You may recall that in early October, before the book’s release, I shared an excerpt on common grace along with the book’s trailer.
Keller was on Morning Joe this morning discussing the book, something I’d been hoping would happen (earlier interviews on the show about his other books, like this one, have always impressed me). Here’s today’s clip:
The Christian calendar season of Lent originated in the very earliest days of the Church. The ancient church that wrote, collected and canonized the New Testament also observed Lent, actually believing it to be a commandment from the apostles. The season has traditionally served as a preparatory time for Easter, when the faithful rededicated themselves and when converts were instructed in the faith and prepared for baptism. Therefore, Lent has always been a season of soul-searching and repentance – for reflection and taking stock.
2. Rocking the boat
Tom Becker, who lives in Lancaster and heads up The Row House (“nothing is not sacred”), writes for Catapult Magazine on the dangers of being, of all things… nice:
[W]hy should debate be considered taboo? Why are we so uncomfortable with those who rock the boat, even if they are motivated by love? I’m going out on a limb here, but maybe we Pennsylvania Dutch tend be just plain cowards. Cowardice is a sin of omission I find myself confessing regularly. I create so many missed opportunities to speak truth lovingly. Guilty as charged.
[As] Christians we must acknowledge that our current approach to immigration does not honor God or advance justice. We must confess that God’s command to love our neighbors includes loving people who don’t look like we do, who don’t speak English, and who weren’t born in the United States. And we must work together as leaders and citizens to develop a plan that brings together and commits to uphold the biblical mandates to love our neighbor.
4. Chris Wright on creation care Chris Wright, whose talk on faith in the marketplace I summarized here, was interviewed by Jim Ball at the Evangelical Environmental Network about creation care and how it relates to Wright’s work with the Lausanne Movement:
5. Franklin Graham’s comments on politics and faith
This week Franklin Graham, head of Samaritan’s Purse and son of the world’s most famous evangelist, made some unfortunate comments speculating on the authenticity of various political figures’ identities as Christians. Peter Wehner, who was part of the Bush administration and is co-author of the excellent City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era (which I blogged about here), writes wisely:
The problem here is Graham is judging President Obama’s faith commitment based on a political, not a theological, basis. What Graham seems to be arguing is that Obama is a liberal, he’s wrong on “moral issues,” and so a question mark has to be put over the faith of the president, who has spoken in moving terms about his own journey to Christianity.This is dangerous territory for Graham to reside in. For one thing, it sounds as if the Reverend Graham is questioning whether one can be a political liberal and a Christian at the same time. Of course one can be and to suggest otherwise is offensive. (I’m tempted to say some of my closest friends are Christians who are politically liberal.)
Repaso is intended as a thought-provoking compilation of news and commentary from the past week related to the intersections of faith, development, justice and peace. As always, I welcome your thoughts on any of the links and ideas in this roundup!
On October 31, marriage was in the news: Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphreys were getting divorced. It was a sad spectacle, and though celebrity marriages aren’t exactly known for their longevity, at 72 days this one’s brevity got people talking. “I hope everyone understands this was not an easy decision,” Kardashian said in a statement. “I had hoped this marriage was forever, but sometimes things don’t work out as planned. We remain friends and wish each other the best.”
Less than a week later, surrounded by our families and many of our closest friends at a little garden oasis in North Phoenix, Katie and I made audacious promises to each other: “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.”
Today is day 73, and by God’s grace, we’re just getting started.
The book is remarkable in all the ways that books on relationships and marriage so often fall flat. Tim and Kathy have no patience for clichés, but instead share their wisdom rooted in three significant things: 37 years of marriage; more than 20 years of ministry in a city (NYC) and a church (Redeemer) largely made up of single people; and last but not least, the Bible’s teachings on the meaning of marriage, and what it has to do with all of us. In the introduction, they write:
It is hard to get a good perspective on marriage. We all see it through the inevitably distorted lenses of our own experience. If you came from an unusually stable home, where your parents had a great marriage, that may have “made it look easy” to you, and so when you get to your own marriage you may be shocked by how much it takes to forge a lasting relationship. On the other hand, if you have experienced a bad marriage of a divorce, either as a child or an adult, your view of marriage may be overly wary and pessimistic. You may be too expectant of relationship problems and, when they appear, be too ready to say, “Yup, here it goes,” and to give up. In other words, any kind of background experience of marriage may make you ill equipped for it yourself.
