click on a date to see all the day's entries
About TitusOneNineOld Titusonenine site (Jan04-May07)
Kendall's e-mail (replace -at- with @)
"Elves" e-mail (blog admin)
A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
Blog Tips & Info
Info to help you learn your way around the new blog, and posts where you can report problems or offer suggestionsMobile-friendly view (blog headlines): Click Here
Print-friendly view of all articles: Click Here
Recent Comments Page:
Registration & Login Help
Blog Tips Series
The above list is limited to "parent" categories. To see the entire category index and select specific sub-categories, click on "Full Category Index"
Full Category Index
Anglican / Episcopal RSS Feed
©2013 Kendall S. Harmon. All rights reserved.
TitusOneNine Links Page
I. Anglican / Episcopal Resources & Links
1. Important Documents
documents are in chronological order, most recent first
Also, don't miss:
2. Websites & Blogs
A. Official websites
B. Anglican / Episcopal News
C. Anglican / Episcopal Blogs
By no means exhaustive. Let us know what we've missed
Previous versions of Titusonenine:
NORTH AMERICAN ANGLICANS:
INTERNATIONAL ANGLICAN BLOGS & BLOGGERS
BLOGGING BISHOPS (US & Overseas)
II. General Resources & Links
YET more links coming soon...! including Non-Anglican links
First, beyond naming winners in our ten regular categories, we've christened from among those winners our first-ever CT Book of the Year: God's Forever Family, Larry Eskridge's history of the Jesus People movement. Now, this is no exact science. And really, we wouldn't have gone wrong laying the extra laurel atop any of the competitors, or a dozen other books besides. You may have your own favorite to recommend. But we can't see any harm in generating buzz—or provoking debate—around a book our judges praised for its originality, meticulous research, and colorful character sketches.
Second, speaking of those judges, we've lifted the veil of anonymity from their comments on the winning books. Our judges—best-selling authors, experts in their fields, and simply thoughtful people—have strained their eyes and brains reading and evaluating a thousand or more pages. They deserve to have their labors recognized. And you deserve to have your curiosity satiated.
And third, we've introduced a new awards category targeted at readers of Her.meneutics, CT's popular women's blog.
Read it all.
Held’s new book, Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence, requires focused attention; it is an academic work with scores of footnotes. But it is also for the general reader who wants to know what exactly Heschel is trying to say in the sometimes repetitive maze of his beautiful utterances. What does Heschel mean when he insists, over and over again, that “God is in need of man?” What kind of reminder or awakening is Heschel proposing when he tells us, “We do not have to discover the world of faith, we only have to recover it. It is not terra incognita, an unknown land; it is a forgotten land.”
Held explains, patiently and clearly. He places Heschel’s thought against the background of other Jewish texts and thinkers from Maimonides to the Kotzker Rebbe, but also explains him in relationship to the Christian thought of his time: Merton, Underhill, Barth, Brunner, and others. How does a Jewish thinker differ from his Christian contemporaries, with whom he was close? (Heschel delivered a eulogy at the funeral of his friend, the great Christian thinker Reinhold Niebuhr).
Held’s emphasis is not on Heschel’s life but on his thought. How does he use the idea of ‘hester panim,’ the concealment of God, to show God’s presence?
Read it all.
Less than five percent of current world languages are in use online, according to a recent study by prominent linguist András Kornai -- and the Internet may be helping the other 95 percent to their graves.
Those startling conclusions come from a paper published in the journal PLOSOne in October titled, appropriately, “Digital Language Death.” The study sought to answer a question that’s both inherently fascinating and little-discussed: How many languages exist online? (And, on the flip side, how many don’t?)
For reference, at least 7,776 languages are in use in the greater offline world. To measure how many of those are also in use on the Internet, Kornai designed a program to crawl top-level Web domains and catalog the number of words in each language. He also analyzed Wikipedia pages, a key marker of a language’s digital vibrancy, as well as language options for things like operating systems and spell-checkers.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Books Globalization History Poetry & Literature Science & Technology * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Stations of the Heart: Parting with a Son, by Richard Lischer. Lischer, a theologian at Duke Divinity School, acknowledges that “a father has no business writing a book about his son’s death.” But as the review in the Century noted, this honest but disciplined narrative “looks beyond one man’s death to the death we all will face” and manages to be “personal without self-absorption, profoundly emotional without sentimentality.” It is a moving testimony to a father’s love and to Adam Lischer’s life, and especially to Adam’s way of meeting death at the age of 33, supported by the prayers and rituals of the church—which is a memorable witness for every reader.
Read it all.
...it is also important to recognise how much the themes of the Narnia books are interwoven with what he was thinking and writing in other contexts around the same time, and with material he had already published in the 1940s — as well as the fact that the first seeds of the actual Narnia narrative seem to have been sown as early as 1939. For example: his 1946 book, The Great Divorce, foreshadows many of the ideas in the Narnia stories — most particularly a theme that Lewis insists on more and more as his work develops, the impossibility of forcing any person to accept love and the monumental and excruciating difficulty of receiving love when you are wedded to a certain picture of yourself. It is this theme that emerges most clearly in his last (and greatest) imaginative work, the 1956 novel, Till We Have Faces. These issues are very much the issues that Lewis is trying to work out in a variety of imaginative idioms from the early 1940s onwards — the problems of self-deception above all, the lure of self-dramatising, the pain and challenge of encounter with divine truthfulness. What Narnia seeks to do, very ambitiously, is to translate these into terms that children can understand. And as to why Lewis decided to address such an audience, there is probably no very decisive answer except that he had a high view of children’s literature, a passion for myth and fantasy and a plain desire to communicate as widely as possible.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Books Children Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology
Some of the rarest and most fragile religious texts in the Vatican and Bodleian libraries, including ancient bibles and some of the oldest Hebrew manuscript and printed books, are being placed online in a joint project by the two great libraries, which will eventually create an online archive of 1.5m pages.
The website launched on Tuesday with funding from the Polonsky Foundation includes the first results of the four-year project, including the Bodleian's 1455 Gutenberg Bible, one of only 50 surviving copies of the first major book printed in the west with metal type.
The site will also host a growing collection of scholarly essays, and interviews with the Oxford and Vatican librarians, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who said the digitisation was of huge international significance.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Books Education History Religion & Culture Science & Technology * International News & Commentary England / UK Europe Italy
British novelist and essayist Francis Spufford’s spirited defense of the Christian religion is in some ways like eavesdropping on a missionary conversation with the pagans of antiquity.
“Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense” — is the latest attempt at an ancient literary form, the Christian apology, and it makes its appearance in the United States more than a year after it was published in England.
Spufford’s defense of Christianity is aimed primarily at what he calls “godless Europeans,” the post-Enlightenment elites who tend to regard religion with bemusement as a silly fairy tale, if not with open hostility as a dangerous superstition.
Read it all.
The evening after receiving [his editor's negative] verdict [on a submission he made], Mr. Hijuelos and his girlfriend at the time, Lori Carlson, sat together in their living room in Upper Manhattan, depression suffusing the air. Finally, Mr. Hijuelos told Ms. Carlson, “O.K., I’m really going to the heart of Christmas then.”
Mr. Hijuelos headed into his home office the next morning and started to work. Some of his writing days ended with his elbows bloody from hours of toiling at the desk. Ultimately, however, he produced what is surely one of the most fully achieved novels about religion, “Mr. Ives’ Christmas.”
It is, in distillate, the Book of Job transposed to Morningside Heights in the late 20th century. The title character, Edward Ives, is a commercial artist possessed of what he calls “a small, if imperfect, spiritual gift.” That gift finds expression in part through Mr. Ives’s son, Robert, who aspires to enter the priesthood.
Read it all.
At the end of...[the party], though, after most of the guests had gone home, my sister had gone to sleep after marathoning all then-7 of the Harry Potter films the night before and my folks were busy chatting with my aunt and uncle, I headed to the stack of my new books and, almost at random, chose one of the titles from my American Literature survey course: Mr. Ives’ Christmas by Oscar Hijuelos.
I read the book in most of 2 days, instantly captivated by the story of a man, himself an orphan, trying to put his life back together after the murder of his aspiring priest son, and thinking back over the story of his own life as a honorary member of New York’s Cuban community of the 40s and ’50s, despite not really being Cuban himself; a simple story, Hijuelos captured it in poetic, delicate writing that painting broad, vibrant brushstrokes in your head.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Books Poetry & Literature Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Caribbean Cuba
Perhaps the significance of Kennedy is ultimately found in his tragic and untimely death and that is why November 22 has been singled out in his memory, eclipsing Lewis' death. But it seems to me that Lewis' significance is found in his life and work. JFK's importance is found in what could have been had he lived (and perhaps a little too romanticized in the process), as well as the continued controversy generated by conspiracy theorists as to how many assassins were involved that day. But I think Lewis' importance is found in not what might have been, but in what he contributed prior to his death, challenging us to rethink our view of the world and the significance of a "mere Christianity" in which an orthodox understanding of Jesus was essential, while poking at that mere Jesus with some new and different questions.
November 22 seems to have been dedicated to JFK by default because of his untimely death. Lewis continues to be read and discussed and pondered in an ever-continuing stream of new books, in coffee shops and pubs and taverns and at conferences. The significance of Lewis' contribution cannot be limited to one day a year....
Lewis' death may get no attention, but his life and work cannot be eclipsed.
Read it all.
I’m a university professor. I have no tolerance for this kind of nonsense. I’ve failed students for less flagrant plagiarism. So, it’s my duty, as a member of my professing profession, to give Driscoll an “F.”
Mark Driscoll, you have failed.
I’ve dealt with a number of plagiarists, and it seems to me that plagiarism stems from two issues. I’ll let you decide which problem Driscoll suffers from, because there obviously is a problem.
1. Laziness. Writing is hard work, so some writers don’t want to do it right. Laziness also leads to procrastination. Getting behind schedule causes writers to cut corners and plagiarize.
2. Ignorance. I don’t mean ignorance of the conventions of proper citation. Everyone knows not to steal other people’s words. I mean ignorance of the topic.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Books Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
In The First Thanksgiving: What the Real Story Tells Us About Loving God and Learning from History, Robert Tracy McKenzie takes the historical challenges posed by the Pilgrims as his starting point. I cannot recall ever reading a book quite like The First Thanksgiving. It is an entertaining retelling of a seminal moment in American history—and a remarkable reflection on how Christians should handle history in general.
American evangelicals seem to have reached a crisis point over the study of history, especially the history of the American founding. For decades, many evangelicals have turned to popular history writers who have presented America, especially of the colonial and Revolutionary era, as a straightforwardly Christian nation. In response, a respected cohort of academic evangelical historians, led by Mark Noll and George Marsden (my doctoral advisor), have concurrently mapped out a more complex view of religion's importance in American history.
