That Was The Month That Was: Christianity

One last month-long set of links covers posts and articles on Christianity. That Was The Week That Was will return next Saturday.

American Sniper poster• Why kick off a list of links on Christianity with Miles Mullin’s Anxious Bench post on American Sniper? Because Clint Eastwood’s Iraq War film “raises questions about the thinness of American Civil religion, a religion in which the film version of Kyle participates” and “about the Jacksonian tendency to portray good and evil in stark, even dehumanizing terms.”

• See also Patton Dodd’s On Faith post on the role of the title character’s Bible as “a symbol of [Chris] Kyle’s sense of self, his sense of the world and what’s required of him.”

• The debate over American Sniper is just one issue that had historian Andrew Hartman wondering if the “culture wars” will continue after all. (Most of his post, though, was a response to columnist E. J. Dionne’s contention that immigration policy would provide the flash point for such a conflict.)

• Gospel singer Kirk Franklin has “fallen in love with the lover of the universe; not the subculture of Christianity.”

• After spending a week in Istanbul, sociologist John Hawthorne found that his exposure to “a literal post-Constantinian society” raised questions about religion in an American society that many are characterizing as “post-Christendom.”

• What is the state of religious freedom in the United States? Consider Eric Miller’s interview with Steven D. Smith, with Miller both pushing back on Smith’s arguments and letting him develop them further.

• Michelle Clifton-Soderstrom did us Covenanters proud with a Sojourners post that began with her finding herself “in over my heart on the LGBTQ situation within the church” and led to a rumination on the power of friendship.

• Rachel Held Evans found herself unable, and unwilling, to shake her identity as a “post-evangelical.”

McKnight, Kingdom Conspiracy• Scot McKnight on Romans 13 in light of his argument (see Kingdom Conspiracy) that “over and over we see folks using the expression ‘kingdom of God’ for political activism and social justice activism shaped by political alliances.”

• Amen, Jon Huckins: “I’m all about using our voices to call out injustice. By offering a critique of power and a hope for those on the underside of it, the ancient prophets did this beautifully throughout history But, in a globalized, virtually interconnected world, I’m concerned we have too many self-appointed prophets (which, by definition is NOT a prophet), and not near enough practitioners. Far more constructive than a verbal or written argument is actually doing something.”

• Jeremy Bouma argued that “vintage Christianity,” among other things, is unoriginal, exclusive, and creedal… and that those are good things. (See also John Michael Talbot’s “10 Lessons from the Early Church Fathers for Today.”)

• I suspect that what Susan Reisert observed about evangelism is true of many more churches than her UCC congregation in Maine, including evangelical ones: “Evangelism is hard, and it seems even harder around here, where so many people don’t go to church, where the tide has definitely turned, where church seems so counter-cultural, and out of the norm…. While it’s a good start to feel comfortable in welcoming visitors who manage to get through the front doors, it’s simply not enough—if we believe that this kind of church is a good thing and should be given a decent chance of surviving into the future. Offering welcome to friends, acquaintances, neighbors, and even other family members who aren’t churchgoers, is critical to the well-being of the body of Christ—in all sorts of ways.”

• Should we stop singing these ten praise songs?

• Finally, I can’t think of a better person to help lead the research wing of the new Museum of the Bible than my distinguished colleague Mike Holmes.

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