T H E G O S N E L L T R I A L K I M WA L K E R - S M I T H H A I M S H A N E C L A I B O R N E LY N N E H Y B E L S
A LT- J DOE S PR AY ER WORK? PE TER HITCHENS GUN CONTROL A ND FA ITH
THE SPIRITUAL TURN OF
HOW THE CHART-TOPPING BAND’S NEW ALBUM TAKES AN UNEXPECTED DETOUR
CHRISTOPHER NOLAN THE VISIONARY FILMMAKER ON REDEEMING THE BLOCKBUSTER
15 GREAT BOOKS TO READ THIS SUMMER
REJECT APATHY A SPECIAL SECTION STARTS ON PAGE 72
ISSUE 64 / JULY_ AUG 2013 / $4.95
BE PART OF SOMETHING BIGGER THAN YOURSELF
TEACH IN ASIA
THE MAGAZINE ON FAITH, CULTURE AND INTENTIONAL LIVING July/August 2013, Issue 64 Our interview with a vampire. PUBLISHER & CEO | Cameron Strang > firstname.lastname@example.org Managing Editor | Tyler Huckabee > email@example.com Content Development Editor | Stephanie Smith > firstname.lastname@example.org Contributing Editor | Jesse Carey > email@example.com Copy Editor | Dargan Thompson > firstname.lastname@example.org CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: John Brandon, Michelle Brock, Michael Hidalgo, Lynne Hybels, Brian Kammerzelt, Carl Kozlowski, Scot McKnight, John Pattison, Liz Riggs, David Roark, Mark Scandrette, Kester Smith, Sarah Sumner, Kelli B. Trujillo, Tyler Wigg-Stevenson Senior Account Manager | Jeff Rojas > email@example.com Account Manager | Wayne Thompson > firstname.lastname@example.org
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Asbury Theological Seminaryâ€™s Master of Divinity degree is set up to help you earn your degree while enriching your current and future ministry. Two-thirds of the Master of Divinity curriculum can be taken in our online learning environment called ExL. The remaining one-third can be taken on campus in weekend and weekâ€“long intensives. Our professional advisors can assist you with creating a plan that allows you to pursue your degree without uprooting your life.
FIR S T WORD
EMBRACING THE IN-BETWEEN BY C AMERON S TR ANG
ummer is an odd time of year. If you’re in school, it’s when you aren’t. If you’re in the real world, it’s when you downshift a bit, vacation and do the things you won’t be able to once life gets back to normal and TV shows come back in the fall. It’s the in-between season of every year. Some people waste their summers, while others seize them and make life-long memories. So it’s probably appropriate that in this, our summer issue, we have a few stories that tackle the idea of wrestling with the in-between. Our cover subject, Vampire Weekend, surprised a lot of people when their new album, Modern Vampires of the City, showed unexpected depth and spiritual content. (It debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts just weeks before this issue released, so unfortunately we can’t take any credit for its success.) The album doesn’t have neat and tidy spiritual content. It’s kind of the opposite: The lyrics wrestle with faith. Hard. They’re questioning, searching and crying out. If we’re honest, it’s a place we’ve all been—whether we’re Christians or not. We’ve all been in the place of the spiritual in-between, where our spirits are longing for something more than we’ve experienced up to that point. That place where we still haven’t found what we’re looking for. For a band like Vampire Weekend—who, until now, was really just known for their cool indie pop sound— to go to that place, well, it says something. And the fact that the album has connected as strongly as it has says something. It clearly struck a nerve for listeners—one
JESUS NEVER SAID, “HAVE EVERYTHING FIGURED OUT, AND COME FOLLOW ME.”
Cameron Strang is the founder and CEO of
RELEVANT. Connect with him on Twitter @CameronStrang or Facebook.com/ CameronStrang.
they probably didn’t even know they had until they heard it. The idea of wrestling with God isn’t new. Even for mature Christians, we all have moments of questioning and searching. We’ve all had prayers that haven’t been answered the way we thought they would. We’ve all asked God where He is in a situation. (That’s something we tackle on page 52—“Does Prayer Work?”) One of the biggest mistakes I think church culture has made in recent generations is portraying the idea that once someone comes to a faith in Jesus, they should have everything figured out. In many church circles, there is no place for doubt, because the basis of religion is belief. But doubt is human. Not being sure is honest. Being mad at God at times is sincere. It’s something we’ve all experienced in our spiritual journeys. It’s the place of yearning for something we don’t yet know. It’s the in-between. The Bible says we know in part, and we see in part. God’s ways are higher than ours. We don’t understand them. We’re not supposed to. We’re supposed to live in the in-between without having everything figured out. When Vampire Weekend sings, Through the fire/Through the f lame/Still You never say Your name/Only ‘I Am That I Am’/But who could ever live that way?, we’ve all been there. We’ve all wondered who God is and why things are the way they are. But the key is not staying there. We need to honestly embrace our struggle as we keep moving forward in our pursuit of Truth and light. In life or in our spiritual journeys, the in-between is not a bad thing. We all go through it, but what we do with it is up to us. Will we stay there and wallow in the unknown, or will we use the pain of questions to ultimately build our faith? Jesus never said, “Have everything figured out, and come follow Me.” He just said follow. Drop everything and follow. The radical abandon of things that have held us back is what God wants from us. He’s not scared of our questions or doubts in the journey, because He is the answer we’re looking for. He just doesn’t push that on us. He doesn’t fast-forward to the end. He allows Himself to be revealed in our journey. It’s the honest embrace of the unknown that forms our characters and shapes our lives. That’s why we need to always, without hesitation, embrace the in-between.
TIM SIEDELL URBAN RENEWAL CHRISTIANS AND BIGOTRY ARE OUR BRAINS HARD-WIRED FOR FAITH?
FICTION FAMILY YOUTH LAGOON JUDAH SMITH MARNIE STERN
THE RISE OF PHOENIX
THE STATE OF MUSIC THE TRENDS, BANDS AND THE OFFICE THE CAST TALKS ABOUT BEARS, BEETS AND SAYING GOODBYE
THE RISE OF
10 IDEAS FOR YOUR MOST EPIC SUMMER EVER ONE COUPLE. TWO CALLINGS.
[T W EE T NE SS]
@thekenyamerican I can’t get over how brilliant @RELEVANT makes their iPad
BREAKTHROUGHS TO WATCH IN 2013
[ M AY/ J U N E 2 0 1 3 ]
THEY MAY HAVE FIVE ALBUMS, GLOBAL FAME, TOP SINGLES AND GRAMMYS, BUT PHOENIX IS JUST GETTING STARTED
As a huge RELEVANT fan and a huge Phoenix fan, I just wanted to say I loved the Phoenix interview. Knowing how hard the band works on their sound and how religion inspires them actually helped me enjoy their new album. Thank you!
— ASHLEY GROSSMAN/ Kansas City, KS
edition of the magazine. It comes alive.
@CoreyDStone Pleased to see the spotlight on drone strikes in Reject Apathy within @RELEVANT magazine. Thanks for tackling the tough issues. #subforlife
ISSUE 63 / MAY/JUNE 2013 / $4.95
@lawrencepowers @RELEVANT: THANK YOU for
I’m going to try to do as much of this as I can. [“10 Epic Things to Do This Summer,” May/June 2013] I already registered for a run. The jet pack rental is a bit pricey but looks worth it. This will be an epic summer. —PHIL WINTER / Hixson, TN
at a crossroads—I am not. But I am someone who felt God called me into the profession I am training to enter. To read an article that explains God’s calling is much more about us becoming closer to him and developing a relationship with him has taken away all my fears. I now once again feel free to put my efforts and rewards into continuing to build my faith in Christ.
I loved the new panel format for “The State of Music” [May/June 2013]. As I read it, I could not help feeling like I was a part of the panel and the conversation. Thanks for continually presenting things in RELEVANT in a fresh and vibrant way!
There is so much truth in “One Couple, Two Callings” [May/ June 2013] about the common understanding of “calling” in Christian circles. I’m really encouraged that I am not alone in my views on this matter. There’s so much pressure for Christian couples to find that perfect match in ministry—because the “match” traditionally meant “the same in vocation.”
—JEREMIAH DOWLING / Gilbert, PA
I want to say thank you for “One Couple, Two Callings” [May/June 2013]. Not because I am a part of a couple that is
the article “The Separation of Church and Hate” in the current edition ... its message is what we need to hear ...
—ANNA HEATH / London, England
—INGRID MANGUBAT / Philippines
Mr. Cook put together a deep well of revolutionary wisdom on how Christians must have a new paradigm for engaging the nonChristian world on the issues in which we disagree. [“Separation of Church and Hate,” May/June 2013] RELEVANT is a great source of information and inspiration. Keep up the great work! —BRENT BUD / Via email Hard-wired for community. Our brains go into distress when we are isolated from others. Wow! [“This is Your Brain on Religion,” May/June 2013] It is so exciting to think that our brains actually rely on social interaction. Very interesting! I wonder what else we will learn as we continue to delve into the wonders of us. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” — DAVID ZIRILLI/ Campbell Hall, NY
@Preemptivelove One of our favorites! Two issues of @RELEVANT magazine just arrived at our office in Iraq.
@shoffman1121 @RELEVANT Thank You for what you do! Your stories continue to offer hope, insight, conviction and truth!
@PatrickCook19 That awesome moment when @RELEVANT posts an article on the topic you are about to teach.
@brothajtizzle As I travel, I’m leaving [TA LK TO US: FEEDB ACK@RELE VA N TM AG A ZINE.COM, FACEBOOK.COM/RELE VA N T OR T W I T T ER.COM/RELE VA N T.]
@RELEVANT everywhere I stay.
A BIMON T HLY LOOK AT LIFE, FA I T H + CULT UR E
[O T HER USE S]
CAN 3-D PRINTERS
END WORLD HUNGER?
ll the talk about 3-D print- the building blocks of this food: cartridges ing sounds reminiscent of of powders and oils that react in different those first rumors of the ways according to what sort of food the coming Internet revolution. printer is making. This powder has a shelf We were told that the life of about 30 years, which means the end Internet would be a seismic of food waste. If eating powder doesn’t sound particushift, one that would change the way we lived. Such rumors were, if anything, a little larly appealing, Contractor says you’re understated, and the same might be said of thinking too short-term. “I think, and 3-D printing. So when word starts getting many economists think, that current food around that 3-D printing can solve world systems can’t supply 12 billion people sufhunger, we’d do well to not dismiss it as ficiently,” he says. “So we eventually have to change our perception of what we see empty hype. as food.” The plan has been put forward by “SO WE That change may come sooner Anjan Contractor, whose company EVENTUALLY than we’d like, as many experts are has landed a grant from NASA to expecting the global population to invent what’s being called a “univerHAVE TO hit 12 billion toward the end of the sal food synthesizer:” It’s a printer CHANGE OUR And it may not be as radithat prints food. Contractor’s PERCEPTION century. cal a shift in your idea of food as vision is for you to own a printer OF WHAT you think: Contractor says right that knows you and can customize a WE SEE AS now, pizza is the easiest kind of food meal to your nutritional needs. to print. The key to solving hunger is in FOOD.”
So, What Are 3-D Printers, Really? The technical term is “additive manufacturing,” but 3-D printing is actually just what it sounds like: machines that can make just about any threedimensional object based on a digital mode.It actually works by laying layers of material on top of one another, but the real trick is in the material being laid down. Different base compounds of materials such as plastic and rubber can be used to print clothing, tools and medical supplies. In addition to food, researchers are experimenting with printing houses, firearms and vehicles. But even that pales in comparison to the “organic ink” that’s being used to print organs and body parts.
CHURCH LEADERS UNITE ON IMMIGRATION mmigration reform has been brewing for some time, but it recently took a new turn when more than 100 evangelical leaders, pastors and activists came together to form a coalition dedicated to lobbying for immigration reform. The Evangelical Immigration Table has united evangelical leaders from a wide spectrum of political and theological leanings with a single mission. Here’s what they’re asking for:
PATH TO CITIZENSHIP:
According to the group’s “Statement on Citizenship,” this pathway for undocumented immigrants who want permanent residence involves a “payment of a fine or fulfillment of community s e r v i c e ,” learning
English, demonstrating “good moral character” and obtaining the proper visa “to make sure that those already in line are processed first” (exemptions would be made for people with disabilities and the elderly).
[ M I S C ] Scientists have determined the part of your brain that tells your body to age and, what’s more, they know how to stop it. They have been able to slow lab mice’s aging by 20 percent,
NATIONAL BORDERS: They ask
that politicians establish a plan that “guarantees secure national borders” and “respects the rule of law.”
and they’ve stopped Jennifer Aniston from aging altogether ...
COMPASSION: They empha-
size that immigration policy must respect “the God-given dignity of every person,” protect the immediate family and adhere to the Bible’s call to care for immigrants.