While those academic evangelicals at least implicitly disagreed with parts of the "Christian America" thesis, they have struggled to compete with the popular audience won by writers such as Peter Marshall and, most controversially, David Barton. Barton's recent book, The Jefferson Lies, which presented Thomas Jefferson as embracing relatively orthodox Christian views until late in life, unleashed an unprecedented torrent of evangelical and conservative criticism, precipitating the decision by Barton's publisher, Thomas Nelson, to pull the book from distribution in 2012.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Books History Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
A few months before C. S. Lewis died in 1963, he predicted to Walter Hooper, a young American friend, that sales of his books would decline rapidly after his death. Hooper countered: “No, they won’t. And you know why? Your books are too good, and people are not that stupid.”--From this past Saturday's London Times
Lewis was wrong. Hooper, who became Lewis’s biographer and editor, was right. In the 50 years since Lewis died — at the same hour that John F. Kennedy was assassinated — sales of his books have not only not declined, they have rocketed.
The Chronicles of Narnia sell about three million copies annually worldwide in more than 40 languages.
Aldous Huxley never attracted [the] kind of attention [that C.S. Lewis did]. And yet there are good reasons for regarding him as the more visionary of the two. For one of the ironies of history is that visions of our networked future can be bracketed by the imaginative nightmares of Huxley and his fellow Etonian George Orwell. Orwell feared that we would be destroyed by the things we fear – the state surveillance apparatus so vividly evoked in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Huxley's nightmare, set out in Brave New World, his great dystopian novel, was that we would be undone by the things that delight us.
Huxley was a child of England's intellectual aristocracy. His grandfather was Thomas Henry Huxley, the Victorian biologist who was the most effective evangelist for Darwin's theory of evolution. (He was colloquially known as "Darwin's Bulldog".) His mother was Matthew Arnold's niece. His brother, Julian and half-brother Andrew both became distinguished biologists. In the circumstances it's not surprising that Aldous turned out to be a writer who ranged far beyond the usual preoccupations of literary folk – into history, philosophy, science, politics, mysticism and psychic exploration. His biographer wrote: "He offered as his personal motto the legend hung around the neck of a ragged scarecrow of a man in a painting by Goya: Aún aprendo. I am still learning." He was, in that sense, a modern Voltaire.
Read it all.
“The great appeal that Lewis has today is that he has an extraordinary range of a diversity of genre in communicating truth,” said James Houston, one of the founders of the respected Christian institution Regent College in Vancouver, who ran in Lewis’ circles while they were both at Oxford.
“He used fairy tales, mythology, poetry, science fiction, children’s stories, scholarly essays. He used the whole gamut to communicate the depths of truth.”
This slender, charming book must be approached with a special tact. To read it feels a little like an intrusion on inwardness itself. The volume contains, alongside a lightly corrected transcription, a facsimile of the Sterling notebook in which Flannery O’Connor, just 20 years old, began a journal addressed to God. Written in her neat hand, it is reproduced complete with the empty final pages (her concluding words are “there is nothing left to say of me”) and not omitting a bit of musical notation floating on the inside of the back cover. The prayers, attempts at prayer and meditations on faith and art contained in it were written in 1946 and 1947, while O’Connor was a student in Iowa. The brilliance that would make her fictions literary classics is fully apparent in them.
The complexity of O’Connor’s thinking, together with the largely flawless pages in her hand, suggest that these entries may be fair copies of earlier drafts. Clearly O’Connor’s virtuosity makes her self-conscious. Young as she was, new to writing, she could only have been pleased, even awed, at having produced these beautiful sentences. Perhaps nothing written is finally meant to go unread, even if the reader is only a creature of the writer’s mind, an attentive and exacting self that compels refinements of honesty.
Read it all.
The Bible is "the most dangerous book on Earth," George Bernard Shaw famously warned a century ago. Today, Shaw's words ring true—literally—for the 24 million people of North Korea. Possession of a Bible is a one-way ticket to the gulag or worse.
The worst came true this month for a handful of North Koreans who were caught with Bibles, which are outlawed by the communist regime. The Christians were among a group of 80 North Koreans who were executed by firing squad on Sunday, Nov. 3, according to a report in the South Korean daily, JoongAng Ilbo. Those put to death also included North Koreans accused of watching South Korean DVDs that had been smuggled into the North, or of distributing pornography. The ruling Kim family regime controls every aspect of citizens' lives, including what information reaches them from the world outside North Korea's borders. Bibles, foreign DVDs, the Internet, cellphones that can make international calls—all are banned.
The executions were public and took place in seven cities across the country, according to the JoongAng Ilbo.
Read it all.
[In Norman Geisler's book]...the chapters are admirably clear and succinct. Christians called upon to answer the typical prattle of the village (or dorm room) atheist will find it useful. An electronic copy would provide particularly quick and handy reference.
On the other hand, while Geisler is clearly a capable and experienced pastor and peppers his text with practical anecdotes, he suffers from the malady of most writers on the intellectual problem of theodicy: he fails to address the visceral response that suffering and evil provokes in Christian and secular hearts alike. On the whole, I would not hand his book to a grieving parent....
A somewhat deeper chord is struck by Terence Fretheim’s Creation Untamed, which limits itself to the question of natural evil. Fretheim, Elva B. Lovell Professor of Old Testament at Luther Seminary, brings an Old Testament scholar’s background and sensibility to the question, building his case mainly around the Genesis accounts of creation and the flood, and the book of Job.
Read it all.
For members of St. Michaels (Charleston, S.C.), there is a rare treat in store… Peter will be attending a book signing as part of the release of his latest book From Dry Bones: Reflections on an Unpredictable Life. In his new memoir, Peter takes us behind the scenes of his life—a life of tireless work for the Lord, filled with twists and turns, and a resume of Christ-focused efforts that can be attributed only to a man filled (and energized) by the Holy Spirit. - See more at: http://www.stmichaelschurch.net/peter-moores-new-book-special-book-signing-sunday-november-17th/#sthash.dd99qK3m.dpuf
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Books * South Carolina * Theology Seminary / Theological Education
The essays in The Future of Biblical Interpretation originated in a conference held in honor of Anthony C. Thiselton, who is well known for his important work in hermeneutics and New Testament interpretation. After an opening essay by Thiselton on “The Future of Biblical Interpretation and Responsible Plurality in Hermeneutics,” the contributors look at the issues from a variety of angles—theological, scriptural, kerygmatic, historical, critical, ecclesial and relational. The result is an engaging conversation exploring responsible and productive interpretation of the Bible. A must-read for anyone seriously engaged in biblical scholarship today.Read the rest, and you just have to love the subtitle.
Turner, a professor of theology at Yale, has written a fine, idiosyncratic introduction to the saint and his mind that emphasizes what he calls Thomas' materialism — by which he certainly does not mean the currently fashionable and conceptually impoverished notion that nothing but matter exists. Rather, Thomas set himself against the prevailing Platonic-Augustinian "excessively spiritual account of human nature" that seemed to him to neglect our situatedness in the world — this world, here, with tomatoes and sisters and backaches. For Plato and his medieval Christian epigones, a soul was a different kind of substance from the body; we still tend to think of soul in these terms, whether we believe in it or not. Thomas denies that a soul is a "thing" that one "has" at all. It is rather the "substantial form," in the Aristotelian sense, of the body — what accounts for its being alive in the way it is. Following Aristotle and Avicenna, Thomas rejects substance dualism, arguing that human beings are "wholly animal," not part animal and part spiritual, like a Prius — the soul is not "in" the body, but is one with it as form, as act and potency are one.
I can't do justice to Turner's subtle explication of Thomas' "Aristotelian physical anthropology" — and of his controversial God-centric theology in the "Summa theologiae"; his "Five Ways"; his conception of friendship and the Trinity and the Eucharist; and much else — in a brief review. Despite a few missteps in the prose — and a surprising overreliance upon lazy tropes of the terrorists-bad-CIA-good variety — Turner's introduction is full of grace notes, such as his decision to contrast Thomas' sense of "abstraction" with Locke's empiricism, in order to flesh out the argument that the intellect "cannot be a material agent" (today's pop neuroscientists would do well to consult the "Summa" on this point). And Turner deftly demonstrates why Thomas' Third Way — the argument for God's existence from necessity — does not commit the basic logical fallacy that many modern philosophers have contended it does.
Read it all.
REZA ASLAN (Author, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth): I think it’s incorrect to say that the followers of Jesus, and certainly the church fathers in the second and third centuries, changed Jesus’ message. I think that’s an incomplete statement. The fact of the matter is that Jesus’ message was in a constant state of change. Remember, none of these words were written down until, at the earliest, 70 A.D. That’s about 40 years after Jesus’ death when the first Gospel, the Gospel of Mark, was written. And the Gospel of Mark was not written until after the destruction of Jerusalem, the destruction of the temple, and the period in which Judaism itself had become a kind of pariah religion, an illegitimate cult, in the Roman Empire. So, the Gospel writers at that point began this process that was really, in many ways, already underway, which was to sort of transform and redefine, reapply Jesus’ message, particularly for a non-Jewish audience. And so that process really continued until the middle of the fourth century, when, as a result of Constantine’s conversion to Christianity, an attempt was made to actually create a sense of orthodoxy. But really, up until that point, you can’t say that there was any such thing as Christianity. What we really see is Christianities, in fact, many, many dozens of versions of it.
I’ve had a unique experience with Jesus, both as a worshipper and as a scholar studying him. I feel like it’s given me a different kind of perspective. On the one hand, knowing what it is to worship Jesus has given me a profound sense of respect for the faith of Christianity....
Read or watch and listen to it all.
Did you grow up reading C.S. Lewis?
I've had a fascination with Lewis since my teens, (but) I didn't grow up reading Narnia. I came rather late to Narnia, but I read quite a bit of Lewis as a teenager—Mere Christianity and The Great Divorce and some of the other books. As a schoolboy in the final year of high school, I read his book on Paradise Lost, which was very important for my English studies.
What was your introduction to the world of Narnia? What captivated you about it?
I suppose I read the Narnia books mostly as a student, and I enjoyed the wit of the books. Humor is very visible in them. I enjoyed the energy of the characterization.
And I just found myself very, very deeply moved by some passages, and I identify a lot with those moments of encounter—where you discover the truth about yourself in the face of God. Those are some of the most moving passages, because Lewis is particularly good at giving you a sense of joy in the presence of God.
Read it all.
Millburn Township resident T. Felder Dorn will present his latest book, "Challenges on the Emmaus Road: Episcopal Bishops Confront Slavery, Civil War, and Emancipation," Wednesday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m., at the Millburn Free Public Library, 200 Glen Ave....
Dorn, who grew up as a Southern Baptist in South Carolina, converted to the Episcopalian faith soon after he landed his first faculty position at Sewanee: The University of the South, an institution of the Episcopal Church, located in Tennessee. "Challenges on the Emmaus Road" covers the period between 1840 and 1875 as it examines the words and actions of Episcopal bishops of that era, first concerning slavery, and then concerning the events and issues spawned by that institution. The responses to these events and issues by both Southern and Northern bishops are discussed.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Books History Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
Whenever I plan a Maundy Thursday service, I get annoyed with the lectionary. Why isn’t the second reading 1 John 4? I get that Paul’s account of the words of institution for the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians is assigned to cover for the lack of an account in John’s Gospel. Still, the day is named for the New Commandment. Jesus, gearing up for the most terrifying experience he and his disciples will ever know, commands them to love one another. It’d be nice if 1 John’s gloss—that such love casts out fear—also made the cut.
