The Weekend Wanderer: 21 September 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.

 

article_5d72a06785e29“Catholicism Made Me Protestant” – After college I worked in a Roman Catholic books and church supply store for about nine months. As I learned to navigate the store and its contents, I also went on a journey of exploring the historic roots of the Christian faith. More than once since those days, I have searched out Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy as possibilities of getting to the bottom of the nature of authority within the church. Each time I have gained deeper appreciation for voices from earlier eras of the history of the church, while also returning to my Protestant roots stronger for the exploration.  Onsi A. Kamel offers an essay at First Things that echoed some aspects of my own search: “Catholicism had taught me to think like a Protestant, because, as it turned out, the Reformers had thought like catholics. Like their pope-aligned opponents, they had asked questions about justification, the authority of tradition, the mode of Christ’s self-gift in the Eucharist, the nature of apostolic succession, and the Church’s wielding of the keys. Like their opponents, Protestants had appealed to Scripture and tradition. In time, I came to find their answers not only plausible, but more faithful to Scripture than the Catholic answers, and at least as well-represented in the traditions of the Church.”

 

Judgment Day Florence Cathedral“Is the ‘final judgment’ really final?” – It would be difficult to not hear some rumblings about David Bentley Hart’s new book, That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, and Universal Salvation. Hart is a rough and tumble essayist and author, whose recent translation of the New Testament spurred a critical exchange between Hart and N. T. Wright, as well as some appreciative yet critical comments from Alan Jacobs about one of Hart’s bad intellectual habits. This latest book has already generated a lot of conversations, but is essentially an argument against the church’s reliance on a form of Augustine’s thinking and for a form of Gregory of Nyssa’s thinking on salvation and hell. The Christian Century provides this excerpt from Hart’s book for engagement. Douglas Farrow’s review in First Things is not all that appreciative of Hart’s thinking in the book, but engaging with Hart’s theological project at some level is necessary work for pastors and Christian leaders.

 

Willow Creek jd word cloud“Willow Creek, What’s a Pastor?” – I have been on a journey of recovery in pastoral ministry for the last year or two. It has led me toward rediscovering what it means to be a pastor by listening to voices like Eugene Peterson and John Chrysostom, as well as exploring the dark side of leadership and what keeps ministry resilient. After serving within it for the past fifteen plus years, I am questioning nearly every aspect of non-denominational, evangelical, megachuch Christianity in North America. The flagship church for that is Willow Creek, who is now searching for a new Senior Pastor. I have some sadness for how Willow has taken so much flak in these days, but not enough sadness to avoid pointing out that most of the historically essential work of the pastor is really not present in the job description they have put forward for this role. Scot McKnight says it with much better clarity than me in this article.

 

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?“When Philip K. Dick turned to Christianity” – Most fans of science fiction know that the movies Blade Runner (1982) and the recent sequel, Blade Runner 2049 (2017) were inspired by Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? I was surprised to read this article in Salon a few months back about Dick’s turn toward Christianity shortly before his surge to fame within 1960s counterculture. While he didn’t stick with the church in its institutional form, his turn toward faith did, apparently, shape his later outlook and writings.

 

0_omPrFdurOKV3rsyv“A Radical Guide to Spending Less Time on Your Phone” – Those closest to me know that I’ve been on a multi-year journey to shed much of my closeness to my smartphone, some forms of technology, and social media. The most recent version of that is a project I affectionately call “the dumbest smartphone in the universe,” which is an attempt to radically simplify the apps available on my smartphone. Someday, maybe I’ll blog about it, but in the meantime read Ryan Holiday’s article which echoes many of the changes I’ve made.

 

William Blake“A blockbuster show at Tate Britain gives William Blake his due” – Two summers ago, my wife and I had the chance to get away to London for a week as part of celebrating twenty years of marriage. While there, we returned to places we had visited years ago when we both participated in a summer study program. Seeing works of revered artists in Tate Britain and Tate Modern was a highlight. While we saw many of William Blake’s drawings and etchings, this new show sounds like a delightful look at his work.

