Fleming Rutledge is a preacher and teacher known throughout the US, Canada, and parts of the UK. She is the author of eight books, all from Eerdmans Publishing. Her most recent book, The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ, is the product of the work of a lifetime and is being described as a new classic on the subject.
One of the first women to be ordained to the priesthood of the Episcopal Church, she served for fourteen years on the clergy staff at Grace Church on Lower Broadway at Tenth Street, New York City.
Fleming and her husband celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2009 and have two daughters and two grandchildren. She is a native of Franklin, Virginia.
Discerning God's Work In The World: Tips From The Times For Preachers
Monday, January 23, 2017
I am shifting to Twitter!I have decided to stop writing for this "Tips from the Times" feature on my website. From now on, I will simply reTweet articles that I think are notable, trying to be selective and not send too many. I have really enjoyed doing Tips, and I think there are some good pieces in my Tips archives, but I am spending too much time on it and--as we all know by now--Twitter is easier and more efficient, if not exactly mind-stretching! I will be able to put more effort into Ruminations. Many thanks to all my readers.
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Saturday, December 31, 2016
Reading in the age of TrumpWell, as I've written in Ruminations, the pre-election status confessionis has now morphed into something else. We now have to figure out how to accept the new reality without "normalizing" it. It seems to me that in this greatly altered political scene, preachers and leaders within the church need to do more intentional and more theological reading.
I realize that my sources are pretty "elitist." I do listen to CNN (mindful that "CNN sucks!") quite a bit, but much more frequently to the in-depth interviews on NPR (I just sent in yet another contribution to WNYC which has pledged itself to double down on serious, analytic journalism in the time soon to come). Oh, and let's not forget the relentless interviewers on the BBC, who outdo anyone that I know of in American media; I just listened to a takedown of a government spokesman in Istanbul, where the British interviewer, with her comprehensive knowledge, cut off the guest at every pass. However, there is no substitute for actual reading. The publications that I read more or less cover to cover are the New York Review of Books and The New York Times....not exactly populist sources! I look in on The Wall Street Journal and The Weekly Standard fairly regularly, which places me firmly in the traditional old-line Republican camp. I read the "Publius Decius Mus" article that has gotten so much attention. I try to listen to Fox News sometimes, but except for the ballsy Megyn Kelly, it's a pretty painful experience. I depend on friends to send me articles from The Atlantic and The Guardian.
However, the point of this is that even with my mostly left-leading sources, it's possible to get some idea of the breadth and depth of people's reactions to the new situation. For instance, soon after the election, The New York Times featured a remarkably sympathetic portrait of a Trump supporter, an devotee of right-wing, often fake news named Laurence something (darn it, I lost the link), a man to be taken seriously (and perhaps even literally). I was touched by the description of this man, the adoptive father of several mixed-race children, who did not fit into any predictable box.
And the ever-wise David Brooks advises us Trump critics to "take a break from our never-ending umbrage to engage in a little listening":
The best careful description of Trump supporters that I've read comes from before the election, indicating the prescience of its source. It's from the Washington Post. It's long, but well worth pondering:
My next recommendation is a November 11 column by Nicholas Kristof urging all people of good will to resist the ugly spirits released from Pandora's box with a "12-step program" of affirmative actions. I have already found that some of his suggestions are really helpful, and make one feel re-empowered. (One strategy that he doesn't mention is subscribing to ProPublica, the first online newsroom to win the Pulitzer-Prize; supporting it definitely feels like a step in the right direction.) Here's the link to Kristof's column:
Nicholas Kristof sometimes identifies himself as a nonbeliever, but there is something in his background and sensibility that shades toward an evangelical heart. (He recently interviewed Tim Keller.) For years I have noticed that he makes a point of defending evangelicals, broadly defined, against liberal disdain. An indefatigable world traveller, he has observed, close-up, the charitable activities of Christian agencies and missions in dangerous countries abroad, and calls the attention of his readers to them. The link below takes you to a column in which he specifically refers to evangelicals as people who should have a respected place on campuses in order to open up our educated population to the fact that politically liberal views are not necessarily the be-all end-all. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/10/opinion/sunday/the-dangers-of-echo-chambers-on-campus.html
One of the great questions confronting the church in the years to come will be how to conduct ourselves when everything seems to be going the wrong way. I was very impressed by Amanda Taub's analysis of failing corrupt regimes around the world. She writes about "islands of honesty" and how they can help to bring down an unlawful government. This should encourage us all, because even one person can be an island of honesty. Here is the link:
Mark Danner is one of our most important long-form journalists. His most famous essay informed a wider public about one of the most horrific massacres of civilians in recent times, by US-trained soldiers in El Mozote, El Salvador, in 1981. As a sign of its importance, it was given its own New Yorker cover when it was published in 1994 (Wikipedia has a pretty good account of El Mozote and Danner's research.) Danner has a new piece, "The Real Trump," in the December 22 issue of The New York Review of Books. He is one who is going to continue his decades-long fight for humane values by exposing and writing about lies and cover-ups. (You have to subscribe to read this one.)
