1. The geography of Bob Dylan
Slate put together a great map representing all the actual places that have made their way into Dylan’s songs:
Bob Dylan’s music, it’s often said, happens in a world of its own—where the highway is for gamblers and you’re always 1,000 miles from home. It’s a surreal, ethereal realm, lawless but for chance, allusion, and rhyme. And yet it is our world, because there’s another, parallel tendency in Dylan’s songs: the direct place-name reference. Once the amateur Dylanologist tries to think of some, they flood the brain… And so, to mark Dylan’s 72nd birthday and the 50th anniversary of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, his breakthrough album, we present Bob Dylan’s World, an interactive map with entries for every place-name in a song written by Dylan and released on some kind of album.
If you choose a profession that doesn’t arouse your everyday passion for the sake of serving instead some abstract faraway good, you might end up as a person who values the far over the near. You might become one of those people who loves humanity in general but not the particular humans immediately around. You might end up enlarging the faculties we use to perceive the far — rationality — and eclipsing the faculties we use to interact with those closest around — affection, the capacity for vulnerability and dependence. Instead of seeing yourself as one person deeply embedded in a particular community, you may end up coolly looking across humanity as a detached god.
Take a moment to explore your city. What is the average income for your neighborhood compared to the rest of the state? Does the socio-economic makeup of your church reflect that of the community around it? If your church is in a wealthy community, are there strategically placed, effective ministries in low-income areas with which you might partner? If you want to go even deeper, examine rental expenses and income levels throughout your city. Does the relationship between rental prices and income remain roughly consistent between neighborhoods? Or do residents in particular low-income neighborhoods face equal or higher housing costs compared to residents in higher-income areas?
4. Why Kuyper matters
There has been a spate of new books published about Abraham Kuyper lately, and the American religious historian Mark Noll wrote the forward to one of the massive ones. Eerdmans published the forward on its blog, and here’s an excerpt:
The vigor of Kuyper’s convictions, along with his strenuous efforts at putting them into practice for religious, educational, and political purposes in the Netherlands — and with the significant numbers around the world who have found his ideas inspiring — makes him a figure of world historical significance. It also means that a biography like this one must be done with care, so that readers come to understand Kuyper in his own life context as well as the influence his ideas have had.
5. Churches and cities as partners
Here’s an interview with Kevin Palau (@kevinpalau), an evangelist, and Sam Adams (@PDXSamAdams), the former mayor of Portland (a city not necessarily known for its Christians) on what it looks like for churches and cities to act as partners for the common good.