Drew Gooch was a homeless high school student in Tennessee living in his car. But he still
ACTIVISM: Part of the cam-
paign is encouraging other Christians to take the “I Was a Stranger Challenge” and to commit to 40 days of prayer and Bible reading with a focus on God’s view on immigration. They’ve also asked evangelicals to inform law-makers, churches and campuses about the need for immigration reform.
managed to get a 3.9 GPA, earning a full ride to Middle Tennessee State University ... Scientists have invented a shirt that can be worn up to 100 times without
KATIE DAVIS: 22-YEAROLD SUPER ADOPTER In 2007, Katie Davis went to Uganda for what was supposed to be a one-year mission trip. The idea was to volunteer in an orphanage, then return to the U.S. for college. But her plans took a strange turn, and today, at 22, Davis lives in the village of Jinja, running Amazima—her nonprofit that feeds and educates some 1,800 Ugandan children. And she is the mother of 13 Ugandan girls. She was teaching in Uganda, but her students kept dropping out when their parents died or they ran out of money for school fees. So Davis gathered enough donations to launch Amazima, which provides hot meals and education for Ugandan students. Today, it pays for the education of 600 students and provides meals for about 1,200 more. Davis divides her time between administrative work for Amazima and home schooling her 13 children, so she’s tabled any idea of a normal life. “If some crazy dude wants to move to Uganda and wants this many children and God ordains that, then great,” she told USA Today. “But I am happy and content where I am.”
getting washed, which means shirt technology has finally caught up to blue jeans technology ... A New Hampshire man spent his life savings trying to win an Xbox at a carnival. They gave him a stuffed banana ...
LIBERTY UNIVERSITY’S WAY OF THE GUN Liberty University recently became one of only a handful of schools in the country that allow students to bring loaded handguns into classrooms. According to the new policy, students with concealed weapons permits who are in good academic and behavioral standing with the school and have no criminal history can take guns into most campus buildings. The campus ban on dancing, however, remains firm.
FLAVOR OF THE BIMONTH 10 Things You Should Care About Right Now [ M I S C ] USA Today reported that the reason so many
UPCOMING MOVIES OF
After the mega-success of History Channel’s Bible miniseries, Hollywood, it seems, has seen the light (and some green). Here’s a rundown of some confirmed and rumored Bible characters who have their own blockbusters in the works:
Cow Appreciation Day July 12 is the day to
remind that special cow in your
life just how much she means
find a job might have as much to do with their job interview skills
Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest
Coney Island’s beloved hot dog
as it does with
eating contest has become
the job market.
almost as much a part of the
July 4 celebration as fireworks
social media has left the next generation with stunted social
NOAH: Darren Aronofsky’s take on the Old Testament f lood will star Emma Watson, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins and Russell Crowe, who hopefully will not be doing any singing this time. (Release Date: May 2014)
The Lone Ranger Walt Disney and Johnny
Depp are going to try to
skills, or short
recapture that Pirates of the
Caribbean magic on July 3.
or something. Whatever. We didn’t actually finish the whole
PONTIUS PILATE: Brad Pitt is set to star in a biopic
about a soldier’s rise to infamy as a Roman ruler while dealing with political turmoil, religious unrest and the burden of ageless beauty. (Release Date: TBA)
article ... New research from the Mario Negri
CAIN & ABEL: Hollywood insiders say Will Smith
wants to make his directorial debut with a modern take on the world’s first rival brothers. In his updated version in West Philadelphia, the brothers are born and raised, but they get in one little fight and their mom gets scared. We kid. Actually, The Redemption of Cain may involve vampires. (Release Date: TBA)
MOSES: Both Ang Lee (Life of Pi) and Ridley Scott
(Gladiator) are said to be working on their own films about the Hebrew leader, called Gods and Kings and Exodus, respectively. Lee’s is supposed to be Braveheart-esque, while Scott’s, which is trying to cast Christian Bale as the lead, is a quieter drama.
Institute for Pharmaceutical Research says
Pitchfork Music Festival Gather your ironic scarves.
R. Kelly, Bjork and Belle &
people who eat plenty of pizza
have a lower
risk of getting
to see this year’s
of cancer. Don’t question it ... On April 30, Psy’s “Gangnam Style”
JESUS: Basic Instinct director Paul Verhoeven is working on a movie about Jesus with one of the writers of Pulp Fiction that will challenge the idea that Jesus performed miracles or rose from the dead after the crucifixion. Christian audiences will just love that.
follow-up, “Gentleman,” bested “Kony 2012” for most
Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z Tour Begins
Don your suit and tie. JT and Hov
in 24 hours ...
may be coming to a city near you.
FLAVOR OF THE BIMONTH 10 Things You Should Care About Right Now [ M I S C ] This year,
The Wolverine After Gavin Hood’s 2009
debacle, James Mangold (Walk
the Line) will try to give Wolverine
fans the movie Marvel’s most
interesting character deserves.
POPE FOR TOMORROW hen Pope Benedict XVI unexpectedly resigned for health reasons, few could have predicted that his predecessor would so quickly move to change the perception of the Roman Catholic Church. Here’s a look at some of Pope Francis’ most radical moves to date. 1. Chose to take the name of Saint Francis of Assisi because of his dedication to the poor. 2. Following his election to the papacy, he paid his own hotel bill, personally thanked staff and took a bus, instead of the popemobile, back to the Vatican residence with his fellow cardinals.
3. Elected to live in a guesthouse
instead of the Apostolic Palace that typically houses the pope. 4. Conducted a Holy Week Mass not from St. Peter’s Basilica, as tradition dictates, but from a youth prison. There, he washed the feet of a group of 12 young inmates of various religions. 5. Canceled the bonuses that generally go to cardinals, instead donating that money to charity. 6. Established a revolutionary advisory board to help usher in major church reforms—including overhauling the notoriously corrupt Vatican Bank and taking decisive action against priests who abuse children.
announced his Facebook salary would be $1. Crazy. That company must really be struggling ... WATCH Phoenix
trailer for The
resident masked superhero,
Canada Day Canada gave you Justin
has a growing
Bieber and Avril Lavigne. What
have you done for them lately?
his do-gooder antics, and he really outdid himself on May
Lollapalooza The mother of American
music festivals kicks off Aug. 2
Day, when he
in Chicago with Mumford & Sons,
The Killers, NIN and The Cure.
Federal Court House from bomb-wielding anarchists ...
IS CHINA REVISING ITS ONE-CHILD POLICY?
Since it was instituted in 1979, China’s one-child policy has resulted in over 336 million abortions, according to China’s health ministry— but that may soon change. The policy was originally intended as a means of curbing overpopulation, but then it collided with the cultural premium on sons for several generations. And now, government officials are realizing the policy’s negative effects—including a skewed gender ratio, economic downturn and even the self-centric traits of generations raised without siblings. As of this writing, the policy is still being debated by officials—primarily from a societal standpoint. But if the one-child policy and its governmentMILLION forced abortions are overturned, the change will mark ABORTIONS a global victory for human rights.
a former Victoria’s recently became a
U.S. Open (U.S. Tennis Tournament in NYC)
Christmas for tennis fans, with
left her career.
polo shirts instead of sweaters.
She’s started a clothing line of modest styles, and wrote a
Independence Day “The second day of
July, 1776, will be the most
memorable epoch in the history
I’m No Angel:
of America.” —John Adams.
Well, he was close.
Secret Model to Role Model ...
HOW KIRSTEN POWERS GOT AMERICA TALKING arch 18 commenced the trial for Kermit Gosnell—the Philadelphia abortion clinic doctor found guilty of killing three newborns intended for late-term abortions. The Daily Beast would later refer to it as “what could plausibly be called ‘The Trial of the Century,’” yet, for weeks, no mention could be found among the headlines of most major news outlets. That is, not until Kirsten Powers’ USA Today column.
Powers wrote: “Infant beheadings. Severed baby feet in jars. A child screaming after it was delivered alive during an abortion procedure.” The clinic also administered racist, healthcode-violating treatment. If this isn’t newsworthy, Powers argued, then what is? Powers’ column sparked a flood of media responses, and in the midst of it all, a new conversation is emerging. In Pennsylvania, abortions are legal up to 24 weeks. But in the Gosnell case, failed abortion attempts under 24 weeks are being counted as murder because the baby was killed outside the womb. GetReligion contributor and Ricochet editor Mollie Hemingway added that reporters are incorrectly calling Gosnell’s victims “fetuses”— by definition, inside the womb—when they are in fact post-birth babies. The conversation is one Powers—and many others with her—wants to see. “That would be my hope—that we could just have an honest conversation about late-term abortion. And I don’t think we’ve ever had one,” she says.
[MEDI A COV ER AGE]
MEDIA APOLOGIES FOR THE LACK OF TRIAL COVERAGE “INFANT BEHEADINGS. SEVERED BABY FEET IN JARS. A CHILD SCREAMING AFTER IT WAS DELIVERED ALIVE DURING AN ABORTION PROCEDURE.” IF THIS ISN’T NEWSWORTHY, POWERS ARGUED, THEN WHAT IS?
“This story has numerous elements any one of which would normally make it a major story.”
“I knew about the Gosnell case, I wish I had followed it more closely ... ”
“We believe the story is deserving of coverage by our own staff, and we intend to send a reporter for the resumption of the trial next week. In retrospect, we should have sent a reporter sooner.”
BRENNAN MANNING’S LEGACY BY SHANE CL AIBORNE
Some people read the Bible and see that it’s full of liars, murderers, adulterers and cowards and are troubled by that. Other folks, like Brennan Manning, find great comfort in a God that can use messed up people, people like us, people Manning called “ragamuffins.” For decades, Manning’s books, sermons and life have been refreshing reminders that God loves us not for who we could be, but for who we are. Manning taught us we are loved not because we are good, but because God is good and the love of God transforms us. Manning’s life reminds us that the world is not looking for Christians who are perfect, but for Christians who are honest. So, in the end, the question is not “Are we Christians hypocrites?” The question is “Do we have room for another hypocrite?” Around the world, folks have 20
let this ragamuffin remind them God loves them, and they have begun to believe they are worth loving. And now that he is gone, we get to continue his legacy by telling the world how much God loves it. When we released our brother, we trusted that Jesus and all the ragamuffin saints are welcoming him home on the other side. Editor’s Note: Shortly after Manning’s death, Dallas Willard also passed away. To read Matthew Lee Anderson’s thoughts on Willard’s legacy, head to www.relm.ag/1941ueq.
For too long,
that we are not the
Charity and Service Have a Dark Side You want to live out the Gospel by serving others, and you’re willing to sacrifice your time, money, and perhaps even your safety. But do you realize the spiritual dangers you face as you serve? Peter Greer, the CEO of a Christian nonprofit, found that serving others and seeking justice actually did him harm. Here he shares how something that “This book is a brilliant reminder that what started with the noblest of intentions got off track—and we do is not nearly as important as who we how he got back on course. His story is a compassionate are—and how much we give is not nearly as warning for anyone who works in ministry or charitable important as how much love is in the giving.” nonprofits, from CEOs to weekend volunteers.
Shane Claiborne, author, activist, and lover of Jesus
A Division of Baker Publishing Group s bethanyhouse.com s Available at your bookstore or by calling 1-866-241-6733
[ M I S C ] Taco Bells in California are testing out “Waffle Tacos”—the fast food factory’s first foray into breakfast “food.” Waffle
HOLLYWOOD’S APOCALYPSE icolas Cage’s noble quest to reboot the Left Behind film series marches on, but he’s getting some competition from his Hollywood peers who aren’t about to let him have a monopoly on end times entertainment. The apocalypse is hot property in Tinseltown right now,
with Seth Rogan’s directorial debut, This Is the End, leading the fray as Rogan and his cadre of Freaks and Geeks graduates and Judd Apatow minions play their own, mostly lovable, selves facing the end of the world. On the weightier end of the spectrum is The Leftovers, a new series HBO has in development. Based on a new novel from Tom Perrotta, the series will follow the rapture’s effects on the citizens
of a suburban town. Word is, HBO is trying to get their own version of The Walking Dead, but they’ll replace the zombie virus with pre-tribulation eschatological theology. But if HBO thinks a Walking Dead clone is going to derail Left Behind’s bright, phoenix-like rise from the ashes, they’re in for a revelation.
Tacos only cost 89 cents and whatever’s left of your soul after placing your order ... Last May, a New York man finished a fouryear project: writing the Bible out entirely by hand. He said he took up the project as an intellectual
DO YOU KNOW PASTOR CHOCO?
MEET WILFREDO DE JESUS, TIME’S MOST INFLUENTIAL PASTOR OF 2013
When TIME magazine released its annual list of the world’s 100 most influential people, many evangelicals may have been surprised to find Rev. Wilfredo De Jesus on the list. While De Jesus, who goes by “Pastor Choco,” may not have mainstream evangelical name recognition, he is a beloved leader in the exploding Hispanic Christian community. As the senior pastor of Chicago’s 5,000-member New Life Covenant Church and vice president of social justice for the National Hispanic Christian 22
Leadership Conference, De Jesus has become a face for a boom of Hispanics in the U.S. who have turned to Christ. In a public statement, De Jesus said: “It’s a great privilege to be a voice not only for the Latino Christian community, but also for the poor and voiceless in our society. The Hispanic community in the U.S. is over 51 million strong. We’re people God has chosen to govern and to lead communities and cities with conviction, unapologetically ... I am truly humbled by this recognition.” For his part, Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church called De Jesus, “the true definition of what Christ said the Church should be.”
exercise, but found it did his soul a lot of good, too ... Outrage flared when Brave’s heroine, Merida, was inducted into the canon of Disney Princesses, getting a makeover in the process. Many were upset by Merida’s thinner figure, which is evidently a Disney Princess rule ...
