The Weekend Wanderer: 11 May 2019

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly 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.

Asia Bibi“Asia Bibi Finally Leaves Pakistan for Canada” – For those of you who follow cases related to religious freedom, the ongoing legal issues of Asia Bibi in Pakistan seem to have come to a close. “In Pakistan’s most-watched persecution case, Bibi spent more than eight years in prison on blasphemy charges and faced the death penalty. After she was exonerated last year, she could not live freely in her home country since she was at risk of attacks by rogue clerics calling for vigilante justice; more than 50 people charged with blasphemy have been murdered there. Bibi, now in her 50s, is a mother of five, and two of her daughters had already moved to Canada for asylum.”

 

webRNS-White-Supremacy-Opeds1-050130-990x557“Why white nationalism tempts white Christians” – Here is Jemar Tisby, once again cutting into one of the raging sores of contemporary evangelicalism in the racial and political spheres. “Troublesome though it may be, Christians must contend with these twin facts: White nationalism is on the rise, and white Christians are susceptible to this ideology….Too often Christian individuals and institutions act as if general statements condemning bigotry and saccharine assertions of racial and ethnic equality are sufficient to combat white nationalism. They are not. White nationalists engage in sustained and sophisticated recruiting and propaganda tactics to advance their agenda.”

 

Jean Vanier“Jean Vanier: Founder of L’Arche dies aged 90” – “The son of a Canadian diplomat, Jean Vanier embarked upon a naval career that saw him serve during the World War Two. But in 1950 he resigned his commission saying that he wanted ‘to follow Jesus’. He studied theology and philosophy, completing his doctoral studies on happiness in the ethics of Aristotle. He became a teaching professor at St Michael’s College in Toronto. During the Christmas holidays of 1964, he visited a friend who was working as a chaplain for men with learning difficulties just outside Paris. Disturbed by conditions in which 80 men did nothing but walk around in circles, he bought a small house nearby and invited two men from the institution to join him. L’Arche – the Ark – was born.” More at the L’Arche website.

 

Rachel Held Evans“Rachel Held Evans, Voice of the Wandering Evangelical, Dies at 37” – “Rachel Held Evans, a best-selling author who challenged conservative Christianity and gave voice to a generation of wandering evangelicals wrestling with their faith, died on Saturday at a hospital in Nashville. She was 37. Her husband, Daniel Evans, said in a statement on her website that the cause was extensive brain swelling. During treatment for an infection last month, Ms. Evans began experiencing brain seizures and had been placed in a medically induced coma.”

 

Warren Wiersbe“Died: Warren Wiersbe, Preachers’ Favorite Bible Commentator – “Bible teacher, pastor, and preacher Warren Wiersbe died Thursday at age 89, leaving an impressive legacy of teaching, preaching, and mentoring countless pastors. Through his lessons, broadcasted sermons, and over 150 books, he resourced the church to better read and explain the Bible. In a tribute, grandson Dan Jacobsen recalled how pastors often tell him, ‘There’s not a passage in the Bible I haven’t first looked up what Wiersbe has said on the topic.'”

 

18 paintings“18 Paintings Christians Should See” – Brett McCracken assembles an all-star group of Christian artists, art appreciators, art professors, and art curators to recommend visual art that Christians should be familiar with. This article, and its companion pieces, reminds me of a book I enjoyed reading this past summer, Terry Glaspey’s 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know: The Fascinating Stories behind Great Works of Art, Literature, Music, and Film.

 

burger-king-store“The Banality of the F-Bomb” – At The National Review, Heather Wilhelm addresses cultural change through the lens of the F-Bomb. “Today, as [Larry] King himself has noted, the F-bomb — once known as the ultimate forbidden verbal lightning bolt, the Utterance That Must Not Be Named, or at least the word of last resort to use when you’re really hopelessly mad — might as well be growing out of random cracks in the sidewalk. In 2019, the F-word is a throwaway. It is a sneeze. It is as common as dandelion fluff.”

 

J S Bach“Reveling in Hope” – Wesley Hill writes about the power of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Mass in B Minor. “For part of my sabbatical this year, I spent a few weeks in England, and when I saw that the New Cambridge Singers and the Cambridge Baroque Camerata would be performing Bach’s last triumphant masterwork in the vast, dim, Oxford Movement-inspired chapel at St. John’s College, I knew I would not miss it. Much as I have loved listening to John Eliot Gardiner and the late Sir Georg Solti’s recordings over the years — solemnly authentic and brightly fleet, respectively — hearing this music performed live in a space where I had knelt for Evensong on previous days was a privilege not to be forgotten.”