This fairly arbitrary objection may be mine alone. But lots of us worship planners have pet frustrations with the Revised Common Lectionary (1992). My Facebook newsfeed—a place much like the wider world, if half the population went to seminary—attests to these regularly.
Why pair these readings? Why skip those verses? How will we survive an entire month on Jesus the long-winded bread of life? Does Christ’s appearance to Thomas really need to come up every Low Sunday (leaving young associate ministers—preaching while the senior pastor takes the week off—with thick files of sermons on doubt or woundedness or bodily resurrection)?
Read it all.
When he died on Nov. 22, 1963 hardly a soul blinked in Northern Ireland where he was born or in England where he spent most of his working life as one of the world’s greatest Christian apologists.
Clive Staples Lewis was a week short of 65 when he suffered a heart attack at his home in Oxford. The obituary writers barely noticed his demise, in part because he died on the same day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.
British indifference to Lewis half a century ago will be examined at a one-day seminar at Wheaton College on Nov. 1, co-sponsored by the Marion E. Wade Center, the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals and Wheaton College’s Faith and Learning program.
Lewis may be the most popular Christian writer in history, with millions of copies of his books sold, the vast majority in the United States where his influence is far greater than in his native country.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity * Culture-Watch Books * Theology Apologetics
Since its 2004 release, Ms. [Sarah] Young’s “Jesus Calling,” a collection of 365 short daily “devotionals” interlaced with Bible passages, has sold nine million copies in 26 languages. In the first half of 2013, it outsold “Fifty Shades of Grey.” She has written two follow-up devotionals, as well as tie-in books for children and teenagers and a “Jesus Calling"-themed Bible.
Most impressive is that Ms. Young has become a lucrative brand while granting almost no interviews and making no author appearances. Hobbled by Lyme disease and other health problems, she mostly sticks close to home. There are almost no public photographs of her, and she will not talk by telephone....
The October issue of Christianity Today, which is like the People magazine for evangelical Christians, contains a long article that seems to float the possibility that Ms. Young’s writings are heretical, and quotes several theologians who have concerns.
Read it all.
Q: David and Goliath is quite famous, yes. What about Jesus? Where might he fit in in your narrative?
A: He does fit. Here is one of the most revolutionary figures in history. He comes from the humblest of beginnings. He never held elected office. He never had an army at his disposal. He never got rich; he had nothing that we would associate with power and advantage. Nonetheless, what does he accomplish? An unfathomable amount. He is almost the perfect illustration of this idea that you have to look in the heart to know what someone’s capable of.
Q: Many Christians point to some kind of personal conversion experience? Did you have one?
A: I realized what I had missed. It wasn’t an “I woke up one morning” kind of thing. It was a slow realization something incredibly powerful and beautiful in the faith that I grew up with that I was missing. Here I was writing about people of extraordinary circumstances and it slowly dawned on me that I can have that too.
Read it all.
Rising industrialization and urbanization in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries helped push the graveyard out of town, and these shifts coincided with the rise of a new reserve, in which displays of strong emotion, such as grief, were unseemly.
But during the 1950s, the landscape changed. In 1955, Geoffrey Gorer’s fascinating essay “The Pornography of Death,” argued that proscriptions around death had replaced the Victorian taboo against sex. In 1959, psychologist Herman Feifel came out with The Meaning of Death, a collection of essays often credited with singlehandedly establishing death, dying, and bereavement as legitimate areas for study. Yet neither Feifel nor Gorer made their way to American dinner tables. It was [Jessica] Mitford who got ordinary people talking. The American Way of Death made its way into soap operas, newspaper cartoons, and even the cover of Good Housekeeping. (An extract appeared in a 1964 issue alongside such articles as “Coming, a New Kind of Refrigerator” and “How Well Can Carpets Take It?”) Her take-charge, do-it-yourself message helped liberate Americans from the rigid rules and roles they were eager to cast off, as they were beginning to do in so many other areas of life.
That doesn’t mean The American Way of Death encouraged Americans to rethink their cultural relationship with death, exactly. The book is a narrowly conceived exposé, a screed against expensive funerals and the men who sell them, not an analysis of how or why funerals got that way. It’s interesting to contrast Mitford’s book with the seminal death texts of the past, such as the two in the fifteenth century that were both called The Art of Dying, or the Tibetan and Egyptian books of the dead. Those works helped individuals prepare for death by prescribing a series of attitudes and rituals designed to ensure a good death and a better afterlife. Such rituals helped people grapple with death’s great challenge to the self; they made death mean. By contrast, Mitford’s book is a Consumer Reports of death. Instead of prayers and meditations, she offers tips on the best way to get a cheap casket (just keep asking the salesman; it’s often out in the garage).
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Books History Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Eschatology
Interested in church leadership? In changing not only conversation in our culture, but the way we converse? Ever wonder why changing leaders or programs often does not change results?
Episcopal Church executive Dr. Kay Collier McLaughlin has the answers and she’s sharing them in her new book, Becoming the Transformative Church.
“In all human relationships, from family to friendships to organizations, there is one thing that matters,” said McLaughlin, “and that how one person’s behavior impacts another. When all of the foundational theories and all of the advice books are culled down to the most basic issue, it all has to do with how we treat each other. Not how we think we treat each other. Not how we mean to treat each other. But how the other party or parties experience our behavior.”
- See more at: http://pressreleases.religionnews.com/2013/10/08/bluegrass-church-executive-launches-new-book-leadership/#sthash.4lLqjVqO.dpuf
Read it all.
Lillian Daniel: What possessed you to write a novel? Has it always been a dream of yours?
William Willimon: Sort of. I’m a lover of novels, ever since a college course in the modern American novel. I love Flannery O’Connor, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Thomas Mann and even dear, sweet, degenerate Marcel Proust. I reread them all.
Pastors must be curious about people. Novels are a natural aid to pastoral work. When you watch Gustave Flaubert dissect a character, it’s a great help in attempting to figure out why the chair of your vestry is so screwed up. Also, as a pastor, you spend a great deal of time with people who are exposed and without adequate protection. Being a pastor is therefore almost like being a novelist without all the alcohol.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Books Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Augustine Thompson’s new biography is a model of all that is best in a work of this kind. It is compellingly and lucidly written, accessible both to the interested layperson as well as the scholar. This is the first critical biography of Francis by an English-speaking scholar; the other two biographies that can be described as critical are by an Italian and Frenchman. The book is divided into two parts: the biography and an examination of the sources. In a biography of this intricacy, this is the best way of organizing the work.
Thompson’s biography is now the place to begin for anyone who wants to understand Francis, his life, and the subsequent development of devotion to him, and it is not soon to be bettered.
Michael Robson has given us a helpful collection of essays, divided into two sections. The first section concerns Francis, his writings, his relationship to Clare, and the emergence of the movement. There is even a chapter on “Francis and creation,” which traces Franciscan reflection on the subject as far as Angela of Foligno. The second section collects essays that range through many aspects of the Franciscan heritage in the Church. Anglicans will welcome especially “The ecumenical appeal of Francis” by Petà Dunstan, a leading scholar of Anglican religious life.
Read it all.
Kimberla Lawson Roby stood near the pulpit of a Baptist church in this Atlanta suburb one Saturday in late August, giving her testimony. She spoke of infidelities, mistresses, blackmail, out-of-wedlock children and extravagant spending. She did so as neither minister or worshiper, but rather as a novelist telling scores of rapt fans about her fictional characters.
...for the past 13 years ...[she has been] writing a series of novels built around an African-American pastor, the Rev. Curtis Black. The series, now numbering 10 books, has sold well upward of one million copies, and several titles have made best-seller lists.
Besides being a commercial phenomenon, Ms. Roby’s books represent a theological and cultural one.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Books Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology
Before Tom Clancy became an international publishing phenomenon, he was just another insurance salesman, working out of Baltimore and dreaming of a life as an author. With the arrival of his debut novel, The Hunt for Red October, in 1984, that dream suddenly became a reality, establishing the man with the aviator sunglasses and the Navy baseball hats as a perpetual presence on bestseller lists.
Drawing on his vast trove of technical military information, Clancy created a new genre: the techno-thriller. In Clancy's novels, the reader becomes acquainted with such things as forward-looking infrared scanners and magnetic anomaly detectors (good for finding submarines), vertical temperature gradients and downwind toxic vapour hazards (for studying the effect of chemical weapons), and Russian T-80Us (a type of tank).
Clancy's enthusiasm for the endless advance of technology in warfare was only matched (or nearly matched) by the outrageous plots he dreamt up. But as Clancy's novels have receded in the rear-view mirror of publishing history, those same plots have taken on an eerie quality, providing yet another spin on that old cliche: sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.
Read it all.
N 1996 Alan Sokal, a physicist at New York University, submitted a paper to Social Text, a leading scholarly journal of postmodernist cultural studies. The journal’s peer reviewers, whose job it is to ensure that published research is up to snuff, gave it a resounding thumbs-up. But when the editors duly published the paper, Dr Sokal revealed that it had been liberally, and deliberately, “salted with nonsense”. The Sokal hoax, as it came to be known, demonstrated how easy it was for any old drivel to pass academic quality control in highbrow humanities journals, so long as it contained lots of fancy words and pandered to referees’ and editors’ ideological preconceptions. Hard scientists gloated. That could never happen in proper science, they sniffed. Or could it?
Alas, as a report in this week’s Science shows, the answer is yes, it could. John Bohannon, a biologist at Harvard with a side gig as a science journalist, wrote his own Sokalesque paper describing how a chemical extracted from lichen apparently slowed the growth of cancer cells. He then submitted the study, under a made-up name from a fictitious academic institution, to 304 peer-reviewed journals around the world.
Despite bursting with clangers in experimental design, analysis and interpretation of results, the study passed muster at 157 of them. Only 98 rejected it.
Read it all.
The most important goal in comparative theology is to create a symmetrical model, that is, a structure that compares the traditions of each faith without misrepresenting or idealizing one over the other. This is perhaps the greatest challenge to anyone who does comparative studies, and in this case there are some instances where more fruitful comparisons could have been made. One of the asymmetrical comparisons in this book comes from the use of sources. On the one hand, academic debates about Christology by pluralists (including non-Christians) are portrayed as if they were normative for Christianity. Yet their views are compared with traditional Islamic thinkers. In another instance, the book gives a detailed historical-critical assessment of Jesus but nothing about the historical Muhammad. Eliminating these skeptical analyses of Jesus, or adding them for Muhammad, would actually put the two figures in closer symmetry.
One value to Siddiqui’s book is its honest Islamic inquiry into the relationship of Islam to Christianity. We need more Muslims making honest attempts to understand Christianity. Reading Christian sources and taking them actually to mean what they say is an important step in entering dialogue. This attitude is taken for granted in Western cultures, but it needs to be taught at the popular level in the Islamic world, where polemics still pervade the mindset of religious communities. Finally, Siddiqui’s book is welcome because it encourages Muslims to read the Bible in order to understand the context of their own scripture. Siddiqui’s analysis of the Bible and what Christians believe is important, despite some analytical asymmetries. Instead of repeating polemical mantras of the past, Siddiqui has put forward a book demonstrating that Muslims and Christians are in dialogue. Books like this should be encouraged from academia and the wider Islamic community.
