The Weekend Wanderer: 26 February 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 the articles


274810155_245611617777589_5201497153106588650_n-750x375“Ecumenical Patriarch condemned unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine” – Orthodox Times: “Shocked by the invasion of the armed forces of the Russian Federation in the territory of the Republic of Ukraine [on Thursday], the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew telephoned Metropolitan Epifaniy of Ukraine, expressing his deep sorrow at this blatant violation of any notion of international legitimacy, as well as his support to the fighting Ukrainian people and to the families of innocent victims. The Ecumenical Patriarch condemned this unprovoked attack by Russia against Ukraine, an independent and sovereign state of Europe, as well as the violation of human rights and the brutal violence against our fellow humans and, above all, against civilians. He prayed to the God of love and peace to enlighten the leadership of the Russian Federation, in order to understand the tragic consequences of its decisions and actions, which can be the trigger for even a world war.”


Ukraine war“To Stay and Serve: Why We Didn’t Flee Ukraine” – Vasyl Ostryi from Ukraine at The Gospel Coalition: “In recent days, the events from the book of Esther have become real to us in Ukraine. It’s as if the decree is signed, and Haman has the license to destroy an entire nation. The gallows are ready. Ukraine is simply waiting. Can you imagine the mood in a society when gradually, day after day for months, the world’s media has been saying that war is inevitable? That much blood will be shed? In recent weeks, nearly all the missionaries have been told to leave Ukraine. Western nations evacuated their embassies and citizens. Traffic in the capital of Kyiv is disappearing. Where did the people go? Oligarchs, businessmen, and those who can afford it are leaving, saving their families from potential war. Should we do the same?”


man-at-work-unhappy“Reconnecting Worship and Work” – Matthew Kaemingk in Comment: “They feel it in their bones. Most Christian workers living in the modern West experience a deep chasm between their Sunday worship and their Monday work. Their daily labors in the world and their Sunday liturgies in the sanctuary feel as if they are a million miles apart.
Most pastors and worship leaders sincerely hope that Sunday morning worship meaningfully connects with Monday morning work. But are their hopes realized? Walking into the sanctuary, many workers feel as if they’re visiting another country, a ‘sacred’ world quite detached from a world of work that they call ‘secular.’ Some workers have resigned themselves to this growing chasm between work and worship. Some even appreciate it. They’re grateful for a Sunday escape from work, a chance to forget the weekly pressures and pains of their careers – even if just for a moment. In the sanctuary they’ve found a spiritual haven, an oasis far from the cares of troublesome bosses, deadlines, and reports. Other workers are deeply bothered by the divorce between their worship and work: they’re haunted by a gnawing sense that the sanctuary is increasingly irrelevant to their daily lives in the world – incapable of speaking to the vocational struggles, questions, and issues they face in the workplace. The chasm eats at them. They long for things to connect.”


madaba_map_Jerusalem“Madaba: The World’s Oldest Holy Land Map” – Nathan Steinmeyer at Bible History Daily: “In 1884, the local community in Madaba, Jordan, made an incredible discovery, the oldest Holy Land map in the world. The now-famous Madaba Map, however, is not found on a piece of paper but rather is part of an intricately designed mosaic floor, now part of the Church of St. George. The map was constructed in the second half of the sixth century C.E. and originally depicted the entire Holy Land and neighboring regions. Although older maps have been discovered, the Madaba Map is by far the oldest Holy Land map. It is not the map’s age that makes it remarkable, however, but rather its extreme accuracy and detail. The preserved portions of the map depict much of the biblical world, with the Jordan River and the Dead Sea in the center of the floor. The Holy Land map stretches from the area of modern Lebanon in the north to Egypt’s Nile Delta in the south, with the Mediterranean Sea as its western border and the Jordan desert as its eastern border. Using at least eight different colors, the Madaba Map portrays the cities, landscapes, flora, and fauna of the region.”


21farmer-haiti2-superJumbo.jpg“Paul Farmer, Pioneer of Global Health, Dies at 62” – Obituary in The New York Times: “Paul Farmer, a physician, anthropologist and humanitarian who gained global acclaim for his work delivering high-quality health care to some of the world’s poorest people, died on Monday on the grounds of a hospital and university he had helped establish in Butaro, Rwanda. He was 62. Partners in Health, the global public health organization that Dr. Farmer helped found, announced his death in a statement that did not specify the cause. Dr. Farmer attracted public renown with Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World, a 2003 book by Tracy Kidder that described the extraordinary efforts he would make to care for patients, sometimes walking hours to their homes to ensure they were taking their medication. He was a practitioner of ‘social medicine,’ arguing there was no point in treating patients for diseases only to send them back into the desperate circumstances that contributed to them in the first place. Illness, he said, has social roots and must be addressed through social structures.”