 

Music: Daniel Lanois, “The Maker,” from Acadie.

[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: 23 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.

Richard Mouw“Richard Mouw Wrestles with Evangelicalism, Past and Present”Richard Mouw, is an elder statesman of evangelicalism, serving as an editor for numerous journals and a past president of Fuller Theological Seminary. Coming from the Reformed wing of evangelicalism, Mouw has been a strong voice for cultural engagement over the years. Tish Harrison Ward reviews his book, Restless Faith: Holding Evangelical Beliefs in a World of Contested Labels, at Christianity Today. “The book wrestles with questions of identity: What is this ever-changing movement called ‘evangelicalism?’ How do we deal with conflict over the meaning of this term and over the direction of the movement itself? And should we even use the ‘E-word’ anymore?”

 

science of miracles“The Science of Miracles” – Barbara Bradley Hagerty explores the science of miracles in this fascinating article that gives ample space for further consideration of how the science of faith and the faith of science interact. “But does that mean transcendent experiences are only a physiological event? Or, is this how the brain is wired to connect with a dimension of reality that our physical senses cannot perceive — in other words, does the brain activity reflect an encounter with the divine? I want to propose that how you come down on this issue depends on whether you think of the brain as a CD player or a radio.” You’ll have to read the rest of the article to discover what she means. [Thanks to Danny Clayton for sharing this article with me.]

 

89402“Our Churches Are Either Sacramental or Charismatic” – Andrew Wilson makes a case for the complementary value of both sacramental and charismatic traditions coming together in local churches. “There are, in other words, churches that are eucharistic and churches that are charismatic (as well as a good many churches that are neither). So it is interesting that the New Testament church about whose corporate worship we know the most, namely the church in Corinth, was both. The Corinthians were apparently unaware that those two strands of Christian worship were incompatible, and they happily (if somewhat erratically) pursued sacramental and spiritual gifts at the same time.”  Given my roots both in Anglicanism and the charismatic renewal, I have a lot of sympathy for Wilson’s case here and in his book Spirit and Sacrament.

 

89467“Making the Liturgy Sing a New Song” – “In 2015, when retired Anglican priest Nelson Koscheski shared one of his religious poems with the young music director at his Anglican church in Dallas, he never expected the poem to become a folk song. Koscheski thought the poem, which is about the Transfiguration, might make a good hymn, but would probably end up like most of his others—glanced at perfunctorily and then disregarded. But the music director, Ryan Flanigan, was so moved by the poem’s beauty that he set it to a simple folk tune, which he incorporated into the church’s Transfiguration Day service.”

 

new tolkien film“‘Tolkien’ Trailer: Fox Searchlight Biopic Stars Nicholas Hoult As ‘The Lord Of The Rings’ Author” – In case you didn’t know about it, there is forthcoming biographical movie on the life of J. R. R. Tolkien, creator of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. “The biopic follows the author through a hardscrabble childhood, into the battlefields of WWI and through the corridors of academia where he studied linguistics but eventually became a historian of the unreal.”

 

maxresdefault“Historic Vatican summit on clergy sexual abuse begins” – “Pope Francis began an unprecedented summit in Rome to confront the Catholic Church’s clergy abuse scandal by saying that Catholics are not looking for simple condemnation, but concrete actions. ‘In the face of this scourge of sexual abuse perpetrated by men of the church to the detriment of minors, I thought I would summon you, the Pope told the nearly 200 Catholic leaders gathered in Vatican City, so that all together we may lend an ear and listen to the Holy Spirit … and to the cry of the small who are asking for justice.'”

 

JDG SBC.jpeg“Southern Baptists should investigate churches that cover up abuse, says SBC president” – “J.D. Greear, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said the denomination’s Executive Committee should immediately investigate 10 churches named in a report by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News, including Second Baptist in Houston — one of the largest churches in the SBC. If any churches were found to have covered up abuse and refused to mend their ways, Greear told a gathering of Southern Baptist leaders on Monday (Feb. 18), then the convention should consider removing them from the denomination, a process known as ‘disfellowshipping.'”

