The holistic affirmation of the goodness of creation and the importance of “this worldly” justice is not a substitute for heaven, as if the holistic gospel was a sanctified way to learn to be a naturalist. To the contrary, it is the very transcendence of God—in the ascension of the Son who now reigns from heaven, and in the futurity of the coming kingdom for which we pray—that disciplines and disrupts and haunts our tendency to settle for “this world.” It is the call of the Son from heaven, and the vision of the New Jerusalem descending from heaven, that pushes back on our illusions that we could figure this all out, that we could bring this about. Shalom is not biblical language for progressivist social amelioration. Shalom is a Christ-haunted call to long for kingdom come.
2. Art and agendas
This piece by Alissa Wilkinson (@alissamarie), English professor and film critic, is a must-read (so I hope you’ll pardon the excessively long excerpt I felt compelled to include here):
If you want to play in the big leagues as an artist, you’ve got to know what you’re getting into, and know your genre, which means maybe it’s more important for the church to be forming good Christians, who can then make art and policies and syllabi according to what they know from their years of experience, rather than asking them to work in service of an idea, and it’s possibly most important for the church to be cultivating good watchers and good listeners and (maybe I’m biased) good critics—people who not only know that, for instance, the very celebrated and prolific contemporary writers Wendell Berry and Donald Hall have both written extensive poems on marriage, but who are also willing to pull those poems out and read them aloud at dinner parties or in churches; who are able to watch Modern Family and thoughtfully discuss it with their families, and who get what’s going on in Mad Men and Breaking Bad too; who know that the priest character in Colum McCann’s award-winning Let the Great World Spin is as important to religious literature as any kindly priest in another book; who are capable of citing one contemporary artist or writer whose work is as meaningful as anything the Inklings ever did.
Alcohol does little harm when enjoyed in moderation. It can be a wonderful thing. But like most good things, it can become a bad thing—for individuals, for societies—when consumed recklessly and in excess. Thus it has been contested, fought, lamented and legislated against for much of its history, by almost as many as have enjoyed its pleasures.
[Image via nytimes.com]