OnBeing_JohnODonohue_Social_1200x628_FBTWWEB_EpArtwork-768x402“John O’Donohue – The Inner Landscape of Beauty” – Krista Tippett interviews John O’Donohue at On Being before his death in 2008: “No conversation we’ve ever done has been more beloved than this one. The Irish poet, theologian, and philosopher insisted on beauty as a human calling. He had a very Celtic, lifelong fascination with the inner landscape of our lives and with what he called “the invisible world” that is constantly intertwining what we can know and see. This was one of the last interviews he gave before his unexpected death in 2008. But John O’Donohue’s voice and writings continue to bring ancient mystical wisdom to modern confusions and longings.”


John Perkins change“Why John Perkins Didn’t Want More White Christians like Jonathan Edwards” – Daniel Silliman in Christianity Today: “John Perkins stood up at a planning meeting for a Billy Graham crusade in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1975. The Black pastor and civil rights activist was invited to the meeting, along with a group of African American clergy from the area, because Graham himself had insisted the evangelistic event would be desegregated. Black and white Mississippians would hear the gospel together. Perkins loved Graham and his powerful gospel message, and he was excited to hear that the world’s leading evangelist was taking practical steps to end segregation in the church. So he went to the Holiday Inn in Jackson and sat down on the Black side of the conference room, with all the Black pastors, and looked over at the white side, with all the white pastors. Then he stood up. He asked the white pastors whether their churches were committed to accepting new converts from the crusade into their congregations if the born-again brothers and sisters were Black. He didn’t think they were ready for that in Mississippi. And if they weren’t ready, he didn’t know whether he was either. ‘I don’t know whether or not I want to participate,’ Perkins said, ‘in making the same kind of white Christians that we’ve had in the past.'”


Music: Gene Eugene, “Marvelous Light,” from City on a Hill

The Weekend Wanderer: 5 September 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.


Chadwick Boseman“Chadwick Boseman: Man of faith in real life, ‘Black Panther’ on screen” – This past week brought news of Chadwick Boseman’s passing after a four-year battle with colon cancer. Boseman, best known for his portrayal of the title character of Marvel’s Black Panther, also portrayed Jackie Robinson and Thurgood Marshall in feature films. “From the impression he left on a pastor of his youth to his own words at the 2018 commencement of Howard University, his alma mater, Boseman demonstrated a Christian life that included service, overcoming stereotypes and a desire to depict strong characters.”


Elon Musk Neuralink pig“Human Interests and Technological Systems” – What happens when human life serves technology more than technology serves human life? L. M. Sacasas critiques a recent display of apparent technological ingenuity by Elon Musk to raise significant questions about human life and technology. “Who is being plugged in to what? Or, to put it another way, who is the dominant partner, the computer or the brain? Are we plugging into a system that will serve our ends, or are we being better fitted to serve the interests of the technological system.”


Congregation at church praying

“1 in 5 churches facing permanent closure within 18 months due to COVID-19 shutdowns: Barna president” – Many churches have been detrimentally impacted by COVID-19, whether in the loss of church members, the inability to meet in person, or financial difficulties. In an interview with NPR, David Kinnaman, President of the Barna Group, predicts that 1 in 5 churches could face permanent closure in the next year and a half because of shutdowns related to COVID-19.


vocation“Vocation in a Time of Precedented Uncertainty” – Here’s Noah Toly speaking about vocation in Comment:  “Even if ‘unprecedented’ is overused, the novel coronavirus, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the containment and mitigation measures put in place to check the spread of the disease have been extraordinarily disruptive, destroying lives, upending livelihoods, and clouding the future with uncertainty. Among the many casualties of these current risks and future uncertainties is sure-footed conviction about our vocations. Why would we continue to invest time and attention in the same things that captured our imaginations before the pandemic? Where does our work fit into questions about the future of the global economy, the possibility of environmental integrity, the pace of scientific discovery, or the scale of global charitable giving?


iran“Researchers Find Christians in Iran Approaching 1 Million” – While not the first to report the news of the growth of Christianity in Iran, what is perhaps most interesting is that this latest research about the growth of christianity in Iran is from a non-faith-based perspective. With government statistics showing the traditional Armenian and Assyrian Christians in Iran number 117,700, ” a new survey of 50,000 Iranians—90 percent residing in Iran—by GAMAAN, a Netherlands-based research group, 1.5 percent identified as Christian.” This data extrapolates out to over 750,000 people in the total population of Iran.


Music: Max Richter, “Mercy,” from Voices.

[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.]

Following the Spirit and not our Feelings: Evelyn Underhill on Calling and Desire

Evelyn UnderhillJust a few days ago, I came across this extended quotation from Evelyn Underhill from her fine little book, The Spiritual Life. Underhill speaks to the interface of our calling and our desires, and the challenge our feelings can bring to truly following God’s call upon us. I had originally read these words about three years ago while on sabbatical, but reading them again was incredibly helpful for me. I hope you benefit from her words as well, regardless of where God has you stationed right now.

So those who imagine that they are called to contemplation because they are attracted by contemplation, when the common duties of existence steadily block this path, do well to realise that our own feelings and preferences are very poor guides when it comes to the robust realities and stern demands of the Spirit.

