The Real Case Against the Suburbs, or, How Ought Christians to Think About the Common Good?

Over at Mere O, Keith Miller has been kind enough to respond to a piece the FF editors published about Anthony Bradley's praise of ordinary Christianity. In his post, Bradley lamented that "radical" or "missional" Christianity was obscuring the need for basic, everyday Christianity. He linked this misplaced zeal of "radical Christianity" to the anti-suburbs movement. We responded by agreeing in part with Bradley, but noted that "there’s ordinary, and then there’s total capitulation to cont … [Read more...]

The “New Legalism” Gets Some Things Right

On the Acton Blog, Anthony Bradley argues that "radical" or "missional" Christianity, of the kind proposed by David Platt, is the new form of legalism. By telling people that an ordinary, normal life of loving God in the everyday isn't enough, the new "radicals" are causing people to burn out and leave the church. He writes: I continue to be amazed by the number of youth and youth adults who are stressed and burnt out from the regular shaming and feelings of inadequacy if they happen to not … [Read more...]

Avoiding Civilizational Hard Ceilings

 I recently wrote about an interview I conducted with sociologist Robert Bellah in preparation for a talk he gave this past week at Notre Dame. The talk introduced his thoughts on the next step in his work, following up on his argument in Religion in Human Evolution.A good portion of the talk drew on recent work by Ian Morris on the historical relationship between development and the fate of civilizations. In particular, Bellah found that a developmental “hard ceiling” consistently h … [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...]

Consumerism and Tired Christian Criticisms

I just finished reading Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire by William Cavanaugh. Fare Forward readers will be familiar with many of its themes, but I found it insightful nonetheless.One of his more interesting suggestions is that, contrary to much Christian rhetoric, we should understand consumerism as a form of detachment rather than attachment: Most people are not overly attached to things, and most are not obsessed with hoarding riches. Indeed, the United States has one of the … [Read more...]