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Three Quick Things: 7/6/2020

1) Forgiveness is Beautiful
It's the scent the violet leaves on the heel that crushed it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wffHBQKq74

2) Songs of Praise from Unlikely Artists
This three-part article covers a spectrum from Megadeth to Dolly Parton, telling the faith stories of the artists it features (not all of them have evangelical testimonies). Liking a wide variety of music, and enjoying conversion stories, I found it interesting. I've linked each part below:
Part 1: https://www.psaudio.com/article/songs-of-praise-from-unlikely-artists-part-one/
Part 2: https://www.psaudio.com/article/songs-of-praise-from-unlikely-artists-part-two/
Part 3: https://www.psaudio.com/article/songs-of-praise-from-unlikely-artists-part-three/

3) John Stott
He was a lion of evangelicalism. Would to God that we had more like him! https://www.challies.com/quotes/john-stott-disciplined-life/

For Further Reading: A perpetually relevant article by Andy Crouch on celebrity power, something we easily get caught up in. I've been thinking about "celebrity Christians," some of whom are pastors or online influencers, because I recently reread a book published ten years ago and realized three of the four Christian leaders who wrote blurbs for that book had fallen in the years since: one into sexual immorality, one into abusive leadership, one into apostasy. And I saw news this weekend of another bestselling author who markets to Christians experiencing the end of her marriage. It's enough to make anyone cynical, but in reality we do a disservice to those we lift to heights above us when we over-celebrate their gifts or responsibilities. We each and all have feet of clay.

Grace to all,



Three Quick Things: 7/3/2020

1) This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land
In honor of the nation's 244th birthday this weekend, this article poses the question: "Would it be too romantic to hope that this country's vast public lands might be a place where a splintered citizenry could recognize common bonds once again?" https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2020-4-july-august/feature/public-lands-preservation-republic

2) Strange Rites
At the link is a review of a book I'm reading now, entitled Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World by Tara Isabella Burton. Burton "describes the new religions practiced by more than fifty percent of Americans today as 'Remixed.' The religiously Remixed, 'shaped by the twin forces of a creative-communicative internet and consumer capitalism,' prefer 'intuitional spirituality' to institutional churches. They mix and match different practices to form their own rituals and belief systems. While most Remixed are 'nones' or 'spiritual but not religious,' many self-identified Christians also practice Remixing . . . At its heart, Remixed religion is selfish, choice-obsessed, therapeutic, and adaptable to expediency—making it a natural bedfellow of progressive politics. These new religions of the self may partially satisfy the human need for narrative and wonder, but they threaten to dissolve our civic institutions in a sea of 'personal authenticity and experiential fulfillment.'" https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2020/06/new-faiths-of-the-self

3) Double-Binds
Fred Craddock, trainer of preachers for many years at Emory, now with the Lord, used to say, "There is no way to modulate the human voice to make a whine acceptable." Pastors, at least this pastor (me), aren't whining when we say these are hard days to minister amid all the voices clamoring for our attention. I don't know who I'm losing, keeping, or gaining. One pastor put it this way on Twitter: "I think the leadership angst I’m feeling [these days] is layer upon layer of double-binds. No way to say it right; no way to get people to agree or even to concede; no way to offer a reflection or challenge a paradigm. No matter what you say/don’t say, you lose." The best way to relieve double-binds is to find a third way, which is what I try to do in these Three Quick Things biweekly emails. I link to a variety of voices on a continuum of trustworthiness, which at the very least means voices that are not lying to us or just telling us what we want to hear. Some of those voices might challenge your paradigms, others confirm them. Some of the sources, like the New York Times or Sierra Club (in #1 above), a majority of First Evaners may distrust and dismiss due to the source's progressive politics. I don't wholeheartedly endorse everything I link to, source or substance, but I try not to get caught in all-or-nothing binaries. Within every link is something we're better for considering, I think. In this I'm after what Michael Svigel calls the "Conscience of the Kingdom," at this link: http://www.retrochristianity.org/2018/05/04/the-conscience-of-the-kingdom-a-third-way-for-christians-caught-between-isolationism-and-constantinianism/

For Further Reading: God bless this Englishman in the video. May his tribe increase! "Evangelism in Lockdown": https://thinktheology.co.uk/blog/article/evangelism_in_lockdown

Grace to all,



Three Quick Things: 6/29/2020

1) "You Can Go to Church with Your Children, and You Will Survive!"
(Cortney Cannon, FEC Kids Director). Some First Evan families need to take health precautions and stay home on Sundays. We affirm that. But maybe you're waiting for FEC Kids ministry to resume before you attempt to bring your little ones back to church? You don't think your kids will make it through a service? They may not, but may we encourage you to give it a try? Only the kids in Kindergarten and up need to wear a mask, not your littlest ones. Bringing young kids to "big church" does require preparations beforehand and tending to them while the service goes on. You may have to go out with them (livestreaming is on all the TVs). We just don't want you to be worried about your small kids attending with you. They are most welcome in the sanctuary.  

2) Straight Answers on COVID-19
A doctor-friend sent this to me. He was careful to say he doesn't endorse the site, Blue Zones, but he does endorse this interview with the featured doctor, Dr. Michael Osterholm. This is a long read you may not make it all the way through, but at least look at the highlights of the conversation with Dr. Osterholm, helpfully bullet-pointed just after the introduction: 

3) You May Be Right
My newsletter piece is available now at my site: http://colehuffman.com/home/posts/you-may-be-right

For Further Reading: Rarely do you find The New Republic and The New Yorker on the same page. Let no one diminish the real pain many of our black neighbors say they feel. Reconciliation work is painstaking, and some good and needed reforms are coming from this time. But in the larger cultural scope, the way many advocate for antiracism has taken on a religious fervor that will likely erect more barriers than demolish. You don't really demolish by demonizing so much as you conjure the worst demons of resentful backlash. When a society wholesale rejects the Christian account of who people are in our dignity (the image of God) and sin (fallenness), it doesn't become less moralistic but far more so, and the moralism of secularity is merciless. It brings to mind Ross Douthat, committed Catholic and New York Times columnist, telling his leftist friends: "If you don't like the religious right, wait till you meet the post-religious right."

Here's The New Republic article: https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2020/07/06/the-white-guilt-cult/#slide-1.
Here's The New Yorker complement piece, filed under "humor," but is nonetheless making the same point about overreach: https://www.newyorker.com/humor/daily-shouts/a-day-at-the-church-of-white-guilt

Grace to all,