 

Music: After Wesley Hill’s essay, it seems fitting to share John Eliot Gardiner conducting the Mass in B Minor. Here it is: “Bach Messe h-moll BWV 232 Mass B minor Sir John Eliot Gardiner.”

[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: 2 February 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.

86016“Philippine Church Bombing Kills 20 After Vote for Muslim Governance” – “Filipino Christians are mourning at least 20 churchgoers and soldiers as martyrs after terrorists attacked a Catholic cathedral during Sunday mass in a heavily Muslim island in the southern Philippines. Two bombs went off at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Jolo within minutes, the first blasting through rows of pews and the second shooting from the entrance to kill scrambling parishioners as well as the guards positioned outside to protect the church week after week.”

 

asiabibipakistan“Pakistan’s Supreme Court Upholds Christian Woman’s Blasphemy Acquittal” – From NPR: “On Tuesday, Pakistan’s Supreme Court upheld its acquittal of a Christian woman who had been sentenced to death for blasphemy in 2010, clearing the way for her to leave the country as radical Islamists seethe. Asia Bibi, a mother and illiterate farmhand of Christian faith, spent eight years on death row, until the country’s top court acquitted her last October, sparking massive protests across Pakistan.”

 

Aleksandr_Solzhenitsyn_1974b“Aleksandr the Great” – John Wilson reflects on the Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s legacy, one-hundred years after his birth on December 11, 1918. Wilson writes: “It would have been much better for Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s posthumous reputation if the KGB had killed him just before or shortly after he was expelled from the Soviet Union in February 1974. Had that happened, he would have been a figure like Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday we have just celebrated: above criticism, a martyr of sorts.”

 

theyearofourlord1943“The Year of Whose Lord?: Let’s not expect too much of (Christian) humanism” – At Comment, Chad Wellmon reviews and respond to one of my favorite books of 2018, Alan Jacobs‘ In the Year of Our Lord 1943: Christian Humanism in an Age of Crisis. Wellmon provides a valuable look at an alternative take on Christian humanism from the figures of Jacobs’ book (W.H. Auden, T.S. Eliot, C.S. Lewis, Jacques Maritain, and Simone Weil) in the form of Swiss theologian Karl Barth.

 

weight“Self-Control, the Leader’s Make-or-Break Virtue” – In light of the challenging array of pastoral failure over the last few years, Drew Dyck’s essay about the need for self-control in leadership is right on time. “Self-control is essential for every Christian. But as Strachan observed, for leaders the stakes are especially high. It’s no wonder Scripture lists self-control as a qualification for church leaders (Titus 1:8; 1 Tim. 3:2), describes it as a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:25), and likens a person without it to “a city broken into and left without walls” (Prov. 25:28).”

 

walterrauschenbush“When Christian Evangelicals Loved Socialism” – The title might stir enough trouble in itself, but Peter Feuerherd’s examination of a unique time in the early twentieth century is worthwhile because this historical precedent is on the rise in some evangelical circles in our own day. Whether modern evangelicals would embrace Feuerherd’s definition of evangelicalism is debatable, but the article is still worth the read. “Walter Rauschenbusch, a Baptist pastor ministering to the poor on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, proposed an evangelical viewpoint that strongly embraced socialist ideals. During an 1891 trip to Germany, Rauschenbusch began formulating his view of the Kingdom of God, a concept that Jesus in the Gospels regularly refers to. Often, Jesus’s teaching is seen as referring to the afterlife, but Rauschenbusch and other Social Gospel thinkers saw it as relevant to contemporary times. Rauschenbusch promoted the idea that Christians needed to transform society to favor the poor and the oppressed.”

 

nancypelosigalencarey“Pelosi praises evangelicals in address to Christian college presidents, cites Matthew 25” – Not exactly the headline I expected to see, but a conversation hosted at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) Presidents’ Conference involving both Betsy DeVos and Nancy Pelosi is fascinating in itself.  The conversation involves education, health care, immigration, and so much more. One of my former bosses, Galen Carey, of the National Association of Evangelicals, appears at one point as well.