Read it all.
When you accumulate books there is always that one which you’ve meant to read for the longest time. For whatever reason, call it grace or luck, you pick it up one day and spend the rest of the week (month, year) kicking yourself for not reading it earlier.
I’m presently kicking myself for not picking up Albert Borgmann’s Crossing the Posmodern Divide before Monday....
Read it all.
...Stations of the Book Writing Cross:
cycling through my ritualized insistence that I'll never ever ever write another book. Years ago, I'd cling to this delusion for at least a year after a book was published. My manuscript for The Social Media Gospel was submitted to Liturgical Press on January 2, 2013 and by January 7, I was ruminating about the next book.
rearranging book shelves to reflect emerging realities. Books I've used during the previous book's writing process are either moved to a distant shelf, shipped to friends who might want them, or schlepped to The Book Thing. I then re-populate the bookshelves in my sight line with whatever I'm diving into.
going to sleep and waking up with words, phrases, sentences demanding attention....
Read it all.
Richard Rodriguez begins his latest book, Darling, with an unfussy dedication to the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, a Catholic women's group committed to helping the sick and destitute. This Baptism, if you will, is the first and surely the most straightforward indication within the book that Rodriguez intends to delve into his complex relationship with religion. Because though the path that lies beyond that dedication is weird and wonderful, readers will find that it's far from a direct route.
Rodriguez says the impetus for Darling, a collection of 10 essays about spirituality, was the Sept. 11 attacks. While much of America turned into itself in the wake of the tragedy, searching for meaning and refuge in patriotism and familiarity, Rodriguez did the opposite. "It was in the weeks following the terrorist attacks of September 11 that I came to the realization that the God I worship is a desert God," he writes in the first chapter. "It was to the same desert God the terrorists prayed."
Read it all.
Here is a sampling of the thoughts of the 94-year-old evangelist in his newest book:
“The truth is that every last one of us is born in sin, and while some may not think of themselves as sinners, God does. He hears every word we utter and knows the deepest secrets we lock away in the vaults of our hearts.”
“Many churches of all persuasions are hiring research agencies to poll neighborhoods, asking what kind of church they prefer; then the local churches design themselves to fit the desires of the people. True faith in God that demands selflessness is being replaced by trendy religion that serves the selfish.”
Read it all.
Some of [“The Good Soldiers,” Mr. Finkel's previous] book’s most powerful passages dealt with the war after the war — the efforts of the soldiers to come to terms with their injuries and ineradicable memories, and to try to readjust to ordinary life back home in the States. Mr. Finkel’s new book, “Thank You for Your Service,” amplifies that story, tracking the lives of some of the same soldiers after their deployments have ended. They and their families attempt to recover some facsimile of normalcy or, in the words of one veteran’s wife, “come up with reasonable expectations of what can be,” given their lingering physical and psychological wounds.
This is a heartbreaking book powered by the candor with which these veterans and their families have told their stories, the intimate access they have given Mr. Finkel (an editor and writer for The Washington Post) into their daily lives, and their own eloquence in speaking about their experiences. The book leaves the reader wondering why the Veterans Affairs Department cannot provide better, more accessible care for wounded warriors. And why soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder — which Mr. Finkel says studies show afflicts 20 to 30 percent of the two million Americans who have served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — must often wade through so much paperwork and bureaucracy to obtain meaningful treatment.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Books Health & Medicine Marriage & Family Psychology * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
I have heard a lot of sermons, and read a lot of books, articles, and blog posts, on imitating certain attributes of God and the incarnate Christ (e.g., compassion, love, goodness, mercy, humility). And I have heard a lot and read a lot about avoiding certain vices that are contrary to the kingdom (e.g., selfishness, envy, pride, lust). But I can’t recall offhand hearing much of anything about power—either as a gift to be redeemed or an idol to be rejected. You’ve invested a significant amount of time now thinking about the redemption of power to promote flourishing for the common good. Why do you think the Church has neglected this topic in particular?
That is what prompted me to write this book: a dawning awareness that I was almost never hearing Christians—especially in the dominant culture—directly address power as either a gift or an idol. Now, that is not at all the case in many minority-culture communities. I’ve spent perhaps 50 Sunday mornings of my life, cumulatively, in African-American church settings, and I’d bet that at least a third of sermons I’ve heard in those settings have directly addressed power and powerlessness in the context of American society, and how Christians should respond to those realities.
But of the couple thousand Sundays I’ve spent in majority-culture church settings, I could count on one hand the times the teaching directly addressed those topics. But the privilege of being in a majority is you rarely have to examine your own power closely. You often are not even aware that you have it. Oddly, power is frequently most invisible to the powerful—especially the form of power that I call privilege. So perhaps it is not surprising that majority-culture Christians rarely address it.
Power is a truly tricky topic, and that’s another reason you don’t hear a lot about it directly....
Read it all.
Christian de Chergé was a Trappist monk who, with six of his monastic brothers, was killed in Algeria in 1996. The exact circumstances of their deaths remain disputed. They were abducted by a band of radical Islamists, in the midst of a horrendously violent period of civil-religious strife. Only their severed heads were subsequently recovered. To what degree did the Algerian army play a role in their deaths, and with what assistance from French security advisers, wittingly or unwittingly?
Rather, de Chergé gave his life as a reconciling gift thrown into the midst of the hostility and violence associated with antagonistic diversities. His was a witness made quintessentially within our late modern culture of fragmented “globalized” hopelessness....
Christian Salenson’s Christian de Chergé: A Theology of Hope (a translation of the 2009 French original) follows in step with the temper of the times, and takes up the [interest in the] Christian-Muslim... [angle of his thought]. Although this approach has its limitations, the volume, in all of its austere precision and accessibility, is of the highest quality, and deserves to be read as a necessary introduction to de Chergé’s thought. SRead it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Books * International News & Commentary Africa Algeria Europe France * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology Eschatology
This book, "What We Shall Become: The Future and Structure of the Episcopal Church,” is published as the governing bodies of the Episcopal Church USA are anticipating formal recommendations that will outline the future character and structure of the Church.
Edited by The Reverend Winnie Varghese, rector of the historic St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery, the collection of essays examines the issues that restructuring raises for the church, including:
the historical, sociological and ecclesiological forces that have shaped the Church, how seminaries are reimagining their work for the 21st century;
how the changing landscape of communications and interconnectedness is challenging dioceses to support mission work differently;
and what it means to truly empower laity in our ever-evolving world.
Read it all.
...[His] passionate eloquence suggests something else, something that smacks of the religious zeal that Dawkins says he so detests. In the opening paragraph of chapter one, which Dawkins reprints, he says: “Living organisms had existed on earth, without ever knowing why, for over 3,000 million years before the truth finally dawned. His name was Charles Darwin.’’ Replace the words ''Charles Darwin’’ with ''Jesus Christ’’, and you will see how strongly, in temperament, Dawkins resembles the preacher rather than the cool-headed thinker. He is Darwin’s St Paul. His anger against God seems to arise not so much from His non-existence as from His effrontery in disagreeing with Messrs Darwin and Dawkins.
Nothing reveals Dawkins’s self-absorption more tellingly than his moments of strategic modesty. This book concludes with a comparison of his own writings with those of Darwin, purportedly to prove Darwin’s superiority, but really establishing a subliminal link between the two great men. As he approaches his last page, Dawkins suddenly bursts out against Darwin’s lack of public recognition: he was ''never Sir Charles, and what an amazing indictment of our honour system that is’’.
Indeed, and it is notable that, despite strong lobbying in that direction, he is not yet Sir Richard. I feel he is trying to tell us something.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Books Religion & Culture Science & Technology * International News & Commentary England / UK * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Atheism * Theology
It is sobering to think that a movement such as Focolare — obedient to traditionalist leadership, uninterested in chic politics, and utterly devoid of narcissism or any desire to set Christ against his Church — has not emerged organically in the Episcopal Church for quite some time. Cursillo and the charismatic movement, both mentioned by Leahy, have taken hold — but they seem the exceptions that prove the rule. Both movements are heavily experiential, subjective, and, particularly when removed from the context of Roman Catholicism, wide open to any sort of leading or teaching, however flawed. Neither is organized sufficiently that it may be held accountable for how its adherents expound the faith once given (or fail to) and hence, not surprisingly, have been limited in what they have to offer the wider Church.
Renewal movements have been a constant in the life of the Christian Church. The vast majority of them have been monastic in one form or another. On the whole, the movements discussed by Leahy, and Focolare as presented by Masters and Uelmen, share much in common with these traditional forms of the Holy Spirit’s revivifying of his Church. They accept obedience to godly authority; share a common life in joy and self-sacrifice, open to creation while shunning the counterfeits of the world, the flesh and the devil; and, to one extent or another, maintain chastity as an essential ingredient. Anglicans who wish to recapture the spirit of Christian renewal should look to all three of these characteristics, helpfully presented in these encouraging books.
Read it all.
Why write a book about religious freedom now?
Religious freedom is one of the world's most urgent issues at this moment in history. For a start, it is the guarantee and protection of the foundational human right that best allows us the freedom to be human. Also, it is under assault around the world as never before, whether through brutal government oppression (think of China and Iran) or horrifying sectarian violence (think of Nigeria, Egypt, and much of the Middle East). But what makes the situation worse is the failure of the West to live up to the best of its heritage, and therefore to fail in demonstrating an alternative. This is especially tragic in the U.S., where the founders' settlement, which James Madison called the "true remedy" to the problem, is steadily being destroyed by fifty years of culture warring. And all this is happening at a time when the challenge of "living with our deepest differences" has become an urgent global problem.
There are of course endless academic studies of the issue, and many individuals and organizations have stood courageously against the violations of religious freedom, but where are the constructive proposals that lead to a better way? And where are the statesmanlike leaders addressing the issue? I hope my book will contribute to a new Western debate reaffirming the foundational importance of religious freedom. I hope too that it will challenge Americans not to squander their heritage foolishly as so many are doing now.
Read it all
Lewis' "Mere Christianity," published in 1952, explained what he felt was the core of his faith. At the time, critics on the left thought it superstitious and simplistic, while evangelicals were upset at the lack of fire and brimstone.
The book's popularity with the public, however, has endured, and the popular monthly magazine Christianity Today ranked it the best book of the 20th century.
All the while, Lewis was at odds with his colleagues. Many resented his promotion of religion, looked down on his popular fiction, were jealous of his large classes and thought literature courses should focus on more modern books. So in 1955 he bolted, accepting a professorship of medieval and Renaissance literature at Oxford's great rival, the University of Cambridge.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Books Education Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Apologetics
In 2012 Samuel Wells left his position as dean of Duke University Chapel and research professor of Christian ethics at Duke Divinity School to return to England, where he is now vicar of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London. After seven years in the American academy and the Episcopal Church, Wells developed a unique insider-outsider perspective from which those he leaves behind have much to learn. As parting gifts he offers two books with wide-ranging interest for American readers: What Episcopalians Believe and Learning to Dream Again.
