Signs of Believability

“Words without deeds are empty, but deeds without words are dumb. It is stupid to set them against each other. It is, for example, stupid to say, ‘The one thing that matters is to go everywhere and preach the gospel; all other activities such as schools and hospitals and programs for social action are at best merely auxiliary and at worst irrelevant.’ Why should people believe our preaching that the kingdom of God has come near in Jesus if they see no sign that anything is happening as a result, if they can see no evidence that disease and ignorance and cruelty and injustice are being challenged and overcome? Why should they believe our words if there is nothing happening to authenticate them?”

– Lesslie Newbigin, Signs Amid The Rubble (via Chris Schutte)

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The Mystical Task of Art

“If you confess that the world once was beautiful, but by the curse has become undone, and by a final catastrophe is to pass to its full state of glory, excelling even the beautiful of paradise, then art has the mystical task of reminding us in its productions of the beautiful that was lost and of anticipating its perfect coming luster.”

– Abraham Kuyper, Lectures on Calvinism

Header Image: “The Garden of Eden” by Thomas Cole (c.1828)

 

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The Church Among the Poor

I’ve said it before, but Jayakumar Christian is one of my enduring heroes. His now out-of-print book, God of the Empty-Handed, transformed the way I think about the interplay between poverty, power, and the kingdom of God. Then I met him in person, and I learned even more about the stewardship of power on account of his humility and graciousness in a time and place that, to my mind, would have warranted the opposite.

While Jayakumar isn’t a household name by any stretch, a lot of folks were introduced to him by Andy Crouch in the pages of Playing God. Indeed, the title itself comes from this humble hero of ours. “The poor are poor,” Jayakumar told Andy, “because someone else is trying to play God in their lives.”

I thought some of you might be interested in this talk Jayakumar gave earlier this year at the International Society for Urban Mission Summit in Kuala Lumpur, which covers a lot of the material found in his book—and in Andy’s, for that matter!

Photo via Baylor Lariat

The National(ist) Pastime

“America before the Civil War was still populated by a handful of veterans of the Revolutionary War and many who remembered vividly the War of 1812. The era of Anglo-American amity had not yet dawned; our country’s spiritual separation from the Mother Country, though effected by treaty in 1783, was still in process. And having baseball to rival and replace cricket was an important step in that process. Moreover when England, seeking to maintain its supply of cotton from the American South, appeared over-cordial to the Confederate cause, anti-British feeling swept the North. An America long suffering from an inferiority complex toward England now turned against cricket and embraced baseball with increased fervor.”

– John Thorn, Baseball: Our Game

Header Image: “The American National Game Of Baseball Grand Match At Elysian Fields” by Currier & Ives (via fineartamerica.com)