 

weiss-wh-auden“Why W.H. Auden Hated His Most Famous Political Poems” – W. H. Auden is one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century, and also one of the most interesting essayists of his time. Late in his life, Auden revised many of his poems, redacting some parts of his work that he thought no longer worthy of being read. In this essay, Michael Weiss explores why Auden negatively assessed his early political poetry.

 

16-HammondBrochure-featured“‘Hearing’ the Hammond Organ” – On the lighter and musical side of things, how about the Hammond Organ. “The Hammond Organ was the first electronic musical instrument to become commercially successful. Just two years after it went on sale in 1935, major radio stations and Hollywood studios, hundreds of individuals, and over 2,500 churches had purchased a Hammond. The instrument had a major impact on the soundscape of both popular and religious musical life in the U.S., but it has been largely ignored by electronic music historians.” [Thanks to Micah Mattix for sharing these last two articles in The Daily Prufrock.]

 

Music: Johann Sebastian Bach’s Matthäus-Passion (BWV 244), performed by Sir John Eliot Gardiner & The English Baroque Soloists.

[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: 20 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.

Oscar Romero“A ‘Voice For The Voiceless’: Sainthood For El Salvador’s Archbishop Óscar Romero” – This past Sunday, the Vatican elevated Archbishop Óscar Romero and Pope Paul VI to sainthood, along with five other “lesser-known” saints. “Known to his followers as Monseñor (Monsignor), Romero was a champion of human rights at a time when El Salvador was on the brink of civil war. His tireless fight for civil rights ranks him among figures like Martin Luther King Jr. His devout following filled San Salvador’s towering cathedral each Mass.”

 

peterson-square1“Eugene Peterson Enters Hospice Care” – Eugene Peterson has been one of the most significant influences upon my life as a pastor. His outstanding writing on the work of pastoral ministry, spiritual theology, and memoir of life in ministry have helped keep me on track as a pastor in the North American culture that tends to fashion church celebrities. Given all this, I was sad to hear this past week that Peterson entered hospice care as he nears the end of his earthly life. Christianity Today shares a wealth of the articles and resources that Peterson has written in the pages of their publications.

 

Image“The State of Theology: What Do People Really Believe in 2018?” – Ligonier Ministries partnered with LifeWay Research in their third biennial study on religious beliefs in the United States. “This year’s survey both confirmed previous findings and brought some unexpected results. Year after year, we are seeing the increasing grip of relativism on our culture and deep confusion among evangelicals. For example: 91 percent of evangelicals affirm that people are justified by faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, but 51 percent of evangelicals also believe that God accepts the worship of all religions. How can this be? What do Americans—and people in the pew—really believe?” [Thanks to Jim Bohn for sharing this link.]

 

_103887398_kievworshipgetty14oct“Orthodox Church split: Five reasons why it matters” – “The Russian Orthodox Church has cut ties with the Church leadership in Istanbul, the Constantinople Patriarchate traditionally regarded as the Orthodox faith’s headquarters. The Moscow-based Russian Orthodox Church has at least 150 million followers – more than half the total of Orthodox Christians. The dispute centres on Constantinople’s decision last week to recognise the independence of Ukrainian Orthodox worshippers. Just another arcane theological dispute, you might think. Well, there is more to it than that.”

 

Walker Percy“Walker Percy: The Hopeful Dystopian” – Walker Percy is one of my favorite novelists, because his work opens up the unique insanities of culture, the depravity of humanity, and the unexpected places that hope rises up. All that being said, Percy’s work is not for the faint of heart.  Daniel Ritchie reviews Brian A Smith’s Walker Percy and the Politics of the Wayfarer (a steeply-priced book published by an academic press) for Christianity Today, and gives the reader some helpful insights both into Percy in general and the value of Smith’s book.

