Weekly Meanderings, 7 December 2013

John Blake’s article on C.S. Lewis, the man you never knew, is simply not news for anyone who has ever cared to know. Furthermore, the essay lacks perspective in the direction and change in Lewis’ own life. Tell a man’s story true, but tell it fair.

(CNN) – He looked like a “red-faced pork butcher in shabby tweeds,” lived secretly with a woman for years and was so turned on by S&M that he once asked people at a party whether he could spank them.

We’re talking, of course, about C.S. Lewis, the Christian icon and author of classics such as “Mere Christianity” and “The Chronicles of Narnia.”

Christena Cleveland on singleness:

Since married people are the ones calling the shots, they remain central to the life of the church.  Meanwhile, single people are relegated to the margins.[ii] Whether this is intentional or not, this “married people monopoly” results in a Christian world in which single people are often misunderstood, ignored, overlooked for leadership positions, caricatured, equated with immaturity, and little more than a punchline or an afterthought. To me, it makes sense that churches and Christian organizations have a poor track record when it comes to honoring single people. How can pastors/leaders who got married in their early-to-mid-20s possibly understand the complexities of singleness or how to honor the image of God in single people?

After interacting with the church, many singles start to wonder:  Is there something wrong with me? Is God working in my life? Am I as valuable (to God, to the church) as married people?  Does God love me as much as he loves married people? Does God have good things in store for me as a single person?

The church has done such a number on single people that one singles minister knew that before he could even begin to address God’s call to single adults in his book God’s Call to the Single Adult, he needed to debunk the widely-believed myth that “singles are half a cookie.”

In a Church that was founded by a single guy, singles are terribly marginalized. There’s something wrong with this picture. So without further ado, here are my tips on how church people (pastors, leaders and other influencers) can turn this barge around and begin to create communities that honor the image of God in single adults.

These ibexes are very, very agile.

Jon Merritt, quoting Ingrid Schlueter, producer of Janet Mefferd’s show, on the Driscoll case:

I was a part-time, topic producer for Janet Mefferd until yesterday when I resigned over this situation. All I can share is that there is an evangelical celebrity machine that is more powerful than anyone realizes. You may not go up against the machine. That is all. Mark Driscoll clearly plagiarized and those who could have underscored the seriousness of it and demanded accountability did not. That is the reality of the evangelical industrial complex.

Michael Quicke on downsizing his library:

Downsizing is rarely easy but I confess how hard it has been to give away books. I have always loved having books around and for years have enjoyed collecting and reading an ever-growing library. In the past, large rooms for studies and offices have positively encouraged hoarding!  Since coming to seminary I have been treated to a constant stream of publisher’s donations,  sometimes for endorsements, which have jostled alongside new books purchased for particular preaching foci.  However, last year I began the painful process of thinning out books and I have since given away over a thousand books.   I will greatly exceed that target by the time I have finished. In fact, my future limited shelving space in Cambridge means that over 90% of my library will go.  Oh, it has been painful saying goodbye to so many volumes which had become friends.

And saying goodbye sometimes comes with cruel reality checks as I realize I cannot possibly read all that I once hoped to delive into.  For example, I have collected books on particular subjects that I was going to dive into,  that I even imagined that I could write books about, but I now realize time is running out! I remember an athletic deacon in my first church saying that he had suddenly realized that certain things would never happen for him, like playing cricket for England. I remember being amused, but then realizing he was being serious.  (I appreciate US friends would not likely take this seriously anyway!)   Yes, what once seemed limitless pastures are now ring-fenced.  I am grateful that I shall still be able to graze but I can see a fence.

Joel Willitts affirms egalitarian/mutuality in male-female relationships, a position toward which he has been moving for nearly a decade.

Hagia Sophia to become a mosque?

Pope Francis and his predecessors:

ROME, December 3, 2013 – In the voluminous apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium”  made public one week ago, Pope Francis has made it known that he wants to distinguish himself on at least two points from the popes who preceded him.

The first of these points is also the one that has had the greatest impact in the media. And it concerns both the exercise of the primacy of the pope and the powers of the episcopal conferences.

The second point concerns the relationship between Christianity and cultures….

John Paul II and Benedict XVI after him judged the average quality of the world’s bishops and of most episcopal conferences to be modest. And they acted accordingly. Making themselves the leader and model and in some cases – as in Italy – resolutely intervening to change the leadership and marching orders.

With Francis, the episcopal conferences could instead see a recognition of greater autonomy. With the foreseeable repercussions exemplified recently by Germany, where prominent bishops and cardinals have been clashing publicly over the most varied questions, from the criteria of diocesan administration to communion for the divorced and remarried, in this latter case anticipating and forcing solutions on which the double synod of bishops of 2014 and 2015 has been called to debate and decide….

n maintaining this, pope Bergoglio seems to be reaching out to those who hold that the proclamation of the Gospel has an original purity of its own apart from any cultural contamination. A purity that should be restored to it, freeing it mainly from its “Western” trappings of yesterday and today, allowing it to “inculturate” itself each time in new syntheses with other cultures.

But put in these terms, this relationship between Christianity and cultures  overlooks the indivisible connection between faith and reason, between biblical revelation and Greek culture, between Jerusalem and Athens, to which John Paul II dedicated the encyclical “Fides et Ratio” and on which Benedict XVI focused his memorable talk in Regensburg of September 12, 2006….

Speaking of the Pope, this report from the Netherlands is not good:

Dutch bishops visiting Rome this week have given Pope Francis a dramatic snapshot of the steep decline of Roman Catholicism in its European heartland.

Both Catholic and Protestant Christian ranks have shrunk dramatically across Europe in recent decades, and hundreds of churches have been sold off to be turned into apartments, shops, bars or warehouses.

In the Netherlands, churches have been closing at a rate of one or two a week. The bishops told the pope in Rome on Monday that about two-thirds of all Roman Catholic churches in the Netherlands would have to be shut or sold by 2025, and many parishes merged, because congregations and finances were “in a long-term shrinking process”.

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