The Weekend Wanderer: 13 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.


Iran Gospel Movements“Meet the World’s Fastest-Growing Evangelical Movement” – Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra at The Gospel Coalition: “While official reports still claim that 99.4 percent of Iranians practice Islam, a 2020 survey found that just 40 percent actually identify as Muslim. An even larger number—about 47 percent—said they were ‘nones,’ atheists, spiritual, agnostic, or humanist. Another 8 percent claim Zoroastrianism, an ancient Persian religion. And a small sliver—1.5 percent—said they were Christians. ‘About 20 years ago, the number of Christian converts from a Muslim background was between 5,000 and 10,000 people,’ Crabtree said. ‘Today that’s between 800,000 to 1 million people. That’s massive growth.’ According to Operation World, Iran has the fastest-growing evangelical movement in the world.”


The Black Church“The Black Church: This is our story – this is our song” – I just saw this new series premiering from PBS: “The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song is a moving four-hour, two-part series from executive producer, host and writer Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, that traces the 400-year-old story of the Black church in America, all the way down to its bedrock role as the site of African American survival and grace, organizing and resilience, thriving and testifying, autonomy and freedom, solidarity and speaking truth to power. The documentary reveals how Black people have worshipped and, through their spiritual journeys, improvised ways to bring their faith traditions from Africa to the New World, while translating them into a form of Christianity that was not only truly their own, but a redemptive force for a nation whose original sin was found in their ancestors’ enslavement across the Middle Passage.” Trailer here.


Hershel Shanks“Died: Hershel Shanks, Editor Who Saved Biblical Archaeology from Academics” – Daniel Silliman at Christianity Today: “Hershel Shanks, the founder and longtime editor of Biblical Archaeology Reviewdied on Friday at the age of 90….The biggest test of Shanks’s clout in the field came in the early 1990s, when he decided it was time to make the Dead Sea Scrolls widely available. Though the texts had been discovered in the 1940s, only bits and pieces had been shown to the public—or even to other scholars. The academics in charge of the study of the scrolls were carefully guarding them until their own extensive research was published….Shanks thought this was dumb and persuaded Abegg to let him publish the ‘bootleg’ version of the scrolls that Abegg had reconstructed by computer from a concordance of Dead Sea Scrolls words that was assembled in the late 1950s but kept secret outside of a small group of specialists.”


Kathleen Norris - Retreat“How to Retreat When We Can’t Go to Retreats” – Here is renowned author Kathleen Norris: “For years in America, the retreat centers sponsored by churches and monasteries have been booked up well in advance. People recognize that they need the chance to enter into silence and live for a while in a place where the day is centered on prayer and contemplation. They need the music, art, and conversation that programs at these facilities provide. These centers are often found in places of great natural beauty, encouraging guests to take time to enjoy and praise God’s creation as they hike a trail or swim in a river. I doubt that anyone expected 2020 would be the year when we were all suddenly plunged into a forced retreat in our own homes. “


evangelical Myanmar“After Military Coup, It’s ‘Time to Shout’ for Myanmar Evangelicals” – Kate Shellnutt at Christianity Today: “Evangelical pastors in Myanmar have taken to the streets alongside their Buddhist neighbors in the week since a military takeover, believing that God is on the people’s side and praying desperately for him to bring justice. Amid nationwide internet and phone shutdowns, some churches gathering online due to the pandemic couldn’t connect to worship together last weekend, the first Sunday since the coup in the Southeast Asian nation formerly known as Burma. Hundreds of displaced Christians have been physically blocked out of their towns due to travel restrictions and roadblocks.”


Music: Lachrimae” by John Dowland performed by Christopher Morrongiello, filmed in the Chapel from Le Château de la Bastie d’Urfé at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Weekend Wanderer: 30 January 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.


Sebastian Kim“Democracy, ‘The Problem of Minorities,’ and the Theology of the Common Good” – In this brief, but informative essay, Sebastian Chang Hwan Kim, Academic Dean for the Korean Center and Robert Wiley Professor of Renewal and Public Life at Fuller School of Theology, offers a helpful exploration of theology for the common good. Engaging with other prevalent theologies for public engagement, Kim suggest some meaningful ways in which we as Christians can step into the public sphere for the good of all without relinquishing our theological footing.


