Archive for 'Culture'
Posted on 16. May, 2012 by Tim Stoner.
Eric Metaxa’s brilliant autobiography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer was easily my favorite book of 2011. It introduced me to a teacher, preacher with the unnering and unnerving prophet’s eye. Abraham Heschel describes a prophet as ones who, “said no to to his society, condemning its habits, and assumptions, its complacency, waywardness, and syncretism.” Such a man was Bonhoeffer and for it he paid with his life. This book made me wonder whether I was reading more of a prophesy than a biography. The choice for him was between the German Church and the Confessing Church (which he helped found). Today it might very well be the Accomodated Church one the one side and the Faithful Church on the other. But, what is clear, we desperately need more prophetic preachers like him inside as well as outside the church.
Posted on 17. Mar, 2011 by Tim Stoner.
In Love Wins Bell is launching a serious critique against belief in the conscious, eternal torment of those who reject Christ. Now, the really bad news hidden beneath Bell’s sympathetic and generous dismissal of the church’s historic teaching is that it drives all evil and suffering, as well as catastophes like those in Japan, completely outside the providence of God. A good God who is too good to condemn to an eternal Hell is incapable of having anything to do with the major traumas of our life, except to (after the fact) put a kindly but impotent hand on our shoulder and sympathize with our pain. This good-natured, frustrated bystander to suffering can offer us no real hope or comfort at all.
Posted on 11. Sep, 2010 by Tim Stoner.
Coming to a campus near you is the premier screening of a ground-breaking documentary addressing the growing nonviolence movement in Israel and Palestine. Little Town of Bethlehem tells the gripping story of three men—born into sectarian violence and on opposite sides of the conflict, yet willing to risk everything to embrace a non-violent solution to the hostility tearing their homelands apart. Their three paths intersect in Bethlehem, the birthplace of the Prince of Peace, now a town in occupied territory surrounded by a 30-foot cement wall crowned with barbed wire.
Posted on 18. May, 2010 by Tim Stoner.
Desiring the Kingdom was authored by James K. A. Smith, a philosopny professor at Calvin College and is one of the 10 most influential books I have read. It shines unrelenting light upon the deficits of the traditional perspective on Christian formation-discipleship. Its thesis can be summarized simply: Christians have been wrong for over 400 years in defining humans by placing the focus on the mind–we are thinking beings that are containers for ideas. He argues that being a disciple of Jesus is not primarily a matter of getting the right ideas and doctrines and beliefs into your head; rather, it is a matter of being the kind of person who loves rightly. We are first of all lovers not thinkers. And then he gets dangerous.
Posted on 21. Mar, 2010 by Tim Stoner.
A Life Apart is a captivating documentary on the culture war between ultra-orthodox, Jewish Hasids and America. In it there is this wonderful story that illustrates the movement’s haunting attraction. It was Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year. Baal Shem Tov, its founder, was praying. He stopped abruptly and after a while the congregation grew restless. Suddenly, an illiterate young shepherd, unable to restrain himself, pulled out a flute and played a single, heartfelt note. The congregation was scandalized but, as the sound died out, the Rebbe began praying as though nothing had happened. When asked about it he said, “I sensed the gates of heaven were closed to our prayers, but that one, pure note, sounded by the shepherd boy, pierced through the heavenly gates and only then were our prayers permitted to follow.”
Posted on 22. Feb, 2010 by Tim Stoner.
While I agree with the desire to increase the number of adoptions, what is distressing is the implication, in a blog I read recently, that because trans-racial adoptions may have some negatives, it would be better to let black, Christian families adopt black, orphan children. A question comes to mind, should the social sciences be allowed to dictate Christian ethics? What if anthropologists determined that Anglo missionaries have a destructive impact on primitive tribal cultures? Should that require a moratorium on white missionaries taking the Gospel to New Guinea? Obedience not race or sociology should control.
Posted on 14. Nov, 2009 by Tim Stoner.
To say “I am spiritual but not religious”, is like asserting, “I believe in sex but not marriage.” Marriage tames the wild, undisciplined (ultimately selfish), free-spirit and provides beneficial boundaries which help direct the flow of life-energy in a strong, focused, and societally healthy direction. (Or at least it is meant to.) Its legal and moral constraints place restrictions (rules, if you will) around the irresponsible sexual drive that runs amok in pursuit of personal pleasure rather than committed love. Religion serves spirituality in much the same way. It helps the savage become a saint.
Posted on 22. Jul, 2009 by Tim Stoner.
Going to see the latest Harry Potter movie with my son Jonathan made we think about the difference between the Potter cosmology and that of Narnia and Middle Earth. I think Rawling comingles two things Lewis and Tolkien never do: the power of the good and the power of evil. Whereas using the ring’s power in Middle Earth will destroy you, and whereas the mad magician’s delving into magic brought a curse on Narnia, at Hogwarts it is either all brillant fun or dynamite to be handled with caution (but handled none the less). The protagonists at the school of sorcery play with fire while Frodo and Bilbo learn it is better not even to put the damned thing on your finger. That is not to say I don’t recommend the movie. It can still be enjoyed, but carefully–like dynamite.