 

Smith-headshot-243x300-circleIn other news at the junction of Christianity and the arts, Image magazine announced James K. A. Smith as their new editor in chief. This is welcome news, as Jamie is an amazing thinker and writer on issues of faith and culture. I look forward to the leadership he will bring in pulling together an editorial team for this important journal on faith, art, and mystery.

 

U“Floating pipe set to start massive ocean cleanup process” – “A 2,000 foot-long floating pipe nicknamed Wilson is about to start its mission to collect all the plastic in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Last month, the Ocean Cleanup foundation launched the world’s first ocean cleanup system out of San Francisco to take on the notorious “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” a giant floating trash pile between San Francisco and Hawaii that is twice the size of Texas. It’s the largest of five ocean trash piles on Earth.”

 

1380“The lost art of concentration: being distracted in a digital world” – This latest article from Harriet Griffey in The Guardian is just the latest in a stream of conversation around the destruction of our ability to concentrate in a distracted, digital world. “This constant fragmentation of our time and concentration has become the new normal, to which we have adapted with ease, but there is a downside: more and more experts are telling us that these interruptions and distractions have eroded our ability to concentrate.” I am currently working on a series of messages for a retreat with students in the winter connecting this theme with the plea for “an undivided heart” found in Psalm 86:11.

 

Reader Come Home.jpg“What we lose by reading 100,000 words every day” – Jennifer Howard reviews Maryanne Wolf’s new book, Reader, Come Home. “Wolf wants to understand what’s happening to our reading brains at this historic juncture between the old ways and the new. A lifelong book lover who turned her fascination with reading into a career as a cognitive neuroscientist, she continues to explore how humans learned to do such an astonishing thing as read in the first place….While neuroplasticity allowed humans to develop our ‘deep-reading circuit,’ she explains, it also makes us vulnerable to constant streams of digital input. Clutching cellphones, scrolling through Instagram feeds, browsing websites all day, ‘we inhabit a world of distraction,’ she writes.” [Thanks to David Taylor for sharing this article.]

 

winners-to-be-announced-668x1024Book Awards – And since we are on the topic of books, at the end of last week the finalists for the National Book Award were announced. You can access the entire list here with the categories of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and young people’s literature, as well as a new category of translated literature. The winner will be announced on November 14. The winner of the Man Booker Prize for fiction, whose short list I shared in September, was also announced this past week with Anna Burns taking home the prize for her third full-length novel, Milkman.

[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: 25 August 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.

 

16601.31670“Meet Presbyterian America’s First Licensed Black Preacher: No Happy Ending and a Warning for Today” – Darryl Williamson shares the atypical story of John Chavis, an 18th century black man who became the Presbyterian Church’s first licensed black preacher in what became the United States of America. His life experiences highlight the racial wrestling at the heart of our nation’s birth, as well as the conflicted legacy that Christianity has in “the new world.” While not engaging with some of the deeper structural issues at play, Williamson’s introduction to Chavis is worth a read.

 

library“Advice to My Former Freshman Self” – Although published awhile back, Jordan Hylden’s advice to his college freshman self is still as helpful and illuminating as ever. This is a good article to pass along to college students you know as they launch into life at university, regardless of where they find themselves. It reminds me of a list I have been building to share with my own son, Isaiah, as he begins his freshman year of college this coming week.

 

clergy collar“Statement of Catholic Theologians, Educators, Parishioners, and Lay Leaders on Clergy Sexual Abuse in the United States” – There is a grassroots movement within the Roman Catholic church responding with angst to the recent report of the Pennsylvania Attorney General about the prevalence of sexual abuse in dioceses of that State. “The document chronicles, with nauseating clarity, seven decades of clergy sexual abuse and systematic cover-ups by bishops and others in positions of power. The report comes in the wake of last months’ revelations of decades of sexual predation by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and in the long shadow of the sexual abuse crisis in Boston and beyond….Today, we call on the Catholic Bishops of the United States to prayerfully and genuinely consider submitting to Pope Francis their collective resignation as a public act of repentance and lamentation before God and God’s People.” Pope Francis has also written a letter responding to this situation, which you can read here.

