The Weekend Wanderer: 1 April 2023

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, 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 these articles but have found them thought-provoking.

Nashville“Weeping in Nashville” – Scott Sauls in Religion News Service: “This Monday morning, parents were dropping their children off at The Covenant School anticipating a bright, sunny, promising day of love, friendship and learning. No one could fathom what would happen soon after this, when a 28-year-old assailant entered the building and opened fire, resulting in the loss of life for three 9-year-old children, three adults on staff and then the assailant as police intervened. Part of a pastor’s calling is to enter into life’s disorienting, gut-punching, heart-ripping spaces and offer perspective on questions that honestly cannot be answered. This is especially true when the main question being asked is, ‘Why?’ Why would a good and loving God who is sovereign over every square inch of the universe, who knows the number of hairs on our heads, who said, “Let the little children come to me,” and who promised again and again to be our shield, our protector and our defender allow for the senseless loss of life for these precious little ones? Why would the same God let faithful, loving, godly educators also be gutted from their families and communities so prematurely? Why would he allow the young survivors and those who took great risk to protect them experience the trauma of being there, of hearing the gunfire, of being rushed frantically to places of safety, and then be marked by the memory for the rest of their precious and fragile lives? Why would he not foil and fail the shooter’s plans before a single shot was fired?”

“Is It Time to Quit ‘Quiet Time’?” – Dru Johnson and Celinda Durgin in Christianity Today: “The disconnect crystalized 12 years ago when I (Dru) started teaching an introductory Old Testament class to freshmen. Every semester, devout Christian students would report to me that they read their Bibles every day. They could even recite key verses from memory. They were fluent in Christian theological clichés. Yet despite their constant engagement with the Bible, they were shocked by what we found in Genesis—such as there being some things God appears not to know (Gen. 11:5; 18:21; 22:12)—not to mention Judges. I began to realize that their poor grasp of Scripture wasn’t necessarily due to a lack of reading, although that’s also a large problem in the US. From 2021 to 2022, Bible engagement—scored on frequency of use, spiritual impact, and moral importance in day-to-day life—fell 21 percent among American adult Bible users. It was the American Bible Society’s largest recorded one-year drop in its annual State of the Bible study. And almost 1 in 5 churchgoers said they never read the Bible. But for my students, many of whom read the Bible daily and have chosen to attend a Christian college, their poor grasp on and application of Scripture seems to be due to the way they engage with it. It is a way many American Christians have been reading the Bible for decades: through ‘daily devotions’ or ‘quiet time.’ The way daily quiet time is typically practiced today is unlikely to yield the fluency required to understand and apply biblical teaching. Only when devotional time is situated within a matrix of Scripture study habits can it regain its power to transform our thinking and our communities.”

45423350995_f206a574f6_k.jpg“Seeds of Contemplation and Revolution amid War: The subversive power of attention and presence” – Andrew DeCort in Comment: “In 1967, Pope Paul VI asked the Catholic monk Thomas Merton to write a letter from contemplatives to the world. It was a time of social upheaval and cold war. And yet here was a pope, representing a public institution, asking for those who spend their days in practices of prayerful listening to weigh in from the silence. The pope’s invitation was daunting, but Merton saw in it an opportunity for a needed dialogue between the interior and the exterior, a back-and-forth that seemed far too rare. So he began. The fifty-two-year-old Merton explained that he had entered the monastery ‘in revolt against the meaningless confusion of a life in which there was so much activity, so much movement, so much useless talk, that I could not remember who I was.’ And then he wrote, ‘Can I tell you that I have found answers to the questions that torment the [person] of our time? I do not know if I have found answers. . . . As I grow old in the monastic life and advance further into solitude, I become aware that I have only begun to seek the questions.’  Merton was serious. In another letter, this time to the historian Herbert Mason, he asked, ‘Who are we that we wake up in the morning expecting ourselves to “do something for” somebody or for “the world”?'”