What Episcopalians Believe, the American companion to Wells’s What Anglicans Believe, begins in a defiantly prudent place. Amid all of the controversy in the Episcopal Church, Wells “is not arguing that we live in especially momentous times” (p. xii). What interests Wells in this introductory work is not primarily to analyze positions on women’s ordination or same-sex blessings, but to understand and celebrate what God has done for the world in Jesus Christ.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Books * Theology
All this may be fascinating enough, but what Wilson completely misses out is any recognition of what is by far the most glaring difference between humans and ants. What marks out humankind as unique is the degree to which we have broken free from the dictates of instinct. We may in terms of our individual ‘ego-instincts’, such as our urges to eat, sleep, live in social groups and reproduce our species, be just as much governed by instinct as other creatures. But in all the ways in which we give expression to those urges, how we build our shelters, obtain our food, organise our societies. we are no longer guided entirely by instinct. Unlike any other species, we have become free to imagine how all these things can be done differently. Whereas one ant colony is structured exactly like another, the forms of human organisation may vary as widely as a North Korean dictatorship and a village cricket club.
It is our ability to escape from the rigid frame of instinct which explains almost everything that distinguishes human beings from any other form of life. But one looks in vain to Wilson to recognise this, let alone to explain how it could have come about in terms of Darwinian evolutionary theory. No attribute of Darwinians is more marked than their inability to grasp just how much their theory cannot account for, from all those evolutionary leaps which require a host of interdependent things to develop more or less simultaneously to be workable, that peculiarity of human consciousness which has allowed us to step outside the instinctive frame and to ‘conquer the Earth’ far more comprehensively than ants.
Read it all.
In a vivid new biography of Becket, the Tudor historian John Guy clearly and concisely traces the steps of the long and complicated controversy, as well as its role in international politics. Guy sets out to draw a balanced portrait of Becket, sifting the hagiographers’ accounts and the post-Reformation biases of English historians. A confessional divide overshadowed interpretations of Becket ever since another King Henry VIII declared Becket a traitor to king and country. Henry VIII destroyed Becket’s shrine and attempted to erase all images and mention of him in England. Even in the 20th century, English historians concluded that Becket was the cause of his own troubles, picking fights and remaining obstinate when compromise was needed. Becket’s speedy rise from commoner to chancellor had made him arrogant and proud, these critics say; he was no saint, but brought on his own martyrdom through his self-righteousness. Guy does not play the blame-the-victim game. He balances the duplicitous and untrustworthy behavior of Henry II with attention to Becket’s missteps and failures.
Guy tries to show that Becket was “far from saintly or infallible.” He avoids “the trap” Becket’s hagiographers’ fell into—of “writing the history of the saint without his shadow.”
Read it all.
Over time I have come to believe that the reading of scripture in public worship is as important as expounding on scripture (i.e., preaching). As a friend says, “A good reading is expounding.”
I am appalled at the way some traditions and congregations take such a casual attitude toward the reading of scripture in worship. It’s treated sometimes as the role “anybody can do.” Not anybody can do it, and it takes practice. I get the sense sometimes that people are reading the assigned text for the first time when they read it in worship.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Books Religion & Culture * Theology Theology: Scripture
The purpose of [the book of Job] is to explore God’s policies with regard to suffering in the world, especially by the righteous or the innocent. In the process it seeks to revolutionize our thinking about God and the way that he runs the world.
Most importantly, the book shifts our attention from the idea that God’s justice ... is foundational to the operation of the world to the alternative that God’s wisdom is the more appropriate foundation. It does not offer a reason for suffering and does not try to defend God’s justice.
It does not answer the “why” question that we are so prone to ask when things go wrong. Instead, we are to trust God’s wisdom and, in the process, to conclude by faith that he is also just.
In truth, we will never be in a position to evaluate God’s justice....
Read it all.
In July 2013 parliament passed historic legislation to open up marriage to same-sex couples. It followed a bitter row both inside and outside the Palace of Westminster which laid bare some of the deepest divisions in our modern society.
The Meaning of Matrimony: Debating Same-Sex Marriage captures that argument in a series of passionately-written essays exploring the subject from all sides. With contributions ranging from Lord Carey to Peter Tatchell, the book seeks to provide a definitive guide to a debate which has encompassed much more than simply allowing same-sex couples to wed.
Now available to buy as a book, it explores whether marriage should embody 'tradition' or social change, the function of marriage in society and whether breaking the measure is liberal or illiberal. Along the way, questions are also asked about the nature of the debate itself, whether there has been adequate discussion, and where the balance should lie between legislation and social attitudes?
Read it all and please note the multiple ways at the bottom you can get the book.
...at some time during the 19th century, it disappeared. Officially listed as lost by a “Miss Shepherd”, and recorded in a hand that dates the disappearance to the early 19th century, mystery surrounds the book’s disappearance – as no corroborating record of such a person working at the cathedral has ever been found.
While those working at St Paul’s would never say it publicly, there is a belief it may have left the cathedral premises under the cassock of a light-fingered priest.
Imagine their surprise, then, when the ancient tome was suddenly advertised for sale by the Law Society, as part of a wider summer sell-off of its Mendham collection – a treasure trove of rare Reformation-era bibles and religious tracts amassed by the family of a 19th-century clergyman. It is unclear how the work came to be owned by the family.
Read it all.
The early martyrs talked about battles, warfare, and victory, but all of their "combat language" was spiritualized as they peaceably emulated Jesus' sacrifice. That's not always the case today. New Year's Day 2011, a car bomb killed about 20 worshipers at a Christian church in Alexandria, Egypt. Despite Christian leaders' pleas that the violence should stop with these deaths, local Christians ransacked a mosque, burning its holy books.
Notre Dame University professor Candida Moss uses that anecdote to introduce her new book, The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom (HarperOne). She believes that the "violent" response of Christians sprang from seeing themselves as a persecuted minority, a perspective that she believes grew out of a flawed understanding of church history. Moss wants to undermine the martyrdom "mythology" that feeds this sense of persecution. But she goes beyond the pale when she writes, "The rhetoric of persecution legitimates and condones retributive violence."
The martyr tradition does nothing of the sort. This is why Egyptian Christian leaders argued against a violent response. The authentic martyr tradition emulates Jesus, who remained silent, "like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb" (Isa. 53:7, RSV).
Read it all.
Episcopal priest Kathryn Banakis wants us to discover that Christianity wouldn't be what it is without stories, and not just the Bible's stories either. Our stories matter too. Banakis is particularly interested in showing how God didn't stop revealing important lessons to us humans with the last page of the biblical text. God continues to speak through our lives today, and sometimes, what's said is quite funny.
To show how stories can impart important lessons about faith, Banakis's first book, Bubble Girl, is a blend of memoir and theology, teaching readers in a lighthearted way while making them laugh as she candidly discusses her own journey. Her book becomes an intriguing hybrid of genres, and I wanted to ask her more about it.
I had the pleasure to sit down with [the] Reverend Banakis and to hear her infectious laugh as I talked with her about her book. The transcript of that interview follows.
Read it all.
Most would breathe a sigh of relief that arguments over musical style are abating. But for C. Randall Bradley, the worship wars are only a prelude to a larger reformation in Church music. In From Memory to Imagination, Bradley argues that it is time for Church musicians and pastors to devise new forms of worship that respond to what he calls the postmodern cultural movement. The term postmodern has several possible meanings; in Bradley’s book it can be defined through a series of questions about the broader purpose that music serves: How can music reflect the narrative and values of the Church’s community? How can churches change worship so that it is community-directed, rather than guided by a leader? How can music further the specific mission for which God has placed the Church in its local context, while also reflecting the full gamut of human experience?
Bradley argues that the current tools that churches use for designing worship are, unfortunately, not yet capable of answering these questions. In a wide-ranging critique of contemporary worship practice, he notes that music and preaching are leader-centered, stifling a collaborative planning process. They tend to be male-centered. They are performance-driven, turning the congregation into a group of spectators. Most significantly, their legitimacy comes from the power of an academy that confers a professional degree, or from the power of commerce as it markets songs to churches. These structures do not allow Christians to take ownership of their worship experience.
Read it all from The Living Church.
Read it all.
Prudence means practical common sense, taking the trouble to think out what you are doing and what is likely to come of it. Nowadays most people hardly think of Prudence as one of the "virtues." In fact, because Christ said we could only get into His world by being like children, many Christians have the idea that, provided you are "good," it does not matter being a fool. But that is a misunderstanding. In the first place, most children show plenty of "prudence" about doing the things they are really interested in, and think them out quite sensibly. In the second place, as St. Paul points out, Christ never meant that we were to remain children in intelligence: on the contrary, He told us to be not only "as harmless as doves," but also "as wise as serpents." He wants a child's heart, but a grown-up's head. He wants us to be simple, single-minded, affectionate, and teachable, as good children are; but He also wants every bit of intelligence we have to be alert at its job, and in first-class fighting trim. The fact that you are giving money to a charity does not mean that you need not try to find out whether that charity is a fraud or not. The fact that what you are thinking about is God Himself (for example, when you are praying) does not mean that you can be content with the same babyish ideas which you had when you were a five-year-old. It is, of course, quite true that God will not love you any the less, or have less use for you, if you happen to have been born with a very second-rate brain. He has room for people with very little sense, but He wants every one to use what sense they have. The proper motto is not "Be good, sweet maid, and let who can be clever," but "Be good, sweet maid, and don't forget that this involves being as clever as you can." God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than of any other slackers. If you are thinking of becoming a Christian, I warn you you are embarking on something which is going to take the whole of you, brains and all. But, fortunately, it works the other way round. Anyone who is honestly trying to be a Christian will soon find his intelligence being sharpened: one of the reasons why it needs no special education to be a Christian is that Christianity is an education itself. That is why an uneducated believer like Bunyan was able to write a book that has astonished the whole world.----C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (my emphasis)
"So is Lewis to be seen as an Anglican writer? It is impossible to answer this question in the negative. Lewis chose to self-identify as a member of the Church of England, both in his public declarations and his pattern of church attendance. Furthermore, Lewis shows a clear literary and theological resonance with the Anglican writers of the late 1500's and early 1600's. Lewis may not be a 'typical Anglican writer' (a deeply problematic notion, by the way). Yet the historical study of Anglicanism reveals such complex and shifting patterns of Anglican identity that Lewis can easily be accommodated within its broad spectrum.--Alister McGrath, The Intellectual World of C. S. Lewis (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013), pp. 158-159 (my emphasis) [Hat tip: JM]
Yet from about the year 2000, when internal debates over the future directions of Anglicanism as a family of churches began to raise awkward questions about any notion of shared Anglican identity, the question of Lewis's Anglican credentials is increasingly being framed in new ways. Many younger Anglicans, anxious to affirm both theological orthodoxy and their denominational commitment, are coming to regard Lewis as a benchmark of Anglican identity. For them, Lewis embodies -- and, for some, even defines -- what Anglicanism ought to be: a theologically orthodox, culturally literate, imaginatively engaged, and historically rooted vision of the Christian faith.