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THE RISE OF
[ M I S C ]
ore than 7 out of every 10 Americans describe themselves as Christians. But the general sense among evangelicals is that many people who say they are Christians don’t really act on that claim. The Barna Group set out to find how many Americans’ beliefs and behaviors fall in line with their declared identity. By analyzing nearly 43,000 people, they found that, whatever might be made of how many people claim to be a Christian, the activities and beliefs often associated with Christianity are on a rapid, startling decline.
there was only
First Choice had 2,000 applicants, but room for one official Water Slide Tester. Seb Smith, a 22-year-old college student from the U.K., now makes his living traveling the globe and
HOW POST-CHRISTIAN ARE WE?
ranking its water slides ... While nobody
soda as a health food,
at just how bad it actually is
for you. Their studies found
that people who drank one soda a day over
the course of 16 years were 18 percent
Post-Christian = Meets at least 60% of the following Highly Post-Christian = Meets at least 80% of the following
TO THE MOVIES
Kickstarter is one of the Internet’s better inventions: a means of giving creative types who’d otherwise languish in obscurity the chance to convince others their dream is worth investing in. But Hollywood, ever one to smell money, has proven that the masses are just as willing to pay for the production of a film as the consumption of it. After the effort to crowdsource the funding of a Veronica Mars movie shattered Kickstarter records, Zach Braff took to the website to raise the funding for his own “thematic sequel” to 2004’s Garden State. The starving artist got the $2 million he needed in three days.
more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes ... Back in May,
1. Have not prayed to God (in the last year) 2. Have not attended a Christian church (in the last year) 3. Do not participate in a house church (in the last year) 4. Have not attended religious a small group (in the last week) 5. Have not volunteered at a church (in the last week) 6. Have not read the Bible (in the last week) 7. Do not feel a responsibility to “share their faith” 8. Agree that Jesus committed sins 9. Disagree that the Bible is accurate 10. Disagree that faith is important in their lives
Bellingham Christian School, a small, private school in Washington state, cancelled classes because the weather was too nice. “It’s nice to celebrate,
of Americans qualify as Highly or Moderately Post-Christian JULY/AUG 2013
of that 37% qualify as Highly Post-Christian
relax and share joy with many,” said the school’s principal ...
CISPA ACT TWO For the second time in as many years, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) died on the Senate floor before it could even get in front of President Obama. Ostensibly, the bill is about allowing more sharing of cyber threat intelligence between private companies and the government. Despite many assurances that the bill is intended purely for security and terror-prevention, the Internet raised a collective howl over privacy concerns. Although the House passed the bill by a healthy margin, the Senate killed CISPA with little aplomb.
The film tanked. It didn’t even break $50,000 in its tiny theatrical run. However, after Nolan’s explosion in popularity, Following has retroactively taken on surprising new life as a cult classic. Here, one of this era’s most celebrated and trusted filmmakers sheds light on his early strides, his creative process and how even a young British storyteller playing with toys and a simple camera can go on to achieve worldwide acclaim. Q: Tell us about Following. It’s gotten popular lately. What was the inspiration for the film? A: It primarily came from living in Central London. I
got interested in the idea that as you walk through the crowded streets—just masses of people—and you start picking one person to focus on and wonder about them, it shifts your perspective. Who are they, and where are they coming from? I combined [that with] the notion of somebody breaking down those protocols, such as when you’re walking down a crowded street, you don’t keep pace with a stranger. Suddenly, this man [in the film] is keeping pace. Around the same time, I got interested in the idea of seeing a door that was smashed open and was flimsy but was keeping people out. Why? Because of those protocols—like a door is a door and you can’t just go through it without permission. So breaking down those protocols was the key to everything. Q: Do you remember the first project you ever worked on? A: If it gives you any clue, my first kid film was Space Wars.
[ Q&A ]
CHRISTOPHER NOLAN The superstar writer, director and producer talks his early work, his dream projects and working with Michael Caine. BY C A RL KOZLOWSKI
the director and co-writer of the Dark Knight trilogy of Batman films, as well as the prime creative power behind a slew of other modern classics, including Memento, The Prestige and the mega-blockbuster Inception, Christopher Nolan has been responsible for more than $3.5 billion in worldwide box office sales while earning top-notch reviews for his highly inventive and mind-bending projects. And this year, he catapults even further into a position of Hollywood power, producing and consulting on Zack Snyder’s star-studded Man of Steel, the latest film adaptation of history’s most iconic superhero. But Nolan wasn’t always lauded as the master of the modern blockbuster. His first feature film, Following, went unnoticed upon its initial release in 1998. It centers on a lonely London man who spends his days choosing random people to follow around the city for hours at a time. While it starts out as a creepy character study, Following quickly grows into something more thrilling: a twisty, Hitchcock-worthy suspense tale as the man eventually chooses the wrong person to shadow and finds his world coming apart at the seams.
I would take the blockbusters of the day, the Bond films of the time, and turn them around somewhat. Eventually, I did more experimental films, like [1970s eccentric filmmaker] Nicolas Roeg’s. Q: You started out with no money. How did you make your first feature-length movie? A: I worked out that I could afford to buy 15 minutes of raw
film stock a week, and we shot one day a week. I thought it would take three months [to finish], but it wound up taking a year. We were all working jobs during the week but would get together once a week to shoot and get five minutes or eight minutes done. The whole film was done in first and second takes. Given what I now know about how much takes can improve performances, we stumbled into it being so good. We rehearsed up to six months ahead, as if we were performing on stage, where you can’t fumble and just stop but have to work through mistakes. Q: As a director, how did you learn how to work with different actors? A: I read Stanislavsky’s Method acting books to understand
the process. I dabbled a tiny bit in acting. I knew people from the drama society in college and got them to fill all the roles in Following. I just try to tell people where to cross on screen, and let them do their thing. Stay out of
[O T HER FIL MS]
Nolan On the Horizon Christopher Nolan’s filmography is basically a list of your favorite movies.
The Dark Knight Rises A story that broke a lot of rules by breaking a lot of Batman’s bones, this film’s genius was in showing Bruce Wayne is far from invulnerable.
the way and let them find a way to be real. Q: Your first few films, Following and Memento, aren’t linear at all, but even your most straightforward movies can’t be called “chronological.” Why do you approach storytelling that way? A: Graham Swift’s book Waterland effortlessly bounces through
history to tell a synthesized story. So do the films of Nicolas Roeg or Alan Parker’s Pink Floyd—The Wall, with parallel strands of imagination and history. When I look at how we receive stories in real life, they’re almost never chronological. You read a newspaper headline and get the vague idea, but as you read the article, it’s filling the information in from all the directions. Two days later, you learn more through another article on the subject. We very rarely get the full story on anything in chronological fashion.
Q: Did you write Inception all the way through or in parts? A: I’ve done all my
Inception Nolan had a hard time getting this one financed because investors thought no one would get it. As it turned out, they got it $300 million worth.
The film that put Nolan on
scripts since Following in linear fashion. I tried to think how it would feel as an audience watching it so you get the rhythm of the film. A big problem is that people don’t like to read a lot of stage directions, and the form of the screenplay invites you to focus on the dialogue. With my scripts, you don’t really get a sense of what the structure is going to be. Interestingly, all the films that I’ve done, they’ve followed the same pattern as Following. You have to show the reader how the story is going to work.
grown up films. I did remember seeing the shower scene from Psycho in a TV special and being afraid to shower for years. Strangers on a Train was a big favorite of my life.
the map was maybe his most innovative, a backwards plot with an unforgettable final act (first act?) switcheroo.
Q: What films do you have left to make? A: The favorite script of mine
I’ve written is about Howard Hughes, but I never had time to make it. I always wanted to
“WHEN I LOOK AT HOW WE RECEIVE STORIES IN REAL LIFE, THEY’RE ALMOST NEVER CHRONOLOGICAL.”
Q: Your films get a lot of Hitchcock comparisons. Do you consider him an influence? A: I became a big Hitchcock fan later in life. They’re more
the English. You watch his movies with the family after opening presents on Christmas Day.
Q: You mentioned remaking James Bond films as a kid. Would you do a James Bond film at this point? A: I’d love to at some point. But the truth is, I’ve been busy rip-
ping them off. Everybody around the world loves James Bond, but not like
do a science fiction film, and so far I guess Inception is halfway there. It would be fun to explore at some point. Q: Lastly, tell us about working with Michael Caine. A: Personally, I think his contri-
bution to acting is “never blink.” He made very specific rules in a book and video several years back. He comes completely prepared and knows just what he wants to do— never asks for another take and swears he never has. He’ll try things a different way for you, but he’s very focused and will never waste your time and money while filming. RELEVANT MAGAZINE
THE FORGOTTEN ART OF FOLLOWING BY SAR AH SUMNER
here in the Bible does it say God commands us, as Christians, to be leaders? When Jesus called His disciples, He didn’t tell them, “Lead others.” He told them, “Follow Me.” And yet that’s not what church conferences tend to be about. Nor is it the stuff of bestselling books. Nor will you find a degree on “following” offered at seminary. No doubt, leadership is biblical and of paramount importance. Yet in all the hype we create over leading, we often leave something missing in the minds of many followers who sincerely want to glorify God. And while following the leader might seem as easy as the children’s game, that is not always the case. Granted, it is easier to rely on someone else to do the thinking and heavy lifting and just lag along mindlessly behind—but that is not good followership. That is laziness. “Followership,” on the other hand, is about active and costly submission. And perhaps Jesus is the hardest leader of all to follow—He who said, “If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” In other words, Jesus told His disciples that if they really wanted to “come after” Him, they would have to do so on His terms. Following Jesus
FOLLOWING JESUS MEANS NOTHING LESS THAN DYING TO ONESELF.
Sarah Sumner is the former dean of A.W. Tozer Theological Seminary and author of Leadership Above the Line.
means nothing less than dying to oneself. Certainly, at such a high cost, following Jesus is not a mindless activity. Nor is followership, in general, a mindless thing. Good followership is much harder than just practicing blind loyalty. The best followers, in fact, are not those who allow themselves to get lost in the shadow of their leaders, but those who identify first and foremost as individuals who are personally responsible for their own actions. They affirm their own personhood—and moral obligation— before allegiance to another. They answer to truth as the highest authority—even higher than the boss. And as a result, they have the courage to act in a godly way— even if their leader isn’t. Good followership puts us at great personal risk. For Jesus said to His disciples as He says to us today, “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it.” This kind of following leads us into the Kingdom, where we join in Christ’s work of redemption, but it will also lead us into difficult places where we may not want to go. How tempting it is for us to choose neutrality, to stand by and do nothing in this “present evil age” (Galatians 1:4) in the name of misguided followership. Yet as we see in Dante’s “Inferno,” neutral folks are not found at the threshold of heaven, but of hell. This is what good followership requires: It requires us to refuse to become hired guns. It demands us to value principles over our paychecks. It calls us to speak up when the time is right, even if speaking up causes embarrassment to our supervisors or threatens to corrode our credibility. Wise Christian leaders will love us if we reprove them in the Lord. Far from passively trailing behind the commander-in-chief, followers can serve as great torchbearers of hope. They can shed light upon the darkness of their leaders and hopefully thereby help prevent their leaders’ demise. Good followers serve as iron that sharpens iron. They pray for their leaders, speak truth to them, help them, respect them and ultimately serve them best by demonstrating higher loyalty to the leaders’ Creator than to the leaders themselves. For all the emphasis on Christian leadership today, it’s time to return to the revolution Christ calls us to—following Him, first and foremost, as we serve the world.
NO ONE CAN DO
CAN DO SOMETHING. Orphan Justice moves readers from talking about global orphan care to actually doing something about it, combining biblical truth with the latest research in this inspiring new book. book is eye-opening and important, a call to action “This written with incredible grace. It’s a must-read for the Church and for all people wanting to do ‘orphan care’ well and responsibly.” —Katie Davis, Author of Kisses from Katie is a venture deep into both the costliness and beauty that “Itcome with every expression of love for orphans.” —Jedd Medefind, President, Christian Alliance for Orphans Justice provides the vision we need to understand “Orphan how we, as leaders, can be a part of the solution to the orphan care crisis. Its a strategic call to the Church to act on behalf of the fatherless.” —Brad Lomenick, Executive Director of Catalyst
AVAILABLE NOW /OrphanJustice
Scan to find out more.