In[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: 19 January 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.

china“In China, they’re closing churches, jailing pastors – and even rewriting scripture” – Lily Kuo writes this piece in The Guardian, highlighting the intensifying pressure on religious groups in China. While the crackdown involves religious minorities and ethnic minorities, Kuo focuses particularly upon Christians for this piece, which is well worth the read. One pastor quoted in this article says of the government persecution: “In this war, in Xinjiang, in Shanghai, in Beijing, in Chengdu, the rulers have chosen an enemy that can never be imprisoned – the soul of man. Therefore they are doomed to lose this war.”

 

egypt church“Militants kidnap Christian man in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula” – From The Washington Post: “Islamic militants on Thursday kidnapped a Christian man traveling in a communal taxi in the turbulent north of Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, according to security officials, an incident that raises the specter of renewed attacks on minority Christians in the region after a two-year lull. The officials did not identify the man, but said police pursued the kidnappers into the desert to which they fled after the incident, killing one of them and wounding two others in a firefight, but could not free the hostage. Two policemen were also wounded in the firefight, said the officials.”

 

world watch list 2019Open Doors World Watch List 2019 – Every year, Open Doors publishes their “World Watch List,” which tracks persecution of Christians around the world. They released the 2019 World Watch List this past week, and it is interesting to find out more information about what is happening in the world related to challenges to religious freedom.

 

Martin Luther King Jr.

“Neighbors of the Dream” – I am happy to participate in The Milwaukee Declaration event this coming Monday night, January 21, entitled “Neighbors of the Dream.” This is a chance for churches around our great city of Milwaukee to stand together across racial divides in the name of Christ and for the glory of God in the unity of His church. Join us at 6:30 PM at Eastbrook for this city-wide event.

 

james macdonald“James MacDonald Takes ‘Indefinite Sabbatical’ from Harvest Bible Chapel” – Well, here is another chapter in the latest leadership challenges facing non-denominational, evangelical churches. I’ve posted about this challenge to James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel before at The Weekend Wanderer. While it’s not clear exactly what this means about MacDonald’s willingness to admit culpability, it is an expression that leadership of the family of churches sees it is time to make some change.

 

jacques_ellul“Ten Social Critics that Christians Should Be Reading” – The Englewood Review of Books offers some helpful reading suggestions, from Jacques Ellul to bell Hooks, Wendell Berry to Neil Postman, and more. “The work of social critics is vital for the health and flourishing of the church, because they remind us of the brokenness of the world and challenge us to imagine new and more healthy ways of sharing life together. Here are ten social critics whose work has been particularly helpful for me in trying to discern how to live faithfully in the twenty-first century. With each critic, I’ve included an excerpt that will serve as an introduction to that writer’s work.”

 

85847“When Great Writers Wrestle with Faith” – Speaking of reading, Jessica Hooten Wilson offers this review of Richard Harries’ new book, Haunted by Christ: Modern Writers and the Struggle for Faith, in which he explores modern writers as they wrestle with faith. “On the one hand, Christ is scary, unpursued, and ephemeral, haunting writers like a ghost. In the subtitle, though, the writers are active agents wrestling with an unknown entity, like Jacob with the angel, for the prize of faith. Harries explores both types of artists in his book, those who flee religion and those who chase it.”

 

Fort WildernessFort Wilderness Family Camps – Along with a great group of other pastors, I have the opportunity to speak at one of Fort Wilderness’ week-long family camps again this summer. Join me June 29-July 5, 2019, in the north woods of Wisconsin for a wonderful time in God’s good creation and God’s Word. If that week doesn’t work for you, check out the other family camps happening at Fort all summer long. There are still some spaces open at all of them.

 

office.jpeg“Office Devotions” – Let’s close out this edition of The Weekend Wanderer with a marvelous poem by Patrick Duddy over at First Things[Thanks to Micah Mattix for sharing this. in The Daily Prufrock.]

 

[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 November 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.

181029081322-rabbi-myers-super-tease“A rabbi says he first thought gunfire was the sound of a fallen metal coat rack. Then he saw people running.” – Here are some comments from the rabbi at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. I grieve with the victims of this attack, as well as for their families and all others affected. May God bring true shalom into the midst of this situation, as well as our nation, and may we join God in bringing it. This continues to raise questions about gun control in the US and how religious institutions should respond to violence.