Charles Pace - gospel“Pioneer of gospel music rediscovered in Pittsburgh archives” – Jessie Wardarski at The Associated Press: “Scattered in crates, dirty and difficult to read, the gospel music of composer Charles Henry Pace sat packed away, unorganized — and unrealized — for more than 20 years. Frances Pace Barnes, the pioneering music publisher’s daughter who remembers how he could turn a hum into a song, knew the crates held pieces of her family’s past. But she was not expecting those decaying printing plates and papers to reveal an important part of gospel music history. ‘I didn’t know it was going to be a legacy,’ said Pace Barnes. As it turns out, her father was one of the first African American gospel music composers in the United States, and the owner of one of the country’s first independent, Black gospel music publishing companies. Today, the University of Pittsburgh is restoring his work from the 1920s to the 1950s and cementing his place in the genre’s history. It was the curiosity of music historian Christopher Lynch that set the Charles Henry Pace preservation project into motion. ‘This is something that we can, as Pittsburghers, all be proud of,’ said Lynch with a smile. ‘Charles Pace was a tremendous figure in music history.’ Long after Pace died in 1963, his music store, which was first known as the Old Ship of Zion and later changed to the Charles H. Pace Music Publishers located in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, was sold and his archives went with it. Eventually, the materials made their way to auction, and the university’s library system bought them in 1999.”

“COVID-19 sent houses of worship online. Will congregations come back in person?” – Ryan Burge at Religion News Service: “When the COVID-19 pandemic led governors across the United States to close places where people congregated, religious organizations were left scrambling. While some larger houses of worship had already been broadcasting their weekend services online, many had to suddenly and urgently master the logistics of streaming worship online. The vast majority adapted quickly. In 2020, Lifeway, the Southern Baptist Convention’s research arm, indicated that just a few months into the pandemic, 97% of churches were offering some form of online worship, salvaging the best form of connection to their congregants they had. Today, as a result, many religious leaders are facing a difficult transition: How do they nudge people off of streaming and back into the pews for weekend worship? And will they ever pull the plug on streaming services altogether?  Data from the Pew Research Center just uploaded to the Association of Religion Data Archives provides interesting insights into how religious Americans expected online services to reshape their religious lives. The American Trends Panel Wave 70 was conducted in July of 2020 — still early days of the pandemic, so it represents only worshippers’ intentions. But the survey provides some of the most wide-ranging and revealing numbers we have seen on attendance before and after the pandemic.”

Alasdair MacIntyre“After Liberalism: What does Alasdair MacIntyre want?” – Jennifer A. Frey in The Hedgehog Review: “There are different ways to conceive of the task of writing the biography of a prominent philosopher. The most familiar is to approach its subject with the goal of showing how these works sprang forth from this person. One example of this method is Ray Monk’s justly famous 1990 biography of Ludwig Wittgenstein, The Duty of Genius. Such a project situates the philosophical works against the backdrop not just of time and place but of the private affairs and the inner life—the spiritual, emotional, intellectual, or political world—of its subject. Émile Perreau-Saussine’s ‘intellectual biography’ of Alasdair MacIntyre (b. 1929) is something different. He has little concern for MacIntyre’s private life (although we do learn in a short footnote that he had three wives and four children), and not much for his public life, either, beyond some explorations of the various institutions and projects he involved himself in back in his activist years. Perreau-Saussine, a scholar of political philosophy and ideas at Cambridge University who died tragically young in 2010, does not present what Pierre Manent in his foreword calls ‘the story of a soul.’ I would argue that it is not truly a biography but an account of how MacIntyre has struggled, over the course of his long (and ongoing) career, to articulate an antiliberal philosophy that avoids the pitfalls of either communism or fascism, while taking the former’s concern with justice and the latter’s concern with nobility into his account of a virtue ethics that he sees as indispensable to collective human flourishing. According to MacIntyre’s neo-Aristotelian interpretation, most fully formulated in After Virtue, there can be no true justice or true nobility apart from virtue and character formation, and there can be no character formation outside the community—its practices, traditions, customs, and laws. Perreau-Saussine’s interest in his subject is clearly political: MacIntyre is worth studying because the progression of his thought helps us better understand our own relationship to liberalism in terms of both its trajectory in the latter half of the twentieth century and its prospects in the twenty-first. Perreau-Saussine sees MacIntyre as ‘a privileged figure’ within the long history of antiliberalism, one of its “eminent cases,” the close study of which reveals its necessity and its absurdities.”

