Sunday, March 08, 2020

Another week gone by

and here's what I've been reading (well, some of what I've been reading anyway).

First off, Roger Olson explains what he means by his version of Evangelical. Personally, I'd just drop the label; no matter what you do, people will still think if means Trump-supporting fundamentalist.

Political Theology Network takes a look at guns and Christianity. Balanced approach, but right now it just raises more questions than answers. But that's good. Read it.

Anxious Bench argues for women theological education, but for a novel reason. Read it to find out. And speaking of ministry, Mike Glenn on Jesus Creed talks about our lack of capacity in the church. Nope, not physical space, but—well, read it. Here's a good taste:

Right now, we must grasp this idea of giving ministry away. The first Reformation gave the Word back to the people. The second Reformation will give ministry back to the people. Pastors will have to be the first ones to understand this. As long as we think we’re the only ones who can do the ministry of the church, our churches will be hampered in their effectiveness and limited in their impact. As we’ve mentioned before, Christ-followers are called from their sinfulness and called to a partnership with Christ in the service of His kingdom.
And speaking of capacity, how about our capacity to forgive? Fr. Stephen Freeman broaches that subject:
Of course, our experience of those who are truly enemies is that we do not want to forgive them. We do not trust them; the wound has been too deep; their offense is not against us but against someone we love who is particularly vulnerable. I could enlarge the list but we are all too familiar with it. The reasons we find it hard to forgive our enemies is endless.

But the commandment remains – not as a counsel of how to live a healthier, happier life – but with the added reminder that we will only find forgiveness as we forgive. Forgiveness is not optional – but a fundamental spiritual action which we must learn to use as though our salvation depended upon it – for it does.

Speaking of forgiveness, David Fitch is back with part 2 of the enemy-making machine:
If the enemy-making machine works to keep us locked in a zero-sum game, where only one person wins and the other person must lose, this passage in Matthew [18:15–20] moves us to a new place altogether. Here in this space of mutuality, “what is bound on earth is bound in heaven, what is loosed on earth is loosed in heaven.” We are being taken into God’s future, releasing the power of the kingdom to heal, transform, create something new.
He then shows how Jesus models conflict management in John 8. Yes, he knows the text-critical problems of the chapter (as do I); get over it!

Meanwhile, down under, Stephen McAlpine has a pair of posts, the first one looks at the great toilet paper run and how COVID-19 reveals the lack of foundation in our lives. The second one looks at the fallout from the willingness of society to encourage gender change in teen-agers. Hint: It ain't pretty. Remember, Ideas have consequences! If I were a lawyer, I'd say there is a marvelous opportunity to make a few bucks there. But, aside from that, all I see is ruined lives.

A little closer to home, on the Anxious Bench they tackle "political hobbyism"—a term I had never heard of before.

And so, for Lent, the solemn season of reflection and repentance, I have vowed to give up political hobbyism. I’m striving instead to trade shallow political engagement for deep political engagement, which focuses on building relationships, serving my community, and effecting real change that has an impact on my neighbors. I know from my research on religious communities and their involvement in immigration and refugee issues that this type of work matters immensely—not simply for meeting the real, immediate needs of people, but for creating enduring and impactful political change.
She then goes on to list some actual concrete examples. Good stuff.

Meanwhile, Bob on Books would settle for a bit of modesty. I'm with him.

I love my country. But as a Christian I love a God who loves the world (John 3:16), and so I need to see my country within the world God loves. To share God’s heart is to share his love, and to love the United States alone is too small to share the heart of God. I love a God who is holy, just and true, and this requires me to look at my country through these lenses as well.

When I look at things this way, it leads me to far greater modesty about my country. While not denying the goods, there is another kind of history about which I’ve learned since I was in school. Much of it isn’t pretty.

Again, read it!

John Hawthorne is retiring at the end of this year after 39 years in Christian higher ed. He muses over it in two parts part 1, looking back, and part 2, looking forward. Good insights.

The Atlantic compares the COVID-19 virus to the Spanish influenza a century ago. Hint: it was much worse that this one. In fact, there's no real comparison. But there are some lessons to learn from it.

The BBC looks at the death of the apostrophe. I doubt it's dead, but it is certainly misused/abused. Fun read, though.

Rounding out this week, is a look at James Daunt, the guy who is now running Barnes & Noble. I hope he can bring them back from the brink of bankruptcy. One thing is certain, he's on the right path in emulating the independent bookstore. And for the first time in years, B&N is being run by an actual bookseller.

Final note: Incoming college students—you know, the digital natives—would still rather use a physical textbook! And not just a majority, but 76 percent. So that's good news for the booksellers, isn't it?

And no, I didn't read a post about Amazon this week. But, I did see an interesting note on Bicycling about a NASCAR racer who is apparently pretty famous but is also a bicyclist, Jimmie Johnson. Maybe he can raise awareness so I don't have to worry as much about getting run off the road. Well, I can wish, can't I?

OK; I really am done here. Read the links and have a healthy week.

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