The recent failure of professional Anglican theologians and church leaders to captivate the imaginations and enlighten the minds of a rising generation within global Anglicanism has created a vacuum -- which Lewis is increasingly coming to fill. Lewis embodies a liturgically and ecclesiologically unfussy Anglicanism that is rooted in the 'Golden Age' of its divinity, rather than being shaped by more recent controversies; that is lay rather than ordained; that speaks in eloquent and imaginatively satisfying ways, rather than in less accessible jargon of academic theology, which so often seems disconnected from personal faith; and which has no desire to dominate or belittle other denominations. Paradoxically, the question that a future generation might ask is not "Is Lewis really Anglican?' but 'Why isn't Anglicanism more like Lewis?'"
That Joshua Dubler made it out alive is perhaps the most telling thing about his book. Down in the Chapel is a fascinating look inside an American prison—a fact alone that's dangerous enough. But Dubler is a Princeton-educated religion scholar, and his focus of study is the prison chapel of Graterford Maximum Security Prison outside of Philadelphia. He surrounds himself with murderers, and then proceeds to poke and prod them on the topics of politics and religion. It's hard to think of a more combustible arrangement.
But Dubler survives—and there's a reason why. The men he profiles in Down in the Chapel have, in many cases, been convicted of grievous wrongs—men like Baraka, Sayyid, Teddy and Al, four prisoners from South Philly around whom the book is primarily based, two Muslims and two Christians respectively, all locked up for life. But between the Catholic office and the chapel, the Imam's office and the annex, we learn that these guys are not simply forgettable convicts, easily warehoused away and forgotten. Instead they are men, real men, with philosophies, dreams, humor, and deep sadness. By the end of the book, we wonder less why they spared this agitating author—of course they would—than whether we should have done a better job at sparing a few of them.
Read it all.
Why should Catholics read a book about Calvinists? One good reason: Catholics probably invented the name. During the aggro of the Reformation, a useful rhetorical strategy for papal loyalists was to tag the various reform movements in the Western Church with the names of leading personalities within them: the implication being that these groups were no better than fads, personality cults. That gave us such loaded terms as Zwinglian, Lutheran, Calvinist. It worked both ways, of course, so among several variants on “pope-lover” thought up then, “papist” has survived into our own age, complete with its original sneery edge which, on the whole, the word “Calvinist” has lost. Yet this name is still problematic. Perhaps “Calvinism” was a catchy title forced on Darryl Hart by his publishers: as a good historian, he is perfectly aware that it is an inadequate description for the family of Christian Churches now spread across the world. Calvin didn’t invent these Churches, and as late as the nineteenth century, they regarded him as just one leading theologian among several sixteenth-century Reformers. Their chosen self-description was simply “Reformed”.
Read it all.
....despite his national renown, he's a pastor at heart. Gentle, gracious, and filled with concern for his congregation, for over 25 years he's counseled his flock at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio through countless painful experiences—the marriage that's fallen apart, the 5-year-old who died in a car accident, the war vet burned from head to toe in Afghanistan. These experiences led to his latest book, You'll Get Through This: Hope and Help For Your Turbulent Times, an extended reflection on suffering, pain, and hope based on Joseph's story in Genesis. Jeff Haanen, executive director of Denver Institute for Faith & Work, spoke with Lucado on living through tragedy, a theology of suffering, and the hopefulness that flows from trusting in God's sovereignty.
Why did you choose Joseph's story in Genesis as a basis for your book?
Well, I've been pastoring for a long time—over 30 years—and I've found myself wanting to give people a real hope-filled message that they can consider during tough times of their lives.
Read it all.
Richard Ascough, professor of religious studies at Queen’s University, told me that, “From what I can see, Aslan accepts as historical the passages that fit his construction of Jesus and discards the ones that don’t, which results in a book that is historically suspect, as are most other [Jesus] books that have gone before it.”
Prof. [Reza] Aslan told The Washington Post that the criticism came from his having a foot in both creative writing and religion. “I like to go back and forth,” he acknowledged....He might as well have said, “Welcome to the bricolage of life!” Bricolage is that cultural trend to create a self-satisfying mosaic of our interests....Aslan is now a Muslim, but certainly a hard-core self-definer, inventing his own boundaries. “It’s not that I think Islam is correct and Christianity is incorrect,” he told the Post. “It’s that all religions are nothing more than a language made up of symbols and metaphors to help an individual explain faith.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Books Multiculturalism, pluralism Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology Christology
The great central fact of The Blessed Virgin Mary is the evangelical rediscovery of the Fathers, the joyful excitement of returning ad fontes, building on the foundation of that great evangelical Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. Writing first of all for an evangelical audience, they defend their chief focus on the patristic testimony on Mary: ‘The Fathers are the heritage of the undivided Church. They teach all Christians, in both method and content, how to wrestle with the primary data of the Church’s teaching, Holy Scripture.” Kendall and Perry cogently reveal how the biblical writings about Mary form a coherent basis for the doctrinal emphases about her that emerge subsequently and rightly insist that the Fathers brought Western Mariology to its mature form. Whatever medieval and modern developments take place, the fundamental shape of Marian theology remains unaltered.
Read it all.
In a famous episode of “The Sopranos,” Tony takes his teenage daughter on a college trip to an idyllic New England hamlet, only to run across a long-lost informant in hiding, whom he ends up garrotting in the mud while his daughter tours the picturesque ivy-and-brick campus. Those of us who have recently been on college visits may feel that Tony drew the easier assignment. Give me a choice between comparing financial aid proposals and fighting a bad guy to the death, and I’ll be asking you to pass me the wire.
In my youth, the whole process was pretty laid-back. Where you went to college was an important decision, sure, but it didn’t inspire existential gloom, nor did it call into play financial and structural resources exceeding those of some European nations. If you didn’t get into one small, moderately prestigious liberal arts college, then another down the road would be sure to take you, and in 20 years it wouldn’t really matter which one, anyway. Of course, as I’m reminded — over and over and over again — it’s a different world today.
A classmate of mine at what was then a reasonably but not insanely selective Northeastern college has since become an education consultant. “So,” I asked him casually, “what chance do you suppose we would have — ”
“None,” he said, before I could finish my question. “Neither of us would make the cut today. Not even close. It’s that competitive.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Books Children Marriage & Family Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Personal Finance * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
...[Fred] Bahnson, a Duke Divinity School graduate and a pioneer in the church gardening movement, had a different view of farming than the older tobacco farmer. He knew that if he gave back to the soil more than he took out — in the form of compost, manure and other soil food — he could create an abundant garden.
It was a different way of farming, born of a reverence for the Earth and a deep theological commitment to wholeness, community and peacemaking.
Bahnson’s new book, “Soil and Sacrament: A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith,” recounts some of the struggles at Anathoth Community Garden, and fleshes out portraits of four other faith communities — places where growing food has produced what he calls “a physical manifestation of God’s presence.”
Read it all.
If popular culture shapes how 21st-century people understand the afterlife, then some literature and movies are more helpful — and truer to the Bible — than others. Perhaps a guide can help sift the wheat from the chaff.
Greg Garrett, 51, a licensed lay preacher in the Episcopal Church and a professor of English at Baylor University, hopes to provide such guidance in Entertaining Judgment: The Afterlife in Literature and Culture.
The book, scheduled for 2014 by Oxford University Press, explores how popular ideas of heaven, hell, and purgatory are shaped by what we watch, what we read, and what we’ve derived from religious traditions.
Read it all.
The most disappointing thing about the fanfare accorded to a book like Zealot is not that it will undermine the Christian faith (it will not); even less that it poses a challenge to the consensus of working scholars (it certainly does not). It is that it chips away at the public's confidence in history per se.
For a brief moment, Reza Aslan will be heralded as a breakthrough author. In a month or so, some other theory, equally unsubstantiated and certainly contradictory, will get the same kind of airtime. Such works are generally ignored by working scholars, who tend to be suspicious of anything that bypasses the peer review process.
The general public, however, over time experiences breakthrough fatigue - an increasing contempt coupled with a decreasing curiosity toward any new claim about the man from Nazareth. The net effect is a weary scepticism that we can know anything about the historical Jesus or about history at all.
Read it all.
For this surely is the point: the Bible is at the heart of our national culture, just as Shakespeare is, perhaps even more so. For centuries it was found in any home where someone could read. The family Bible might be the only book there; often it might sit next to John Bunyan’s allegorical Christian novel, The Pilgrim’s Progress. This makes one thing clear: our historical culture, which has formed the country we have inherited, is a Christian one. Many today may no longer think of themselves as believers. Perhaps a majority of us have abandoned the faith, and yet we have been formed by it. Our ideas of what is right and what is wrong remain essentially Christian, and have been inculcated by the reading of the Bible over generations. We may have come to disregard many of its prohibitions, but whatever is admirable and generous in our morality derives from it, and especially from what Jesus taught, notably in the Sermon on the Mount.
Desert Island Discs is not itself important. It is agreeable easy listening, no more than that. And yet in one way it is significant. It has always been a favourite programme of Middle Britain. If it were to decide that its castaways should no longer be provided with the Bible, this would say something about the BBC’s understanding of the country it exists to serve. It would be tantamount to a rejection of our inherited culture, a rejection of our history, and an acceptance that the National Secular Society is more representative of Britain today than the Churches. Lord Reith, the BBC’s first Director-General who established the ethos of the corporation, would surely be whirling in his grave.
Read it all.
Mona Siddiqui, a professor at Edinburgh University’s school of divinity, makes no secret of the various strains of thought that inform her study of Christians, Muslims and Jesus. Parts of her book are rigorously academic and arcane, other parts are very personal. Unlike Mr Aslan, she does not confine her meditations on her own faith to an introduction. Rather, she ambitiously weaves her personal and scholarly views throughout.
She presents certain basic facts: Muslims revere Jesus as a uniquely inspired prophet who was born of the Virgin Mary, ascended to heaven and will come again. Yet Muslims cannot accept that Jesus was the son of God. This, they believe, reflects a flawed view of both Jesus and God. As Ms Siddiqui shows, Christians and Muslims sparred with one another intensely during the early centuries after Islam’s rise, with each side vying to be the ultimate revelation of God. But the two faiths did at least grudgingly acknowledge one another as monotheistic, despite Islam’s firm rejection of the Christian view of God as a trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Books History Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology Christology
We fear being sued, finishing last, going broke; we fear the mole on the back, the new kid on the block, the sound of the clock as it ticks us closer to the grave. We sophisticate investment plans, create elaborate security systems, and legislate stronger military, yet we depend on mood altering drugs more than any other generation in history. Moreover, “ordinary children today are more fearful than psychiatric patients were in the 1950s.”--Max Luxado, Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear (Thomas Nelson, 2009), pp.5-6 ; quoted by yours truly in the morning sermon
Fear, it seems, has taken a hundred-year lease on the building next door and set up shop. Oversize and rude, fear is unwilling to share the heart with happiness. Happiness complies and leaves. Do you ever see the two together? Can one be happy and afraid at the same time? Clear thinking and afraid? Confident and afraid? Merciful and afraid? No. Fear is the big bully in the high school hallway: brash, loud, and unproductive. For all the noise fear makes and room it takes, fear does little good.
