The Weekend Wanderer: 1 May 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.


“Died: C. René Padilla, Father of Integral Mission” – Here is David C. Kirkpatrick at Christianity Today remembering a leading missiologist of the last century: “C. René Padilla, theologian, pastor, publisher, and longtime staff member with the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students, died Tuesday, April 27, at the age of 88. Padilla was best known as the father of integral mission, a theological framework that has been adopted by over 500 Christian missions and relief organizations, including Compassion International and World Vision. Integral mission pushed evangelicals around the world to widen their Christian mission, arguing that social action and evangelism were essential and indivisible components—in Padilla’s words, ‘two wings of a plane.'” You may also appreciate the further article: “Leaders and Friends Remember C. René Padilla.”


“Despite multiracial congregation boom, some Black congregants report prejudice” – Adelle M. Banks at Religion News Service reporting on a recent study by Barna and the Racial Justice and Unity Center: “Most practicing Christians believe the church can enhance race relations in this country by welcoming people of all races and ethnicities, new research finds. But 29% of Black practicing Christians say they have experienced racial prejudice in multiracial congregations, compared to about a tenth who report such an experience in monoracial Black churches. And a third of Black Christians say it is hard to gain leadership positions in a multiracial congregation. The new report, released Wednesday (April 28) by Barna Group and the Racial Justice and Unity Center, examines the views of what researchers call ‘practicing Christians,’ people who self-identify as Christians, say their faith is very important to them and say they attended worship in the past month.”


“How Quebec went from one of the most religious societies to one of the least”– Church historian Philip Jenkins in The Christian Century: “Religious Americans sometimes look nervously at the rapid secularization of European nations and wonder if something similar could happen to them. The last decade has witnessed a notable drift to the secular in the United States, measured for instance by the substantial rise in nones, those who reject any religious affiliation. Meanwhile, the current pandemic will assuredly have wide-ranging effects on institutions of all kinds. But we don’t have to look as far away as Europe for an example of a quite sudden and irrevocable decline of religious faith and practice and the general re­placement of old congregations by new populations. To see just how speedily an old religious order can collapse, look no further than the Canadian province of Quebec.”


pastors read“Why Pastors Should Read Literature” –  Karen Swallow Prior at The Center for Pastor Theologians: “It’s always seemed strange to me that reading good literary works—poetry, drama, short stories, novels—is something that needs defending, particularly among Christians. After all, most people seem to understand (even if we don’t make time to do it often) why we visit art galleries, attend symphonies, and go to plays….But the truth is that we are made of words, by words, and for words. Immersing ourselves in beautiful words (even if only for a few precious minutes most or a few days) is like getting a burst of oxygen in air-deprived lungs. Most of us live and work in polluted environments. We are surrounded by words of anguish, anger, anxiety, and—most of all—efficiency. Literary language, on the other hand, is evocative, rich, resonant, and inviting.”


“A Law of Deceleration: How I dumped the internet and learned to love technology again”  – Paul McDonnold at Plough: “The monster had taken over my work life, home life, and many of the spaces in between. My one-time enchantment was now disgust, and in 2019 I decided to disconnect, or at least pull way back. As much as possible, I began reading and writing with paper and pen instead of pixels. I dropped my home broadband service. My only personal internet came from a smartphone, which had a 3-gigabyte monthly limit. Beyond that, I used public wi-fi at the library. Email became a once-a-day thing, and I stopped scanning Google News. I let my Facebook page languish for weeks, then months. Then I deleted it. My life decelerated, and time seemed to expand. I was able to do more, read more, and think more. And I felt better. But with so many people still paying near-constant obeisance to digital screens, I also began to feel like I was in a science fiction movie – the only human who had snapped out of the monster’s malevolent hypnosis. Then Covid-19 hit, and I had to make some concessions to the monster.”


friendship“Friendship is a place of sacrifice—and sanctification” – Eve Tushnet at America reviews a recent book on friendship: “There is a way of praising friendships that unintentionally undermines them. We often picture friendship as our refuge—romantic relationships bring drama, work brings hassle, family is chaos, but with friends you can relax. You’re understood. Friendship is ‘The Golden Girls,’ where every tiny comic tiff is resolved by the end of the half-hour. Friendship is sweet because friendship is easy. Friendship is safe, because friendship is too small to really hurt you. This is not the only Christian model for friendship. It isn’t even the most obvious Christian model. The greatest friendships in the Bible are sites of sacrifice. Jonathan, having made a covenant of friendship with David, gladly sacrifices personal safety, his relationship with his father and the kingship. Jesus identifies friendship with discipleship and with his own sacrifice for us on the cross, in Jn 15:13-15 (of course it’s in John, the Gospel of the “beloved disciple”): ‘No one has greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.’ That model, in which friendship can be the site of our sanctification because it is a site of sacrifice, animates much of St. Aelred’s dialogues, Spiritual Friendship.”