Praying for the World“Prayers and Praises from the World’s Hardest Places to Be a Christian” – Just over two weeks ago, Open Doors released their annual “World Watch List,” which tracks the 50 countries in which it is most difficult to follow Jesus. I strongly encourage you to explore the amazing resource that Open Doors has assembled there, but also want to encourage you to take a look at this resource from Christianity Today. Here, CT has assembled both praises and prayers not merely for that part of the world but from believers in many of those countries. This is a very helpful resource for intercessory prayer for the world.


wayne

Jesus and John Wayne – a series of reviews” – One of the most thought-provoking religious books of the past year is Kristin Kobes Du Mez’s Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation. The title itself may either draw you in or frustrate you, but the book has sent ripples through the church. It was through church historian John Fea that I first heard about a series of reviews of the book at the Mere Orthodoxy website. If you’re interested in the book (love it or dislike it) or if you’ve never heard of the book, consider reading this series of reviews for appreciative, reflective, and critical responses, often intermixed in each essay:


Wintering“How ‘Wintering’ Replenishes” – In this interview by Krista Tippett from On Being, Katherine May, author of Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times speaks to something many of us have felt in this past year of trials and challenges. Here’s the description from On Being: “In so many stories and fables that shape us, cold and snow, the closing in of the light — these have deep psychological as much as physical reality. This is “wintering,” as the English writer Katherine May illuminates in her beautiful, meditative book of that title — wintering as at once a season of the natural world, a respite our bodies require, and a state of mind. It’s one way to describe our pandemic year: as one big extended communal experience of wintering. Some of us are laboring harder than ever on its front lines and also on its home front of parenting. All of us are exhausted. This conversation with Katherine May helps.”


Jefferson Bible Jesus“What Thomas Jefferson Could Never Understand About Jesus” – Vinson Cunningham offers an insightful review of Peter Manseau’s The Jefferson Bible: A Biography in The New Yorker, touching upon not only Jefferson, but also Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Howard Thurman: “Jefferson, meanwhile, was mulling a book project. He imagined it as a work of comparative moral philosophy, which would include a survey of ‘the most remarkable of the ancient philosophers,’ then swiftly address the ‘repulsive’ ethics of the Jews, before demonstrating that the ‘system of morality’ offered by Jesus was ‘the most benevolent & sublime probably that has been ever taught.’ This sublimity, however, would need to be rescued from the Gospels, which were—as Jefferson put it in a letter to the English chemist, philosopher, and minister Joseph Priestley—written by ‘the most unlettered of men, by memory, long after they had heard them from him.'”


Music: Víkingur Ólafsson, “Philip Glass: Études, No. 2,” from Glass Piano Works | recorded at the Yellow Lounge

Get Away, Leader!

Without a doubt, ministry is busy, demanding and people intensive. In this sort of work it is easy to get drained out and worn down by what we do.

But leaders, we need to get away.

Take a look at the life of Jesus. He was no exception to this. His life was busy. In Luke 4:31-41, we see Jesus’ day was full of activity: teaching, casting out demons, healing the sick, laying hands on people, and more.

How did Jesus deal with the busyness and potential to lose focus? He dealt with it by drawing away with the Father.

At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving. But he said, ‘I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.’ (Luke 4:42-43)

Jesus drew away from the people. Jesus took time with the Father. Jesus heard the Father speak of what was the next move. Jesus maintained focus by the Father’s side.

We need to do this as leaders. Though the demands of ministry never end, we cannot escape the need to draw away and refocus with the Father.

We should consider doing this daily: taking time, whenever it best works, to hear from God.

We should consider doing this weekly: drawing away to refocus before heading into the busyness of our weeks.

We should consider doing this monthly: setting aside a day each month for prayer, study, and personal refreshing.

We should consider doing this annually: getting away for a day or two to fast, pray, and hear from our Father.

As leaders, we need to get away from what is at hand in order to stay focused and fresh in our ministry.