Fear never wrote a symphony or poem, negotiated a peace treaty, or cured a disease. Fear never pulled a family out of poverty or a country out of bigotry. Fear never saved a marriage or a business. Courage did that. Faith did that. People who refused to consult or cower to their timidities did that. But fear itself? Fear herds us into a prison and slams the doors.
Wouldn’t it be great to walk out?
Imagine your life wholly untouched by angst. What if faith, not fear, was your default reaction to threats? If you could hover a fear magnet over your heart and extract every last shaving of dread, insecurity, and doubt, what would remain? Envision a day, just one day, absent the dread of failure, rejection, and calamity. Can you imagine a life with no fear? This is the possibility behind Jesus’ question.
“Why are you afraid?” he asks (Matt. 8:26 ncv).
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Books * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
O’Connell: Could you start by telling us why you think the suburbs are in decline?
Gallagher: The suburbs were a great idea that worked really well for a long time, but they overshot their mandate. We supersized everything in a way that led many people to live far away from where they needed to be and far away from their neighbors, and that has far-reaching implications, no pun intended. People have turned away from that kind of living. Add in the demographic forces that are reshaping our whole population, and the result is a significant shift. Census data shows that outward growth is slowing and inward growth is speeding up.
Read it all.
[Howard] Wettstein didn't return to religion by believing but by coming to stand in awe of God. How important is it to know what God is like when you love God? Is it possible to stand in awe of God without believing in God? Wettstein believes that it is: "In prayer … I have the sense of the presence of the divine, of making contact. But ask me about the party on the other end of the line and one of two things will happen: either I will beg to be excused for not having much to say, or else we will have a very long talk about how difficult a matter it is that is in question."
Over the course of the book it is plain that while Wettstein does not want to say much about God, he has a lot to say about this difficult matter of religion. And not being willing to say much about God is not the same as saying nothing about God. If anything, Wettstein's reluctance to make positive claims about God helpfully refocuses our attention, diverting it from metaphysical proofs to the practices of awe and worship. Wettstein's thinking is reminiscent of the spirit of historians and classicists who are haunted by the thought that we have not yet plumbed all the depths of the ancient world.
Read it all.
Think of what five you would pick and then read it all.
Before evangelical leader Chuck Colson fell ill at a conference last year, crumbling at the podium and later dying at the hospital, it was Eric Metaxas who introduced him.
At the time, Metaxas seemed primed and ready to become the next Colson — a key leader in the evangelical movement, known for his prison ministry, but also credited with keeping Christians engaged in politics and culture through books, radio and other outlets.
Metaxas took over some of Colson’s roles, including co-host of BreakPoint, a radio show Metaxas wrote for in the late ’90s. He took Colson’s place on the board of the Manhattan Declaration, a movement Colson helped found to focus Christians’ attention on life, marriage and religious freedom issues.
Read it all.
Rwanda comes across as an incredible country. The genocide produced 5.5 deaths every minute for 100 days. Adrien lost five brothers and a sister; when the 2011 Tour of Rwanda goes past his grandmother’s house he pedals faster to keep the memories at bay. Documentation disappeared in the atrocity, so the riders have to be given new birthdays — one nicknamed ‘Rocky’ gets 6 July because it’s Sylvester Stallone’s.
The genocide’s longer-term consequences can be surprising: because so many men were killed, Rwanda ended up as the first country in the world whose parliament contained a majority of women. The book is good on culture shock; accustomed to packed local buses (known as twegerane, ‘let’s stick together’), when the Rwandans visit America they all squeeze onto one row of a spacious people-carrier. In South Africa Adrien is confronted by his first ever bedsheets; he sleeps on top of them, afraid to cause a mess. Culture shock isn’t a one-way street, though: the Rwandans are amazed that the Americans keep animals in their homes.
Read it all.
Just as they have done for 17 centuries, the Greek Orthodox monks of St. Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt’s Sinai desert and the local Jabaliya Bedouins worked together to protect the monastery when the 2011 revolution thrust Egypt into a period of uncertainty. “There was a period in the early days of the Arab Spring when we had no idea what was going to happen,” says Father Justin, a monk who has lived at St. Catherine’s since 1996. Afraid they could be attacked by Islamic extremists or bandits in the relatively lawless expanse of desert, the 25 monks put the monastery’s most valuable manuscripts in the building’s storage room. Their Bedouin friends, who live at the base of St. Catherine’s in a town of the same name, allegedly took up their weapons and guarded the perimeter.
The community’s fears of an attack were not realized, but the monks decided they needed a new way to protect their treasured library from any future threats.
Read it all.
Eliot joined the Anglican church in 1927, and these letters from the next two years express relatively little speculation about personal, spiritual matters. There is instead much correspondence dealing with the relation, if any, of religion to Humanism, as sponsored by the Americans Paul Elmer More and Eliot’s old teacher Irving Babbitt. But this matter, which even in its day was of less than earth-shaking concern to most intellectuals, seems extremely dated now. By contrast there is an exceptional moment in a letter to More when Eliot wonders about people whose religious instinct is absent: “They may be very good, or very happy; they simply seem to miss nothing, to be unconscious of any void — the void that I find in the middle of all human happiness and all human relations, and which there is only one thing to fill.” And he declares himself one to “whom this sense of void tends to drive towards asceticism or sensuality, and only Christianity helps to reconcile me to life, which is otherwise disgusting.” The force of that final adjective is unsettling, and makes us aware that Eliot was playing for keeps. One is reminded, in a lighter way, of his contemporary Evelyn Waugh who, after he became a Roman Catholic noted that religion made him a less horrible person than he had been without it.
Read it all.
Dissatisfaction is the one word that best expresses the state of mind in which Christendom finds itself today. There is a wide-spread misgiving that we are on the eve of momentous changes. Unrest is everywhere. We hear about Roman Councils, and Anglican Conferences, and Evangelical Alliances, about the question of the Temporal Power, the dissolution of Church and State, and many other such like things. They all have one meaning. The party of the Papacy and the party of the Reformation, the party of orthodoxy and the party of liberalism, are all alike agitated by the consciousness that a spirit of change is in the air.
No wonder that many imagine themselves listening to the rumbling of the chariot- wheels of the Son of Man. He Himself predicted that " perplexity" should be one of the signs of His coining, and it is certain that the threads of the social order have seldom been more seriously entangled than they now are.
A calmer and perhaps truer inference is that we are about entering upon a new reach of Church history, and that the dissatisfaction and perplexity are only transient. There is always a tumult of waves at the meeting of the waters; but when the streams have mingled, the flow is smooth and still again. The plash and gurgle that we hear may mean something like this.
At all events the time is opportune for a discussion of the Church-Idea ; for it is with this, hidden under a hundred disguises, that the world's thoughts are busy. Men have become possessed with an unwonted longing for unity, and yet they are aware that they do not grapple successfully with the practical problem. Somehow they are grown persuaded that union is God's work, and separation devil's work ; but the persuasion only breeds the greater discontent. That is what lies at the root of our unquietness. There is a felt want and a felt inability to meet the
want; and where these two things coexist there must be heat of friction.
Catholicity is what we are reaching after....
--William Reed Huntington The Church Idea (1870)
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Books * Theology Ecclesiology
Go to the audio archive here and set the player to begin at 13:11 (it goes until 16:57). Only out of the mouths of babes. You couldn't make this up if you tried. Listen to it all--KSH.
Passing from a state of keenest grief I came to one of quiet reconcilement----to the profound conviction that, living or dying, God will take care of us. God seemed very near to me in that wood; the beauty of it all trembled with His grace; the music held His voice. I saw there both life and death----in the green leaves and the brown, in the standing trees and in the fallen. If one is honest with himself when he asks the question, What is it that perishes? he will be obliged to answer, Everything that the eye sees. In the forest, amid those things that God provided, I came to understand that if we are to hold anything----and in times of sorrow we must have something to which we can cling---it must be to the unseen. For the strength that is permanent, we have to lean on visions; for immortal hope, we have to trust, not the things that we perceive but those invisible things that our spirits affirms.--Archibald Rutledge, Life's Extras (hat tip: DF)
...reading a good book won’t make you a more moral person, but it will help you understand others better. Got it. But what else does reading great literature do? My friend Karen Swallow Prior—who is a professor of English at Liberty University—gave an intriguing answer recently in The Atlantic Monthly. Reading a good book and reading it well makes us more human.
Prior says that “What good literature can do and does do—far greater than any importation of morality—is to touch the human soul. “Reading,” she continues, “is one of the few distinctively human activities that set us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom.” Reading does not come naturally to us, like language does. We must be taught how to read. And, she says, there’s something decidedly spiritual about considering a bunch of words and symbols, understanding them, analyzing them, interpreting them, and especially finding meaning in them.
Read it all.
Why should pastors bother with social media?
Meredith Gould: Very short answer: Since social media, in some form is here to stay, church leadership, including but not limited to pastors, need to learn why it’s so powerful for ministry. I wrote The Social Media Gospel to help them learn and understand “why to” embrace social media. Why, pray tell, would any person of faith and goodwill choose to ignore these powerful tools for ministry?
You make the point that the rapid change of social media is one thing that church folks find off-putting. How can churches that don’t like change embrace such change-addicted platforms?
Meredith:....We need to distinguish among types of change before we can talk about what church people are finding so off-putting. Are they really upset about rapidly-changing functionality or is their resistance to cultural and institutional change?
Read it all.
...here are my top 5 book recommendations:
C.S. Lewis: A Life, Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet by Alister McGrath
Faith and Creeds, The Heart of the Christian Faith by Alister McGrath
In My Place Condemned He Stood by JI Packer and Mark Dever
The Meaning of Marriage, Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God, by Tim Keller
Christ Centered Worship, Letting the Gospel Shape Our Practice by Bryan Chapell
Read it all.
In Tolkien, the City was seen as either a a necessary evil (Minas Tirith) or as the embodiment of the diabolical (“lovely Lugbürz”). Even though the first glance of Peter Jackson’s Edoras provoked the comment from my son – ‘he’s king of that?’ – there is never any doubt where Tolkien’s sympathies lay. The Companions of the Ring, even the restored King himself, spend as little narrative time in Minas Tirith as possible.
In contrast, Williams both saw and expanded upon one of the central visions of the Scriptures; we began our career in a Garden, but we are not to return to it. Whether or not the cherub with the double-edged sword will still be keeping guard or not, it will be unnecessary. The Tree of Life has been uprooted and replanted in a City, which City is our final destiny. It is not for nothing that the City gives the name to that most desirable state of man; civilization, apart from which there is only savagery and barbarism. For Williams, the Image of the City was the Image of what he calls the vicarious life. Christians are always being exhorted to “live for others”. Williams says that the City makes it known that we not only live for others, but because of others. Others have labored and you have entered upon their labors. You only have to spend a day in a major city where there is a sanitary strike to understand just how little of an abstraction this is. Cities are the places par excellence, where human energies are collected, weighed and measured, and submitted to the process of Exchange. For Exchange, to Williams, is not primarily a Christian doctrine explaining how the virtues of Christ are applied to the accounts of sinful men. Exchange is, because of Christ’s sacrifice, the very Life of the Universe.