 

_104109439_mediaitem104109431“Asia Bibi: Pakistan acquits Christian woman on death row” – The BBC reports on a case that is relevant for discussions of religious freedom. While religious freedom is not only relevant for Christians, this case is, as the article indicates, a landmark ruling in Pakistan. “A Pakistani court has overturned the death sentence of a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy, a case that has polarised the nation. Asia Bibi was convicted in 2010 after being accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad in a row with her neighbours. She always maintained her innocence, but has spent most of the past eight years in solitary confinement. The landmark ruling has already set off violent protests by hardliners who support strong blasphemy laws.”

 

Email_FRutledge_20160105MM_0207“Ruminations: The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James H. Cone” – Fleming Rutledge’s outstanding book The Crucifixion may eventually become even better. How? By her promise to include reflections on James Cone’s The Cross and the Lynching Tree as an afterword if there is ever a second edition. “Indeed, had I read Cone’s book while I was still writing The Crucifixion, I would have given significant space to the similarities of lynching and crucifixion because they give emphasis to the argument I have made that shame, humiliation, degradation, obscenity, and dehumanizing were an essential aspect of the way Jesus died. Cone has produced a work that is suffused with a sense of the shame and humiliation of black life in America (‘abused and trampled down’), while yet remaining triumphant over it.”

 

merlin_145504593_9adb15b8-15bb-4d26-af07-ed6521876393-superJumbo“‘God Is Going to Have to Forgive Me’: Young Evangelicals Speak Out” – This appeared in The New York Times on Thursday: “The role of evangelical Christianity in American politics has been a hotly discussed topic this year, intersecting with front-burner issues like immigration, the Supreme Court and social justice. Often the loudest evangelical voices are white, male and … not young. With just days left before the midterm elections — two years after President Trump won the White House with a record share of white, evangelical support — we asked young evangelicals to tell The Times about the relationship between their faith and their politics.”

 

84140“Jan Peterson: My Life as a Pastor’s Wife” – Eugene Peterson’s wife, Jan, reflects on what her life was like as a pastor’s wife. In the midst of her beautiful reflections, adapted from her new book Becoming Gertrude: How Our Friendships Shape Our Faith, she writes: ” I’m well aware that being a pastor’s wife brings with it a lot of demands and a lot of time spent serving others. But the amazing thing about service is that it rarely returns void, even if we don’t see the end results ourselves….May we all have the desire to serve God in that spirit. Fiat mihi—may it be unto me. Amen.”

 

84155“James MacDonald Sues Critics After 2,000 Leave Harvest Bible Chapel” – I’ve heard of church divisions getting bad, but this definitely takes it to a higher level than anything I’ve encountered before. “Pastor James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel filed a lawsuit this month against two ex-members and former Moody Radio host Julie Roys, accusing them of spreading false information about the Chicago-area megachurch’s financial health and leadership. The main targets of the church’s defamation complaint are Ryan Mahoney and Scott Bryant, who together run the blog The Elephant’s Debt. The site has culled stories of alleged mismanagement at Harvest since 2012, including claims of as much as $70 million in mortgage debt and a lack of accountability from its elder board.”

 

white-evangelicals“Most White Evangelicals Say Immigration, Increasing Racial Diversity, Harms America” – Can somebody help me understand this better? “A little over a week before the 2018 midterm elections, the Public Religion Research Institute on Monday released its 9th annual American Values Survey. The research shows that white evangelical Protestants are at odds with all other identified religious groups on many questions relating to immigration, race, the #MeToo movement and President Donald Trump.”

 

czesaw-miosz“An Approval of Being” – Here’s an old treasure of an article, as Robert Faggen interviews Polish writer Czeslaw Milosz in Books and Culture in 1997. Milosz won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1980, and was one of the outstanding literary voices of the 20th century. I couldn’t get over this statement: “I have lived in apocalyptic times, in an apocalyptic century. To live through the Nazi and Communist regimes in Poland was quite a task. And, indeed, there is a whole literature of the twentieth century that is deeply apocalyptic. My work to a large extent belongs to that stream of catastrophist literature that attempts to overcome despair.”

[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.]

More than 300 Chinese Christian Leaders Sign Joint Statement Affirming Religious Freedom

WechatIMG77.jpegA friend recently shared with me that, in the midst of increasing pressure by the Chinese government on the Christian church in China, a group of pastors wrote a public statement affirming both their commitment to Christian faith in the midst of suffering and an international call to uphold religious freedom. This is noteworthy for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that religious leaders within the country are calling out the government for abuse of power. You can read the entire statement, as reported by The St. Charles Institute, below.