That may seem like a bit of a downer, but really I think it emphasizes that none of us can assume that a good marriage just happens automatically, and neither can any of us assume that a great marriage is out of the realm of possibility. Throughout the book they show how marriage is designed to be, and indeed can be, great. As a marriage newbie, I didn’t read the book to critique it so much as to soak it in and learn from it, so I won’t dissect it point by point here. Instead, I’ll simply recommend it as what seems to me to be an honest, encouraging, well-informed and well-rounded book for all of us, single or married, old or young.
I particularly appreciated Keller’s interview about the book on MSNBC’s Morning Joe in November.
I love how he re-frames some predictable (and, yes, leading) questions from the panel, refusing to play the culture wars blame game while also challenging the nearly universal assumption that marriage is designed primarily for our own self-fulfillment. As he writes in the book, marriage is “difficult and painful — yet rewarding and wondrous.”
I’m glad I read the book so early on in marriage, and I plan to return to it again and again.
Machu Picchu, 100 years later
There’s a gooddeal of fanfare surrounding the 100 year anniversary of the “discovery“ of Machu Picchu in Peru… though, of course, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded that local farmers had found it earlier and their ancestors had built the thing hundreds of years before that. But nonetheless, it’s great to see it celebrated. It’s a place I’d really love to visit someday.
New monastics in USA Today
The new monasticism movement got some publicity in USA Today recently, which may or may not be deserved, depending on who you ask, but it’s a small Christian movement worth watching:
They aren’t a commune, but they live in community. They are motivated by faith, but they attend different churches. They want to help the homeless, so they bought an apartment complex. They are new monastics, dedicated to helping the poor, sharing resources and caring for creation… New monasticism focuses on leading a communal life of Christian fellowship and engagement with the “other America” — the homeless, immigrants, prisoners and the poor. While new monasticism does not demand personal poverty, it does typically mean sharing resources. It also attempts to break away from consumerism. These communities are located all over the country, normally in poor areas of a city, with an intention to engage the community in revitalization.
After the miracle of Martin Luther King’s March on Washington came the killings of JFK, Bobby Kennedy and King himself. That overlapped the ugliness of Vietnam, which overlapped the ugliness of Watergate. Then came the Pardon, Malaise, Iran-Contra, the Shutdown, Impeachment and the election of 2000. Then 9/11, Enron, Iraq, WMD’s, Katrina, Lehman Brothers and scores of other events that could have sapped our nation’s strength. But regardless of the latest ramblings from the America-is-in-Decline crowd, I assure you that we will be just fine. As Walter Russell Mead recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal, the United States of America is better positioned to excel in the 21st Century than any nation on earth. And why should that surprise anyone?
Enjoying America for What It Is
While we’re at it, here’s another good reflection for the Fourth, this one by Gideon Strauss from the Center for Public Justice. It shouldn’t be controversial, but probably is in some circles:
I want to make the case for loving America as an ordinary country. Not just-another-country: America is blessed with better-than-most laws and governments and for the time being has greater-than-most international responsibilities. But America is not a unique or even a special country with regard to its relationship with God. America is not to God as Israel was to God from Abraham to Jesus, and it is not to God as the church is to God now.
Preaching St. Francis
Daniel Harrell at Patheos has a wonderful reflection on the significance of the life and example of St. Francis of Assisi, considering the perils of ministry in the 21st century:
Francis lived in an era, like so many, where greed and political power contaminated the church. Christianity became so entangled with culture that it lost all of its bite and ability to inspire anything more than jaded indifference from the pews. Into the midst of this Francis walked, radically committed to a simplicity and humility so stark and so engaging that people could not help want a piece of it. The gospel takes on irrepressible power whenever Christians actually live it out.
Dust storm hits Phoenix
This one goes out to my lovely fiancee Katie and the rest of the Phoenixians I know, whose fine city was swallowed in dust this week. I want to experience one of these someday. Or do I?