Music: U2, “The Troubles,” Songs of Innocence

The Weekend Wanderer: 7 March 2020

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.

masked girl to protect herself from wuhan virus in public area“Is Your Church Ready for the Coronavirus?” – Like other pastors, I am working with my staff to make sure that our church is ready for what may come our way with COVID-19. In the midst of famous religious figures being quarantined as a result of travels outside the US, fringe religious sects being blamed for outbreaks of the virus in South Korea, and changes in methods of serving communion in Italy, it is important to come back to basics of being informed by the CDC and WHO about the actual situation with this epidemic. Beyond that, I found this article by Jamie Aten, Director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute (HDI) at Wheaton College (IL), really helpful in providing a few simple things churches can do now to help prepare for any potential public health crisis.


1918 influenza“The Coronavirus Is No 1918 Pandemic” – On the other hand, here is Jeremy Brown, Director of the Office of Emergency Care Research, National Institutes of Health: “We have just commemorated the centenary of the Great Flu Pandemic of 1918, which lasted only a few months but claimed 50 million to 100 million lives worldwide, including 675,000 in the United States. That pandemic remains a benchmark, and many commentators have rushed to compare it to the current coronavirus outbreak. What’s most striking about these comparisons, though, is not the similarities between the two episodes, but the distance that medicine has traveled in the intervening century. Whatever happens next, it won’t be a second 1918.”


115085“What Martin Luther Teaches Us About Coronavirus” – In light of all of this, it’s always helpful to remember who we are as the church, sometimes by getting in touch with those from an earlier time who faced major public health challenges. “In 1527, less than 200 years after the Black Death killed about half the population of Europe, the plague re-emerged in Luther’s own town of Wittenberg and neighboring cities. In his letter ‘Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague,’ the famous reformer weighs the responsibilities of ordinary citizens during contagion. His advice serves as a practical guide for Christians confronting infectious disease outbreaks today.”


Screen-Shot-2020-01-22-at-10.49.12-PM“Stepping Toward the Future”Vince Bacote, who will be joining us at Eastbrook Church on April 27 as part of our “Faith and Politics” series, concludes a series of posts related to his lectures at the Theopolis Institute on the Church and Race.  “God’s work within the church is not the neat trajectory of transformation that we prefer, but the Spirit is at work leading God’s people to:

  1. be those who look at the truth about ourselves and the world,
  2. be those who patiently engage each other and pursue mutual understanding,
  3. be those who work with imperfect concepts while learning how to pursue mission together across ethnic differences,
  4. be those who are relentless in confessing and conveying our hope that God’s kingdom and heavenly city is on the way.”

hiddenlife4“Patience: Terrence Malick’s A Hidden Life – Like most of us, I enjoy watching a good movie. But there is a significant distance between the sort of basic ‘good movie’ and a good, or even great, film. One of the great filmmakers of our era is Terrence Malick, whose limited work has several times reached greatness. Some of his more recent films, particularly since The Tree of Life, have involved religious and even Christian themes. In The Point, Alan Jacobs offers insights into his early viewing of and meaningful response to Malick’s most recent film, A Hidden Life.


biker-church-4-002--650a7ee07f76ec3f7ce36b5bb2aba79c80244736-s1500-c85“Bikers Get A Bad Rep, So They Started A Church Where They Feel Welcome” – Here’s a sentence I never thought I would write. Now, let’s look at an article from NPR about a biker church that has sprung up in Bangor, Maine, to help reach those in that subgroup who are struggling to find community in Christ. “Our mission-vision behind that, originally, was to have 10,000 bikers in the Bible every week. And God said, ‘Well, that’s great. We can do that.’ But we’ve far exceeded any of those numbers. I can’t even tell you what they are today. But we are in New Zealand now. We’re in Africa. We’re in Canada. We’re all over.”


Music: U2, “Yahweh/40,” from Vertigo Tour Live in Chicago

[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: 2 June 2018

The “Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly post in which I gather a smattering of news, stories, resources, and other media you could explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like.

82255“Despite Disappointing Some, New Mark Manuscript Is Earliest Yet” – “On the basis of the handwriting, Obbink and Colomo estimate that the manuscript was written in the range of A.D. 150–250. The manuscript itself is tiny, only 4.4 x 4 cm. It contains a few letters on each side from verses 7–9 and 16–18 of Mark 1. Lines of writing preserved on each side indicate that this fragment comes from the bottom of the first written page of a codex—a book rather than a scroll.”

 

4556657462_3a6ca1b8a0_b-1-375x250.jpgMiles Smith’s article “Evangelical Indifference to the Immigrant in Historical Perspective” is an important read in the current immigration debate. Smith brings much-needed context on the issues of separation of children from their families and why “even pro-slavery Christians in the slaveholding South took separating children from their parents seriously enough to publicly and regularly denounce the practice, in print and vocally in their churches.” The separation of children from parents at our borders is something we must not avoid speaking about. (Thanks to Alan Jacobs for sharing this article.)