A Joint Statement by Pastors: A Declaration for the Sake of the Christian Faith

We are a group of Chinese Christians, chosen by the Most High God to be His humble servants, serving as pastors for Christian churches throughout various towns and cities.

We believe and are obligated to teach the world that the one true and living Triune God is the Creator of the universe, of the world, and of all people. All men should worship God and not any man or thing. We believe and are obligated to teach the world that all men, from national leaders to beggars and prisoners, have sinned. They will die once and then be judged in righteousness. Apart from the grace and redemption of God, all men would eternally perish. We believe and are obligated to teach the world that the crucified and risen Jesus is the only Head of the global church, the sole Savior of all mankind, and the everlasting Ruler and supreme Judge of the universe. To all who repent and believe in Him, God will give eternal life and an eternal Kingdom.

In September, 2017, the State Council issued the new “Regulations on the Administration of Religious Affairs” and began implementing these regulations in February, 2018. Ever since then, Christian churches across China have suffered varying degrees of persecution, contempt, and misunderstanding from government departments during public worship and religious practices, including various administrative measures that attempt to alter and distort the Christian faith. Some of these violent actions are unprecedented since the end of the Cultural Revolution. These include demolishing crosses on church buildings, violently removing expressions of faith like crosses and couplets hanging on Christians’ homes, forcing and threatening churches to join religious organizations controlled by the government, forcing churches to hang the national flag or to sing secular songs praising the State and political parties, banning the children of Christians from entering churches and receiving religious education, and depriving churches and believers of the right to gather freely.

We believe that these unjust actions are an abuse of government power and have led to serious conflicts between political and religious parties in Chinese society. These actions infringe on the human freedoms of religion and conscience and violate the universal rule of law. We are obligated to announce bad news to the authorities and to all of society: God hates all attempts to suppress human souls and all acts of persecution against the Christian church, and he will condemn and judge them with righteous judgment.

But we are even more obligated to proclaim good news to the authorities and to all of society: Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, the Savior and King of mankind, in order to save us sinners was killed, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God, destroying the power of sin and death. In His love and compassion God has prepared forgiveness and salvation for all who are willing to believe in Jesus, including Chinese people. At any time, anyone can repent from any sin, turn to Christ, fear God, obtain eternal life, and bring great blessing from God upon his family and country.

For the sake of faith and conscience, for the spiritual benefits of the authorities in China and of society as a whole, and ultimately for the glory, holiness, and righteousness of God, we make the following declaration to the Chinese government and to all of society:

Christian churches in China believe unconditionally that the Bible is the Word and Revelation of God. It is the source and final authority of all righteousness, ethics, and salvation. If the will of any political party, the laws of any government, or the commands of any man directly violate the teachings of the Bible, harming men’s souls and opposing the gospel proclaimed by the church, we are obligated to obey God rather than men, and we are obligated to teach all members of the church to do the same.

Christian churches in China are eager and determined to walk the path of the cross of Christ and are more than willing to imitate the older generation of saints who suffered and were martyred for their faith. We are willing and obligated under any circumstance to face all government persecution, misunderstanding, and violence with peace, patience, and compassion. For when churches refuse to obey evil laws, it does not stem from any political agenda; it does not stem from resentment or hostility; it stems only from the demands of the gospel and from a love for Chinese society.

Christian churches in China are willing to obey authorities in China whom God has appointed and to respect the government’s authority to govern society and human conduct. We believe and are obligated to teach all believers in the church that the authority of the government is from God and that as long as the government does not overstep the boundaries of secular power laid out in the Bible and does not interfere with or violate anything related to faith or the soul, Christians are obligated to respect the authorities, to pray fervently for their benefit, and to pray earnestly for Chinese society. For the sake of the gospel, we are willing to suffer all external losses brought about by unfair law enforcement. Out of a love for our fellow citizens, we are willing to give up all of our earthly rights.

For this reason, we believe and are obligated to teach all believers that all true churches in China that belong to Christ must hold to the principle of the separation of church and state and must proclaim Christ as the sole head of the church. We declare that in matters of external conduct, churches are willing to accept lawful oversight by civil administration or other government departments as other social organizations do. But under no circumstances will we lead our churches to join a religious organization controlled by the government, to register with the religious administration department, or to accept any kind of affiliation. We also will not accept any “ban” or “fine” imposed on our churches due to our faith. For the sake of the gospel, we are prepared to bear all losses—even the loss of our freedom and our lives.