WORLDV IE W
MOVIES AND MORALITY B Y D AV I D R O A R K
ight now, there’s a trend for Christians, especially those who are young, liberal and hip, to see movies according to mere aesthetics. Just look at your Twitter feed to see all those unreservedly championing the latest from Quentin Tarantino or Michael Haneke. Even if a movie condones violence or poses a nihilistic, godless ideology, no one seems to care so long as the movie is “good art.” In addition, to be an accepted, intellectual follower of Christ, there’s almost a certain pressure to agree with popular culture on acclaimed movies and art in order to be considered credible. In his book Good Taste, Bad Taste and Christian Taste, published back in 2003, Frank Burch Brown wrote that, compared with issues of morality and theology, Christians tend to see issues of aesthetic taste as inconsequential. In some circles, this statement may still ring true—but not for younger people of faith. Whereas the generations before us swung the pendulum too far one way, limiting movies to nothing more than a message, the overwhelming majority of Christians today have swung the pendulum too far the other way, limiting movies to nothing more than aesthetics. The Gospel, of course, rubs against both these trends. The Bible refers to the Christian life as the “ministry of reconciliation.” As communication professor and writer Quentin Schultze says: “Christian communication is every symbol that flows from a human heart that is anchored in Christ’s discipleship and inspired by the
MANY YOUNG BELIEVERS TODAY ENGAGE THE ART OF MOVIES BUT NOT THE CONTENT.
David Roark works as a copywriter in Dallas and writes about movies, sports and other cultural goingson in his spare time.
Holy Spirit.” In other words, Christians cannot divorce their faith from art. Some Christians have attempted to bring their faith to the movies through an emphasis on content to the neglect of aesthetics. We can all probably name a few Christian films that boast great messages, but are often poor vehicles to deliver those messages. This mindset has also resulted in the inconsistent boycotting of movies with sex, nudity or profanity, while giving movies with violence a free pass. Though well-intentioned, this approach undermines the reality of beauty and the Imago Dei. Yet, in response to this, Christians today often make a different mistake. Inf luenced by postmodern uncertainty of truth and a fear of being “narrowminded,” many young believers today engage the art of movies but not the content. They may think the content doesn’t affect them, though movies are what Calvin College professor James K.A. Smith calls “formative liturgies that are trying to make us a certain kind of person.” This results in a Christian with, perhaps, a great appreciation of film, but who remains ignorant of the message embedded in the vehicle. This problem ignores the fact that humans are, according to Smith, worshippers and lovers “whose orientation to the world is shaped from the body up more than from the head down.” It also ignores the role of worldview in art and, most importantly, Christian responsibility. Because if our worldview informs our communication, then the experience, study and interpretation of art cannot disregard content. We haven’t always gotten it right, but Christians have an opportunity to shape and renew culture through the way we watch and talk about movies. According to Francis Schaeffer, “If we stand as Christians before a man’s canvas and recognize that he is a great artist in technical excellence and validity—if in fact he is—if we have been fair with him as a man and as an artist, then we can say his worldview is wrong. We can judge this view.” The goal of this approach is not for Christians to exercise arrogance or intolerance to those who share different worldviews, especially artists themselves. The goal is for Christians to redeem film by using it as a means to point culture toward Christ—the author of all things, including art.
THE DROP As I Lay Dying Singer Arrested in Murder Plot
CHRIS TOMLIN: EARTH’S MOST SUNG ARTIST came as a surprise when sing-alongs. In all likelihood, several worCNN hailed worship leader ship artists would top any honest list of “the Chris Tomlin as the world’s world’s most-sung artists.” But which artists? The data indicates Matt Redman—whose most-sung artist. It’s a hard claim to quan- “Blessed Be Your Name” is currently the fifth tify, but Christian Copyright Licensing most frequently sung worship song in the International estimates Tomlin’s songs were world—is right behind Tomlin. After that, it gets a little murkier. played in churches well over Reuben Morgan, the wor3.1 million times in 2012. CCLI WORSHIP’S MOSTship pastor at Hillsong United in extrapolates that data to fig- SUNG SONGS London, is in the running, along ure at least 20 million people OUR GOD with people like Paul Baloche and are singing Chris Tomlin songs Chris Tomlin Joel Houston. on any given Sunday. For comNow, worship isn’t a contest, parison, CNN says Katy Perry’s HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD but this exercise does reveal at songs were played on the radio Chris Tomlin least one fact worth noting: Even about 1.4 million times in 2012. MIGHTY TO SAVE a casual perusal of the “world’s Of course, Perry and her ilk Hillsong United most-sung artists” suggests that have album sales that dwarf 10,000 REASONS they’ve got the Caucasian male Tomlin’s, but their songs (BLESS THE LORD) demographic locked down. aren’t used in global weekly Matt Redman
The Christian metal world is not easily shocked, but every subculture has its limits, and Christian metal mainstays As I Lay Dying barreled through them recently when lead singer Tim Lambesis attempted to hire a hit man to assassinate his wife. The supposed “hit man” was actually an undercover sheriff ’s detective, and Lambesis was promptly arrested without incident while he was out shopping. Lambesis and his wife, Meggan, had been estranged for some time— court records show Meggan filed for divorce in September 2012.
SOUNDTRACK YOUR TRIP
We know a lot of you will be going on long road trips this summer, so here’s a little playlist to make it bearable. RELEVANT Your Road trip Stream our playlist here.
ARTIS T S TO WAT CH
[ON RO TAT ION]
Forever EP WHY WE LOVE THEM ‘90s R&B gets a bad rap from people who like to pretend now that they’ve always been too cool for Aaliyah. But by dressing a ’90s pop sensibility with rootsier, folksier trappings, HAIM proves that some of those TRL mainstays were really on to something. It’s a sound both you and your parents will be able to dig. FOR FANS OF Laura Bush Stevie Nicks Purity Ring Kid Cudi ONLINE HAIMtheband.com
anielle Haim probably could have made a decent living without ever starting a band. No sooner had she graduated from high school then Rilo Kiley frontwoman Jenny Lewis was asking her to play for one of her opening acts. From there, she caught the attention of Julian Casablancas, who asked her to play guitar for his solo tour, and then it was off to Cee Lo’s backing band. So her career was going just fine, but the dream was always to get a band going with her sisters, Este and Alana. “We always hoped it would be a ‘thing,’” Danielle says. “But not until we released the EP was it ever like, ‘Oh my gosh, I think something is starting to happen.’” The EP was called Forever and something was definitely happening with it. The girls called their band HAIM, and the BBC called them the most promising new musical act of 2013. Their sound mixes the ’70s with the ’90s and ends up with something modern and essential—imagine Timbaland producing Fleetwood Mac. It’s utterly irresistible and hugely successful, which Danielle attributes to something Casablancas told her at the end of her stint in his band, when she couldn’t decide whether to keep touring for other acts or get her own thing going. “I asked Julian, ‘What do you think we should do?’ And he said, ‘Honestly, disappear for a year and just write and write and write and write and write. Get your recordings exactly how you want them.’ And that’s what we did, and then the EP came out.”
Waxahatchee Cerulean Salt Lyrics so honest, it seems like they should be a secret.
Woodkid The Golden Age Soaring anthems to make you feel like a star in your own film.
[ M I S C ] Arcade Fire has made a name for themselves as the makers of epic indie rock, but they’ve also got a knack for random acts of kindness. When a fire took out a flower shop
in their native Montreal, the group banded
together and raised $13,000
FOR FANS OF
for the florist
to fix the place
up and get
back to selling
The All-American Rejects
Way to keep
Jimmy Eat World
the flowers running,
Citizens is one of the most exciting artists on Mars Hill’s new music label, which is looking to make the Christian worship music scene as diverse as the body of Christ. Their highoctane brand of rock makes the music as potent as the lyrics.
WHY WE LOVE THEM Citizens takes a lot of the music you probably learned how to drive to—early ‘00s altrock—and reworks it for 2013.
For a long time, worship has been all the heart, and then we try to squeeze theology into that. I feel like the way it’s shifting, and it should, is we take the theology and we see the way that thinking produces right emotion. So you get more of an appropriate response. I think that’s the trend we’re seeing.
The driving guitar and postpunk sensibilities will take you back, but far from sounding like a retread, Citizens manages to make you wonder why people stopped playing music like this.
A collaboration between Brad Paisley and LL Cool J wasn’t likely to be normal, but nobody could have guessed just how bizarre “Accidental Racist” would end up being. While undeniably wellintentioned, the song was
panned from coast to coast
FOR FANS OF
for its half-
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
of just why
Death Cab for Cutie
across as a bit bigoted ...
Michael Benjamin Lerner’s voice is what gets you. His songs sound friendly, like that guy who’s always just asking if he can play you something he wrote. However, unlike with that guy, you won’t have to pretend to like Lerner’s songs.
WHY WE LOVE HIM Telekinesis’ music is everything the recent ‘80s pop revival should be, with none of the nauseous excesses that made
The second record is the arduous journey to Mordor. It kind of sucks. It’s just a scary process. And then, by the third record, you’re going back to the Shire. It’s fun again. You don’t have people listening to it being like, ‘Oh, it’s his second record.’
that decade a little unbearable. Dormarion sounds like a summer afternoon with the whole day ahead of you and nothing but sun in the forecast.
And I was so embarrassed. And I just felt like I kept getting pushed by these people. Banning [Jesus Culture founder, Banning Liebscher] came up to me and was like “Hey, will you lead worship for our Jesus Culture conference?” This was only our second year of having the Jesus Culture Conference. And something happened! It’s hard to explain. At this point I think I was probably 21, 22. Something just changed and I just found what I’m really passionate about. Q: Do you wrestle with that tension between performing and worshipping? A: The fight is to be consis-
tently living on that edge of pressing into God’s presence. Not about you, not about what you already know, not even about the songs, just completely about him. There’s an element of stage presence, but I think that when your love for God is genuine, that stage presence is genuine.
[ Q&A ]
KIM WALKER-SMITH AS JESUS CULTURE REDEFINES WORSHIP MUSIC’S BOUNDARIES, KIM WALKER-SMITH IS EXPLORING SOME LIMITS OF HER OWN.
the past few years, few worship ministries have been as unique or potent as Jesus Culture. Since their first album in 2006, Kim Walker-Smith and the many gifted worship artists around her have been staging a quiet revolution in the worship music movement. We talked to Walker-Smith about that movement and the changes in her own life.
Q: So, you’ve got kids on the way. Do you think a family will change your career much?
A: We’ve thought about it some.
“WHEN YOUR LOVE FOR GOD IS GENUINE, THAT STAGE PRESENCE IS GENUINE.”
I think it will change what I will do. It’s going to slow it down a little bit, but I don’t think it’s going to stop what we’re doing. A kid or kids—however many. A lot of it depends on the kid’s personality—if they’re good travelers or if they’re homebodies.
Q: Do you remember the first time you ever led a worship event? A: I totally messed up. I bombed
in the middle of the song right on stage in front of the church on a Sunday morning. I burst into tears. I ran off the stage and swore I’d never do it again.
Q: What do you think sets Jesus Culture apart? A: We have this expression
in our group: “We protect the presence.” We go out after the presence of God at all costs. We make decisions that, to the outside, look different and hard to understand. But for us we’re just so trying to protect what God has put inside of us, the vision that He’s given us. Q: How do you make sure the lyrics you write are accurate? A: Not everybody is going to
WATCH Kim’s performance of “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)”
agree with every lyric. I wrote a song called “Still Believe,” and it talks about God healing people right now. There’s a lot of people that don’t believe that. But there’s some times where we just go “But this is our conviction and what we believe.”
read to know that we are not alone,” as C.S. Lewis famously said. If that’s so—and we believe it is—we’re about to put you in some very good company this summer. Introducing: a pair of ethically conscious vampires, the strongest—and perhaps most inspiring—librarian you’ll ever meet, a spoken word artist who wants to show you how to dance, a little boy who’s afraid of the dark and many more. It took hours of sifting, deliberating, debating and trimming, but
in the end, we landed what we think is the brightest and best for your summer reading pleasure. We know—we’re about the make your vacation packing list a little longer, and your beach bag a little heavier. But we think by the time you’ve made it through these page-turners, mind-benders, heartwarmers and game-changers, you’ll thank us for it. So kick back and relax—it’s summertime, which is simply another way to say it’s story time.
LET’S EXPLORE DIABETES WITH OWLS David Sedaris Nonfiction Writer and humorist David Sedaris began making a name for
MY BRIGHT ABYSS
himself in the ‘90s
with collections like
Barrel Fever and contributions to
Z: A NOVEL OF ZELDA FITZGERALD
Esquire magazine and the radio
Therese Anne Fowler
American Life. In 2000, he wrote and
We’re big advocates of reading the book
published Me Talk
before the movie—which we’re going to
Pretty One Day and
trust you did before heading to F. Scott
his name was made.
Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby on the
Sedaris’ offbeat and
big screen in May (If we’re wrong, we
don’t want to know). But if you can’t get
stories manage to be
enough of that jazz-soaked charm, we’ll
take it a step further and recommend
hilarious at once.
reading another book after the movie.
His most recent
In Z, Therese Anne Fowler pulls back the
curtain to reveal an intimate backstory in
Explore Diabetes With
the life of Fitzgerald’s ever-captivating,
Owls, focuses on a
ever-complicated wife, Zelda. From the
series of side-splitting
fictionalized perspective of Zelda herself, Z
experiences from a
charts the turbulent path from her and her
recent world tour and
husband’s star-crossed love and success to
is sure to please old
their slow-motion demise.
and new fans alike.
