Short-term Missions, Long-term Places

The Gospel Coalition recently posted an article by Darren Carlson entitled “Why You Should Consider Cancelling Your Short-Term Missions Trips.” Carlson argues that many short-term mission trips are centered around making the “senders” feel good about serving—while actually failing to benefit the recipients and even sometimes causing more harm than good. He gives several concrete examples of this, such as,“houses in Latin America that have been painted 20 times by 20 different short-term teams … [Read more...]

What Does It Mean to Be Successful?

A recent article by Genevieve Smith, published in April by Elle magazine, raises the question of what it means to young people to truly be successful. Smith describes her youthful pursuit of a “creative” job at a magazine for which she earned less money than she could have at the financial magazine where she first worked. She agrees, at the beginning, with a friend who told her: “I cared about career success. I didn’t care about security.”But, says Smith, she and her husband eventually conclu … [Read more...]

The Beast in Its Tracks

I found myself dreading the release of Josh Ritter’s latest album, which is strange, because he’s been a favorite of mine since I first heard The Animal Years back in 2006. His songwriting is truly superior, and he’s got a talented and versatile band supporting him. If Fare Forward were electing a poet laureate, he would be my nominee.His attitude toward Christianity is an especially powerful current under his music. His lyrics are saturated with biblical and theological language, but unlike … [Read more...]

Minimalism is Good, but Grace Isn’t Cheap

 Minimalism is on the rise— but unless we build our relationships as much as we pare down out possessions, it will fail.Last week, two opinion pieces in the New York Times discussed materialism and the good life in American culture. In his article, “Living with Less. A lot Less,” Graham Hill explains how he overcame anxiety and found happiness by minimizing clutter in his life and concentrating on meaningful intangibles. Jessica Soffer's article, “Staying Sane in Small Spaces,” wasn' … [Read more...]

“The Bible” and Our Bland Theology

Bible documentaries tend to skew toward the fringe in order to get a high viewership: I have seen documentaries that argue that Ezekiel’s wheel was a UFO, and that Jesus performed his miracles using David Blaine-style street magic.  So I was wary about the History Channel’s new, much-hyped mini-series “The Bible."  Shortly before the show premiered this past Sunday, however, I read a Christianity Today interview with the producers—Roma Downey from “Touched by an Angel” and her husband Mark Burnet … [Read more...]

What I’ve Learned from Communion

Growing up, my church observed “Lord’s Supper” once a quarter. Every three months, an extra line would appear in the bulletin’s Order of Service between “Message” and “Special Music.” After spending a silent minute “examining our hearts,” trays bearing a species of super-dense oyster crackers and tiny plastic cups of grape juice would be passed along the pews, offering plate-style. In a tradition that generally deprecated ritual, this practice was clearly an anachronism, a holdover that would hav … [Read more...]

Lincoln’s Sentimental Slip-Ups

Over the next three days, I’ll be blogging about a few of the Best Picture nominees leading up to this Sunday's Academy Awards. Here's the first of the series, on Steven Spielberg's Lincoln. I like writing positive reviews. They are much more challenging and rewarding than simply pointing out a film’s flaws. But I don’t think I can do that with the Best Picture nominees this year, save for one (which I’ll cover last in this series of posts). The rest of the Best Picture nominees suff … [Read more...]