The Weekend Wanderer: 5 November 2022

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like. Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within these articles but have found them thought-provoking.


Bono on Morning Edition“Bono discusses his new memoir, ‘Surrender,’ and the faith at U2’s core” – Rachel Martin interviews Bono on NPR’s Morning Edition: “It was 1976. An Irish kid named Paul Hewson was trying to figure a lot of things out; his mom had died a couple years earlier, when he was just 14. Bono, as he was known, spent a lot of time at home, in Dublin, arguing with his dad and his older brother. But two goals kept him focused — to win over the heart of a girl named Alison Stewart and to become a rock star. And in the same week, he asked Alison out — (she said yes) — and he ended up in Larry Mullen JR’s kitchen for an audition. Two other guys were there — Adam Clayton and David Evans, also known as The Edge. The four of them would go on to become one of the biggest bands of their time: U2. And he is still married to Alison Stewart 40 years later. Bono writes about these foundational relationships in his new memoir, called Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story, releasing Tuesday Nov. 1. In it, he also delves into another core relationship: his spirituality. Though never a Mass-on-Sundays kind of Catholic, from a young age he was fascinated with mysticism and ritual – and Jesus.”


webRNS-Calvin-Butts3Calvin Butts, leader of Harlem’s historic Abyssinian Baptist Church, dies at 73″ – Adelle M. Banks at Religion News Service: “The Rev. Calvin O. Butts III, the senior pastor of New York’s historic Abyssinian Baptist Church, who followed in the footsteps of prominent Black ministers and paved his own path of leadership in education, health and political circles, died Friday (Oct. 28), his church announced. ‘It is with profound sadness, we announce the passing of our beloved pastor, Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts, lll, who peacefully transitioned in the early morning of October 28, 2022,’ the church stated on its website and on Twitter. ‘The Butts Family & entire Abyssinian Baptist Church membership solicit your prayers.’ Butts, 73, succeeded the Rev. Samuel DeWitt Proctor as pastor in 1989 after starting as a minister of the congregation in 1972. He became the church’s 20th pastor, according to the church’s website. ‘When we think about Dr. Butts we know that he served the community of Harlem but he served the wider community as well,’ said the Rev. James A. Forbes Jr., senior minister emeritus of Riverside Church, whose church was about two miles away from Butts’. ‘We have lost a great leader, one who really was a champion of justice and freedom for all.'”


D400-1839-085_Low_res_comp“6 ways to pray for our country during the election” – Katie Taylor at the World Vision blog: “How can we be more Christlike — in word and deed — during the 2022 U.S. election? We know a few things for sure: We’re called to love others (John 15:12). We’re called to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2). And we’re called to live in unity (Ephesians 4:3). In an election year, choosing love feels extra challenging when your environment often pushes you to pick one side and shun the other. How can we keep choosing to love rather than burying our heads under our pillows until Nov. 8? God sees our frustration and confusion. And He promises that when we pray, He’ll give us guidance and peace. ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:6-7). It seems too simple. And sometimes our voices feel too small. But when we pray, we allow God to start growing our capacity to love each other as Jesus does — even people who are the most different from us. As we approach the 2022 midterm election, we’re humbled that God saw our anger, confusion, and prejudice and still loved us enough to send His Son to be our Savior. That perspective calms our frustration and calls us to prayer.”


re-wilding faith“Exodus 3-4: Call and Response” – James Amadon at The Ecological Disciple: “The power and potential of places that are not dominated by humans is especially important in our age. Modern, industrial humanity has been exceptionally good at domesticating almost anything it touches. To ‘civilize’ something, or someone, has been an unquestioned good, and so ‘wild’ places, people, and other creatures have been tamed or destroyed. This civilizing impulse has included religion and religious spaces – we have domesticated God by reducing theology to what serves modern humanity (when was the last time you heard a sermon on the purpose/future of creation?), by confining the divine presence to the built environment (such as churches and other ‘sacred spaces’), and by controlling access to divine presence or approval (think about how religious communities define who is in/out, saved/unsaved, etc.). Moses lived in one of the most civilized societies of his time, yet it was also one of the most brutal – a paradox that, sadly, repeats itself through history. Leaving the civilized world opened Moses to new possibilities for himself and his place in the world, and to an encounter with the wild God of creation, who can never be civilized (just read the bewildering story of Exodus 4:24-26). When I ask people where they feel closest to God, almost everyone says “Nature.” This makes sense because we are fundamentally part of nature, creatures among creatures. It is often the false ideologies of ‘civilization’ that makes us less at home in the world. We need to re-wild our faith, remembering that our relationship to God is connected to our relationship with our local land and waterways, and with the creatures that share our home. This is true whether we live in a condo in the city or a cabin in the mountains. Finding ways to connect with the wildness around us can also connect us to the wildness of God, who tends to show up in surprising ways in these places.”


