This week we have a long wish list of topics for conversation and must select only those items that are most compelling. We hope they may spark your interest as they did ours.
1. Liturgical epiphany. In the midst of worship last Sunday, Leann had an epiphany while leading the “Jesus for President Litany of Resistance” by peace advocate James Loney. (Available online here). As the litany progressed, she was struck by how Loney’s call to repentance matched many of the 16 films we saw at the International Film Festival (Jan. 4-11) in Palm Springs—films from Gaza, Kosovo, Estonia, Slovak Republic, Poland, Germany, Spain, Belgium, France, all with laments and cries for justice. The fantasies of American, Australian and British films contrasted with the gritty reality of other countries and allowed the voice of conscience to be heard long after, especially in worship. (We use this liturgy annually and recommend it highly).
2. A Hidden Life. Director Terrence Malick’s epic, exhausting, achingly beautiful, excruciating yet profoundly inspiring account of Franz Jaegerstaetter’s solitary resistance as a conscientious objector to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime. This is the real life story of an Austrian farmer who stubbornly will not swear the oath of allegiance to the Fuehrer. Incarceration, torture and the eventual trial and sentencing show the power of love as near to being unconditional as is humanly possible and a principle held regardless of the ultimate cost. An unsung hero finally revealed.
3. Unsettling Truths. Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah’s 2019 book on the ongoing dehumanizing legacy of The Doctrine of Discovery. Intervarsity Press has published this piece by two authors, one Navajo (Dine culture) and the other Korean, that blends history, theology, ethics and cultural commentary exposing again the apostasy of the church in blessing the seizing of lands of Indigenous peoples with pretensions of fulfilling the Great Commission. Insightful, but needs the wisdom of Sarah Augustine’s thought and writing.
4. Modern Kinship: A Queer Guide to Christian Marriage by David and Constantino Khalaf. A 2019 book from Westminster John Knox that offers guidance to dating, sexual ethics, working through shame and creating a solid grounding for Christian couples who are figuring out how to do marriage and create lives of integrity and fidelity. It offers models and guidance for people pursuing lifelong covenantal partnerships.
5. The Evangelical deep state. The “deep state status “ of the Evangelical establishment, its apocalyptic anticipations and predictions, the readiness to see this world burn in order to bring in a next, set forth, what we consider, heinous theology. Many conversations progress only a few exchanges until impeachment, the controversial Christianity Today editorial by Mark Galli calling for the removal of the president, the supporting article by our friend and former president of Fuller Theological Seminary Richard Mouw get quoted. In addition, a wealth of articles and podcasts are cited by our circle of well-read friends. Popping from our “bubble of information” to the adjoining bubble, which we consider the “bubble of disinformation,” we learn again the necessity of listening to those with whom we diametrically disagree.
David and Leann Augsburger are two semiretired people who co-lead a home-based church (Peace Mennonite Church, Claremont, California) and volunteer to welcome, care and connect people in the San Gabriel valley.