The Weekend Wanderer: 11 September 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.


“In Search of a Truly Good News Faith” – Vince Bacote in Comment: “The problem of dissonance between ‘our people’ and ‘the others’ has been with us since the Fall. The lingering and stubborn challenge of race is a particularly acute example, and the evangelical movement has not escaped its thorns. How might this “good news” tradition better address this challenge? Let’s first discuss the label. American evangelicalism really took off in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and distilled Christianity to four essentials: the authority of the Bible, personal conversion experiences, salvation by Christ’s work on the cross, and an active life of faith expressed in mission and personal piety. Though both the evangelical movement and its theology have aspired to a model of complete fidelity to these essentials, the record has been mixed. As an African American who has inhabited the evangelical ethos since my time as an undergraduate, I have great appreciation for the commitment to biblical truth and efforts to encourage a serious faith that aspires to heed to the full sweep of God’s revelation. I am also acutely aware of its unfulfilled promise.”


“Our Theology of Prayer Matters More than Our Feelings” – Kristen Deede Johnson in Christianity Today: “For a season in my Christian life, I was known as the go-to person on prayer. If you had a prayer request, you could rest assured that I’d add you to my list and pray for you every morning in my quiet time. For years, a day had not gone by without me spending intentional time in prayer. If you asked me what I’d do if I was tired or discouraged, I’d have told you—in all honesty—that I found nothing more refreshing or encouraging than getting on my knees and praying….And then one day, without warning, reason, or explanation, that sense of sweet intimacy was gone. The life of prayer that I’d spent years cultivating appeared to vanish. My very relationship with God seemed threatened.”


“Orthodox church destroyed in 9/11 being rebuilt as ‘cenotaph’ to those killed” – John Lavenburg in Crux: “With less than a year left in the reconstruction of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine, Michael Psaros foresees a church that honors the lives that were lost during the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on New York. The original church was destroyed when the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed. ‘St. Nicholas Shrine is a cenotaph to the 3,000 people that were murdered, martyred and killed on that day,’ Psaros told Crux. ‘At ground zero today you have the museums, you have the reflecting pools, but now you have faith. You have this magnificent structure whose doors will be open to people of all faiths around the world.'”


First Nations Version“First Nations Version translates the New Testament for Native American readers” – Emily McFarlan Miller at Religion News Service: “It’s a Bible verse familiar to many Christians — and even to many non-Christians who have seen John 3:16 on billboards and T-shirts or scrawled across eye black under football players’ helmets. But Terry Wildman hopes the new translation published Tuesday (Aug. 31) by InterVarsity Press, “First Nations Version: An Indigenous Translation of the New Testament,” will help Christians and Indigenous peoples read it again in a fresh way. ‘The Great Spirit loves this world of human beings so deeply he gave us his Son — the only Son who fully represents him. All who trust in him and his way will not come to a bad end, but will have the life of the world to come that never fades away, full of beauty and harmony,’ reads the First Nations Version of the verse.”


Evangelical Church“I Won’t Kiss Evangelicalism Goodbye” – Trevin Wax at The Gospel Coalition: “To me, the most powerful moment so far in Mike Cosper’s podcast The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill comes near the end of Josh Harris’ deconversion story, when Ted Olsen, executive editor at Christianity Today, reflects on his disappointment and sadness in covering so many fallen leaders in recent years. ‘It hits you in the gut every time,’ he says. At one point, having seen more and more ugly truths come to light, Ted looked out over the evangelical landscape and asked: ‘Are there any Christians? Are there real Christians? Are there Christians who believe this stuff and act on it? Or are most people doing this just as a grift or because they’ve been grifted?’ As someone who, like Ted, has sometimes seen the underbelly of hypocrisy in the church, I have felt a similar sense of disappointment and disillusionment. But lately, that sentiment hasn’t been due only to the moral failure of leaders but also to the inability or unwillingness of many influential voices to recognize and pass on the riches of the evangelical heritage we’ve received.”


Marino_Last Word“The Why & the How: Approaching life’s horizon” – Gordon Marino in Commonweal: “‘If we have our own “why” in life, we shall get along with almost any “how.”‘ In his famous Holocaust survival memoir, Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl cites this quotation from Friedrich Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols. Frankl explains that he did not follow his fellow inmates who took their lives by running into the electric barbed-wire fences because he kept alive the hope of being reunited with his recent bride, Tilly. Unbeknownst to Frankl, there would be no reunion with his beloved. She, along with both of Frankl’s parents, was turned into smoke and ashes in the death camps. Elaborating on Nietzsche’s wisdom, Frankl writes: ‘A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the “why’ for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any “how.”‘ Take note of Frankl’s ‘almost.’ Now, in my own fifth act, I look back and shake my head in wonder at how I survived some of my travails, many of them self-inflicted and none of them on the order of what Frankl suffered. But he and Nietzsche were right: when you are slipping into the abyss, purpose is a life raft, one that I clutched.”


