That Was The Month That Was: Christianity

While I didn’t do a lot of blogging during my travel course in Europe, I did try to keep up on my newsfeed. So as we near the end of January, I’ll share a couple of links wraps covering the whole month. I’ll come back to history and education tomorrow, but let’s start with the first overarching topic of this blog: Christianity.

Wear, Reclaiming Hope• I don’t feel like I’ve been mincing many words since Inauguration Day, but there’s no more bracing Christian voice in the mainstream media than Michael Gerson, who warned evangelical Trump backers that “they are in grave spiritual danger” and called again for Christianity to “[point] to a transcendent order of justice and hope that stands above politics.”

• So Michael Wear’s new book on politics, faith, and hope seems especially well timed. Here’s a first response from sociologist John Hawthorne.

(See also John’s Trump-inspired meditation on the Book of Daniel.)

• If you want to get a taste of Reclaiming Hope, consult Wear’s suggested list of political priorities for Christianity Today readers.

• How can American Christians pray for our new president, his administration, our nation, and the church? Subversively, wrote Rich Villodas, with an eye to Karl Barth’s observation that doing so “is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.”

• Mark Silk instead pointed to Jewish religious tradition: “To be sure, we Jews have been offering regular prayers for government leaders since the Middle Ages. But we also have a rich tradition of complaining to, arguing with, and assailing the powers that be — up to and including the highest one of all.”

• Inspired by Volker Ulrich’s new biography of Adolf Hitler, Richard Kaufmann called on the church to respond to the Trump presidency by “[recovering] its Christian identity” and “[distinguishing] itself from any nationalistic religion.”

• Katelyn Beaty hoped that “for Christians of all political stripes, [Inauguration] day is simply a new day to practice the radical ordinariness of following Christ.”

Poster for Silence film• I’m as big a fan of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock as anyone, but is that characterization “a Christ figure par excellence… morally, intellectually, existentially superior to all those around him, the smartest guy in the room who happens to be the smartest guy in any room”?

• What happens to a method actor who goes through the Ignatian Exercises in order to prepare for a role as a 17th century Jesuit missionary? If he’s Andrew Garfield preparing for Martin Scorsese’s Silence, he falls in love with Jesus.

• Meanwhile, another Jesuit is becoming even more popular among Americans.

• Ronald Reagan famously presented his image of the Soviet Union as “evil empire” to a group of evangelicals. Will those Christians now support Donald Trump’s efforts to thaw relations with Russia?

• Like John Schmalzbauer, the loss of Books & Culture has me asking some tough questions: “Has the evangelical intellectual renaissance run its course? Do conservative Christian philanthropists care about the life of the mind? Can evangelicalism sustain a publication that bridges the ideological divide?”

• A reminder that “the first must-read Christian book of 2017” is now available for purchase.

• I’m currently contemplating a book project that would take me into the history of the “spiritual, but not religious.” That’s a growing group here in the year 2017 – but also a highly diverse, complex population.

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