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… 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… Read more

Confronting Our Finitude in Boston

It’s hard to believe that barely three weeks have passed since the Boston Marathon was bombed. The (still)-evolving media frenzy around the attacks and subsequent manhunt stretched into what felt like months for us Bostonians. Glued to the news and stuck in our homes, the events shook all of us out of the fog of our routines and mundane preoccupations. Boston is a small city. Nearly everyone living here is just a few degrees of separation from the victims of… Read more

On The Moral Qualities of Privilege

In light of Sarah Ngu’s recent post on privilege, I’d like to offer some rough thoughts on problems we face in defining privilege and distinguishing between the moral qualities of different sorts of privilege. I’m still working through the issue, so comments on the view I’m presenting would be appreciated. 1.  In Sarah’s post, she cites Andy Crouch’s definition of privilege as the enjoyment of benefits on the basis of someone else’s past creative power. 2.  By this definition, privilege… Read more

Jesus and Privilege

The word “privilege” is tossed around a lot, often as a cudgel to casually dismiss someone’s opinion (e.g. “You’re only saying that because of your privilege”) or to ratchet up pity-points for one’s victimhood. This is why it tends to be viewed with a measure of wariness by many people. Despite its misuse, however, there can hardly be any denying the inequalities in power that the discourse of privilege illuminates. How might a Christian think creatively about “privilege” in a… Read more

Learning to Want What We Want

During the course of a homily on the virtue of faith I heard this Sunday, the priest gave an anecdote from his teenage years. I can’t quote him verbatim, but this is essence of what he said: As a teenager, I thought that Heaven was essentially a mass that never ended. The very idea of sitting through a never-ending series of church hymns repulsed me. Nevertheless, I wanted to want this because I believed I should. His experience of wanting… Read more

Calling and Responsibility

In reading a recent post on John Wesley’s failed marriage, I was reminded of a similar story from my own field: the church in China.  John Sung was an evangelist who travelled throughout China during the Republican Era. Like Wesley, he had a troubled marriage. Despite marrying and having a child, Sung spent little time at home. His sense of mission and purpose were so strong that care for his family figured very little into his ministry plans. A telling example occurred… Read more

The Economic and Political Roots of Our Friendship Crisis

Yesterday Jordan Monge asked the question “why don’t we talk about friendship more?” The post was prompted by a talk she heard given by Wes Hill on the topic of spiritual friendships. (For what it’s worth, you really should start reading Wes’s blog on a regular basis.) This is an issue I’ve thought about a good bit because of the role friendship has played in my own life.I’ll get to some causes of our neglect of friendship below, but first… Read more

Why Don’t We Talk About Friendship More?

This weekend, I was blessed to have the opportunity to hear Wesley Hill, the author of Washed and Waiting, speak at Harvard on spiritual friendship and sexuality. One of the challenges he posed sprung from his reading of St. Aelred of Rievaulx’s reflection Spiritual Friendship. He noted, “there aren’t a lot of similar treatises [on friendship] that we could point to in today’s church. Why is that? Could we be part of rewriting them ourselves? Could we be part of living into them ourselves and… Read more

The Peace of Christ and Our Cosmic Battle

  The Beinecke Rare Books library at Yale surprisingly has Thomas More’s original breviary, the one book he was allowed during his imprisonment in the Tower of London.  I was able to see it one April, and remember staring at Thomas’ own handwriting shining out his last prayer between the margins, and feeling how close he was, and also how distant.  At the end of the breviary, as the date of his death marched nearer, only the word “demones” appeared… Read more