Check out this fascinating interview of just-retired Richard Mouw by Jamie Smith. They talk the Chicago Declaration, Kuyper, Mark Hatfield, John Howard Yoder, and Chuck Colson. Moral Minority even gets a mention!
A couple of posts ago, I discussed the rise of a moderate Pentecostalism that seeks to transcend the God-and-country nature of the contemporary movement. Here, Arlene Sanchez-Walsh highlights one such voice: Rick Waldrop.
This Notre Dame game is too awful to watch, so I’m distracting myself with this article on creation care in the Washington Post by Rich Cizik. A few too many nods to the national narrative for me, but a good reminder nonetheless to preserve the land we live on.
Here’s an excerpt:
If my own two sons, ages 20 and 22, are any indication, they fear that powerful lobbies have the power to purchase at will the Congress and the White House. The public’s land and resources are too easily turned over to the “drill, baby, drill” gang.
Sadly, they are right. What’s happening is clear: This land, our land, the public’s land, is being seized in ever increasing measure for development. More precisely, it is being leased to oil and gas companies.
It is my worst nightmare to awake from camping, as I did this summer next to the French Broad River in North Carolina, to discover a bull-dozer clearing the public land for an oil rig. But this isn’t a bad dream, it’s commonplace around this land of ours. . . .
It’s about saving a bit of God’s gift of plentiful natural resources for future generations. Call it a campaign to “save a bit of heaven.”
Why cast it this way? The New Testament scholar N.T. Wright in his book “Simply Jesus” puts it as follows: “Within Jesus’s world, the word ‘heaven’ could be a referent way of saying ‘God,’ and in any case, part of the point of ‘heaven’ is that it wasn’t detached, wasn’t a long way off, but was always the plan from which ‘earth’ was to be run. When, in the book of Daniel, people speak about ‘the God of heaven,’ the point is that this God is in charge on earth and will eventually set up his own kingdom there.”
I recently had the privilege of meeting Soong-Chan Rah, who I think is one of the brightest prophetic voices in American evangelicalism. The video below is wide-ranging, but it hits many of big points of his terrific book The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity. I especially appreciate his point, early on in this clip, that all the reports about the decline of faith are really quite ethnocentric because they’re focused primarily on white religion, especially middle-class white evangelicalism. If you look at the Global South or immigrant communities in the U.S., you’ll find faith that is vibrant and growing.
Last year Plowshares, a Central Kentucky group I lead that promotes peace and reconciliation, met for Hummus Night. It was a great evening. We all brought our own hummus to share. We screened a documentary film called Make Hummus, Not War, a film that was equal parts whimsical and serious. And then had a discussion about whether a regional love of hummus might be the recipe for peace in the Middle East. On a more concrete level, we discussed how hospitality and embodied interactions with our enemies help lead to healthier and more peaceful relationships.
Here’s a trailer for the film:
As a follow-up to my last post on John Perkins, founder of the the Christian Community Development Association . . . This week (September 11-14) the CCDA is holding its 25th annual conference in New Orleans. The theme is Cultivate: to foster growth; to tend, prepare and improve. Among the featured speakers are Michelle Alexander, Leroy Barber, Father Greg Boyle, and Barbara Williams-Skinner.
Here’s their description of this year’s event:
For a quarter of a century CCDA has proclaimed this passage by word and deed. Men and women across the country and around the world have been given grace, and in turn, together offer Good News to the poor. We live in under-resourced neighborhoods, challenge racism, represent and present the love of Jesus, and involve ourselves in issues of justice. As a result, life is cultivated in the hearts of the poor and in devastated places “bestowing crowns of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair.” Isaiah 61:3
The cultivated ones – “the planting” – who are identified as “Oaks of Righteousness”, display the splendor, beauty, grace, and power of the Lord. They are being renewed by the Spirit and are endowed with spiritual power to further cultivate hope and change, reclaiming our wasted cities.
We must cultivate these “Oaks of Righteousness” because Isaiah 61:4 is clear, “They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.”
John Perkins, known in the early 1970s as a “a Bible-believing fundamentalist for black power (which overstates things on both ends), has enjoyed a successful career as a mentor to urban workers. Among other things, he founded the thriving Christian Community Development Association. Check out an interview with Perkins here and here.
For more on Perkins, see Chapter 2 of Moral Minority. Here’s a short excerpt from the book:
After witnessing his brother’s shooting death at the hands of a white deputy marshal, Perkins and his wife Vera Mae moved to California, vowing never to return to the South. After a conversion in 1957 to evangelical Christianity in a black holiness church and then growing prominence as an evangelist in the mushrooming evangelical subculture of southern California, Perkins felt an irresistible call to return to the rural areas surrounding Jackson, Mississippi, to evangelize poor blacks. When he returned in 1960, Perkins, concentrating on building a new congregation, at first dismissed the emerging civil rights movement. He had come, after all, to save souls, not stamp out Jim Crow. But as he toured poor black areas like “Baptist Bottom,” “Sullivan’s Holler,” and “Rabbit Road” in a beat-up old Volkswagen wearing ragged blue jeans, faded sports shirt, and dusty black shoes, Perkins noticed the “desperate physical needs of many of our people.” He discovered that “real evangelism brings a person face to face with all the needs of a person. We had to see people not just as souls but as whole people.” Perkins adjusted his approach, and by 1965 he had built a thriving mission which included a day-care center, a gym, a playground, and a cooperative farming store in addition to a church.
As Perkins addressed the spiritual and social needs of his parishioners, he could not escape the obvious link between economic degradation and the southern caste system. His view of the civil rights movement accordingly softened, and Perkins allowed activists to stay at his Voice of Calvary mission during Freedom Summer in 1964. Though his reputation among civil rights activists was mixed in the mid-1960s, Perkins shifted further toward activism after suffering a beating in the late 1960s from white policemen. Faith was politics, Perkins subsequently began to argue. “’New birth in Jesus,” he said, “meant waging war against segregation just as much as it meant putting the honky-tonks and juke joints out of business.” “Racism,” in fact, “is satanic, and I knew it would take a supernatural force to defeat it.” By 1970 Perkins’ active pursuit of racial justice had gained him a reputation as “a Bible-believing fundamentalist for black power.” The emerging evangelical left chronicled his exploits in community development and evangelism, and he eventually became a minor evangelical celebrity, befriended by evangelical luminaries such as Carl Henry, Billy Graham, and Nixon hatchet man-turned-prison evangelist Charles Colson. Senator Mark Hatfield called Perkins “a modern saint.” Starting in the early 1970s he spoke at Billy Graham crusades, political prayer breakfasts in Washington, and InterVarsity’s Urbana conferences. He wrote in the pages of Sojourners, Christianity Today, Decision, Campus Life, and Moody Monthly. His autobiography Let Justice Roll Down became a bestseller, ranking fourth for a time in the 1970s in the sale of religious paperbacks. All the while, whites in Jackson treated him with hostility and indifference, a reality that stunned northern student volunteers who traveled south to work with Perkins.