Signatories of the Joint Statement can be found here.

The Weekend Wanderer: 13 October 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.

 

1536560855288“Chinese officials burn bibles, close churches, force Christian to denounce faith amid ‘escalating’ crackdown” – This was shared with me by a friend directly connected to the situation of the house church in China. President Qi has increasingly put pressure on religious groups, particularly the underground church, as he seeks to reestablish a more pure communist agenda in China. What is new here is the aggressive measures being taken, including against the “Three-Self Church,” which is the government-approved church.

 

LX7EOIGOEQI6RI7GITNKHU263Y“October 12 Update on the Release of Pastor Andrew Brunson” – On Friday international news reports indicated that a Turkish court ruled today to release Pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been detained for the past two years and has been remanded to house arrest since July due to health concerns. Following this case over the past two years, it is clear that Brunson has been a pawn used in the midst of political tensions between Turkey and the United States. Throughout his detainment, he has claimed he is innocent of the charges that he is somehow connected to organizations working against the Turkish government.

 

83523“A Dying Child and a Living Hope” – When Kelly and I went through the painful experience of a miscarriage, I pulled a book off my shelf that a friend had once bought for me called The Shaming of the Strong by Dr. Sarah Williams, a professor at Regent College in Vancouver, BC. A couple of days ago, I read on Christianity Today that Dr. Williams has released a new book, which looks to be either a revision of the earlier book or a reappraisal of her own journey through carrying a child, Cerian, whom doctors told her would die upon birth. Aaron Cobb reviews that new book by Sarah Williams, Perfectly Human: Nine Months with Cerian, showing the grace and insight that Williams brings in the valley of the shadow of death as she reflects on what it means to be human.

 

_103770368_20171028_123422“The young Americans who are bucking the divorce trend” – This should catch your attention: between 2008 and 2016 the divorce rate in the US fell by 18%, according to a study by the University of Maryland. Of course, the related fact is that marriage rates have also dropped, with millennials three times less likely to get married than their grandparents’ generation. The abstract of the study concludes with this line: “The U.S. is progressing toward a system in which marriage is rarer, and more stable, than it was in the past, representing an increasingly central component of the structure of social inequality.” Looking at five couples that span the spectrum of modern marriage relationships, a BBC reporter highlights reasons why this may be the case, including a rare, fair-minded look at Christian marriage in couple #5.

 

alan jacobs“Christianity and Resistance: An Interview with Alan Jacobs” – The Los Angeles Review of Books has a wonderful interview with Alan Jacobs about his recent book The Year of Our Lord 1943: Christian Humanism in an Age of Crisis. It’s no secret that I have a great admiration for Jacobs’ writing and thinking, and this interview only adds to that admiration. Setting up the interview, the interviewer writes, “That mid-20th-century moment when civilization looked into the abyss — and large portions of humanity plunged into it — seems to resonate strongly for a lot of writers and thinkers these days, and not only because of Trumpism’s neo-fascist and ‘Christian’ nationalist tendencies.”  [Thanks to Wesley Hill for sharing this article.]

 

trump-with-evangelical-leaders“‘Evangelical’ has become too political and needs to be ‘reclaimed’, says WEA head” – The ongoing debate about what the word ‘evangelical’ means and whether it is still a helpful term rose to the surface in recent comments by the General Secretary of the World Evangelical Alliance, Bishop Efraim Tendero. This dovetails with a recent report that nearly 40 evangelical leaders came out with a statement against Donald Trump and the Alt-Right, in light of many contested surveys that say 80% of white evangelical voters supported Donald Trump. A wide-ranging group of authors wrestled with that question in the book Still Evangelical?: Insiders Reconsider Political, Social, and Theological Meaning, published by InterVarsity Press.

 

John-Lennox“Should We Fear Artificial Intelligence?” is a lecture given as part of the “Trending Questions” series of the Zacharias Institute by Dr. John Lennox, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and an Emeritus Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College, Oxford. Lennox digs into some of the most pertinent questions related to AI today, touching upon the domains of science, philosophy, ethics, and theology. This is a long video, but you can skip ahead of the introduction to Dr. Lennox’s lecture directly at 18′ 23″. [Thanks to Jeff Davis for sharing this link with me.]

