Here are a few recent online articles that I found thought-provoking, interesting and fun:
Today in the New York Times Ross Douthat talks about how the “culture war” is changing. Interestingly, as it pertains to campus ministry, this change has partly come about as evangelical Christians have become better educated over the last decades and thus more able to engage in cultural debate:
In part, these shifts may be a testament to the upward mobility of religious believers. America’s college-educated population probably looks more conservative and (relatively speaking) more religious because religious conservatives have become better educated. Evangelical Christians, in particular, are now one of America’s best-educated demographics, as likely to enroll their children in an S.A.T. prep course as they are to ship them off to Bible camp.This means that a culture war that’s often seen as a clash between liberal elites and a conservative middle America looks more and more like a conflict within the educated class — pitting Wheaton and Baylor against Brown and Bard, Redeemer Presbyterian Church against the 92nd Street Y, C. S. Lewis devotees against the Philip Pullman fan club.
Not really along those lines, although perhaps we could find connections in how different groups of Christians relate to the wider culture, is this blog post from the Internet Monk. The contributors to this site are thoughtful, but they also pull no punches. Here they take on the creation of a Christian theme park of sorts based on Noah’s Ark, seeing it as “the Disney-ization of Faith”:
Those visions will come to life in true Disney-like fashion—with overwhelming kitsch, mawkish sentimentality, a thin veneer of credibility, and, most importantly, the absolute conviction of unwavering belief in spite of any contrary evidence or countering interpretations. This project is fundamentalism at its creative worst. It doesn’t lead us to the real Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible. It leads us to the cartoon Jesus, the Disney Jesus, the American sanitized version of Jesus, the Jesus who entertains us and keeps it all safe for the whole family to enjoy (at 50 bucks a pop). The Jesus they give us is Jesus the Hero who lived and died on the screen in all his glory, not the “Man of Sorrows” who suffered and died on the cross in shame. This Jesus has been drawn and brought to life for us by purveyors of spiritual technology, not shared with us as true apostles like Paul did—through a humble daily life of suffering and loving in Jesus’ name. There’s the Jesus way and there’s the Disney way, and the gap between them is vast.
For a little history lesson, today is the day when Thomas Aquinas, one of the greatest theologians in the history of Christianity, and one of the greatest philosophers in history, stopped writing. The story goes that he saw a vision of God and said that he can write no more for in light of what he has seen, all he has written in straw. Here is a reflection on this event.
A few weeks ago I found this article on worship to be intriguing, and probably helpful to worship leaders.
As much as I want to share articles I have read on Wikileaks and TSA, I feel I can easily get distracted by such things, caught up in the frenzy. It is advent, the weeks before Christmas, and I am trying to re-focus on what really matters. But I still do recommend Dan Carlin’s podcast Common Sense if you are interested in talking politics (and his Hardcore History podcast is great if you like studying history).
Grace and Peace