Music: “All Glory, Laud, and Honor,” by St. Theodulph of Orleans, from Easter at King’s 2018

The Weekend Wanderer: 5 March 2022

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

Wars-and-Peace-980x551“Wars and Peace: Reflections on Ukraine in the blur of past and present” – Irena Dragaš Jansen in Comment: “My family and I survived a war. Our storytelling always falls on either side of the great divide: before or after the war. Some years have passed since the war in Croatia and Bosnia, and yet that war has become as much a part of our life as anything else that has formed us: loves and losses, joys and sorrows, goodbyes and hellos. It can seem like only a memory. Except that it is not.When the war in Ukraine slowly crept up and then exploded one week ago, I was instantly overwhelmed by a flood of memories. The high-pitched noise of an incoming missile. The air-raid sirens. The feeling of helplessness at the sound of a low-flying fighter plane. Hiding in the basement during bombing. Our family fleeing and becoming refugees. The fear. The unknown. The chaos. But trauma is not just a memory; it is also a reaction. My body has gone back in time in recent days: the knot in the stomach, the urge to vomit, the burst of tears, the muscle tensing at a sudden noise, the heart-rate increase at the sound of a plane. I appear to be sitting in my Virginia home, peaceful, quiet. But I am not here. I am in Croatia, and it is the 1990s. I am also in Ukraine, and it is 2022.”

126706“Iran’s House Churches Are Not Illegal, Says Supreme Court Justice” – Jayson Casper at Christianity Today: “Update (Mar. 1, 2022): The nine converts are officially acquitted. Branch 34 of the Tehran Court of Appeals agreed with the reasoning of the Supreme Court judge who ruled last November that the preaching of Christianity does not amount to acting against Iran’s national security. On Monday, judges Seyed Ali Asghar Kamali and Akbar Johari accepted the converts’ lawyer’s testimony that their house church was ‘in accordance with the teachings of Christianity,’ where they are taught to live in ‘obedience, submission, and support of the authorities.’ The precedent is strong, said Mansour Borji, advocacy director for Article 18, because the judges extensively outlined nine reasons in the acquittal, in line with the Iranian constitution and Islamic tradition. But it may take time until the ruling becomes normative. One of the nine, Abdolreza Ali-Haghnejad, is already back in jail on a six-years-old separate charge of propagating Christianity, for which he was previously acquitted. And two others, Behnam Akhlaghi and Babak Hosseinzadeh, who made video appeals for freedom of worship, were charged with a separate crime of propaganda against the state. Iranian Christians welcome the verdict, said Borji, but remain wary.”

Ray Bakke“Remembering Dr. Ray Bakke” – At Northern Seminary News: “Northern Seminary mourns the loss of a visionary Pastor, author, and innovative educator, Dr. Ray Bakke who died Friday, February 4, after suffering from cancer. He was preceded in death by his wife Corean and adopted son Brian Davis who died in 2018. He is survived by two sons, Brian and Woody, two grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Dr. Bakke was Professor of Ministry at Northern Seminary from 1979-1989 and was founding president of International Urban Associates and Bakke Graduate University. Ray and Corean trained and mentored generations of global pastoral leaders. His footprint is literally felt across God’s kingdom….At Northern, McCormick, and Bakke Graduate University, he trained students to carry out that vision. Emeritus Professor of Ministry Dr. Robert Price studied urban ministry under Ray Bakke at Northern before joining our faculty. Dr. Price notes, ‘He was an amazing urban ministry pioneer and theologian. He also taught church history without notes! God used Ray’s mentoring to change my life and ministry along with countless others all over the world. One word to describe his ministry: prodigious.'”

2998382014“Rain Exposes 1,600-year-old Marble Column in Ashdod Dunes” – Ruth Schuster in Haaretz: “It’s been raining cats and dogs in Israel, leading to flash flood warnings and exposing a large ancient marble column in the dunes of Ashdod. The column was noticed by Ashdod municipal inspectors Itai Dabush and Sagiv Ben Gigi during a recent routine patrol in the dunes. They called the find into the city municipal hotline, which then called the Israel Antiquities Authority. Avi Levy, Ashkelon archaeologist with the IAA, suggests the column may have come from the splendid early Byzantine basilica discovered in Ashdod Yam in 2017. That extraordinary edifice may be the reason why Ashdod Yam appears on the Madaba Map, a sixth-century mosaic of the Holy Land – in fact, the earliest known map of the Holy Land, Levy says. The map was part of an ornate church floor in Jordan. The Madaba Map, itself discovered in 1884, shows for instance the church of the Theotokos in Jerusalem, which was dedicated in the year 542, but no buildings in the city postdating the year 570. Scholars therefore believe the mosaic was created before 570.”