Music: Bruce Cockburn, “Pacing the Cage,” from The Charity of Night.

The Weekend Wanderer: 3 August 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.

Last week I was on vacation with my family, so I took a break from pulling together the weekend wanderer. We enjoyed a circle tour around Lake Superior, starting with the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, then into Ontario in Canada, and concluding with a stops in Minnesota and northern Wisconsin. It was a beautiful journey in God’s creation with those I love the most. Here are a few photos, although I could share even more.

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Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan.
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Upper Falls on the Pigeon River at the border of Ontario and Minnesota.
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Mist over Lake Superior at Grand Portage, MN.

Okay, back to this weekend’s collection for “The Weekend Wanderer.”

Joshua Harris“Questioning Faith After Purity Culture: In Conversation with Joshua Harris” – For those who grew up in evangelicalism, particularly conservative evangelicalism, Joshua Harris was a household name. This was largely due to the popularity of his book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, which advocated courtship and became a big hit in the purity movement. For those on the outside, like me, much of Harris’ material seemed laughable and worth ignoring. Others, who grew up within the purity movement, have found some aspects of it painful and confusing.  So it was rather big news recently when Harris, who had already stepped away from pastoral ministry and distanced himself from his previous work, announced not only that he was separating from his wife but that he had also left the faith. That is, he was no longer a Christian, or was, at least, going through a deconstruction of faith that would, according to him, hardly be characterized as Christianity. Two very different reads on this come from Katelyn Beaty at Religion News Service (“Joshua Harris and the sexual prosperity gospel”) and Al Mohler in The Briefing (“The Tragedy of Joshua Harris: Sobering Thoughts for Evangelicals”).

 

kissing christianity goodbye“Kissing Christianity Goodbye” – While this article by Carl Trueman jumps off from the previous news about Joshua Harris, it is really something broader than that. Noticing the tendencies within the group known (or formerly known) as “the Young, Restless and Reformed,” Trueman critiques modern evangelicalism, calling everyone to account for what is happening. If you’re not familiar with “the Young, Restless, and Reformed” group, it’s not a daytime soap opera, but a movement toward a somewhat simplistic Reformed theology within evangelicalism in the early 2000s and sometimes called “the New Calvinists.” Collin Hansen’s 2006 article at Christianity Today provides a good summary, and was eventually turned into a full-length book. Trueman’s article at First Things deserves a read or two.

 

Screen Shot 2019-08-01 at 3.03.39 PM“The Village Church sued for more than $1 million over alleged abuse at church camp” – I was so saddened to hear of this terrible situation at The Village Church, where Matt Chandler serves as Lead Pastor. “A young woman who was allegedly sexually assaulted by a youth minister at a church camp is suing the Village Church for more than $1 million for gross negligence and the emotional distress the alleged abuse has caused her.”

 

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“Learning from a Legend: 2 life lessons we can learn from Gardner C. Taylor” – In an inspiring article drawn from his book on Gardner C. TaylorJared Alcántara highlights two traits of this outstanding preacher that today’s preachers would do well to emulate: caring more about faithfulness than success and emphasizing the greatness of the Gospel more than the greatness of the preacher. As quickly as that and I’ve added Alcántara’s book to my reading list.

 

Rob Moll

“Remembering Rob Moll” – Those familiar with Christian journalism and writing may know the name Rob Moll from his books, articles, or presence for several years at Christianity Today. It was terrible to hear of his untimely death while hiking at Mount Rainier. Here is Ted Olsen, a longtime colleague and friend, writing about Moll: “For years, Rob thought a lot about death. He volunteered as a hospice chaplain and took a part-time job at a funeral home even before he decided to write his first book, The Art of Dying. Why, I wondered, was such a young guy so interested in learning how to die well? Isn’t that something to think about after midlife? Few healthy and athletic 41-year-olds are as prepared for their death as Rob was.” You can read a selection of his articles after Olsen’s remembrance, including his poignant reflection on the writing of Albert Camus, “Saved by an Atheist.”

 

Music: Harrod and Funck, “Walk into the Wild” from the self-titled album.

[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.]