Jesus of Nazareth: A Savior with a Hometown

 Seamus Heaney. Wendell Berry. William Wordsworth. Robert Frost. In my childhood exploration of words and books, I discovered these poets weaving tapestries of grandeur with the homespun yarn of the mundane. They unearthed to me the vastness of space in the soil beneath their toes and the glorious weight of people, time and place in the familiarity of walls, wheelbarrows, and water. Recently I opened a book of prose that paints a similar picture of the practical and profound. Reading … [Read more...]

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 Do We Do When We Run Out of Empathy?

In a recent New Yorker article “The Case Against Empathy,” Paul Bloom warns us against using empathy – the act of putting oneself in another’s shoes – as our primary moral guide. Empathy indeed aids us in our personal relationships and in cases, such as the Newtown shootings, where there is an identifiable victim, but it does not help us to respond to other situations where victims are unidentifiable (e.g. tax evasion), or when temporarily shelving our empathy is necessary (e.g. disciplining chil … [Read more...]

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...]

Should We Buy Houses?

At the end of yesterday's post, the editors called for a renewed attempt to distinguish between ordinary Christianity and capitulation to contemporary American norms. I think this will sometimes take us in counter-intuitive directions. Yesterday's post made reference to "anti-suburban Christianity" and praised those Christians who have raised concerns about the effects of the suburbs on virtue and the life of faith. From this, it would not be a big leap to the pro-rental movement. When you think … [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...]

The Possibility of Intellectual Localism

The contemporary localist movement is generating a lot of interest around the conviction that people should live and die in the place of their birth. The debate over localism is a large one that I will not enter into here (the Winter 2013 print edition of Fare Forward is dedicated to the topic of place), except to say that it was the inspiration for some recent musings.  If the localists are correct in arguing that we owe something substantial to the place where we grew up, might we also owe … [Read more...]