Listening to Critics: When Musicians Raise Questions About Faith (I) BY: Denis Haack When I share someone’s music I not only hear some of what they are thinking, but gain at least a little sense, a brief glimpse of its significance to the deepest corners of their heart. And that level of communication is a precious gift.
A Wedding Homily BY: Steven Garber You have asked me to muse on the meaning of marriage, and so I will. We take our place in the generations of your families who have over the years and centuries made their own commitments to marriage, commitments that of course have made this day possible.
Funny People (Judd Apatow, 2009) BY: Wesley Hill Ours is a culture confused about friendship, not least the kind of male friendship on display in Funny People. We have trouble imagining close friendships between men that aren’t, somehow, sexualized. (Which means, probably, that we’ve lost any sense of true friendship. “Those who cannot conceive Friendship as a substantive love but only as a disguise or elaboration of Eros betray the fact that they have never had a friend,” C. S. Lewis bluntly opined.)
Home (Marilynne Robinson, 2008) BY: Denis Haack Home is a story that is true, which is why it has such power. Power to let us feel anew the deep, essential yearning we have to know a father’s love and acceptance. Power to rock us with the sense of inexpressible loss when that grace is withheld.
Rock Docs: Films Speak Truth To Human Condition BY: Matthew Hundley What drives us to churn our human condition into a song? In the stories of punk rock poets you find gritty realness, unbridled ambition, and occasional glimpses of Truth.
The Wonderful Freedom to Fail BY: Denis Haack Our world esteems productivity, rewards decisiveness, and dislikes inefficiency. Which is good when you are making widgets, or an engineer, or a manager, or a physician. In the rest of life, however, these modernist values merely decrease human flourishing by demanding conformity when diversity is what God called into being.
Away We Go (Sam Mendes, 2009) BY: Wesley Hill The film is chock full of mordant humor; offbeat situations and a cast of peculiar characters who have a knack for drifting; hoping for something substantial to hold onto within the profusion and confusion.
How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind: Rediscovering the African Seedbed of Western Christianity (Thomas C. Oden, 2007) BY: Denis Haack Christianity is growing in Africa at an explosive rate. In fact, the center of world Christianity in terms of numbers (of churches and believers), outreach and missions, and the simple vitality of faith should no longer be imagined to be in America, England, and Europe. A massive shift has been underway.
What Would Jesus Value? BY: Denis Haack There is apparently a marked disparity between the number of people—especially among males—who claim to believe in Christianity and the number who are willing to attend church. “More than 90 percent of American men believe in God,” Gary Yagel says, “and five out of six call themselves Christians. But only two out of six attend church on a given Sunday. The average man believes in the reality of Jesus Christ but does not see enough value in church to be there. Almost every man in America has tried church, but two-thirds find it unworthy of two hours a week.” The question worth reflecting on, of course, is why.
I love my neighbor as myself but only because I don’t much care for myself.
- Garrison Keillor
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