Martin-Heidegger-2048x1024“The Destructive Impact of Cultural Heideggerianism” – David P. Goldman in Law & Liberty: “The Irish critic Vivian Mercier famously called Waiting for Godot a play in which nothing happens twice. The same might be said of Martin Heidegger’s career in philosophy. In this case, to be sure, ‘Nothing’ is a loaded word, but more on that later. Heidegger was the only philosopher of the first rank to support Hitler, a position he never retracted. Was Heidegger a great philosopher? Samuel Johnson’s quip comes to mind: ‘The part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.’ From St. Augustine (as the great Thomist Etienne Gilson observed), Heidegger took the idea that time is not a succession of moments but a superposition of memory and anticipation. From Kierkegaard he borrowed the concept of dread, acknowledged in a single begrudging footnote. From his teacher Edmund Husserl he grasped the concept of ‘adopted intentionality’; our knowledge of objects is conditioned by their purpose. And now we learn from Peter Hanly how deeply Heidegger drew from the poisoned well of German Romanticism. Eric Voegelin, Ralph McInerny, and other critics abhorred Heidegger as a Gnostic, a purveyor (in Voegelin’s words) of ‘a purported direct, immediate apprehension or vision of truth without the need for critical reflection; the special gift of a spiritual and cognitive elite.’ This interpretation gains credence, albeit unintentionally, from Peter Hanly’s study of Heidegger and the Romantic visionary Novalis (Friedrich von Hardenberg, 1772-1801). Gnosticism re-entered Western thought through the circle of Romantics at Jena in the late 1790s, including Ludwig Tieck and the brothers Friedrich and August Wilhelm Schlegel. Despite his early death, Novalis remained enormously influential. ”

022322cairo-islamic-study“The Dominican friars whose library is transforming Islamic studies” – David Hoekema in The Christian Century: “Almost a hundred years ago, Antonin Jaussen, a Dominican friar, was sent to Cairo to set up a small priory. The plan was for him to establish a center of study in Egyptian archaeology. But Jaussen persuaded his superiors that the brothers who came to Egypt should instead focus primarily on Islamic studies. In 1953 the Dominican Institute for Oriental Studies (known by its French acronym, IDÉO) was formally established. It remains a community of Dominican friars. Today that little corner of Cairo, a garden in the midst of a bustling city, has become one of the world’s foremost sites for Islamic studies—and an important catalyst for Muslim-Christian dialogue. Its aim is to track down, acquire, and catalog every available source, published or in manuscript, related to Islamic theology and philosophy in its first thousand years.”

Music: Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, “Stratus,” from Ears

The Weekend Wanderer: 7 August 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.

“‘They Cannot Burn Jesus Out of Me’: Mozambique Pastors Minister to Survivors of Violent Insurgency” – Stefani McDade in Christianity Today: “Back in April, when armed men began attacking his village in the middle of the night, a pastor of a local church in northern Mozambique woke his family to flee. He took his two older sons and his wife took their two younger sons. In the midst of chaos and confusion, shouting and shooting, they escaped in two different directions. The pastor and his sons hid in the surrounding bush all night before returning to the village, near the town of Palma, to look for the rest of their family. The next morning, he found their hut caved in and the remains of his four-year-old son, who had been beheaded by the attackers. All he and his sons could do was dig a hole in the ground to bury the young boy’s body and weep together. To this day, his wife and second-youngest son are still missing.”

“The Best C. S. Lewis Book You’ve Never Read” – Jeremy Larson reviews Michael Ward’s new guide to reading C. S. Lewis Abolition of Man at The Gospel Coalition: “C. S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man, first published in 1943, begins with a related question: Should a comment about the sublimity of a waterfall be seen as an expression of a subjective opinion or as an appropriate feeling that aligns with reality? Abolition was one of Lewis’s favorites among his works and it has been ranked as one of the top five nonfiction books (in English) of the 20th century. Yet Abolition remains difficult reading for many people, leading some to wish for a guide. Michael Ward (author of Planet Narnia) has written such a book to help readers: After Humanity: A Guide to C. S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man.”

“4 Stats That Will Change the Way You Pastor” – From CT Creative Studio: “Casey Cleveland, lead pastor of The Avenue Church in Delray, Florida, has a hunch. ‘I’m catching the vibe that people want the church to be the church,’ he says. ‘Even for those who don’t understand theology—the world is asking us to step into being the church.’ Cleveland isn’t the only one catching the vibe. New research from Barna and Gloo shows that people across the country have expectations for the churches in their communities. Even those who haven’t darkened the door of a church in decades have thoughts about the church’s role in society.”

