Tuesday, September 23, 2014
There is no single cause for the decline of Catholic literary culture. The reason my essay was so long was that the situation is complicated. The decline resulted from half a dozen converging trends– both inside and outside the Church. Internally, there was the assimilation of educated Catholics into secular society, the lack of support for the arts by the Church, the confusion in the Catholic community following Vatican II, the decline of interest in culture by the Catholic media as it became increasingly obsessed by politics, and the failure of Catholic universities to celebrate and champion our literary heritage. These trends occurred as American intellectual life first grew more secular and then turned increasingly anti-Christian. Meanwhile in the broader society there was the steady erosion of print culture—the magazines, newspapers, and publishers which had traditionally supported serious writers. This erosion probably affected Catholic writers disproportionately since they appeared to be out of sync with both the cultural and commercial mainstream.There is really two halves to that paragraph - the first part is church failings and the second is changes in the publishing industry. The second half is happening in the publishing industry generally and it is simply time to adapt - for everybody that wants to write. The first half is a different story.
Gioia succinctly captures what I would call "the evangelicalization" of the Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic church is too large and too diverse to ever go full on Evangelical, but what Gioia is describing is the church, especially in America, moving in the direction of Evangelicalism. It is a reasonable description of all the problems that plague Evangelicalism writ small. Simply put, the focus is entirely too narrow to every have a hope of capturing culture.
I find is fascinating that the as the government pushed increasingly to reduce religion to a Sunday only thing, we have aided and abetted that effort. We focus on Sunday services at the exclusion of all else. We no longer have a church culture - we just have the church show that people can attend.
I worry that as society secularizes we will not have a sub-culture to retreat into - we will only have a show to watch.
church culture show
Monday, September 22, 2014
The Death of Humility
I have been writing a series of essays for Radio 3 about national characteristics that have, for better or worse (usually worse), been dispensed with in the past 30 years. These include respect for manual labour, regarding Sunday as special, not being greedy about food, gentility… and the regarding of modesty or humility as significant virtues.I cannot help but reflect that this very real trend comes not only from the general absence of faith in out society, but that it is also reflective of where more modern religious expression has gone wrong.
Of all of them, I now realise, the last is the most striking change. It is self-evident that modesty is not prized highly in this age of the selfie, Simon Cowell, the celebrity memoir, the first-person blog, and industry awards.
oastful character was a freak, who pointed up the virtues of the hero, as Falstaff does with Prince Hal. So Tintin had Captain Haddock; Winnie-the-Pooh had Tigger; and Ratty and Mole had self-described “handsome, popular and successful” Mr Toad, and his self-advertising motor car. I think of that vehicle when I note that, in my boyhood, personalised number plates were an extreme rarity; but there are now four million, many sported in combination with smoked-glass windows. The driver seems to be saying, “Don’t look at me” and “Look at me” at the same time, although clearly the latter message predominates.
For the sake of "the gospel," literature that is reflective of the gospel without blatantly stating it has gone away. We have substituted "The Four Spiritual Laws" for a life encompassing reality. We have placed theological statements ahead of character formation.
What makes an enterprise "Christians?" Is it just a matter of branding or is it not a matter of the character of the people engaged in it?
The world did not chase us out of relevance, we abandoned it.
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Friday, September 19, 2014
The Power of Prayer
Two doctors seeking to pray with others for a patient and his healing before a surgery is unprecedented in my twenty-nine years.In our house we have been through what can only be described as "a season of surgery" with my wife. I have spent a lot of time praying in hospitals. alone, with friends and with our pastor. I would have loved to pray with the doctors.
I think it inspired confidence in the patient and his wife to know that those doctors were not only medically competent but dependent on the God we know in Jesus Christ.
The patient is doing well.
