Category Archives: Culture

THE NEW COPERNICANS

BRILLIANT DESCRIPTION, TROUBLING PRESCRIPTION

I’ve read two of Seel’s other books. He is an insightful thinker and clear writer. He has much to offer.

I looked forward to reading The New Copernicans. I’m sorry to say it is not a book I can recommend. Here’s a few reasons why:

*The New Copernicans (roughly the millennial generation) are the ones that the church must now listen to. Though I resonate with some of the concerns The New Copernicans (hereafter TNC) have with American evangelicalism, I have my disagreements as well…at least with the stereotyped view of them that Seel offers.

The problem is that TNC have much to learn from other aged believers in the church as well. Seel says that older Christians may help TNC love the church again, but that is about the only positive contribution that is mentioned.

*Every age sees things others don’t, but they also miss critical matters. Seel seems to think the former is all that is relevant with TNC.

*When Seel speaks of TNC he speaks in broad or monolithic categories. Some millennials are in fact very interested in doctrinal fidelity and the Bible being upheld, things that Seel never entertains as possibilities. We are simply told in sweeping generalities that TNC are characterized by things such as a desire for experiences and are critical towards those who judge others.

*The old error that description does not equal prescription is an error that Seel seems to fall into throughout his book. Seel offers terrific descriptions of our cultural change and what TNC desire, but never questions whether they are wrong.

*I was hoping Seel would offer exemplars of an older generation who seem to be sensitive to TNC while maintaining a commitment to orthodoxy. Instead, folks like Rachel Held Evans, Peter Enns, and Frank Schaeffer are featured. I wonder how Seel would rate Scot McKnight, N.T. Wright (he does approvingly quote him), and Eugene Peterson, to name a few.

As one who has read most of the conversation partners Seel holds up (Charles Taylor, James K.A. Smith, and Lesslie Newbigin), I am sad to say that The New Copernicans was not the book I was hoping for.

 

DISRUPTIVE WITNESS: SPEAKING TRUTH IN A DISTRACTED AGE

Seven things I appreciated about Disruptive Witness by Alan Noble:

The writing is lucid and compelling

Terrific illustrations are peppered throughout

Teases out some practical implications from the writings of Charles Taylor

Focuses on major issues all Christians should agree upon

Good unpacking of how lethal distraction and the never-ending choices are in the modern era

Noble has a gracious, but candid style…not an easy combo!

Noble does not just complain, but offers some practical suggestions for us to adopt

Quote to consider: “The challenge for Christians in our time is to speak of the gospel in a way that unsettles listeners, that conveys the transcendence of God, that provokes contemplation and reflection, and that reveals the stark givenness of reality.”

ANTHONY BOURDAIN

I like food and I like folks who can carry a good conversation, so I liked watching Bourdain’s shows.  Our older son and I got to meet him years ago at Book People.  We had to wait for a few hours as we were at the back of the line.  We got to him after he signed autographs for hundreds.  He was present with our son, affable, and very kind.

A good interview with Bourdain.  HT: James K.A. Smith

https://www.newyorker.com/podcast/the-new-yorker-radio-hour/anthony-bourdains-interview-with-david-remnick