ON GOD’S SIDE Jim Wallis Nonfiction
As the president of Sojourners and editor-in-chief of Sojourners magazine, Jim Wallis has long been an influential voice on Christian ethics and public life.
Christian Wiman was 39 years old, two years into his stint as the editor of Poetry magazine, when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. The experience provoked him to reconnect with the Christian faith he had abandoned in childhood. My Bright Abyss is a shattering meditation on pain, hope, poetry and faith. As he says in the preface, it’s a book not about what to believe, but how to believe: “How do you answer that burn of being? What might it mean for your life—and for your death—to acknowledge that insistent, persistent ghost [called God]?”
But on a three-month sabbatical during the pinnacle of election season, Wallis stepped out of his sphere of influence to become, not a participator, but an observer. The result is a fresh take on the interplay of faith and politics in America, inspired by Abraham Lincoln’s line, “My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side.” RELEVANT MAGAZINE
[ Q&A ]
Nonfiction Seven years ago, in The Omnivore’s
Human—that’s the only word to describe the common thread woven throughout every one of Karen Russell’s short stories in Vampires in the Lemon Grove. We were spellbound by Russell’s Swamplandia!, her debut novel and a 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalist. Now she brings us this new curation of fantastical worlds where girls are turned into silkworms, scarecrows resemble bullied victims of days past and seagulls have somehow pick-pocketed the keys to the cosmos. But through it all is the tempo of aching humanity and the never-quite-straight path to atonement.
We talked with Russell about her writing influences, how her stories function as mirrors and yes, vampires.
Q: Your book is a collection of short stories, but on what idea or theme would you say they center? A: The stories tend to be about this tipping point, where
to human identity,
Pollan traced four meals from the table back to their In Cooked, Pollan
THE EASY BURDEN OF PLEASING GOD
sets out to master
four classic recipes.
Cooked makes the that cooking—an activity “central biology and culture”—can
optimism turns into complete delusion. So a dream or a fantasy becomes a nightmare. And then [the stories] all involve some kind of violent transformation.
reconnect us to our
Q: How did you decide to make “Vampires in the Lemon Grove” the title story? A: Of all the titles from the collection, this title just seemed
metaphorically correct. So many of these characters have these monstrous appetites or desires and they’ve figured out some kind of temporary fix for them. But I think we were all a little leery because when I wrote that title story, Stephanie Meyer kind of swept the globe in her conquest. So nobody really wanted to follow the heels of the sparkly vampires ... But that’s what we did. [Laughs]. A risky move.
Q: Your characters range from victims who turn into perpetrators to perpetrators who are tortured over their own actions. Why do you think it’s important that, as readers, we see both sides? A: I was definitely thinking about monstrosity as a continuum
versus the sort of traditional victim-aggressor binary. You know, there’s no way to sit and judge a monster. When you’re able to empathize with them, you’re in touch with the best and worst part of your own nature. Most monster stories, I think, end up being kind of a fun-house mirror in which we see some part of our own nature, some part of the problem. Q: You’ve said Flannery O’Connor has influenced you as a writer. How so? A: I think the structure of [her] stories has become my
template to what I think a short story is, in a way. There will be a moment of violence and often grace—but not the easy kind.
food, one another, and “a magic that to all of us, at home.” If you’re feeling like getting fancy in the kitchen this summer, start here.
“What if ... our being ‘free indeed’ was synonymous with enjoyment?” asks Patty Kirk in The Easy Burden of Pleasing God. In her new book of short personal essays, Kirk meditates on what it means to take on the easy yoke of Jesus—a paradox of the faith if there ever was one. Nonetheless, it’s a paradox that she explores through the prismatic lens of work, rest, self-defeating perfectionism and love. “That’s the work God expects from us: Love ... Nothing less. And not one jot, not one tittle more.”
THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE Neil Gaiman Fiction
Neil Gaiman doesn’t so much write books as create worlds. From Coraline to Neverwhere and beyond, we’ve fallen deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole of his shadowed magic. The Ocean at the End of the Lane takes us yet again into an otherworldly drama, where a 7-year-old’s home is invaded by a sudden darkness and he looks to a girl down the lane, one of a curious trinity of female neighbors, for hope and help.
THE DARK Lemony Snicket Fiction Don’t be fooled by the relegation of benevolent doomsayer Lemony Snicket’s latest to the children’s section—The Dark contains a depth that many adult books never breach. With the talents of both Snicket, of A Series of Unfortunate Events infamy, and Jon Klassen, winner of the Caldecott Medal and the conceptual artist behind Neil Gaiman’s Coraline film edition, The Dark is a timeless tale of overcoming our fears and the surprising gifts we find in the things we fear most. It may be short, but it runs deep.
THE WORLD’S STRONGEST LIBRARIAN Josh Hanagarne Nonfiction A 6-foot-7-inch Mormon with Tourette Syndrome, Josh Hanagarne is anything but ordinary. And for anyone
who begrudges the rise of
the memoir, we offer up this
incredible true tale of human
perseverance. Hanagarne’s memoir reveals a humorous and heartwarming account of the
From the award-
varied attempts to overcome his
winning author of Half A Yellow Sun,
affliction and finally, the surprising one that worked. Now a weight-
Purple Hibiscus and
lifter, librarian, blogger and father, Hanagarne shares a story of
others comes a new
struggle, perseverance, faith and buoyant, odds-defying hope.
novel—her first in seven years. And it’s well-worth the wait. Ifemelu and Obinze meet as teenagers
APPROACHING THE FUTURE
in Lagos, Nigeria,
and it’s a classic
romance from the start. But Nigeria’s dictatorship soon causes people to flee the country, and Ifemelu and Obinze’s paths lead them to separate continents. Years later, they reunite, and old passions are kindled, yet difficult decisions lie ahead.
Ben Hammersley has served time as an Internet reporter, an editor for Wired, the U.K. Prime Minister’s ambassador to London’s Tech City sector and more. Perhaps the best phrase to encompass his accomplishments is to simply call him a futurist. In Approaching the Future, Hammersley serves as an invaluable guide through the technological trappings of the 21st century—and how they will affect society as a whole. The book is a surprisingly accessible grand tour of innovation in our modern world.
[ Q&A ]
DANIEL HANDLER Lemony Snicket is famed for his colorful characters, but his newest book only features two: Laszlo, a boy who is afraid of the dark, and the dark itself, who offers up an ambiguous midnight invitation: “I want to show you something.” We caught up with Daniel Handler, or Lemony Snicket’s “handler” (we’re never quite sure)—to talk about what might be this year’s best bedtime story yet. Q: Tell me about the choice— from a writer whose work is often described as “dark”—to write a story on overcoming the fear of the dark. A: I saw a drawing of Mr. Klassen’s
of a boy walking down to the basement, and instantly I had a story in my head.
Q: Is it really just a book for kids? Do you think there’s an “adult equivalent” of the fear of the dark? A:The “adult equivalent” of a fear of
the dark is a fear of the dark. Adults who don’t think they are afraid of the dark can meet me in a parking garage at midnight and I’ll explain it to them.
Q: How did you collaborate with Jon Klassen on the visuals? A:With extreme patience. Mr.
Klassen’s youth and inexperience made him a collaborator who needed almost constant babysitting.
Q: The Dark has a fairly “happy ending.” But of course, this is a digression from Lemony Snicket’s usual penchant for dire and dreadful. Is he developing a soft spot? A: Mr. Snicket may indeed have a
soft spot, but hopefully he will get some much-needed medical attention.
BREAKING OLD RHYTHMS Amena Brown Nonfiction
[ Q&A ] THE BOOK OF MY LIVES
Aleksandar Hemon Nonfiction Aleksandar Hemon, whose work is often compared to that
AMENA BROWN Amena Brown’s Breaking Old Rhythms isn’t your typical “faith is a dance” analogy. It’s filled with Kanye concerts (before we knew who Kanye was), breakdancing and the unshackled joy of movement. We spoke with Brown about how our rhythms shape us, creativity and the surprising gift of silence.
of Lolita’s Vladimir Nabokov, has spent the last 13 years writing award-winning stories that straddle the middle lands of funny and sad. His memoir carries the same searing blend of comedy and tragedy— but with his own life as the backdrop this time. The first of Hemon’s lives begins in the small city of
Q: How do we know, as Christians, if we’re moving to the right rhythms? A: Our best way to know ... is by how
closely we are following Jesus’ rhythm. His rhythm is love, truth, grace and acceptance, which means sometimes Jesus’ rhythm is uncomfortable, inconvenient and unpredictable to our human brains.
Q: Is there an “aftermath” we should be aware of after breaking an unhealthy rhythm? A: Any time we break an unhealthy
rhythm, there is an adjustment period
... You may feel uncomfortable. The only remedy for this is surrender ... because the One who created our rhythm is in complete control and works even our broken rhythm for our good. Q: How do you see the role of creativity as it relates to faith? A: Creativity plays a big role in our faith, because we
have a relationship with the Creator of creativity. I have experienced God in church the same way I experienced Him in an art gallery, at a hip-hop show or watching a rainstorm from my window. The connection between creativity and our faith is happening all around us, we just have to focus our eyes to see it. Q: Your book makes the analogy between music and faith. But is there also a place for silence in our faith? A: What I’m learning in my relationship with God
is that although I live in a modern world with my smartphone, laptop and Internet, there is something ancient about following God. No matter how much information I have access to, one of the best ways for me to connect with God is by silencing all the noise. Even in music and rhythm there is rest.
Sarajevo, an “act one” filled with vignettes of family, soccer, music and poetry. His second
life, in Chicago, takes
Karen Swallow Prior
a sharp turn as he
watches war break out
For Karen Swallow Prior, professor of English at Liberty University, books aren’t just professional—they’re personal.
in his home country and begins a new life in a new city. Yet in both lives, it is easy
“Books have formed the soul of me,” she writes in Booked, her memoir of faith and reading. From her childhood, through college, to the present day, books have been her constant companions. She writes about classics such as Charlotte’s Web and Jane Eyre with so much warmth and affection that your reading list can’t help but expand.
to find ourselves—in the bonds we feel between people and places and in Hemon’s
startling insights on
JOHN PATTISON is the author of Besides
KESTER SMITH is a former bookseller
STEPHANIE SMITH is content devel-
what it means to
the Bible (2010) and the forthcoming Slow
and pastor now pursuing a graduate
opment editor for RELEVANT. Follow
Church (2014), both from InterVarsity Press.
degree alongside students half his age.
her on Twitter @stephindialogue.
Equipping ministry leaders for more than 40 years www.Liberty.edu/ RELEVANTMAGAZINE | (877) 298-9617 LYNCHBURG, VIRGINIA | LBTS@liberty.edu
ONE OF OUR GENERATION’S FAVORITE BANDS ASKS THE BIG QUESTIONS. BY TYLER HUCKABEE
lmost everything you need to know about Vampire Weekend can be summed up in the first 10 seconds of their headline set at this year’s Coachella Music and Arts Festival. Before a crowd of sweat-soaked, bedraggled concert-goers, the quartet took the stage looking like they’d wandered in from the library. Somehow impervious to the oppressive heat, they were stuffed into creamy oxfords, finely tailored suit jackets and pressed trousers. Their hairstyles were appropriately mussed. And it’s not just the style. It’s how they carry themselves. They don’t act like rock stars or even the paralyzingly shy prodigies so popular these days. Rather, they give off the collective vibe of that college professor you had who seemed just a little too young and cool to be a professor—the one all the girls had crushes on and all the guys would call by his first name and nobody would be quite sure when this kid found time to earn a Ph.D.
VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN
Despite the professorial vibe, Vampire Weekend is not a band known for their seriousness. They’ve largely dealt in breezy melodies and breezier lyrics, as charming and inconsequential as an afternoon nap.
But their latest album, Modern Vampires of the City, is a sea of change. You’re not likely to hear a more artful wrestle with mortality and the divine this year than Vampire Weekend’s, and the band themselves have moved on from sounding like eternal tourists. In fact, their guitarist/keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij says this album is homespun. “We all love American music. I feel like you get a bit more of the immigrant culture of America in our music,” he says, referring to Vampire Weekend’s melting pot of beats and melodies. “That’s going to be natural considering it’s the product of Jewish/Persian/ Ukrainian/Irish immigrants.” “I think this album sounds authentically American,” he says. “As opposed to a narrow vision of America that’s sometimes—not all the time—but sometimes expressed in music that is ‘Americana.’” “We’re all New Yorkers and we have a great love for New York and the history of the city and the music of the city. That music has its own kind of America. Maybe some people aren’t really interested in that. But we are.”
