terrifying. And since then, I’ve received no help from the idealized projections of near-death-experience literature or from popular renditions like The Good Place. Even in its light-heartedness, the NBC sitcom could find no better ending than a get-out-of-the-afterlife-free option that’s triggered once perpetual self-satisfaction wears into infinite tedium.”

Music: Bill Evans, “Peace Piece,” from Everybody Digs

In Memoriam: Evelyne Reisacher

Evelyne Reisacher.jpg

First, three snapshots.

It is 2007. My wife, Kelly, and I are huddled in a small room in the Mediterranean at a gathering of workers in the Muslim world, hearing from a group of believers in North Africa. In the midst of this group, two women, one from North Africa and another from France speak compellingly about the work God is doing in France with North Africans.

Fast forward five years to 2012. I am sitting in the back yard of Pastor Marc and Nancy Erickson in a circle of folding chairs in the July sunshine. Those same two women are sharing again, this time updating us on the powerful things God is doing within the church both France and North Africa.

Four years later in 2017, I am one among many in the worship hall at Eastbrook Church, filled with people. That same French woman, Evelyne Reisacher, is once again shaping the minds and the hearts of God’s people with a vision for God’s world and tools for understanding Islam meaningfully and with humility.

This past Saturday we received word here at Eastbrook that our dear sister leapt into the Lord’s presence after a long battle with cancer. Fuller Theological Seminary posted a much more robust remembrance of Evelyne’s career here. All I can say is that this is a great loss to us on this side of glory and a great gain for the eternal kingdom.

I encourage you to find out more about Evelyne’s work and writings.

Religious Freedom in Algeria – a resource

Last week, I posted about persecution of believers in North Africa, with specific focus given to Algeria. I was recently informed about a very thorough web-site related to this topic entitled: “Group for Algeria: In Defence of Believers of a Faith Other than Islam in Algeria.”

If you have an interest in the topic of religious freedom, human rights, or persecution of Christians in the Muslim world, you will find this to be a fascinating web-site.

The Church in Algeria

In the past few years, I have been particularly interested in what is happening in the church in North Africa. There are a variety of reasons for my interest, but I’ll offer two of them here:

1) North Africa was one of the most vibrant centers of Christianity in the first 500 years after Christ, being home to such great theologians as Augustine, Tertullian, and also, if you include Egypt in North Africa, Athanasius and Anthony of the Desert

2)North Africa is the site of some notable revivals and movements of God in our era that are not too often discussed because of governmental suppression

Algeria has been the location of much current difficulties between the government and the Christian church. More specifically, in the past two years, there has been increased challenges for Christians to worship publicly or corporately. This is in large part to a vaguely worded 2006 law stating “which confines non-Muslim worship to specific buildings approved by the state and establishes steep criminal penalties for proselytizing and distributing or storing religious literature.” Because of the vague wording, some local governments in Algeria have been interpreting this very strictly, limiting Christian gatherings to stringent degrees.

Please take a moment to read the following article on believers in Algeria and pray for them.