St. Paul did not want to be an apostle to the Gentiles. He wanted to be a clever and appreciated young Jewish scholar, and kicked against the pricks. St. Ambrose and St. Augustine did not want to be overworked and worried bishops. Nothing was farther from their intention. St. Cuthbert wanted the solitude and freedom of his hermitage on the Farne, but he did not often get there. St. Francis Xavier’s preference was for an ordered life close to his beloved master, St. Ignatius. At a few hours’ notice he was sent out to be the Apostle of the Indies and never returned to Europe again. Henry Martyn, the fragile and exquisite scholar, was compelled to sacrifice the intellectual life to which he was so perfectly fitted for the missionary life to which he was decisively called. In all of these, a power beyond themselves decided the direction of life. Yet in all we recognise not frustration, but the highest of all types of achievement. Things like this – and they are constantly happening – gradually convince us that the over-ruling reality of life is the Will and Choice of a Spirit acting not in a mechanical but in a living and personal way; and that the spiritual life does not consist in mere individual betterment, or assiduous attention to one’s own soul, but in a free and unconditional response to that Spirit’s pressure and call, whatever the cost may be.

[Evelyn Underhill, The Spiritual Life (Atlanta: Ariel Press, 1937, reprint 2000), 23-25.]

The Weekend Wanderer: 23 November 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.

PastorJayandDerrick“A Tale of Two Churches” – I heard about this story from someone who described it as the most powerful story about Christianity so far this year. I wasn’t sure what that meant until I read this piece about two churches that merged together in the midst of great conflict. It is most definitely worth a read, and particularly moving, especially in our divided days.

 

Kidd - Who Is an Evangelical“‘Who Is An Evangelical?’ Looks At History Of Evangelical Christians And The GOP” – I was driving in the car the other day when I caught this piece on NPR on the nature of evangelicalism. I didn’t know who the interviewee was until the end of the piece when NPR’s Audie Cornish thanked Thomas Kidd, professor of history at Baylor University and author of the recent book Who Is an Evangelical?: The History of a Movement in Crisis. Kidd offers a balanced and insightful approach to what is often a simplistic political trope but is really much more diverse and complicated than often thought. You can read a review of his book here.

 

5944.large“How Garbage Collectors Can Refresh Our Theology” – Here’s Gustavo H. R. Santos at Comment helping us reframe vocation: “Our churches are full of both professionals and working-class labourers, so if we want to teach about work from a biblical perspective as part of our discipleship, we need a theology infused with a broader paradigm of labour. The experience of millions from the working class teaches us that being who Christ calls us to be doesn’t depend on the job we have. They remind us that we can’t control our circumstances and that faithfulness is more important than performance. So the question becomes, Are we willing to listen to what their lives are telling us? The ancient story of Ruth the Moabite might help improve our hearing.”

 

113985“Pastors & Burnout: A Personal Reflection” – Every pastor, as well as many others in serving professions, deal with the dangers of burnout. I have, and I have talked to many other pastors who have as well. Scott Nichols offers his perspective as a pastor who has served for over thirty years in three different churches. I appreciate the practicality of Nichols’ list, including things like staying active and cultivating friendships, because, in my experience, pastors have a tendency to over-spiritualize their burnout.  One of the areas I wish he would have addressed was the darker motivations that potentially lead us as pastors toward burnout, but this article is still worth the read.

 

Richard-Mouw-Missiology-Lecture“A ‘Middle Way’: Lessons for Faithfulness in the Public Square” – It is difficult to ignore all the noise in the political world these days, and it can leave us either wanting to retreat entirely or to becoming so sucked into it that little else receives attention. What does it mean as Christians to engage in the public square? Well, right on time, Richard Mouw, former President of Fuller Seminary, offers a suggestion about a “middle way” on this.

 

Screen Shot 2019-11-22 at 12.28.19 PM“Vexed and Troubled Englishmen: How should we remember the Puritans?” – The name “puritan” has received such a bad name in recent days, largely because of misunderstandings of what the name means and what the original intent of the Puritans as a group truly was. Andrew Delbanco reviews Daniel T. Rodger’s book, As a City on a Hill: The Story of America’s Most Famous Lay Sermon, which focuses on John Winthrop’s speech “A Model of Christian Charity.” “Rodgers’s book is not only a close reading of the reception and history of Winthrop’s speech but also a rescue operation for Puritanism itself.”

 

Music: DJ Shadow featuring Nils Frahm, “Scars,” from Ghost in the Shell (Music Inspired By the Motion Picture)

[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.]

Glory in the Ordinary

Red_vineyardsThere is a beautifully striking painting by Vincent van Gogh entitled “The Red Vineyard.” This painting was the only official purchase of a van Gogh painting within the artist’s lifetime. Building on the work of Millet before him, van Gogh paints a group of common peasants working diligently in the vineyard, bathed in the warm light of the setting sun. The scene is both commonplace and lofty, everyday and exalted: ordinary people doing their ordinary work, yet splashed with the sun’s glory as they do it.

Surely, this is a picture of how we work with God in our everyday venues of work: ordinary people doing their ordinary work, yet splashed with the glory of Christ as we do our work as unto the Lord (Col 3:22-24).