131335“What Ancient Italian Churches Tell Us About Women in Ministry” – Photo Essay by Radha Vyas in Christianity Today: “The Bible tells us of the important place of women in the early church. Women were the first to reach the empty tomb and to proclaim the Resurrection (Matt. 28:1–10; Mark 16:1–8; Luke 23:55–24:10; John 20:1–2, 11–18). They contended for the gospel alongside Paul (Phil. 4:2–3), taught new converts (Acts 18:24–28), prophesied (Acts 21:9), had churches in their homes (Acts 16:14–15, 40; 1 Cor. 16:19), served the church (Rom. 16:1), delivered Paul’s epistles (v. 2), and were considered ‘outstanding among the apostles’ (v. 7). There is also a lesser-known visual record of women in ministry in Italy’s oldest churches. From around the time of the First Council of Nicaea down to the 12th century, Christians created depictions of women preaching, women marked as clergy, and even one carrying a Communion chalice, with which believers have always recalled Christ’s words ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’ (Matt. 26:28). Radha Vyas, a photographer and a student at Dallas Theological Seminary, takes us on a tour of this artistic record of women in ministry.”


jacobs-thomasmerton-2“Thomas Merton, the Monk Who Became a Prophet” – Alan Jacobs in The New Yorker back in 2018: “On December 10, 1941, a young man named Thomas Merton was received as a novice by a monastery in Kentucky, the Abbey of Gethsemani. Precisely twenty-seven years later, he died by accidental electrocution in his room at a retreat center in Bangkok, Thailand. He entered the monastery three days after Pearl Harbor; he died a month after Richard Nixon was elected to his first term as President. It had been an eventful time. Merton was a remarkable man by any measure, but perhaps the most remarkable of his traits was his hypersensitivity to social movements from which, by virtue of his monastic calling, he was supposed to be removed. Intrinsic to Merton’s nature was a propensity for being in the midst of things. If he had continued to live in the world, he might have died not by electrocution but by overstimulation….Merton lived the public world, the world of words and politics, but knew that living in it had killed him. (‘Thomas Merton is dead.’) He sought the peace of pure and silent contemplation, but came to believe that the value of that experience is to send us back into the world that killed us. He is perhaps the proper patron saint of our information-saturated age, of we who live and move and have our being in social media, and then, desperate for peace and rest, withdraw into privacy and silence, only to return. As we always will.”


Music: The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, performing Ralph Vaughan Williams, “For All The Saints” (Sine Nomine), from A Vaughan Williams Hymnal

The Weekend Wanderer: 21 May 2022

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like. Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within these articles but have found them thought-provoking.


womanpaintembed“In the Shoes of the Woman Considering Abortion” – Kirsten Sanders in Plough: “Both these narratives rely on the idea that life exists to self-actualize, that the goal of being alive is to enjoy as many positive experiences as possible and ‘make something of yourself.’ Pro-choice individuals argue that women need the opportunity to self-actualize in the form of career success and personal pleasure; pro-life individuals argue that those in the womb deserve such opportunities. The Christian life, however, is not about making the most of yourself, about removing impediments to pleasure and opportunity. To argue that those in the womb deserve life in this sense is simply to move the language of rights from the mother to the child. It is to decide who deserves to suffer. If life is simply about opportunity, abortion politics becomes a very real calculation of whose opportunity can be terminated. Christian teaching tells us that the things that are real are given by God, and therefore that all life given by God is good. But it also tells us that life is deeply fragile and marked by sorrow. It promises that the goodness in life is not in what we make of it or how much we enjoy it – the goodness of life is that it is given. Its givenness is what makes it real, what makes it good. It is not, then, in self-optimization, in building institutions, or in bringing our creativity to expression that we are living our best lives. It is, I believe, more likely to be found in parenting, where we are given life and must give our lives.”


Bono Surrender“Bono to release memoir about ‘the people, places and possibilities’ of his life” – Lucy Knight in The Guardian: “The first memoir by Bono will be released this year, publisher Penguin Random House has announced. While the U2 frontman’s career has been written about extensively, this will mark the first time Bono has written about it himself. Titled Surrender, the autobiography will span the singer’s early days growing up in Dublin, including the sudden loss of his mother when he was 14, the success of U2 and his activist work fighting against Aids and poverty. Surrender will contain 40 chapters, each named after a U2 song. Bono has also created 40 original drawings for the book. A video, in which Bono narrates an extract from the memoir, has been released across U2’s digital platforms. It uses animations based on Bono’s drawings to illustrate an extract from the Out of Control chapter, which is about how he wrote U2’s first single on his 18th birthday, exactly 44 years ago today. Bono said his intention was that the book would ‘draw in detail what [he’d] previously only sketched in songs. The people, places and possibilities in my life.’ He said he chose the title because, having grown up in Ireland in the 1970s, the act of surrendering was not a natural concept to him. Bono, whose lyrics have frequently been inspired by his Christian beliefs, said that /surrender’ was ‘a word I only circled until I gathered my thoughts for the book.'”


alan jacobs“The Speed of God” – Alan Jacobs at his blog, Snakes and Ladders, reflecting on aspects of Andy Crouch’s new book, The Life We’re Looking For : “Many of the key ideas in Andy Crouch’s new book The Life We Are Looking For emerge from his definition of the human person, which he derives from the Shema of Deuteronomy 6, as adapted by Jesus in Mark 12 (keywords emphasized):

One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Thus Andy: “Every human person is a heart-soul-mind-strength complex designed for love.” Simple and direct; but the more you think about it the more complex and generative a definition it is.”