 

Silhouette of a boy making Photos with smart phone“Phones Are Changing the Texture of Family Life” – The other day I told my son that I wanted to blow up all mobile phones. He actually agreed with me. Over at The Atlantic, Joe Pinsker reports on why we may have agreed based upon a recent, national Pew Research Survey that evaluates screen time and device distractions. “Ninety-five percent of Americans ages 13 to 17 have a smartphone or access to one, and nearly half report using the internet “almost constantly….Parents and teens alike felt that phones were encroaching on everyday interactions. Seventy-two percent of parents in the survey said that their teenagers were “sometimes” or “often” distracted by their phones during conversations. More interestingly, though, roughly half of teens felt the same way about their parents. The fact that this dynamic of distraction runs both ways is only just starting to get attention.”

 

82943“Prosperity Gospel Taught to 4 in 10 Evangelical Churchgoers” – This news report hit at the end of July, but I still wanted to share it. It’s worth reflecting on what this says about our local churches and American Protestant Christianity. “About a third of Protestant churchgoers say their congregation teaches that God will bless them if they donate money. Two-thirds say God wants them to prosper. One in 4 say they have to do something for God to receive material blessings in return. Those are among the key findings of a new study on ‘prosperity gospel’ beliefs from Nashville-based LifeWay Research, which surveyed 1,010 Americans who attend a Protestant or nondenominational church at least once a month.”

 

unite-the-right“Lived Theology a Year After Charlottesville” – The Project on Lived Theology under the direction of Charles Marsh at the University of Virginia put together an outstanding bibliography of articles following the tensions one year ago in Charlottesville. There are news pieces, theological reflections, summaries of religious responses, and forthcoming books about how the tensions in Charlottesville relate to the both the racial tensions and religious self-understanding of Christianity in America. It’s worth perusing this interesting collection.

 

Screen-Shot-2018-08-21-at-12.04.42-PM-554x419“For Millennial Conservatives, the Enemy is Us” – Rod Dreher vents his thoughts about conservatism mixed with generational theory. Like others, such as Alan Jacobs, I am a strong critic of generational thinking. Many times, it is perfectly useless. At other times, it is used as an excuse to blow off the thoughts of others who are “outdated.” Still at other times, it is used as a way to give oneself the platform of being “a spokesperson for my generation.” All that put aside, Dreher offers some insights for conservatives, with a few asides on Christianity, on the place in which they find themselves in this era.

 

SEVENTH SEAL, THE (1957)“Oh Lord, Why Did You Forsake Ingmar Bergman?: Reflections on a master at 100” – As the film world celebrates what would have been Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman’s 100th birthday, I can tell there are going to be some outstanding reviews of his work. Nathan Shields offers a unique perspective on Bergman’s films as haunted by Lutheran faith even after Bergman declared himself an atheist. His films are, essentially, religious in nature, not merely philosophical, and it is this religious tension that often makes his films so powerful.

 

gray“Ode to Gray” – In light of discussing Bergman, this is as good a time as any to share Meghan Flaherty’s “Ode to Gray.” I have a confession: gray is one of my two favorite colors. Flaherty gives us a reason to feel good about gray. “I’m drawn to gray, as to a dream, but not to any old gray. Not storm-cloud gray or corporate monolith. I prefer tranquil gray: the undyed wool of sheep in rain, the mood inside a Gerhard Richter painting, the mottle of an ancient cairn. I don’t mean any one gray either but the entire underrainbow of the world, the faded rose and sage and caesious. Liard, lovat, perse. The human eye perceives five hundred—not a mere fifty—shades of gray. Paul Klee called it the richest color: the one that makes all the others speak.”

 

[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: 18 August 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.

 

83122“Evangelical Ethiopian Helps End Orthodox Schism” – “Ending 27 years of schism, Ethiopian Orthodox Christians in their homeland and in America reunited the two feuding branches of one of the world’s oldest churches. Ironically, the push came from the Horn of Africa nation’s new evangelical prime minister.”