Read it all.
Is "secularization" little more than a self-congratulatory tale that modern-day atheists like to tell, or do we live in a secular age after all?
Eberstadt thinks it's the latter, and in this she surely is correct. In his book A Secular Age, philosopher Charles Taylor makes the point well with a question: "Why is it so hard to believe in God (in many milieux) in the modern West, while in 1500 it was virtually impossible not to?" Eberstadt wisely points to the work of historian Eamon Duffy, whose book The Stripping of the Altars shows in great detail how medieval Englishmen, even if they weren't always to be found in church on Sundays, lived in a world in which Christianity defined their everyday lives and filled their imaginative horizons. We just don't live in that world anymore—for us, it's entirely possible to go to school, find a mate, engage in politics, take part in cultural life, and listen to popular music, all without having to confront God in anything but a peripheral way.
So, Eberstadt has good reason to say that the West has "lost God" in some way. But she's not careful enough in spelling out what that means—for, as she herself makes clear, the secularization of the European social imagination that historians like Duffy detail is perfectly compatible with a rise in church attendance. In fact, that's basically what happened, until church attendance started to drop off in the 20th century. Explaining what happened requires telling a story that can account for this complexity, and that's where Eberstadt falls short.
Read it all.
Writer and scholar Reza Aslan was 15 years old when he found Jesus. His secular Muslim family had fled to the U.S. from Iran, and Aslan's conversion was, in a sense, an adolescent's attempt to fit into American life and culture. "My parents were certainly surprised," Aslan tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.
As Aslan got older, he began his studies in the history of Christianity, and he started to lose faith. He came to the realization that Jesus of Nazareth was quite different from the Messiah he'd been introduced to at church. "I became very angry," he says. "I became resentful. I turned away from Christianity. I began to really reject the concept of Christ."
But Aslan continued his Christian scholarship, and he found that he was increasingly interested in Jesus as a historical figure. The result is his new book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth — a historical look at Jesus in the context of his time and Jewish religion, and against the backdrop of the Roman Empire.
Read it all.
The ecumenical movement of the past 100 years has been wildly successful in eliminating old tensions and rivalries, but such pervasive success been can foster complacency, even in a time when a skeptical world needs to see more signs of God-given unity in action.
That combination of joy and concern is a central motivator for the Rev. Callan Slipper, a Church of England priest and author of Five Steps to Living Christian Unity, due in September from New City Press.
“We are currently the victims of our past success,” Slipper tells TLC. “The new vision I would advocate is one where we see one another as truly belonging to one another.”
Read it all.
“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”
The words of Oscar Wilde are no less true today than when he spoke them. The books we choose to read shape who we are and how we see the world. Because of this, I consume books voraciously. Mostly religious non-fiction, but also some fiction as well. I was recently thinking about which religious books I’ve read during the last decade shaped and impacted me most, and I decided to share them with you....
Think of your own list and then read it all and see how they compare and contrast--KSH.
In the book you emphasize three interrelated themes: (1) God as Lord; (2) human beings as God's image bearers; and (3) the place in which God's rule is exercised. Could you elaborate on the meaning and significance of this third idea of "place"?
God didn't create us as ethereal beings to float in some kind of spiritual netherworld. He created us as flesh-and-blood creatures to live in the world he formed and to rule that world for him. Adam and Eve as God's vice-regents, dependent on him, were to rule the garden for his glory. They failed, of course, and the story of God reclaiming the world began (Gen. 3:15).
The story begins with baby steps and progresses at an incredibly slow pace. When God calls Abraham, he promises him universal blessing but begins by pledging the land of Canaan. But Abraham and his immediate heirs never possess the land. They live as exiles and sojourners in it (Heb. 11:13). Hundreds of years pass before Joshua conquers Canaan and the promise of the land is realized. Finally, Israel is poised to extend God's kingdom to the world. I don't have time to tell the whole story here, but Israel fails miserably and ends up going into exile. The promise is going backward!
Read it all.
Two-thirds of the way through George Packer’s harrowing and magisterial account of post-2008 America, we meet a Florida boat builder named Jack Hamersma – a rough-hewn, working-class guy who’d climbed up the economic ladder only to find himself drawn into the maelstrom of the real-estate speculation that destroyed huge tracts of suburbia in the wake of the Lehman Brothers collapse.
Like thousands of naïve speculators – the 1920s-era shoeshine boys with the hot stock tip – Hamersma’s savings were tied up in a heavily mortgaged house that lost most of its value after the bubble burst. With repo men circling and foreclosure looming, he retained Matthew Weidner, a small-time Florida lawyer (think Paul Newman in The Verdict) to defend him against the venality of a banking sector that imploded after an orgy of deregulated and frequently fraudulent greed.
The lawyer was able to keep the lenders from foreclosing on Hamersma. But as lawsuit dragged on, Hamersma’s life unwound into insolvency and costly cancer diagnoses. “That happened a lot to Weidner’s clients – the job, the house, their health, usually in that order,” writes Packer, a New Yorker staff writer, novelist and playwright. “Weidner watched Jack shrink before his eyes, dropping a hundred pounds until, three years after that first consultation, he limped into the office one afternoon to discuss his case, wasted legs sticking out of his shorts, a canvas bag hanging over his shoulder, from which a drip tube extended under a bandage on his chest.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Books Health & Medicine History * Economics, Politics Economy Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
It’s been almost 40 years since Dr. Ernest Becker published his Pulitzer Prize-winning study, The Denial of Death. Unlike Becker, three recent books do not attribute the denial of death to more or less universal psychological mechanisms. They lay death’s denial at the feet of sociological and technological developments characteristic of the modern world. Nevertheless, they agree with Becker on one basic point: American society lives in denial that we all die. Further, all three agree that churches have colluded with — perhaps have even been captured by — this pervasive habit of avoidance. All three authors have had scrapes with death, which drove them from denial. In response, each has issued a call to churches to reclaim their ministry to the dying....
Read it all.
It is becoming increasingly clear that homosexuality will be a defining issue for the twenty-first century church, at least here in North America. It seems inevitable that same-sex marriage will soon be legalized across America; it has been the law in Canada for several years now. Meanwhile the acceptance and celebration of homosexuality is becoming a cultural shibboleth, a means of determining who has a voice worth hearing and who does not.
In the middle of all this is the Christian church which, since time immemorial, has held that the Bible forbids homosexuality. Is it time, as so many insist, for Christians to take a second look at the Bible, to get with the times, and to embrace homosexuality as a valid lifestyle, a valid expression of love and sexuality?
Many Christians feel threatened, like their backs are against the wall, and that this issue represents a major threat to their faith. But is it possible that Christians have been thinking about the issue all wrong? In his new book Love Into Light, Peter Hubbard asks, “What if homosexuality is not a threat but an opportunity?...."
Read it all.
In the first part [of the book], Mr. Rutherford discusses the origin of life on Earth; in the second part he looks to the future in the light of the possibilities opened up by human interference in the processes of life. As he puts it, "the great theories of biology are now being tested with groundbreaking experimentation." So why call the book "Creation"? Because "in the next few years, for only the second time in four billion years, a living thing, probably something akin to a cell, will be born in the laboratory without coming from an existing cell." We will be the creators.
Read it all (another link there if needed).
Start to finish, this is a brilliant portrait — pointillist, you might say, or modern realist. So brilliant that once it lands on a front table at the Politics & Prose Bookstore on upper Connecticut Avenue, Mr. Leibovich will never be able to have lunch in This Town again, not that there is a respectable nonexpense-account lunch to be had in those precincts.
That said, this is a different Washington from the one I departed from a decade ago (Pittsburgh: what a relief!) and surely a different one from the era when, among the Washington royalty, only Alsop (and not Reston, Broder, Kraft, Evans or Novak) required a first name, and only because there were two of them (Stewart and Joseph).
The partisanship is worse, in part because the parties are different, with no liberal wing to the Republicans and hardly a conservative wing to the Democrats. And the rhetoric is mean, in part because it is less elegant.
Read it all.
“If I had the authority,” declared the leader of an evangelical parachurch empire, “I'd almost be ready to decree that we go back to the King James.” That in response to my having written here that, if I had the authority, everybody would use the Revised Standard Version. The sorry fact is that English-speaking Christians have largely lost a common biblical vocabulary as a consequence of the proliferation of translations—and of paraphrases passing as translations—over the last forty years. I am told that there are nearly two hundred English translations on the market now, and Bible printers keep churning out new ones, for there seems to be a near insatiable market. There are designer translations for teenagers, mothers, business people, speakers of ebonics (stereotyped black talk), and just about any other market niche or itch that one can imagine.
The result is that little or nothing can be taken for granted when it comes to the recognition of biblical passages or phrases. It is not exactly a matter of biblical illiteracy, for it would seem that millions are regularly reading the Bible, which is a very good thing. But there is little shared biblical language among Christians, and, predictably, ever fewer biblical references in the public culture. The last consequence is not entirely due to the multiplication of versions, of course, but that, one cannot help but believe, is part of it....
Read it all.
The first known use of the word “mainline” to describe the largest Protestant denominations and distinguish them from their growing evangelical and fundamentalist counterparts appeared in the New York Times in 1960—at the very moment when mainline Protestantism began its rapid decline. You don’t call something “mainline” or “mainstream” unless its supremacy is being disputed (think of the “mainstream media”). And the supremacy of older, more socially prestigious churches within American Protestantism was being directly disputed in the mid-1950s. It’s impossible to speak with precision about what constituted mainline Christianity, but in general the mainline churches de-emphasized doctrinal differences; were Northern and Midwestern rather than Southern; promoted social causes rather than personal conversion or repentance; and virtually always took the liberal line in politics. By 1960, liberal Protestantism enjoyed almost nothing of the authority that had seemed unassailable 15 years earlier.
In “The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline,” Elesha Coffman charts the half-century ascendancy of liberal Protestantism in American society from its beginnings in northern seminaries at the turn of the 20th century to its brief triumphant moment immediately after World War II, when it had no effective rival. She does this through the lens of the magazine that, in the absence of any formal governing body, was effectively this strand of Protestantism’s voice and conscience: the Christian Century.
Read it all (if needed another link is there).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Books History Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Lutheran Methodist Presbyterian United Church of Christ
The Religious Book Club and the religion book lists of the American Library Association exemplify the broad cultural influence of liberal Protestantism in its mid-century heyday. Naturally, they tended to steer Americans away from evangelical or fundamentalist authors and toward the output of liberal professors and preachers.
But we live in a far different moment. No religious body or tradition has the social standing or cultural legitimacy to offer the nation a list of the “best” books in religion. Certainly the demise of liberal Protestant cultural stewardship represents a victory for religious freedom. Yet in the world of reading at least, it comes with a price. Book prizes—such as the Grawemeyer Award—and publications like the Century or Books and Culture still offer reading guidance to some. But more than ever, we are on our own. Is it any wonder that “spiritual but not religious,” the religious face of individualism and capitalism, is the order of the day?
Read it all.
Return to blog homepage
Return to Mobile view (headlines)