|Do you see the two orange-breasted little birds? (View from Institute.)|
And he [the monk] said, We were but a few, and risen up but late, and they were many, and had stood fourteen hundred years, and God was a lyar if they had not the true faith; for he had confirmed it to them by a thousand miracles. I said, the few number, and the little Flock is Christ's Flock.
One little anecdote in Julia Ioffe's recent article, "The Loneliness of Vladimir Putin," struck me as a telling example of why life here is sometimes so confusing:
Panfilova has endured a year and a half of simultaneous government harassment and encouragement. Last summer, under the aegis of the prime minister’s Cabinet, she was invited to participate in a committee on government transparency. But, one morning, as she was preparing her report for it, a woman from the state prosecutor’s office appeared. She had come to investigate Panfilova’s organization under a law the Duma had passed in July 2012 mandating that all NGOs that take donations from abroad and influence Russian politics have to declare themselves foreign agents. Now that Panfilova had become part of a government committee, she was influencing Russian politics and therefore potentially a foreign agent. The prosecutor took so long examining Panfilova’s files that she made Panfilova late to deliver her report at the meeting of the government committee.In fact, the government has worked out a whole program of grants to nonprofit organizations. Substantial grants have gone to some of the same groups who had just recently been the subject of scrutiny for their alleged foreign funding.
From Danny Coleman's blog comes a thoughtful nine-minute sermon from Walter Brueggemann on what the North American church needs to do to confront "cheap grace."
... I think one of the primary tasks of the church in North America now is to pull apart that sense of Western white exceptionalism from the Gospel, because I think they've become confused and intertwined ... [but] ... my experience in the church is that people do not want white Western exceptionalism separated from the Gospel....The church, in summary, needs:
- to be a truth-teller
- to teach, and witness to, and act out an alternative way in the world (marked by hospitality, generosity, forgiveness)
- to help to shape public attitudes and public policy.
I find these calls to greater faithfulness both inspiring and frustrating. A theological prophet can look at the world from an awesomely integrated and inclusive perspective, and issue important insights into what we need to do, what we should do, what we must do as a church. But we don't operate as a whole, we operate as an incredibly fragmented body, full of local imperatives that seem to obscure any message of "what the North American church needs to do." We are probably just as frightened of revival as we claim to want it.
Nevertheless, Brueggemann is right to hope, and is right to keep injecting these messages wherever he can, so that new generations can gain an appetite for revival--generations who don't know yet why the old blockages seem so overwhelming to some of us who've spent years despairing at all that fragmentation. May the Holy Spirit give wings to the messages of hope from Brueggemann and others who believe that the Body of Christ can still arise with unity to tell the truth, to live an alternative witness, and to shape public policy for the greater good. Reaching back to Katharine Evans and Sarah Chevers, conventional wisdom and conventional despair don't get the last word.
How does the "Wild Goose" unite Pentecostals and Anabaptists and Quakers? Kevin Daugherty explains.
Frederica Mathewes-Green on "the Heart of the Scriptures." "Sin is infection, not infraction."
Good News Associates announce this year's Leadership Institute.
Here's another intriguing conference theme (thanks to Brent Bill): A Slow Church Conference.
Four views on departing U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.
"I'm going to talk with the Prince of Peace, down by the riverside." I feel fortunate that I've seen and heard all three of these great musicians; now they've all three passed into eternity. I can't help imagining a wonderful reunion.