 

EDN_U2_2018_01-1480x986“The artists pushing modern stage design forward” – Over at Radio Milwaukee,Joey Grihalva chronicles how stage design in modern concerts is pushing the envelope of what’s often called the fourth wall in performance experiences. “From Es Devlin and Willie Williams’ cutting-edge production for U2’s new arena tour, to the complex choreography that David Byrne brought to the Riverside Theater, to the immersive elements of the Eaux Claires festival, to the hand-painted installations of local creative Kristina Rolander, modern stage designers are deepening the connections between musicians and fans through innovative artistry.”

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The Weekend Wanderer: 12 May 2018

Every week I read a lot of different material, so I thought it might be worth sharing those things with others in a weekly post. So begins the “Weekend Wanderer,” a weekly post in which I gather a smattering of news, stories, resources, and other media you could explore through your weekend. It may not be organized too well, but such is the definition of wandering that you could walk through these posts however you like in any order you like.

andy-stanley.jpg“Christians Must ‘Unhitch’ Old Testament From Their Faith, Says Andy Stanley” – We’re all still wondering just exactly what Andy Stanley means by this and whether he’s just trying to be more sensitive to those outside the church or whether he really has become the Marcion of 21st century America.

 

webRNS-West-Bank-Evangelical-1-050918“Evangelicals find like-minded Christians in unlikely place: Palestinian West Bank” – I have a number of friends, both Palestinians and ex-pats, who live in the city of Beit Sahour mentioned in this article. My heart goes out to Palestinian Christians who often find themselves caught not only in the middle of Jewish-Palestinian tensions in the Holy Land, but also caught in the no-man’s land between radical Islam and western evangelical Zionism.

 

Childish Gambino“Why Childish Gambino’s ‘This Is America’ Is a Prophetic Message We Can’t Ignore”Andre Henry, managing editor at Relevant Magazine, calls Christians to pay close attention to Childish Gambino’s recent video for “This Is America.” The video is edgy but addresses much of the racial tension currently at play in our nation with a critical artistry that has caught attention around the world. “Perhaps a hard look into some type of societal mirror can be the beginning of imagining a better society. Perhaps in the offense of the prophetic artists, preachers, activists, and leaders among us, God is speaking. ‘This is America’ invites us to at least do the former.”

 

Looking Before and After“A Brief Comment on Stories” – In which Alan Jacobs writes: “There’s a lot of sentimental and just plain dopey talk about ‘story’ these days. Tell me your story.’ ‘Everyone has a story.’ Yuck. But the remedy for this problem, for Christians anyway, is not to eschew storytelling but to tell better stories – tell stories that are connected to the Great Narrative of salvation history.” Read the rest here and take a look at his book on the matter, Looking Before and After: Testimony and the Christian Life.

 

Korean prisoners“North Korea Frees American Christians” – In a somewhat surprising turn of events, North Korea freed three Christian prisoners ahead of a planned summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jung-un. North Korea has a long history of collecting prisoners to use in political bargaining, but this should not undermine the significance of this move for these men and their families.

 

Paige Patterson“The Scandal Tearing Apart America’s Largest Denomination” – Paige Patterson, the embattled President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, a flagship seminary for the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), has been accused of counseling women in abusive marriages to stay in their marriages as an act of submission. A petition has been launched with thousands of SBC women signing already.

 

Screen Shot 2018-05-11 at 7.33.54 AM“The Young Turks Rejecting Islam” – A few years ago, some dear friends of mine who are Egyptian pastors told me that the biggest rise in religious transition in Egypt was conversion from Islam to atheism. They credited this change with an oppressive form of Islam that had become rampant in Egypt at that time. It seems a similar transition is impacting Turkey.

 

Why Turkey is Accusing an American Pastor of Terrorism“Why Turkey Is Accusing an American Pastor of Terrorism” – While we’re on the subject of Turkey, you might enjoy finding out a little more background on the case of Pastor Andrew Brunson, an American pastor, who has been imprisoned without a full trial in Turkey because of unfounded allegations of links to terrorism.

 

U2“How U2 Betrayed Rock ‘n’ Roll” – In First Things, John Waters reacts to U2’s casual support of the pro-abortion move to repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution. Tracing the history of the band’s love/hate relationship with popular rock culture and their on-again/off-again Christian faith, Waters feels more than disappointed with this move by the iconic band.  I can’t help but remember the powerful video series with Bono and Eugene Peterson that came out two years ago at this time while reading 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.]

Martin Luther King, Jr., and Pride (In the Name of Love)

As we remember a real legend of our own nation today, here is a moving rendition of U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love)” covered by John Legend. This was recorded for a History Channel special on Martin Luther King, Jr. entitled King. Find out more about the show here.

It’s hard not to be moved by the final words of the video, showing MLK saying the following:

If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. But by all means, keep moving.