I was arrested by a one-page piece by Evan Osnos, about the extraordinary Chinese dissident Xu Hongci, who endured horrific decades in the Chinese labor camps, escaping three times, successfully on his fourth try, in 1972. He died in 2008, leaving behind a manuscript of his story, which will be published this January as "No Wall Too High." The last paragraph of Osnos' piece caught my attention:
Xu's story can be read as a testament to man's unwillingness to succumb...But above all, it should be read as a warning. Tyranny does not begin with violence; it begins with the first gesture of collaboration. Its most enduring crime is drawing decent men and women into its siege of the truth. (The New Yorker, Dec. 19 & 26)And finally (for now), one of my favorite columnists is E. J. Dionne, whom the Times stupidly let go some years back. He writes for the Washington Post now. This is a very affirming piece about what may very well come about to galvanize people, young ones especially:
Permanent Link for this Post: http://tips.generousorthodoxy.org/2016/12/reading-in-age-of-trump.html
Tuesday, December 06, 2016
Writing with humor and rage at The New YorkerI have not read The New Yorker much in the past few years. I miss the "old New Yorker" more each year. My reading of the magazine under editor David Remnick has been limited to some of the long-form essays, like Jane Mayer's on the CIA "black sites." Recently I have started reading it again, because of the short pieces that they send out on email (you can subscribe for only about $1 a week). Remnick is at his best here, and various other staff writers contribute. There is one in the December 5 issue by Amy Davidson, entitled "The Age of Donald Trump and Pizzagate." It's about the Comet Ping Pong fiasco (actually, it was and is much worse than a fiasco, but I will not struggle to find the right word just now, since "deplorable" has been rendered unusable for the foreseeable future). Reading Ms. Davidson's piece was a tonic; I laughed out loud several times, which makes one feel more alive and ready to act somehow. Her little article drips with just the right amount of infuriated sarcasm. I am among those who strenuously disfavor "normalizing" the soon-to-come administration, and so this was grist for the mill.
On a happier note, and speaking of The New Yorker, I recently attended a glorious party (it was emphatically not a "memorial service") in memory of the recently deceased, beloved cartoonist Frank Modell at the intimate Coffee House club in Manhattan, and every "old New Yorker" still living was there. Frank Modell belonged to the fabled group of New Yorker cartoonists whose drawings had great charm instead of the now requisite "edge." The party was truly fabulous. The hors d'oeuvres never stopped coming, and the bar never closed. During a slide show of Frank's cartoons, I sat right behind Roger Angell and found it comforting to note that he is just as deaf as I am. I met and was befriended by Janet Groth, whose recent book (The Receptionist) about her years at The New Yorker should be required reading for all who care about the magazine in its glory years--and it is a tremendously humane and touching self-portrait as well.
Permanent Link for this Post: http://tips.generousorthodoxy.org/2016/12/writing-with-humor-and-rage.html