Grenz Ricoeur Shelf

Grenz Ricoeur Shelf

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Weekly Reads – 9 January 2016

So, how are you doing with those New Year’s resolutions thus far?
Good Intentions 

Rowan Williams recently (as in a couple of months ago) gave the 2015 Orwell Lecture at University College London – War, Words, and Reason:Orwell and Thomas Merton on the Crises of Language. I urge a read of the whole thing. Its quite good at getting at the ideological habits of language that prop up militarism and the worthy task difficult writing (there's probably some good indications in this as well why presidential campaigns produce such empty speech/rhetoric). The quote below from Williams struck me as a good description of what a theologian (and someone writing a dissertation in theology!) does:
...the good writer [or theologian] attempts to speak in a way that is open to the potential challenge of a reality she or he does not own and control. [brackets mine] 

Tolkien, The Force Awakens, and the Sadness of ExpandedUniverses – If you like Star Wars and J. R. R. Tolkien, read this!

Wesley Hill – The Future of Asceticism

The debate concerning Christian human sexuality shows no signs of abating. One thing that has frustrated me is that so much of the conversation (if we can call it that) has thrown more heat than light. One of my trusted sources for thinking through these issues has been Wesley Hill. In this post, Hill calls us, among other things, to a better conversation and debate that is more distinctively Christian.

One of the laments I have is that the divide between “contemporary” and “traditional” (I’ve always thought we needed better language) worship seemingly still pops up in the evangelical landscape. For my part, I’d like to see more efforts at a creative, liturgical re-imagining between the two (its possible, I've seen it done). Here is a plea addressed to the ‘traditionals.’ – Dear Traditional Worshipers

It includes 14 points for moving forward at the end (I've listed the bullet points):
  • We must not be reactive. 
  • We must never focus on nostalgia and sentimentality. 
  • We must be table worshipers. 
  • We must be liturgical.
  • We must be eschatological. 
  • We must not be elitists. 
  • We must not be emotionally manipulative. 
  • We must be intentionally theological. 
  • We must be open to new material, language, and influence. 
  • We must put our hearts into what we’re doing. 
  • We must gather together. 
  • We must be educators. 
  • We must break down the silos. 
  • We’ve got to be generous, patient, empathetic, and understanding.
Come to think of it, this seems like a worthy plea no matter who you are!

Preston Sprinkle – Romans 13 Doesn’t Tell Christians to Kill their Enemy (IMHO, there’s plenty of common ground for Christians who still yet disagree on the use of violence. One doesn’t need to be a radical pacifist to take to heart the exegetical points Preston makes here.)

New Testament scholar Matthew Malcolm takes an interesting approach to the Corinthian church. Its normal for the Corinthians to get dog piled with criticism upon criticism. And I get it. The Corinthians were far from perfect. Still, in a rather refreshing manner, Malcolm digs around and finds some Things the Corinthian Church Got Right!

And here’s the kicker: Those examples of xenophobia or racism mentioned above don’t even include black Americans. It only covers Mexicans, Arabs, Chinese, and the various indigenous peoples. Put another way, one can give a horrifying history of American racism and injustice without even discussing the racial minority that has suffered most regularly at our hands, black Americans, or the most horrifying example of racial injustice, race-based slavery.
Given all that, is it so implausible to us white Americans that our nation would still struggle with significant issues of racial injustice that are built into our legal systems as well as being hardwired into the cultural norms and habits that shape our nation’s shared life?
Is it so difficult to believe a black person when they say they are afraid of the cops, even when they are simply being stopped for expired license plates or a busted headlight or even for nothing at all? Is it so hard to believe this (white) friend of mine who fears for the safety of her black son? Is it so hard to believe our brother Thabiti Anyabwile when he writes that his one fear with moving back to the United States is what would happen to his sons?
And if all that is reasonable, is it not possible for us to be more careful about our knee-jerk reactions when a black person speaks up about modern-day American racism?
Good questions! Let those who have ears, hear.

I remember pretty much all my youth ministry and religious education courses in undergrad and graduate school were built around the idea of learning styles – which was all the rage at the time. It seems now, however, the conventional learning styles wisdom is being called into question as another one of a long line of “neuromyths.” Uh oh! I’ve come to urge caution to pastors, church leaders, and even professors in how they incorporate scientific findings and studies into their teaching and preaching. I'm open to being correction , but it seems the nature of the beast. What was once hailed as a ‘breakthrough’ is sometime later regarded as a ‘myth.’ I’m not sure what to make of this one just yet, but as a case-study involving the hermeneutics of subjectivity, its fascinating to me. (HT: Scot McKnight)

Syndicate has published a symposium on John Milbank’s Beyond Secular Order. For those who may have the sense Milbank is important but yet difficult to navigate, this might work as a introduction to his newest publication with a pretty good conversation to boot. Each of the ‘commentaries’ on the right hand side (just click on the links) have a rejoinder from Milbank. Be warned though, it may be a bit long to read through in one sitting. I’m still not all the way through it myself.

Lastly folks, this is one meme that could literally save your life!


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Unknown! Glad you enjoyed it. Care to leave your name so I know who you are? :-)


Comments, as always, welcome.