“Ignorant, but curious” – Austin Kleon at his blog: “‘What if you played an ignorant guy who was actually curious?’ is how the actor Jason Sudeikis explains his approach to his character, Ted Lasso.1 It’s a method of acting, but it could be a method of life. (A method we’ve covered before: ‘Teach your tongue to say I don’t know’ and ‘learn to play the fool.’) The method is perhaps best summarized by Mike Monteiro: ‘The secret to being good at anything is to approach it like a curious idiot, rather than a know-it-all genius.’ The ‘curious idiot’ approach can serve you well if you can quiet your ego long enough to perform it.”

“Bookworms can ‘read’ people, too” – Mary Ellen Gabriel at UW College of Letters & Science: “More than any other genre, fiction is the realm of emotion. “Getting lost in a story” means entering a world we don’t want to leave, where we are fully absorbed not only in the actions of the characters, but also in their thoughts, feelings and motivations. Throughout the experience, readers pass through their own emotion states, triggered by the words and phrases. Now it appears that this rich, often fraught, journey of the imagination—so often considered a solitary pleasure—is good training for reading the emotions of people in real life. A new study by a team of psychology researchers at UW-Madison provides important new insight into a likely causal link between reading fiction and emotion recognition, combining behavioral experiments with methods from the digital humanities to show that exploring the mental states of fictional characters helps people recognize emotion expression in other human beings.”

“Astronomy Photographer of the Year shortlist” – From the Royal Museums Greenwich: “The shortlisted images from 2021’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition have been revealed. The largest astrophotography competition in the world, Astronomy Photographer of the Year showcases the very best space photography from a global community of photographers. Now in its 13th year, the competition received a staggering 4,500-plus entries, submitted from 75 countries worldwide. Check out an incredible selection of the shortlisted images below.”

Music: Vikingur Ólafsson, “Badzura: Muse d’eau,” from Reflections Pt. 3 / RWKS.

The Weekend Wanderer: 27 February 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.

When Harry Became Sally3 Posts by Alan Jacobs on Amazon Pulling Ryan T. Anderson’s When Harry Became Sally – Several people reached out to me this past week about Amazon pulling Ryan T. Anderson’s When Harry Became Sally, a somewhat provocative bestselling book about transgender, from their website. This was noteworthy enough for Newsweek to write about it. I really appreciated Alan Jacobs’ reflections on this from a philosophical and a practical level. I highly recommend reading his three posts on it: “Damnatio memoriae,” “free speech under technocracy,” and “up the Amazon.” If you end up pulling the plug on your Amazon purchasing, as Jacobs suggest, that’s one clear way to let a retailer know you’re not happy. Will that make a difference to Amazon? Given the number of people purchasing from them during the pandemic and the colossal increases in sales, it might not matter to them. But it might matter to you, and that may be what’s more important. You can read Anderson’s own comments about this in First Things, as well as buy the book directly from the publisher.

060320mindchange_4“I’m a philosopher. We can’t think our way out of this mess. – Here’s James K. A. Smith, author and professor of philosophy at Calvin College, reflecting on his calling, philosophy, and the arts in The Christian Century: “The path to philosophy is paved with polemic and fueled by brash confidence in the power of logic. When I answered the call to be a philosophical theologian 25 years ago, I imagined the world’s (and the church’s) problems amounted to a failure of analysis. If only we could think more carefully, the truth would come out. Good arguments would save us. And yet here I am, in the middle of this profession, in the middle of a career as a philosopher, with second thoughts. I’ve had a change of heart about how to change someone’s mind. This change is bound up with my biography.”

Kirk Franklin Tiny Desk Concert“Kirk Franklin: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert” – NPR Tiny Desk Concert: “Kirk Franklin, set up with his band and choir in a corner of Uncle Jessie’s Kitchen, makes a declaration. “I know you’re at home right now, in your draws, listening to some Jesus music. It’s ok. Jesus loves you in your draws!” The Arlington, Texas studio, named after a long time close friend, features a large photo of the iconic “I AM A MAN” protest signs from the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike on the wall. The jubilant energy that Franklin and company emit, juxtaposed with a visual reminder of the strife that Black people have endured is illustrative of the importance of gospel music in the Black community.”

