1. Flannery O’Connor at prayer
One of the greatest American novelists of the twentieth century – and a Christ-haunted one at that – kept a prayer journal, which will be published this November. Says Betsy Childs (@Betsy_Childs) at First Things:
The journal, written by twenty-one-year-old Flannery O’Connor in a cheap Sterling notebook and concealed in a bundle of papers, was discovered by her biographer William Sessions in 2002. This week, The New Yorker published a hefty excerpt of the little book (forthcoming from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux). Both Session’s introduction to the journal and The New Yorker excerpt refer to the entries as “prayers,” but considering the ongoing and unfolding nature of the monologue, “prayer” is a better description. In this case, O’Connor wasn’t a writer sitting at her typewriter crafting prayers; she was a girl pouring out her heart in longhand.
2. The well-informed generalist
This week I stumbled upon this 2009 interview with Ken Myers, host of the Mars Hill Audio Journal. It was published in the denominational magazine of the PCA, so there’s some inside baseball, but it’s still worthwhile reading for those of us outside that particular fold. Walter Henegar has this to say in setting up the conversation:
What do eating habits, film noir, reptiles, human cloning, Facebook, economics, and poetry have to do with the Christian life? “Everything,” Ken Myers would argue, and does, thoughtfully and audibly, at least every other month. For Myers—the living library behind the Mars Hill Audio Journal—what the church needs today is not more specialists, whether in theology or philosophy or church growth, but more “well-informed generalists” who are interested in understanding all of culture in order to live more faithfully in God’s world. This endangered species is one of which Myers himself is a prime example.
I love documentaries. I love having my bubble expanded. I love gaining insights into aspects of the human condition that I might not consider, framed in true stories that I would never otherwise know. I find that my mind and spirit are rarely stirred as they are with a good documentary, as if through them I gain a life experience in condensed form with enough distance to process its lessons. Often, my impulse is to apply these insights to the church. The following is just that. In the last week I’ve watched two documentaries, both Ken Burns films: The Dust Bowl and The National Parks. There was no premeditated reason for watching the two so close together. But in doing so it became clear to me that these documentaries share a common theme: humankind’s struggle to act with foresight, wisdom, restraint and cooperation in the face of opportunity and the subsequent competition to capitalize on it.
4. What Would Jesus Sing?
N.T. Wright has a new book on the Psalms, in which he urges Christians not to neglect the prayer book that has shaped Christian worship since the church began. Andrew Byers (@Byers_Andy) interviewed Wright for Christianity Today:
There is a prejudice in much of contemporary Western society that imagines that humankind grew up sometime in the 18th century, that everything before then is sort of silly, and that everything after then is sophisticated, intelligent, and informed by science. But what is true today was true in the first century: There was a clash of worldviews. The early Christians discovered themselves drawn into the Psalter’s ancient Jewish way of seeing God as both totally other than the world and radically present—dangerously present—within it. And of course, this very description of God is also the description of Jesus. The Psalms enabled the first generation of Christians to navigate the world of their day, a world not all that different from our own.
5. Carry The Fire
While reading Cormac McCarthy’s eerie post-apocalyptic novel The Road a week or two ago, I realized where Andrew Peterson’s (@AndrewPeterson) song “Carry The Fire” came from. This gave it a whole new meaning (he shares a bit about the writing of it here). Then I saw this music video, filmed in Ireland, where everything is green, the color that represents everything non-apocalyptic. I can certainly live with the juxtaposition, but it’s intriguing to say the least.
[Image: The Dust Bowl via bozthx.wordpress.com]