 

maxresdefault“Report details sexual abuse by more than 300 priests in Pennsylvania’s Catholic Church” – In a news report that will not only make your stomach turn but possibly leave you with nightmares, a grand jury released a voluminous report about sexual abuse in Roman Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania. CNN reports: “A new grand jury report says that internal documents from six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania show that more than 300 ‘predator priests’ have been credibly accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 child victims.” We cannot turn aside from this crisis within churches related to sexual abuse.

 

GrahamsAfter reading that, you may need some recovery. Why not read Bob Russell’s reflective essay “These Pastors’ Stories Won’t Make The New York Times.” While I wish that Bob could point us to more than white males, I appreciate what he’s trying to do by sharing stories of everyday pastors who lived with integrity in the midst of their ministry.  If you enjoy this essay, you might also want to check out Bob’s helpful book written after a flourishing pastoral ministry: After 50 Years of Ministry 7 Things I’d Do Differently and 7 Things I’d Do the Same.

 

9780226365459“Why I’m Still Confident about ‘Confident Pluralism” – John Inazu writes: “Two years ago, I published a book called Confident Pluralism. In it, I argue that living together across our differences in this country must begin by acknowledging the depth of those differences. And our differences are indeed deep…The past two years have affirmed, if not magnified, these claims.” Read Inazu’s rationale for still standing favorably by his central thesis and claims in that book. [Thanks to Andy Cornett for this link.]

 

Screen Shot 2018-08-13 at 11.29.31 AM“God at the Margins (Part 2 of 3)” – Here is part 2 of  the story of my friends, Michal and John Chabo. The brothers delve deeply into God’s faithfulness in the midst of their challenging departure from Syria. Don’t miss this amazing story. While you’re at it, stop by their website in order to discover more about their work with Chabros Music.

 

download.jpeg“CoWo-NoGrow” Kevin Martin offers his reflections upon liturgical faithfulness, contemporary worship practices, and the failure of many prevailing ministry models in this article over at First Things. “I remember a scorching article Richard Neuhaus wrote when he edited the old Forum Letter before he started First Things, in which he ripped contemporary worship as a betrayal of the gospel and called for getting the worship right because then the doctrine and the practice will fall into line. I believe he was right then and is still right on this today.”

 

Madeleine-L_Engle-c-2000-screenshot-of-HistoryChannel.com-photo-by-Everett“How Fiction Fueled Madeleine L’Engle’s Faith” – Sarah Arthur provides a wonderful look at the way in which Madeleine L’Engle was shaped in her moral formation by good literature. “Her engagement with these books—Scripture included—was deeply formative. They nourished ‘the same hunger in me, the hunger for the truth that is beyond fact, the hunger for courage and hope in a difficult world, the hunger for something more than ordinary vision.'”

 

_102875847_15607--xiazhi-china“In pictures: World Architecture Festival 2018 shortlist” – If you love architecture or simply enjoy good photography, make a brief visit to the BBC’s website to peruse projects from 81 countries have been shortlisted in the World Architecture Festival Awards 2018. A sampling includes a research centre in Riyadh, a village lounge in rural China and a mosque without a minaret in Iran.

[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: 11 August 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.

 

Chabros“God at the Margins (Part 1 of 3)” – My dear friends, Michal and John Chabo, share their story of God’s faithfulness in the midst of the challenging environment of Syria. You do not want to miss this amazing story from these two wonderful men. You will also enjoy finding out more about their work with Chabros Music, including leading worship at many churches and telling their story as an encouragement to others.

 

HybelsThe ongoing saga at Willow Creek Community Church continued to heat up with the August 5 New York Times article “He’s a Superstar Pastor. She Worked for Him and Says He Groped Her Repeatedly.” Shortly before this, Lead Teaching Pastor Steve Carter announced his immediate resignation in protest of the way the women who have come forward have been treated (read his “A Diverging Path”). Then, on Wednesday night, Lead Pastor Heather Larson announced her immediate resignation, and that the entire Willow Creek Board of Elders would be steeping down. If you don’t know the entire story about what has come forth in regards to former Senior Pastor Bill Hybels and the way in which leadership of Willow Creek handled accusations of sexual misconduct, take a look at Scot McKnight’s recent post in this regard. You may also benefit from reading Mel Lawrenz’s reflections on what this speaks into the lives of leaders.