Equality Act“Swinging the Pendulum Too Far” – Ed Stetzer this past Thursday at “The Exchange” on the Equality Act: “Congress will consider the Equality Act, which its proponents indicate would ban discrimination toward people based on sexual orientation and gender identity. While discrimination toward people created in the image of God should, indeed, be opposed, the EA does so in ways that significantly disregard religious liberty concerns. Just how far remains to be seen….University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock spoke about this unbalanced impact of the Equality Act as well: ‘It protects the rights of one side, but attempts to destroy the rights of the other side,’ he said. ‘We ought to protect the liberty of both sides to live their own lives by their own identities and their own values.'”

Michael Abs“Interview: The Middle East Church Must Resemble Salt, not Rabbits” – An interview by Jayson Casper of Christianity Today with Michael Abs, head of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC): “Pope Francis will make the first papal visit ever to Iraq in March to encourage the dwindling faithful. War and terrorism have hemorrhaged the nation’s Christians, but he hopes they might return. Meanwhile in Lebanon, Michel Abs, recently selected as the new leader of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), agrees with the pontiff. But in an interview with CT, he said that schools and hospitals have distinguished Christians, who he hopes might even increase in number—and quality. And Protestants, he said, have a lever effect that raises the whole. Representing only 7 percent of the regional Christian population, they have a full one-quarter share in the council.”

Our Songs Came Through“Our Songs Came Through: A review of When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry, edited by Joy Harjo and others” – A review by Diane Glancy at Plough: “In the most ambitious anthology of its kind, US poet laureate and editor Joy Harjo celebrates Native talent in stirring poems that span centuries, regions, languages, styles, and tribal nations. The book, When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through, comprises five sections, organized by geographic region. Poets are introduced in a short biographical note to give their work historical context. In the words of Linda Hogan, Chickasaw, ‘air is between these words, / fanning the flame.'”

Music: Harrod and Funck, “Lion Song,” from Harrod and Funck

The Weekend Wanderer: 17 October 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.

IDOP“International Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians” – There is occasional conversation about persecution of Christians within the United States. While I agree that there is opposition to Christianity in North America, I usually turn my attention elsewhere to see true persecution. Sunday, November 1, is the international day of prayer for persecuted Christians, and I would encourage you to get involved with this important time of awareness and intercessory prayer, as well as continue to be engaged in an ongoing manner with this important cause.

Villados book review“The Antidote to Spiritual Shallowness Isn’t ‘Believing Harder,’ but Going Deeper” – I’ve been looking forward to reading Rich Villodas’ new book, The Deeply Formed Life: Five Transformative Values to Root Us in the Way of Jesus. Villodas is the Lead Pastor at New Life Fellowship in New York, where Pete Scazzero was the former Lead Pastor, and has brought together spiritual formation practices within a multi-ethnic urban church in ways that I admire. As I wait to get to Villodas’ book in my to-read pile, here is a helpful review of the book by Rebecca Toscano for Christianity Today.

C Beha - index“Cracks of faith in the secular self” – Speaking of my to-read pile, here is a review by Joshua Hren of another book, Christopher Beha’s The Index of Self-Destructive Acts. Beha’s book was long-listed for the National Book Award for fiction, and it has been recommended to me by a number of people from various places. I look forward to reading it even more after reading this review.

fracture in the stonewall“A Fracture in the Stonewall” – Carl R. Trueman in First Things: “As Best hints in the article, the addition of the T to the LGB was not a natural marriage for precisely the reason he now finds Stonewall’s stance to be problematic. Trans groups rejected the importance of biological sex. It was not a positive philosophy that brought them into the coalition but rather a shared opposition to heteronormativity. The same also applies to the Q. The LGBTQ+ alliance is thus an alliance forged on the belief that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

C S Lewis“C.S. Lewis, ‘Transposition’, and the philosophy of mind” – C. S. Lewis is one of the most beloved authors of the 20th century for his wide-ranging work from children’s fiction to Christian apologetics. Lewis is more than that, though. He was a poet and an expert on medieval and renaissance literature. Here in The Critic, Sean Walsh makes a case for recovering Lewis’ work as a philosopher as well.

Sergey Gorshkov - Hugging Tiger“Hidden camera’s hugging tiger wins wildlife photo award” – Perhaps this is something for the lighter side of things, but I appreciate the way these award-winning photographers display the wonders of creation that many of us rarely see. Take a moment to peruse these photos and thank God for the wonderful and intricate beauty of His glorious world.

Music: Julian Lage & Chris Eldridge, “Bone Collector,” Mount Royal.

[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.]