GETTING OVER THE SELLOUT
Vampire Weekend fits just about any kind of narrative you’d like to squeeze them into. Cinderella Story. Cautionary Tale. Hero’s Journey. In the course of their career, they’ve played the role of “Next Big Thing,” “Overhyped Sellouts,” “Under-appreciated Geniuses” and “Mainstream Pop Stars,” often simultaneously. In 2008, their introduction was met with what might be rightly considered an unprecedented amount of hype for a brand new band. They described their sound as “Upper West Side Soweto,” and it’s as good a description as any. It mixes Paul Simon’s affinity for Afro-pop melodies with, well, name a genre. Reggae, calypso, synth-pop, ska, punk rock; they all made appearances. Instead of picking an influence, as many of their peers did, Ezra Koenig, Chris Baio, Chris Tomson and Batmanglij saw the world’s music as an anything-goes grab bag. And yet, through Koenig’s plucky vocals and Batmanglij’s obsessive production, it all sounds cohesive. By the end of 2008, there was no mistaking Vampire Weekend for any other indie act out there. They were on the cover of Spin magazine and opened for the Shins’ U.K. Tour, no small feats for a band that RELEVANT MAGAZINE
[T HE LIS T]
Vampire State of Mind Vampire Weekend kicked off indie’s afrobeat fetish, but they’re not alone anymore.
Dirty Projectors One of the most prolific bands out there right now.
tUnE-yArDs Merrill Garbus’ band, like its capitalization, is never dull.
had yet to release a single album. Rolling Stone named “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” the fourth best song of the year. They were everything an indie band success story could be. Then came the backlash. While the band’s excellent second album, Contra, was a critical smash, the famously fickle hipster crowd was leery of the band’s mainstream acceptance. In an interview with Salon, Christian Lander—of Stuff White People Like infamy—labeled them the world’s whitest band. “They’re pushing it [whiteness] to levels unseen,” he declared. Lander was far from alone in feeling that the band represented a sort of privileged class of Ivy League grads. That Contra’s “Holiday” became part of major Honda and Tommy Hilfiger campaigns didn’t exactly help matters. “I don’t think that we’ve ever made any of those decisions without mixed feelings,” Batmanglij admits, referring
to which commercials, movies and television shows get to use the band’s music. He recalls the first of such decisions: whether to allow the song “A-Punk” to be used in Step Brothers. “I remember the four of us getting together and watching this segment that the movie studio had sent us,” he says. “We didn’t know what to make of it. But at the end of the day, there’s a lot of people who would have never heard of our music if they hadn’t seen that movie, people around the world.” It all sounds justifiable, but it landed the band a memorable spot on The Colbert Report, in which Stephen Colbert pitted them against the Black Keys in a “Sell Out Off,” to determine which alternative band had surrendered more of their integrity. Both bands seemed more than willing to go along with the joke but, this being Colbert, it was hard to determine where the joke ended and where reality began. “You can’t really understand it until you get to the point where it’s offered to you and you have to decide what to do,” Batmanglij says. “I think it’s very hard and I think a lot of people who come down on the side of criticism, they don’t really
is it called Modern Vampires of the City?’ and, in retrospect, we’ve thought about this album as a city in and of itself. It’s made me think about why are we attracted to putting in these bustling crowd noises, like the sounds of people at a party or people at a cafe. Why did we want to throw those into the recording? It’s made me think maybe there was an invisible hand that was guiding us and telling us to do things that we were not conscious of.” This sort of spiritual talk peppers Batmanglij’s thoughts, and plenty of religion pops up on Modern Vampires, such as on the winsomely peppy “Unbelievers.” “The imagery is religious,” Batmanglij says, “but the song itself is not. I think at the end of the day, the song is about living in a world with multiple religions and living in a world where secularism and religiosity coexist and have to coexist. And then in that world, the song is also a love song. I think it’s about love existing in a violent world.”
NOT SO DEPRESSING AFTER ALL
“JOYFUL MOMENTS ARE ALWAYS OCCURRING.” know what it’s like to try to make ends meet in that world.”
WORKING FOR THE WEEKEND
That world is one Vampire Weekend is re-entering with Modern Vampires of the City. If the numerous festival dates and mammoth tour is any indication— along with a very funny viral marketing campaign with Steve Buscemi—they weathered the backlash from their sophomore album famously, and they’re ready to move on. After the frenzied sophomoric pressure of Contra, Modern Vampires came together at a more natural pace, Batmanglij says. It was written in pieces—on retreats to Martha’s Vineyard and Los Angeles. “We spent a lot of time on the songwriting,” he says. “By the time we had the songs written, it felt good to get out of New York and go somewhere
different. We wrote a lot of songs that we didn’t end up recording. We had to put in a little more work in terms of experimenting. It just came down to songwriting and needing to do more and more of it until we were happy with the songs that we had and that we wanted to put on the album. So, that led to taking a little more time.” And it was, to hear Batmanglij tell it, remarkably rewarding. “Joyful moments are always occurring,” he says. “And then, what comes after it has its joys, too. Sometimes, you realize a lot of things you hadn’t realized about an album when you’re talking about it. Throughout making this album we started experimenting with these crowd sounds. We like adding these atmospheres and moments. But as we’ve been talking about this album, a lot of people ask us, ‘why
Batmanglij’s view of the world isn’t particularly cheerful (“The world is depressing!” he laughs. “Reality is depressing!”), but that outlook motivates him and his band to greater productivity and even creativity. He takes failure as a given—almost a way of life—but not necessarily as a stop sign. “Frustration is natural,” he says. “We experienced frustration on this album, but we just keep going ... I think if you fail and then it leads you to not try anymore and you’re frustrated because you haven’t achieved success, either on your own terms or someone else’s terms then ... ” here he does one his leisurely pauses, searching for the perfect word. “Then you just need to keep going, you know?” “If you fail at something long enough and you keep going, you will be successful,” Batmanglij declares. “You’ve got to be comfortable with failing. There are some people who fail at something and it scares them off and then they don’t try it again. You’ve got to be able to fail and know, at the end of the day, you will succeed. Somehow, I had that with music. You’ve got to believe in something,” he continues. “Like there’s some kind of higher plan you’re serving.” That doesn’t sound so depressing. “No,” he admits. “Not depressing at all.”
HUCKABEE is the managing editor
of RELEVANT magazine. Follow him on Twitter @tylerhuckabee.
BY JESSE CAREY
e’ve all been guilty of it from time to time: bad social media etiquette. Maybe you’ve overshared and regretted it later. Maybe you’ve allowed a passionate discussion about politics to get a little too passionate. Maybe you’ve spent way too much time browsing—and comparing yourself to—snapshots of your long-lost classmates’ now-glorious lives. Don’t worry, it’s not just you—we’ve all fallen prey to the anti-social side of social media. In a recent study from an organization called VitalSmarts, nearly 80 percent of people surveyed said they have noticed an increase in rudeness online. Two in five said they have actually ended a relationship with someone because of an altercation on social media. Obviously, we’re doing something wrong. To help you steer clear of bad social networking behavior, we’ve compiled this list of seven, totally hypothetical, online personality types to avoid becoming.
THE SELFIE ENTHUSIAST Example Message: • Just set a new personal best for my 10K time #feelinggood • Today is back and shoulders! Feeling the burn! • Rise and grind … 5:30 a.m., time to hit the gym #disciplined • [Several nearly identical pictures of yourself standing in front of a mirror taken on different days]
What Is It?
Do you find that your photo albums have an inordinate amount of photos in which you are the only person featured? Is a trip to the beach or pool another opportunity to update said photo albums? Is it possible for you to visit the gym without letting all of your social media followers know about it? Have you ever, even once, taken a picture of yourself with the caption “Looking rough :(” even though you know that you do not, by any discernible measure, “look rough”? You may in fact be a Selfie Enthusiast.
If You’re the Selfie Enthusiast:
It’s a positive thing that you make healthy choices and maintain a fit lifestyle. Don’t make your friends resent you for it. Try turning your iPhone camera the other way around, and find other things in the big wide world out there— that don’t involve your face—to celebrate.
THE VAGUE-BOOKER Example Messages: • Ugh. I can’t BELIEVE that just happened. • :( well, now I’m really sad. • Aaaand it’s official. This day can’t get worse. • Wow. What a turn of events. I am the luckiest person ever ... not. • Well, that was unexpected.
What Is It?
Look, there’s nothing wrong with seeking sympathy when something goes wrong, informing friends about some good news or even asking for prayer in tough situations. But at least have the decency to give some details. The Vague-Booker knows that some curious friend will play right into their hands and inevitably ask “Awww, what’s wrong?” If you’re a friend of a Vague-Booker, try to avoid playing their mind games. If you do end up asking for some details of the vaguely dire update and they reply with yet another sympathy-fishing hint like, “It’s just something that happened with some people we’re close to ... I can’t believe it,” attempting to take you a level deeper into their Inception-like web of neediness, stop and inform them that they are a Vague-Booker.
If You’re the Vague-Booker:
We all need attention from our friends and family, and sometimes prayer or support during a tough time can really help—but ask for it the right way. If the problem is too personal to give any details about, then it’s probably a good sign that you shouldn’t post it on Facebook in the first place. If that’s the case, pick up the phone and call a friend. Send an email to your pastor. Or, try the old-fashioned way—have a face-to-face conversation.
THE INSTAGRAM STALKER Example Messages: • None. You’re not really contributing anything. You’re just … looking.
What Is It?
You don’t take a lot of photos (or make any real contributions to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter), but you spend a lot of time on those sites. You glimpse into the lives of former co-workers, ex-boyfriends/girlfriends and old high school classmates to see how their lives RELEVANT MAGAZINE
have turned out compared to yours. If constant feelings of inadequacy, jealousy or emptiness accompany your frequent photo browsing, you may have a problem.
DON’T WORRY, IT’S NOT JUST YOU—WE’VE ALL FALLEN PREY TO THE ANTI-SOCIAL SIDE OF SOCIAL MEDIA.
If You’re the Instagram Stalker:
The thing about social media is, people choose what pictures to share—and they’re probably only going to post the things they want people to see. That means you’re only seeing the best parts of your friends’ lives and, chances are, they have their share of problems just like you. So instead of comparing yourself to others, maybe try capturing some the good moments in your own life and start sharing those.
THE EARLY ADOPTER Example Messages: • Can finally say goodbye to Spotify and its disgusting interface. Hello, Rdio! • Six-second non-sequitur videos—finally someone thought of something useful. This Vine thing is gonna be HUGE. • Just converted all my savings to Bitcoins. Have fun paying TAXES #suckers
What Is It?
We get it. You like to be one of the first to try a new technology when it comes out, and you like everyone else to know about it. But how is it possible that every new social network, media application or tech idea is going to be the next big thing?
If You’re the Early Adopter:
It’s cool that you’re into new technology and letting your friends know about it. Just see if you can do it without telling everyone else how lame their technology choices are.
seek out international adventures. That’s great. But most of us can tell the difference between sharing pictures of your vacation and flaunting your cultured palate for all us lowlifes to see. If you are fortunate enough to experience far-off cultures and undertake off-the-grid jungle expeditions, your friends will probably enjoy getting to see pictures of your experiences. But there’s a way to post travel updates without looking like you’re showing off to all your friends stuck back home “working real jobs.” The point of posting pictures of cool places and interesting cultures is to share your life experiences with others, not remind them how boring their lives are.
If You’re the Anthony Bourdainer:
Instead of making all of your travels and excursions into elegantly filtered posts, use the opportunity to recommend places to your friends, contribute restaurant reviews on Yelp or write about the interesting people you’ve met in your travels. Find ways to make other people the subject of your social media.
THE GODWIN’S LAWBREAKER Example Message: • Your beliefs about evolution are what caused the rise of the Nazis. • You know who else would have voted like that? Hitler. • Beliefs like that probably sounded really good to Germans in the 1940s, too.
THE ANTHONY BOURDAINER Example Message: • There’s nothing like organic wheatgrass humus meatballs with cider gravy at a Swiss tapas bodega for some Sunday brunch … Mmm! • The underground Druid ruins of Southern Ireland are so beautiful this time of year. • Took an airboat ride on a pink dolphin watching tour down the Amazon this morning … now, time for lunch!
What Is It?
You like to travel, sample exotic cuisine and 50
What Is It?
Mike Godwin is an author and attorney who, while using a message board in 1995, observed that the longer an online discussion goes on, the more likely a comparison to the Nazis will be made—regardless of what the topic is. Almost 20 years later, Godwin’s Law still seems to be in effect.
If You’re the Godwin’s Lawbreaker:
Making wild, insulting associations in a debate has never worked to change someone’s mind. Ever. You can’t always make someone see differently during an online
argument—but when you compare their logic to that of history’s most notorious mass murderer, you not only demean and belittle the fate of the millions of innocent people he killed, you also make your own argument sound petty.
THE ONE LINE POLITICAL EXPERT Example Messages: • The government is coming for all of our SUVs. #openyoureyespeople • Anyone who voted for Ralph Nader is an idiot. • I don’t see how anyone who votes for a candidate who supports [fill in the blank] could call themselves a Christian!
What Is It?
Time and time again, social media has shown there is no better forum to exchange nuanced political ideas than brief updates made while half-watching a movie. Our nation’s politicians spend years in the world’s finest schools, win competitive elections through a complicated democratic process and work for months with colleagues to craft detailed legislation. But their expertise withers before your cynical, 30-word Facebook rant. The only thing worse than a one-sentence tirade about a complex social issue is an overly emotional retort to such a tirade. If you find yourself getting heated reading comments and start formulating passiveaggressive personal insults, maybe it’s time to turn your attention back to whatever you missed on Netflix.
If You’re the One Line Political Expert:
Use your political passion and knowledge of social issues to make a difference by getting involved in organizations that work within the system to affect change. Take the time you spent writing tweets to write your congressman. At the very least, take a deep breath before you reply to your buddy’s opposing position on health care reform. It might just save your friendship.
CAREY is a contributing editor for
RELEVANT magazine and a mainstay on the weekly RELEVANT podcast. He’s also just a really funny guy.
THE BOOK BEHIND THE MOVIE HOW ONE MAN WAS MOVED TO LEAD HIS CHURCH
IN SERVING THE LEAST OF THESE
Purchase the book and get a free download of Stephen Miller's new album
ALL HAIL THE KING!
IS HE CALLING YOU?
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NOTTODAY RESOURCES. COM/BOOK
BY SCOT MCKNIGHT
a seminary student in my mid-20s, I faced a crisis. The yearning to learn, study and write coursed through my veins daily. I was convinced God had called me to teach—but where? Should I become a pastor and teach in a local church? Should I become a professor and teach in a classroom? Should I apply to Ph.D. programs? I didn’t know—so I prayed. I read my Bible with the kind of existential desperation for clarity that only those in crisis experience. But I still didn’t know the answer. So I met with my seminary professors, each of whom affirmed my calling to teach. Their encouragement, however, did not yield the definitive clarity I wanted. Why, I sometimes cried aloud in my prayers, Why, God, don’t you just tell me? I know I’m not alone in asking. Many of us have moments when we would like God to speak to us audibly and just tell us what He wants us to do. We want to follow Him— it would just be nice if He told us how. Many Christians, of course, already understand prayer as more than one-way communication. The Bible reveals prayer as a conversation. But even so, we start to get uncomfortable when people talk about listening to God through prayer. Sure, we can hear God through the Bible, but do we really hear God speak today? Dallas Willard, in his book Hearing God, put it this way: “Hearing God is but one dimension of a richly interactive relationship, and obtaining guidance is but one facet of hearing God.” Perhaps the single most important demonstration of how prayer works, one element of this “richly interactive relationship,” is found in Genesis 18. Here, God visits Abraham in the guise of three men. Abraham receives the men into his home with the extravagant hospitality customary to the ancient world. During their time together, the Lord
reveals to Abraham that Sarah will have a son—a promise He fulfills in His own time. But He doesn’t stop there. God is in a revealing mode. When the three men get ready to leave, they observe Sodom from afar and wonder, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?” What happens next is a biblical template for prayer that reveals prayer is not one-way talking to
rape by an entire community. But who exactly has been crying out in prayer? Lot—Abraham’s nephew—and his wife and daughters. Perhaps from ground level, Lot’s family couldn’t see a difference in their prayers. They were still living in the midst of a city filled with sexual violence. But the assurance in this passage rings clear: God is listening, even when we are tempted to think He’s not. But can listening to our prayers change God’s mind? The nature of prayer comes to the surface in two subtle expressions in this text. The first is in God’s question: “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?” This implies that God not only knows Sodom’s fate, but He is also deliberating whether to reveal it. The second clue is in God’s declaration that He’s going to investigate to “see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me.” At first, these things seem contradictory. This is where the sovereign God proponents get nervous about a God who appears to “change His mind,” and the interactive God proponents’ blood begins to rise in seeing that God already knows the final outcome. Do we serve a sovereign God who knows what will happen or an interactive God who “learns” by watching realities take place? We worship an all-glorious God who not only guides us, but also invites us to petition and interact with Him. Because of this passage, we can all agree: God is big enough for both listening and negotiating. In Genesis 18, Abraham interacts with God to save the righteous living in Sodom. First, he requests God spare Sodom if He can find 50 righteous people—God agrees,
WE WORSHIP AN ALL-GLORIOUS GOD WHO NOT ONLY GUIDES US, BUT ALSO INVITES US TO PETITION AND INTERACT WITH HIM. God, but an interactive relationship.
In Genesis 18:20-21, God says, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me.” In other words, God heard the prayers of His people, and this compelled Him to act. The sin of Sodom is notorious, and Genesis 19 fills in the lines— violent homosexual
and then Abraham whittles that number all the way down to 10. Whatever you think of prayer, this much is clear: Negotiation with an interactive God is a genuine dynamic of prayer. Sodom and Gomorrah had become a hot spot of systemic injustice that required retribution. Abraham’s cries to God stood next to the cries of the victims, and God answered both— by preserving the righteous and judging the wicked. Only five survived—half of Abraham’s last term in the negotiations. Abraham prayed, “Will not the Judge of all the Earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25)—a prayer God heard and answered. That God will do “right” is the sole basis of our confidence, for Abraham then and for us today. And because God is obligated to do right, we can be confident God will listen and respond. Knowing who God is also helps us know who we are when we come to Him in prayer. Perhaps the most important lesson of prayer is this: to remember who is praying to whom. Simply put, we are humans and God is God. Abraham knew this: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes ... ” (Genesis 18:27). The immensity of creation reflects RELEVANT MAGAZINE
only a speck of the colossal magnitude of God, and the immensity of creation reveals our infinitesimal nature. Yet, God listens to us. This must shape how we pray. The proper posture before the grandeur of God is humility. The utter incomprehensibility of prayer is that this immense God has chosen to enter into an interactive relationship with us. Why? Because He has appointed us as sub-governors of the earth. This is what it means to be made in the “image” of God (Genesis 1:26-27). God interacts with us because God knows what is best for this world and because God has given us the freedom to govern this world under His good designs.
4 Essential Guides to Prayer
The Valley of Vision Edited by Arthur G. Bennett
WHEN PRAYER DOESN’T SEEM TO WORK
We pray to a God who wants to interact with us, but when God doesn’t appear to be answering our prayers, we are faced with two temptations. First, instead of trusting God, perhaps because we feel we’ve waited too long, we seek to make things happen ourselves. Martin Luther offers a powerful reminder in our temptation to go at life on our own. “The world is insane,” he says— and who among us cannot relate? “It tries to get rid of its insanity by the use of wisdom and reason; and it looks for many ways and means, for all sorts of help and advice on how to escape this distress,” he says. Luther says the best way to deal with the maddening ways of the world is to “go into a little room (Matt. 6:6) or a corner and there to open your heart and to pour it out before God.” In the midst of Luther’s suffering and persecution, he knew the makeup of genuine interactive prayer. As he writes in The Sermon on the Mount and The Magnificat, prayer is to be “filled with complaints and sighs, but also with confidence and trust that as your faithful heavenly Father, He wants to give you His help and advice in this distress.” The second temptation spurred by unanswered prayers is to think God is distant and uncaring, which leads to discouragement. How could Lot and his family not have been discouraged, surrounded as they were by a violently rapacious community? What are any of us to think in the face of unanswered prayer? In the end, there is no “answer” to the question of unanswered prayer. And frankly, the typical answers don’t do much 54
The Complete Works of E.M Bounds E.M. Bounds
for any of us—that we are to keep on praying and eventually God will give us what we want, that we are outside of God’s will, that our motives are impure, that we just don’t have enough faith. After all, if Jesus didn’t get what He prayed for in Gethsemane why should we expect more? None of these “explanations” get to the heart of the intense yearning for God to respond to us. Instead, in our discouragement in prayer, we can focus on who God is and lay our petitions before Him in faith and hope. Sometimes this hope will lag behind our petitions and sometimes hope will sustain us, but we keep on praying because we believe God is good. We are to seek wisdom in the Bible, where two convictions arise in learning about how prayer works. First, our theological convictions can genuinely reshape our prayer. Think of the promise in Matthew 7:7-11—“Ask and it will be given to you.” In verse 11, we read “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” So what happens to our prayers if we really believe God is good? Too often we intellectually affirm that God is good, but do not act as if He really is good. We act as if God is not all that bothered with us and our world, let alone something so small as our job interview or relationship trouble. But in this passage, Jesus wants us to see that our God is the Father who cares and wants us to ask. The interactive template for prayer with Abraham and Lot is based on Abraham’s conviction that God is good. When we truly believe in God’s goodness, it reshapes our prayer. The second conviction takes the first and carries it even further: God is good because God is Father. As mothers and fathers, we love our children and want to give them the best. We do this because God has made us like Himself. The ontology of God— who God is, God as Father—shapes who we are and how we act. This is at the root of what Jesus teaches us in Matthew 7. Because God the Father is good, we see something of God in the simplest of kindnesses between parents and children. Human kindness, then, is a window to God’s kindness. If God’s parental goodness is infinitely better than ours, then let us go to God in prayer.
THE REAL PROBLEM WITH PRAYER
Prayer: Finding The Heart’s True Home Richard J. Foster
The biggest problem with prayer—the dirty secret in the prayer lives of so many Christians—is that we don’t pray. We read books about prayer. We study the prayers in the Bible. We avoid prayer by falling for the notion that C.S. Lewis called “court favorites,”—that we are simply perhaps not one of those who “have influence with the throne.” So, let’s pray. Interactive prayer means we speak and God listens, as well as God speaks and we listen. This may seem a daunting exercise. But the simple truth is we can only learn to recognize the voice of God by spending time before God. The best way to learn about God and prayer is to open our Bibles and talk to Him. And then to listen—because today, God still speaks.
Hearing God’s Voice
SCOT MCKNIGHT is professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in
Henry & Richard
two kids and two grand kids and is the author of 40 books.
Lombard, Ill. He has been married to his wife, Kris, for almost 40 years, has
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BY LIZ RIGGS
we were Illuminati, we couldn’t say we were,” laughs Gwil Sainsbury. He’s referencing fans’ persistent suspicions that the name “Alt-J” is a coded reference to secret organizations, which is no laughing matter. But he makes a good point. In fact, “Alt-J” is simply a nerdy allusion to the keystrokes on a Mac that create a tiny triangle. And while the name doesn’t have much symbolic meaning, despite the Internet’s best effort to propagate otherwise, it is a name that sticks. Luckily for Alt-J, so does their music. The four Brits—Sainsbury, Joe Newman, Gus Unger-Hamilton, and Thom Green (not to be confused with Tom Green)—made a sudden, stunning explosion onto the global music scene last spring. Their ineffable and sometimes disorienting sound has turned the heads of critics and fans since their album, An Awesome Wave, was released last May. They became mainstays at music festivals in less time than it takes most new bands to get a single song on Grey’s Anatomy, which is just as well. Alt-J’s songs are a little too odd to get much in the way of mainstream recognition, anyway. “There’s a quote from Hitchcock and he says, ‘An audience would rather be confused than bored.’ And I think we sort of take that approach,” says Sainsbury. “I don’t want there ever to be a point where someone’s listening to our music and they’re like, ‘This is boring.’ You want someone to listen to the album start to finish and feel like they’ve gone on some kind of journey.” This journey twists from synthesized overtones to a clinking xylophone within the same song, leaving listeners with a dizzying, almost ethereal lucidity. Think Gorillaz covering Frank Ocean. It sounds a little like Pink Floyd and a little like Radiohead, the latter of which is coming up as a frequent point of comparison. It’s a comparison Sainsbury dismisses. “Radiohead hasn’t died in some plane crash,” he says. “They’re still going. I’ve seen a few headlines of articles that have been like, ‘The New Radiohead,’ which seems
completely absurd, because they’re a band that can still make another record.” “I don’t think we ever set out to sound like anyone,” he continues. “We sort of all just jam until we’re all happy with each other’s part. I’m sure subconsciously you take from everything you’ve experienced, whether it’s music or not.” Sainsbury is talking about the way fans carry music with them like memories; the way an album can seep into your veins, and when you stumble upon it years later, collapse around you afresh with an overwhelming déjà vu. “When you get an album and you listen to it a lot, you sort of have a relationship with it,” he says. “I think when you get really attached to an album, it becomes a part of your life for that time.” For Sainsbury, the album that once infected his life was Dr. Dre’s 2001. For culturally savvy indie rockers in 2013, Sainsbury would like that album to be Alt-J’s. It’s not an impossible notion, although it certainly seemed out of reach while the band was recording the album. “I thought maybe some blogs would like it,” Sainsbury says. “[Maybe we] would do a short U.K. tour, maybe a little bit in
have these friends that sort of introduced them to us, that just sent them a link,” Sainsbury says. “That seems to be the most common way of people finding out about us.” And from there, the only way was up. The world tour has landed them slots at almost every summer music festival in the States, as well as several festivals abroad. They played both weekends in the sweltering heat at Coachella, they’ve already secured late-night TV slots with Conan and they are slated to perform this fall in some of the most coveted venues in the U.S., such as the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, First Avenue in Minneapolis and The Fillmore— San Francisco’s historic Haight-Ashbury mecca. “I was thinking we would come to America and this would be our first proper tour of America and it might be quite hard and disheartening, because we’ve never really been here before and we’ll probably be playing for like 20 people a night, if we’re lucky,” Sainsbury says. “And it turned out, I think every show we played, except for one, was sold out. It was just quite overwhelming.” The four gentlemen met at Leeds University in 2007 and, after four years of writing, pieced together the songs for An Awesome Wave. Of course, a four-year writing spree raises listeners’ eyebrows. Not many bands can afford to spend an entire presidential term on a single album, and the demand for more Alt-J music is already noisy. But Sainsbury isn’t in a rush. “If it takes us more than four years to write an album that we’re happy with, then it takes four years,” he says. “It takes as long as it takes.” “I think our worry is that you sort of get forced into doing a second album because everyone around you says the time is right. You sort of push it out for the sake of going on another tour. The music industry is an industry. You have to be aware of what labels and other people want out of it and stand your ground as an artist.” As artists, Alt-J have already reached an enviable level, but their last dizzying year isn’t simply a billowing ego
“WHEN YOU GET REALLY ATTACHED TO AN ALBUM, IT BECOMES A PART OF YOUR LIFE FOR THAT TIME.” Europe and then go back and make a second album. Probably start a second album and get part-time jobs or something like that. I didn’t expect to be sort of catapulted into a world tour. But it’s great.” That catapult is in part thanks to the original release of the record on SoundCloud, which allowed fans to easily access the music and share with friends. “When I speak to fans, they
boost or an excuse to rest in the comfort of excessive fame—it’s still one day at a time, one a capella tribal outcry after another. “We really don’t know what our status as a band is,” Sainsbury says. “We’re just on tour. We’re just getting on with playing the next show and doing the next interview.” Alt-J may not be sure of their status right now, but that’s OK. The rest of the world is.