 

he held radical light.jpgHe Held Radical Light – Image Journal, in their latest email update, reviews Christian Wiman’s latest book. “This slim new volume of essays on art, death, and eternity, demands to be read with a level of focused attention that is hard for me to come by these days, but it repays the effort. Picking up where My Bright Abyss left off, it’s a chain of essays about contemporary poets, including A.R. Ammons, Denise Levertov, Seamus Heaney, Susan Howe, Donald Hall, and many others, in which Wiman probes his own youthful desire to write ‘a poem that would live forever’—a wish intensified by his battle with cancer. That goal might seem ludicrous, if Wiman were not so self-aware, so sincere, and such a thirsty reader of poems. As it is, the idea of such a poem, possible or not, feels worthy of every attention.”

 

Orlean-LibrariesAnd since we’re on the topic of books, why not travel through memory and the stacks of the public library with Susan Orlean in her wonderfully written essay, “Growing Up in the Library,” over at The New Yorker. As a chronic reader who spends time at our local library every week, and as one taken to the library as a child by my parents who continues that legacy with my own children, I resonate with Orlean’s first lines: “I grew up in libraries, or at least it feels that way.” [Thanks to Micah Mattix for sharing this in the Daily Prufrock.]

[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.]

October 12 Update on the Release of Pastor Andrew Brunson

LX7EOIGOEQI6RI7GITNKHU263YInternational news reports indicate that a Turkish court ruled today to release Pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been detained for the past two years and has been remanded to house arrest since July due to health concerns. As I have followed this case over the past two years, it is clear Brunson has been used as a pawn in the midst of political tensions between Turkey and the United States. Throughout his detainment, Brunson has denied any validity to the charges that he is connected to organizations working against the Turkish government. You can read the full news report below.

ALIAGA, Turkey (Reuters) – A Turkish court ruled on Friday that the American evangelical Christian pastor at the center of a row between Ankara and Washington could go free, a move that could be the first step toward mending ties between the NATO allies.

The court sentenced Andrew Brunson to three years and 1-1/2 months in prison on terrorism charges, but said he would not serve any further jail time. The pastor, who has lived in Turkey for more than 20 years, was put in prison two years ago and has been under house arrest since July.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who has imposed sanctions on Turkey in an attempt to secure Brunson’s release, tweeted: “PASTOR BRUNSON JUST RELEASED. WILL BE HOME SOON!”

Dressed in a black suit, white shirt and red tie, the North Carolina native wept as the decision was announced, witnesses said. Before the judge’s ruling he had told the court: “I am an innocent man. I love Jesus, I love Turkey.”

After the ruling, Brunson’s lawyer told reporters he pastor was likely to leave Turkey.

The diplomatic stand-off over Brunson, who had been pastor of the Izmir Resurrection Church, had accelerated a selloff in Turkey’s lira, worsening a financial crisis.

Brunson had been accused of links to Kurdish militants and supporters of Fethullah Gulen, the cleric blamed by Turkey for a coup attempt in 2016. Brunson denied the accusation and Washington had demanded his immediate release.

Witnesses told the court in the western town of Aliaga that testimonies against the pastor attributed to them were inaccurate.

After the judge questioned one witness, Brunson said the judge was asking about incidents Brunson had not been involved in. His wife Norine looked on from the visitors’ area.

‘GREAT CHRISTIAN’

Trump has scored points with evangelical Christians, a large part of his political base, by focusing on the Brunson case.

The pastor’s release could boost Trump’s ability to spur such voters to vote in large numbers for Republicans in the Nov. 6 elections, which will determine whether they keep control of Congress.

The heavily conservative constituency voted overwhelmingly for Trump in 2016. He has called Brunson a “great Christian”, and Vice President Mike Pence, the White House’s top emissary to evangelicals, has urged Americans to pray for Brunson.

U.S. broadcaster NBC said on Thursday that Washington had had done a secret deal with Ankara to secure Brunson’s release.

The lira stood at 5.910 to the dollar at 1336 GMT, little changed on the day after firming 3 percent on Thursday on expectations that Brunson would be released.

Relations between the two NATO allies are also under strain from disputes over U.S. support for Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, Turkey’s plans to buy a Russian missile defense system, and the jailing of a Turkish bank executive for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran.

With Brunson’s release, attention may now turn to the fate of a Turkish-U.S. national and former NASA scientist in jail in Turkey on terrorism charges, as well as local employees of the U.S. consulate who have also been detained.