• The great Frederick Buechner helped me (via a 1969 sermon) talk to my students about the meaning of vocation.
• Reflections on a weekend spent in the woods of northern Minnesota and (imaginatively) on the desert road where Philip encountered an Ethiopian eunuch.
• Parts one and two of my recent series of talks on church history as family history covered the “great cloud of witnesses” and the ways that we “hold fast” to traditions. Expect part three next week, along with the return of my series blogging through Confessing History.
• Is it possible for politicians to experience “evolution” in their thinking on important policy questions? Or are they just playing politics?
• The premiere of H-Pietism.
There and Everywhere
• When my parents are at their cabin, 3000 feet up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, they listen to classical music thanks to a radio station hosted by Davidson College, just over the border in North Carolina. Davidson made the news recently for reconsidering its traditional requirement that its president be Presbyterian. John Fea wondered if secularization would stop there (50% of the school’s trustees must also be Presbyterian, and 80% Christian), but encouraged Davidson to consider another path: the reclaiming of its historic religious identity. Joseph Knippenberg thought that Davidson’s “ship has probably already sailed,” but he also refused to choose between “secularism” and “fundamentalism.”
• At least as it’s summarized by Scot McKnight, Evan Howard’s description of evangelical spirituality bears the imprint of Pietism in several respects (“Lived conversion,” “Active,” “Lay oriented,” “Bounded ecumenicity”), with Arndt and Francke included as key historical figures and Bible reading the fundamental devotional practice.
• Barack Obama explained his newly-declared support for same-sex marriage partly by recourse to the Golden Rule — an argument that Catholic philosopher Francis Beckwith found less than compelling.
• In my mind, the Christian Reformed Church looks exactly like my colleagues Fred and Ray, who happen to be the most easy-going, even-keeled people on our end of campus. They’re also Canadian. But so is Jamie Smith… and he minced few words in responding to a recent editorial in the CRC magazine arguing that that denomination’s pastors and elders (and Calvin College professors) should no longer have to subscribe to its three historic confessions.
• Speaking of unminced words… Randall Stephens compiled a few of the unkinder criticisms hurled his way by people unhappy about his book with Karl Giberson, The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age. It’s easy enough to dismiss some of these critics, but I’d be curious to see the authors’ response to the Books & Culture review by Jay Green, which accuses Stephens and Giberson of “[displaying] a breath-taking condescension towards evangelicals (and populists generally) throughout” a book that “seems packaged to reach evangelicalism’s ‘cultured despisers’….” (You need to be a subscriber to read the whole thing, but that’s no problem: because if you’re not already one, you should subscribe!)
• A lovely little sketch of two characters by Winn Collier: his uncles Ben (Democrat, Baptist) and Roe (Republican, Lutheran).
• The release of a third (and final?) installment of the Billy Bragg/Wilco collaborations entitled Mermaid Avenue prompted Christianity Today to ask what Woody Guthrie has to teach Christians.
• Bob Dylan is one of the most widely-covered songwriters in history, and yet it was still surprising to find video of New Testament scholar N.T. Wright playing a solid version of Dylan’s “When the Ship Comes In” (though it’s hard to top the Clancy Brothers’ interpretation at the Dylan 30th anniversary concert).