Read the whole thing.
power prayer surgery
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Hope From Hurt
In our early years of longing for children, my husband and I followed the Lord to India on mission. We sacrificed many things to fulfill this calling. When we, eventually, returned home to the U.S., we had no clear direction and were no closer to being parents.Needless to say, the empathy for childlessness is strong in this house. It is a very difficult struggle. And I cannot necessarily speak for my wife on this as to some level our perspectives must be different. That said, I know that for me it has not been a matter of coming to terms with self, but deciding how best to be useful to the Lord in this childless situation - it's not about my pain, it's about the other.
I knew God was good and powerful because I had seen him work in my life before. I wrestled with God. There were — and still are — dark moments.
Despite my trust in God’s faithfulness, I long for a different story.
The story of infertility is not one I would have chosen for myself, but it is the one God is giving me.
For me, coming home is about acknowledging the home I have in relationship with Christ — with or without children.
Because our home is not made up of children, I am tempted to think no one is impacted by my traditions.
But, my heart is changing while I wait. Becoming more like Jesus doesn’t mean forsaking or burying my human pieces. It means redeeming them. Yielding them. Learning to be unapologetically broken. Letting him replace my broken pieces with wholeness. Realizing that the deepest longing I have can only be met in Christ.
When my home is an authentic place where people are welcome, I’m choosing to be proud of my story.
When on has children, it should not be about self-fulfillment, but about the child. I cannot help my own child - Who can I help?
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Authority and Accountability
Following from the idea of a universal visible church, whereby each congregation has a necessary connection with other congregations, Presbyterians maintain that the visible church must be governed—not simply "advised"—beyond only the local, particular congregation. Proving this point effectively refutes congregationalism.The system has been much abused in recent years, but for these reasons and others, it remains the best.
Acts 15 is the standard text for Presbyterians on this matter. Acts 15:2 shows us that the elders of the Jerusalem church received Paul and Barnabas from Antioch to discuss matters of doctrine and practice. The elders in Antioch had "appointed" and sent Paul and Barnabas. Those who made the decisions at this Jerusalem council were apostles and elders (Acts 15:4, 6, 22, 23; 16:4). Non-ordained members of the church didn't have an official role at this council. Congregationalists wishing to argue against a Presbyterian interpretation of Acts 15 typically suggest that this meeting should not be taken as normative for the church since the apostles acted in a prophetic manner under supernatural guidance. But there are too many factors that prove the apostles functioned as ordinary ecclesiastical officers.
Why did the apostles even choose to discuss the matter if they received supernatural guidance on it? Why did the apostles debate the matter upon "grounds derived at once from God's providential dealings, and from statements contained in the Old Testament Scriptures," Cunningham argues, if they were under special prophetic illumination? The nature of the council's deliberation proves the "dogmatic and diatactical power of a court of the church," Guy Waters writes in the highly recommended How Jesus Runs the Church. The assembly resolved a doctrinal matter (Acts 15:24, 27), and the assembly exercised a power of order by telling other churches to refrain from certain practices (Acts 15:28-29). Acts 15 proves that doctrinal matters in one church or several churches have necessary implications for all churches in a binding manner because of the decisions of a higher court (Acts 15:22-23).
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
A contract is a temporary agreement between two human parties that lasts until it reaches its expiration date or one person decides to break its terms. But a covenant is a lasting commitment that people make to both each other and God, and which they have no right to step out of later just because they no longer like it.His concern about the breakdown in accountability in the Methodist church can be shared in all of the denominations and explains much of the reason for their loss of influence and general decline. And it should be noted that such accountability is not just between the church and its members, but in the higher bodies of the church as well. One need look no further than the scandals that have rocked the Catholic church to understand the importance of this accountability.
Covenant accountability is at the very heart of Methodist DNA. We were known for the intense, loving moral and spiritual accountability in our classes and bands.
I constantly hear how people do not want to be held accountability. Why is that? Maybe it is because the accountability we exercise glorifies the church and not God. Maybe it is because what we show accountability as having accomplished in our lives is not necessarily the good stuff. Maybe it is because we seek to hold them accountable without first placing ourselves into accountability.
I know I long for someone that we hold me accountable in a good, gentle and loving fashion.