 

Indianapolis“These 15 U.S. Cities Have the Most Churches” – While this article was created by basically dividing city populations by the number of church buildings that exist there and not something more complicated, it is still interesting to take a look at this list of fifteen cities that have the most church buildings in the US. You will probably be surprised by number 2. [Thanks to Warren Bird for sharing this article.]

 

83011“Rwanda Restricts Fasting as 8,000 Churches Closed” – This is not what you’d typically expect to see within a news headline, but the government of Rwanda has been addressing lack of training and safety concerns in churches and mosques in recent months. “About 8,000 official and unofficial churches, as well as 100 mosques, have been closed in Rwanda for failing to comply with health, safety, and noise regulations. This includes 4 in 10 congregations belonging to a nationwide association of 3,300 Pentecostal churches.”

 

savs-504074-unsplash-e1525470662382-770x400“A Letter from the Angry Black Woman in Your Pew”Lysaundra Campbell at The Witness speaks out: “This is not a time for performative theological discussions that do not result in action. We do not need a conference, panel discussion, or one-time awareness training about gender-based violence. If our conferences, panels, and pulpits are cultivating a culture that mirrors the broader society and diminishes the value of black women and girls through racism and sexism, we have a much deeper heart issue.”

 

EvangelicalImmigrationTableLOGO“Citing Religious Liberty, Evangelical Leaders Urge Trump Administration to Support Refugee Resettlement” – Evangelical Christian leaders have sent a letter asking the Trump administration to raise the refugee ceiling, citing religious liberty and our nation’s history of offering safe haven to people fleeing religious persecution. Signatories express deep concern that further cuts to the U.S. refugee resettlement program would harm religious freedom internationally. The letter was sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback.

 

82941“The Truth About the Catholic Church and Slavery” – Rodney Stark takes on one of the most-debated issues in relation to the culpability of the Roman Catholic Church in relation to the international slave trade. The claim that Christians were actively involved in promulgating slavery is beyond debate. However, Stark suggest that the role of the institutional church and its teaching came against that much more clearly and much earlier than often claimed.

 

Insert-ghost-“Ghosts on the Shore” – “Japanese awareness of ghosts – yūrei – goes back centuries, rooted in ideas of justice and injustice, and in a fear of unfinished business. If a person’s spirit is looked after at death, by a family providing a proper funeral, praying for that person, and visiting the grave, then the deceased is able to pass peacefully into the next world. From there, the dead look out for their still-living relatives, providing help and protection. Every year, in summer, they return to this world, welcomed by their families at the festival of Obon with food and drink, fireworks and dancing.” [Thanks to Micah Mattix and Prufrock News for sharing this.]

 

[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.]

Cardinal Dolan’s Response to Obama’s Election

Religion New Service reported Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s Response to the re-election of President Barack Obama. Those who follow the news and public policy know that Dolan has taken a tough line with the President’s policies, particularly the health care reform.

What do you think about Cardinal Dolan’s letter below?

Dear President Obama,

In my capacity as President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I write to express my congratulations on your re-election as President of the United States.The people of our country have again entrusted you with a great responsibility.The Catholic Bishops of the United States offer our prayers that God will give you strength and wisdom to meet the difficult challenges that face America.

In particular, we pray that you will exercise your office to pursue the common good, especially in care of the most vulnerable among us, including the unborn, the poor, and the immigrant.We will continue to stand in defense of life, marriage, and our first, most cherished liberty, religious freedom.We pray, too, that you will help restore a sense of civility to the public order, so our public conversations may be imbued with respect and charity toward everyone.

May God bless you and Vice President Biden as you prepare for your second term in service to our country and its citizens.

Sincerely yours,

Timothy Cardinal Dolan
Archbishop of New York
President
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops