Generous Orthodoxy  

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The shifting weathervane yields a twofer

The New York Post, known as the right-leaning tabloid in New York City (the Daily News is the left-leaning one) had a startling front-page headline yesterday. It read, "Muslim Refugee Runs Over, Stabs Ohio State Students." Not "lone assassin," not "crazed attacker," but "Muslim refugee." Two toxic identifiers in one headline. This is the new climate we find ourselves in. In recent decades, we have not seen "black rapist" or "Hispanic shooter" or "Jewish killer" in headlines. I have not seen a person's ethnicity or race, let alone religion, named in a headline in my recent memory; in fact, it's been obvious that the news media has been careful not to do that. Now all of a sudden, there has obviously been a decision to go for the groups most feared: Muslims and refugees.

Pity the members of the Somali community who are mostly hard-working and law-abiding. They have particular disadvantages to begin with--they are black, they are Muslim, they are "Obama's refugees." Many will feel that it is open season on them now.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Garrison Keillor on the election

If you are feeling defeated by the election results and are a GK fan (admittedly he is not for everyone), this will help you feel just a tad better:

(For a more biblical reflection, see also my previous post re Peggy Noonan.)

I have spent the day taking a very, very long walk to see the leaves that still remain (quite a lot of them, actually), refilling the bird feeders, reading Bleak House (Keillor's recommendation of Austen would be good too), and tonight, binge-watching The Crown. But I can't keep doing this for the next two months, let alone the next four years.

I am too depressed to write anything further at present...but will pass along the consoling assurance of the Psalmist which a dear friend in Ontario, Peter Hoytema, sent to me on the morning of November 9. He took the photo himself.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Peggy Noonan as biblical theologian

My husband passes along everything from The Wall Street Journal that he thinks I need to see. This usually includes Peggy Noonan's column. This week's column begins with an evocation of the old-time voting booths that almost made me weep. New York State was one of the last to get rid of the wonderful booths, with curtains, total privacy, and the small levers that made deeply satisfying clicks as you went down the list, and then the big lever that gave off a really big "ka-chunk" as you rather majestically finished off your civic duty and stepped out. I voted that way for at least 30 years, and was quite upset to see the new method which does not even offer real privacy, let alone ceremonial gravitas.

But what really got me was the ending of her piece. I had no idea that Peggy could pull off something like this. It is almost Lincolnesque (though without the rhetorical grandeur, to be sure). She is describing the awful choice we face this Tuesday, and the political sickness that brought us here. She refers to the old, tarnished networks as "webs." Most of all she understands God as the active agent in history, a point that the preachers of today need to relearn.

Here is her conclusion:
Both parties have their webs. Maybe this year begins the process by which they will be burned away [sounds just like Malachi 3:2-3!]. 
A closing thought: God is in charge of history. He asks us to work, to try, to pour ourselves out to make things better. But he is an actor in history also. He chastises and rescues, he intervenes in ways seen and unseen. Or chooses not to. [See Lincoln's Second Inaugural] 
2016 looks to me like a chastisement. He's trying to get our attention. We have candidates we can't be proud of. We must choose among the embarrassments. What might we be doing as a nation and as a people that would have earned this moment? [see the prayer of Daniel in Daniel 9:3-19, especially 16-19]

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Must-read article in The New Yorker

The November 7 New Yorker magazine has a splendid and most unexpected article about Russell Moore, the embattled leader of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. The title and subtitle are, "The New Evangelical Moral Minority: If the Southern Baptist church can't be bigger, Russell Moore wants it to be better." I was so flabbergasted to see this in the "new" New Yorker that I quickly looked at the byline, and then I understood: the essay was written by Kelefa Sanneh, the son of Lamin Sanneh, distinguished Gambian-born Professor of Missions and World Christianity at Yale Divinity School. Lamin Sanneh is known to many of us as the author of Summoned From the Margin, an account of his conversion from Islam to Christianity (Eerdmans, 2012) and as an extraordinarily astute interpreter of world Christianity. His son Kelafa, a graduate of Harvard, has been a staff writer at The New Yorker on cultural matters since 2008.

It is deeply encouraging to read such a fine article about Russell Moore, a man we should all do our best to support. (My only serious quibble with Sanneh's essay is that he gives a rather dry, somewhat uninformed view of "Calvinism.")

Note: By "the new New Yorker" I simply mean the years since Tina Brown took over in 1992. Prior to that, there was a certain openness to articles delving into church matters. Ved Mehta's The New Theologians (Harper & Row, 1965) originated as a series in The New Yorker. We haven't seen very much like this substantive article about Russell Moore