Changing the World?“The Monthly Salon (May): Changing the World vs living with it” – Paul Kingsnorth at The Abbey of Misrule: “I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the notion of ‘changing the world’, and how it represents a kind of post-religious religious impulse. I’ll be writing in my next essay about the teleology of Progress, but a good question to ask of any culture, and of any person, is: what god do you worship? It’s a question that would have been easy enough to respond to in any previous time, and still is to most people worldwide. But to those of us raised by the Machine it’s inadmissable. We do worship gods, of course, but we don’t call them gods, because gods are superstitious things that our ignorant ancestors dealt in, whereas we, being grown-ups, deal in reason and facts and The Science. Of course, we don’t really do anything of the sort, and the notion of ‘changing the world’ illustrates it. Progress is our God, and ‘changing the world’ is its liturgy. It’s a phrase I used to use all the time, but now I’m almost embarrassed even to look at it. Changing the world. Changing the world. Changing the world. It’s such an astonishing concept: that we have, or could ever have, the agency, ability or knowledge to change the nature of a vast, complex planet we barely understand, when most of us can’t even change ourselves. And that we imagine the results would be good if we did. What could be more superstitious?”


Sagittarius A*“Black hole: First picture of Milky Way monster” – Jonathan Amos at The BBC: “This is the gargantuan black hole that lives at the centre of our galaxy, pictured for the very first time. Known as Sagittarius A*, the object is a staggering four million times the mass of our Sun. What you see is a central dark region where the hole resides, circled by the light coming from super-heated gas accelerated by immense gravitational forces. For scale, the ring is roughly the size of Mercury’s orbit around our star. That’s about 60 million km, or 40 million miles, across. Fortunately, this monster is a long, long way away – some 26,000 light-years in the distance – so there’s no possibility of us ever coming to any danger. The image was produced by an international team called the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration.”


03.27-2-Men-Fishing“The New Testament Picture of Discipleship” – Dallas Willard at Renovare: “Evangelicalism always looks to the Bible as the point of reference from which concepts are defined, practices legitimated, and principles adopted. So we must ask what can be made of discipleship and of the disciple of Jesus as seen in the life of the New Testament. Indeed, as it turns out, the New Testament ​disciple’ is by no means a peculiarly ​’Christian’ innovation. The disciple is one aspect of the progressive and massive decentralization of Judaism that began with the destruction of the first Temple (588 BC) and the Babylonian exile, and proceeds through the dispersal of the Jewish people among the nations that followed the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. During this period the synagogue emerges as the center of the local Jewish communities, devotion to the Torah becomes the focus of the synagogue, and the rabbi or ​’great one’ stood forth in the role of interpreter of Torah: ‘By degrees, attachment to the law sank deeper and deeper into the national character…. Hence the law became a deep and intricate study. Certain men rose to acknowledged eminence for their ingenuity in explaining, their readiness in applying, their facility in quoting, and their clearness in offering solutions of, the difficult passages of the written statutes.'”


Music: Charlie Peacock, “Psalm 51,” from West Coast Diaries, Vol. 2

A Prayer of Trust and Abiding in Christ

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Teach me, Lord, how to abide in You,
to remain in You,
to rest in You.

When so many confusing words,
false words, and harsh words
come into my ears, my mind, my heart—
teach me to remain in Your words,
Your truth, Your commands
like a branch in the vine.

When egotism and self-doubt,
pride and insecurity
lead me to become self-focused—
teach me to refocus,
recenter, realign
myself in You
like a branch in the vine.

When lessons I have already learned
need to be learned again
and breakthroughs I have already had
need to break through in me again—
teach me to kneel, to be still and know,
to listen and see You afresh—
like a branch in the vine.

My life in You
and Your life in me,
resting, remaining,
abiding in You, Lord.

A Prayer of Release and Surrender to God

In my distress I called to the Lord;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears. (Psalm 18:6)

With all my joys and gratitude
I draw near to You.
With all my griefs and lament
I fall down before You.

You, Lord, You know me fully
unlike anyone else.
You have made me from the womb
and trace my being as my Creator.

My present is Yours
for You hold it
My past is Yours
for You shaped it.
My future is Yours
for You know it.

All I am and ever hope to be
I release into Your gracious care.
I know stiff trouble will come
just as sharp joy will arise.
In it all I choose to praise You as God,
as my God and my King.

Receive praise this day
in Jesus’ name. Amen.