“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 these articles but have found them thought-provoking.
“This Is the Southern Baptist Apocalypse” – Russell Moore in Christianity Today: “They were right. I was wrong to call sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) a crisis. Crisis is too small a word. It is an apocalypse. Someone asked me a few weeks ago what I expected from the third-party investigation into the handling of sexual abuse by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee. I said I didn’t expect to be surprised at all. How could I be? I lived through years with that entity. I was the one who called for such an investigation in the first place. And yet, as I read the report, I found that I could not swipe the screen to the next page because my hands were shaking with rage. That’s because, as dark a view as I had of the SBC Executive Committee, the investigation uncovers a reality far more evil and systemic than I imagined it could be.”
“America’s gun culture – in seven charts” – From The BBC: “A school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, involving young children has reignited the national US debate about access to firearms. What does the data tell us about gun culture and its impact? Firearms deaths are a fixture in American life. There were 1.5 million of them between 1968 and 2017 – that’s higher than the number of soldiers killed in every US conflict since the American War for Independence in 1775. In 2020 alone, more than 45,000 Americans died at the end of a barrel of a gun, whether by homicide or suicide, more than any other year on record. The figure represents a 25% increase from five years prior, and a 43% increase from 2010. But the issue is a highly political one, pitting gun control advocates against sectors of the population fiercely protective of their constitutionally-enshrined right to bear arms.”
“Expect the End of the World” – Joy Clarkson interviews Paul Kingsnorth in Plough: “I didn’t expect to become a Christian. I didn’t want to become a Christian. I wrote an essay about that earlier in the year. It sort of crept up on me. I was doing sort of paganish things. I’ve always wanted to connect with the divine, whatever that quite meant. And I’ve always been looking for ways to do that through Buddhism or paganism. And if you’re a modern Western person, you look everywhere except Christianity because you just assume that that’s got nothing to do with you. I do think a lot of modern Western rebellion is a rebellion against Christianity disguised as something else. We’re in rebellion against our ancestral faith. But the story of Christianity is the story of rebellion against God. So the more we rebel against it, the more we’re replaying the story by accident. I ended up becoming an Eastern Orthodox Christian. There’s a great mysticism at the heart of that version of Christianity. There’s an emphasis on God, on the divine being immanent as well as transcendent.”
“Why Christ’s Ascension is Essential” – Matthew Burden in Christianity Today: “For a long time, I never really understood the Ascension. To me, the disciples’ question in Acts 1:6 seemed eminently reasonable. Why did Jesus have to go? Why not just usher in the fullness of the kingdom then and there, and start wrapping the whole thing up? Wouldn’t it be a great asset to our labors in missions and apologetics to have Jesus still around? As it stands, the Ascension plays right into the skeptic’s darkest doubts about the gospel narrative. How convenient that the supposedly risen Messiah should vanish without showing himself to anyone other than his friends and family! The Bible, however, stubbornly refuses to agree with my sensibilities. Far from treating the Ascension as a weird stage exit whose main function is to explain why Jesus isn’t around anymore, Scripture speaks of it as a necessary part of God’s plan. Not only is it necessary, but the disciples even refer to it as a primary proof of Jesus’ messianic identity. Rather than trying to explain away his absence, they tout it with vigor. The Ascension stands on equal footing with the Crucifixion and Resurrection in the earliest declarations of the gospel (Acts 2:33–36; 3:18–21; 5:30–31).”
“They fought for education in Afghanistan. Now in Milwaukee, these 9 young women hope to achieve the dreams they nearly lost” – So glad our church can be part of this effort in Milwaukee. Sophie Carson writes about it in The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “The streets of Kabul were like a scene from a zombie movie. One young Afghan woman had never seen her city like this: deserted and eerily silent, not a soul daring to venture outside. Last August, the Taliban had taken over Afghanistan’s capital city, and this woman — who asked that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel refer to her only by her last name, Panahi — was carrying out a dangerous errand. School representatives for a women’s university in Bangladesh had asked Panahi, a recent graduate, to retrieve nearly 150 students’ passports from a government office where they’d been sent for visa processing. Documents were being systematically destroyed around the city, and school leaders knew the students likely would be trapped in Afghanistan without their passports. The trip to the visa office was extraordinarily risky. Panahi believes if the Taliban caught her with stacks of passports belonging to young, educated women planning to flee, she could have been killed. But she also felt a huge sense of responsibility to the students, and their futures. ‘If I don’t take this chance, if I don’t do this right now, what if we (are) all stuck here?’ she thought. ‘That’s even more dangerous, to stay here.’ The trip was successful. She hid the passports in her basement when she got home and later returned them to each student. Panahi’s efforts allowed 148 women to begin what would become a days-long, harrowing escape from Afghanistan. They’d go from the gates of the Kabul airport to Fort McCoy in Wisconsin, leaving their families behind. The women since have been placed at universities around the U.S. Most have full-ride scholarships.”
“Billions of Fireflies Light Up an Indian Wildlife Reserve in Rare Footage Captured by Sriram Murali” – Kate Mothes in Colossal: “In many parts of the world, a warm summer evening sets the stage for a familiar sight: the lightning bug. Through a phenomenon called bioluminescence, these winged beetles generate chemical reactions in a part of their abdomen known as the lantern to produce flickers of light. Of more than 2,000 species found throughout the world, only a handful coordinate their flashes into patterns and are known as synchronous fireflies. Filmmaker Sriram Murali captured a rare gathering of billions of these insects at the Anamalai Tiger Reserve in western Tamil Nadu, India. Through a combination of moving image and time-lapse photography, Murali recorded countless specimens amidst the trees as they produce glowing pulses, which relay across the forest in expansive, wave-like signals. The color, brightness, and length of the light emitted is specific to each species, and as a part of the insects’ mating display, it helps males and females to recognize one another. Darkness is a necessary ingredient in the success of this ritual. For the past ten years, Murali has been working to raise awareness of light pollution through a series of documentaries. Focusing on the reserve and its nighttime fauna, he hopes to highlight the significant role that darkness plays in the natural world. He has been collaborating with scientists and forest officials at the wildlife reserve as part of a project spearheaded by Deputy Director M.G. Ganesan to study the ecology of the park and identify the different species of firefly present there.”
Music: U2, “40” (Live From Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Colorado, USA / 1983 / Remastered 2021)