LIZ RIGGS is a freelance writer and English teacher in Nashville, Tenn. Follow her on Twitter at your own risk @riggser.
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CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS GREW INTO ONE OF THE WORLD’S BEST-KNOWN ATHEISTS. HIS BROTHER CHOSE A DIFFERENT PATH.
60 JULY/AUG 2013
contemporary journalism, few figures have as compelling a backstory as Peter Hitchens. Raised in a conservative Christian environment, Peter and his older brother, Christopher, came to adopt a ferocious atheism. Blazingly intelligent and piercingly articulate, they gained notoriety for their winsomely contrarian styles. But while Christopher would go on to become one of the modern age’s most famous atheists—or, to use his phrase, anti-theists—the younger Hitchens brother followed a different path. Peter left the Trotskyism of his teens and became one of England’s most noted conservative voices, winning the Orwell Prize for journalism in 2010, in which one of the judges called his writing “as firm, polished and potentially lethal as a guardsman’s boot.” More importantly, and perhaps more surprisingly, Hitchens returned to the faith of his younger years. He writes eloquently and forcefully about the need for Christian morality in the public sector. Tragically, Christopher passed away in 2011 from esophageal cancer. But Peter continues to work as an author and journalist, with a regular column for the Daily Mail. He took a little time to talk with us about his journey back to faith, religion’s place in civilized society and what he sees ahead for the next generation. Q: So, when did you first become a Christian? A: I was brought up in an explicitly Christian soci-
ety and taught by teachers whose assumption was that Christianity was the religion of my people that I held, and held before I came to school and throughout my life ... Christianity was still, in my upbringing, what you might call the default position of the English person. So I don’t know if the word “become” really applies.
Q: Was there a definite moment when you decided you didn’t believe in God anymore? A: Oh, there was definitely a moment when I
decided it wasn’t true—in my early teens. I was never indifferent to [Christianity], nor was it ever not a force in my life and in my surroundings and in everything in England. From the architecture to
the music, to the shape of the towns, to the language, to the songs that we sang, were all Christian in their nature. You couldn’t have escaped it if you wanted to. But what you could do, which I did do, was deny it and say you no longer believe in it. That was a definite moment, identifiable and clear. Q: Was there a moment where you reverted back? A: No, no, nothing so iden-
tifiable. It was a process so gradual that the moment which I might have been said to be a believer again cannot be clearly distinguished from
the recognition of that is the afterglow of Christianity. There is a continued assumption in people’s lives, even though they aren’t specifically and explicitly Christians themselves ... People are still governed by assumptions that are Christian, but they no longer acknowledge the roots from which they come. In the end, you separate any plant from its roots, the plant will die. But there will be a period, depending on the size and age of the plant, during which it will appear to be still alive. But it has undoubtedly died at the roots. I think as the originally Christian societies of the world become less so, it’s going to be harder to believe. That will just be the case. And it will take considerably more courage than anyone in my generation ever had to face. Q: Some people would say it might be a good thing if we stop being a Christian nation—that we can still hold to the truth, that we don’t have to legislate our own morals on a larger group that doesn’t necessarily hold to them. Do you agree? A: I think society has to have a funda-
mental agreement about what its morals are and what the origins of those morals are. You can have a more or less chaotic and lawless arrangement, or you can have
“THE FUNDAMENTAL PROOF OF THE GOODNESS OF OUR BELIEF HAS TO BE THE FRUITS OF IT.” the moment when I didn’t believe. I can’t remember a specific moment. It was a very gradual, imperceptible thing and at some point it was necessary for me to acknowledge to myself and to other people that, that was the case. Q: Do you feel that the time of places like the U.S. and the U.K. being Christian nations is completely a thing of the past? A: I fear it is, yes. The
only thing that’s holding up
a sort of armed truths. But what you can’t have is a functioning, inventive, lively civilization unless it has pretty much agreed on a shared foundation for what it believes is good. Q: So what do you say then to people who would say—and a good many of them do—“Who are you to tell me that your morality is more right than mine?” A: I would say the source of morality
is not me. I’m merely informing you of another authority that seems to have a good deal more force than I could ever command. But in the end, of course, the RELEVANT MAGAZINE
you would have tossed aside the very concept of there being an absolute right or wrong way to use this incredibly complex, delicate, finely engineered piece of equipment. Q: But many people will point at religion, particularly Christianity, and all the harm that’s been done in its name. A: Ah, but this is sort of schoolboy
stuff, isn’t it? One of the fundamental points about the Christian religion is that it asserts that man is himself fallen and, without aid, is bound to fail.
illusion of self-authority— which has been one of the major developments of the past 100 years—has persuaded people that they need no such thing. And not only that they don’t need the concept of the deity, but that they actively want there not to be such a thing, which is one of the reasons the new atheism is such a passionate, intolerant and in many cases, rather unpleasant phenomenon. The people who have adopted it actively want there not to be a god. They know that if there is a god then that god must be a source of authority. If a purposeful creator made the universe in which we live, it would be idle to imagine that you could ignore that creator’s desires as to how you should live. I’ll put this very crudely: It’s like buying a very expensive piece of equipment and trying to work it by actually looking at the manual and doing the opposite of what it says. It won’t work. If you don’t acknowledge that there is a manual or that anybody else knows more about it than you do, all kinds of things will happen which you might even conceivably think are good but they wouldn’t be. You wouldn’t know that because 62 JULY/AUG 2013
Q: But people will look at widespread corruption—like some of the abuse scandals that came out of the Catholic Church—and say religion is the common denominator to all that. A: I find all of this rather tedious. It’s
not a proper argument. If you want to dispute the claims of the Roman Catholic Church, by all means, do so. I dispute some of them myself. But dispute them on that basis. Don’t attempt to smear it by the actions of some of its officials, members or hierarchy, who have broken its own rules ... Any large organization
how many people said something was true if it weren’t true. Q: You would say that the public opinion isn’t so important as that what we’re doing is right in our own eyes. A: I don’t see what is to be gained by being ashamed
in what you believe because you’re afraid that some indoctrinated person who has been a victim, or conventional wisdom and received opinion has been told to believe what you say is, in some way, wrong. The fundamental proof of the goodness of our belief has to be the fruits of it. Look at what the Roman Catholic Church does worldwide. The amount of good it does hugely outweighs the amount of evil that is done in contradiction of its own principles by some of its officials. This is a period of great material wealth and the worships of economic growth and the century of the self, in which religious belief is going to be in trouble. The best metaphor for the state of mind in which we find ourselves is this is the first generation of the human race which doesn’t generally see the stars at night. It has blotted them out with street lamps and car headlights and everything else. You simply can’t see the stars in most places where human beings are concentrated, and, in the same way, the triumph of consumerism and growth and the temporary joys of pleasure as a substitute for happiness blotted out the metaphorical stars of religious faith. It’s very hard to
“IT’S OFTEN THE CASE WHAT IS RIGHT IS NOT EASY, AND IT’S ALWAYS THE BROAD PRIMROSE PATH THAT LEADS TO DESTRUCTION.” is human, and again, you have the problem: we’re fallen creatures. If we are in charge of any large organization, even if its aims are fundamentally good, there will be failures. But this isn’t an argument against the institution. Q: There was a survey taken here in the states stating that something like 90 percent of people outside the Church consider those inside it to be judgmental. A: Opinion polls and devices gener-
ally are for inf luencing public opinion rather than measuring it ... I’d be interested to hear how the question was put. But it wouldn’t matter to me
expect people who can’t see the stars to examine the significance of the stars or see their beauty. Q: There doesn’t seem to be an easy way to fix that. A: Sometimes there is no easy way. There’s an
English hymn which goes ... (lowly recites) Father hear the prayer we offer; Not for ease our prayer shall be ... But the steep and rugged pathway May we tread rejoicingly ... It’s often the case what is right is not easy, and it’s always the broad primrose path that leads to destruction. There’s nothing new about that. If it’s easy it’s probably wrong, if it’s difficult it may be wrong, but it’s also quite likely to be right.
BY MARK SCANDRETTE
an Francisco happens to be the third most expensive city in America. In the Mission District, the current average rent for a one bedroom apartment is $2,650. It’s a neighborhood of striking contrast, where undocumented workers, homeless folks and tech billionaires
share the same sidewalks. But aside from a few highly paid Facebook and Google employees, most people scrape and struggle to get by. San Francisco also happens to be the place where my family and I live—where we’ve raised three kids in a home we own and always managed to live off one modest income that’s never been more than an average teacher’s salary.
Sixteen years ago, my wife, Lisa, and I dreamed about moving to this amazing city to raise a family, start a new faith community and care for the needs of an at-risk neighborhood. But one of the biggest challenges was money, and we had to find creative ways make our dream work. We’d wager the same is true for you. You sense God’s call toward a purpose, a career,
The average American has $7,150 in consumer debt—in other words, just in average credit card debt. If one pays the minimum monthly statement on that amount at the current average interest rate of 16.89 percent per year, it would take 35 years to pay off. As one friend put it, “Those weekly pizzas I put on my credit card 10 years ago in college have become very, very expensive.” Debt can also be an obstacle that limits your options for the future. We have friends who can’t buy a home because of bad credit scores. We know others who, after they got engaged, discovered their combined school and credit debt was close to $150,000. As a result, they’ve had to put off certain dreams, such as starting a family or choosing more meaningful work. But that’s not all. There are also spiritual reasons why it makes sense to move toward becoming debt-free. Debt often creates anxiety and stress that can feel like a cloud over our lives. “The borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7) is a well-known adage that speaks to the reality that when you owe someone, to a certain degree, that person owns you. How we deal with money and our desires has a profound impact on whether we are free to spend our time, talents and resources on what matters most. Jesus warned that the free and flourishing life we were created for can be choked away by “life’s worries, riches and pleasures” (Luke 8:14). As we’ve learned in San Francisco, when we free ourselves from debt, we’re free to pursue what matters most: our connection to the Creator, our relationships with one another and a life of creativity, meaningful work and service. To that end, here are a few simple steps you can take to get out of debt—starting this summer.
FACE THE MUSIC
CREATE A SPENDING PLAN
DECIDE HOW YOU’LL MANAGE AND TRACK YOUR SPENDING
Sit down with your credit card statements and student loan paperwork and find out exactly how much you owe. Then make goals for what to pay off first, starting with the loan that has the highest interest rate. By doing this, our friend Megan was able to pay off over $2,000 in credit card debt in just two months.
a mission—but it’s hard to get anywhere fast with debt dragging you down. We may enjoy the privilege of using someone else’s money, but in the long-run, the cost of borrowing adds up. In fact, the way most school loans and mortgages are structured, you’ll end up paying as much in interest as the original loan amount. Interest rates on most credit cards are 16-19 percent annually, with additional penalties for late and missed payments.
The next step is to create a monthly and yearly spending plan. List all your expenses, including loan payments and upcoming expenses like car repairs, insurances, taxes or dental work. Keep simplifying your budget until what you plan on spending is less than what you earn. It can help to have a dream about the options you will have after your loans are paid off. Our friends John and Luisa paid off more than $150,000 in school loans in two years by simplifying their expenses. They were motivated by their desire to serve in an African refugee camp.
There’s a world of difference between a budget on paper and a budget in action. So look at your spending plan and decide how—exactly—you will pay for each of your expenses. You can write checks or set up automatic payments with your bank for your regular expenses like rent, utilities and insurance. It’s easy to lose track and overspend when you pay for things with a credit card. You’ll be more likely to stay within your spending plan if you take out a designated amount of cash each month and only use credit cards for a limited number of planned expenses. We use cash to pay for groceries and entertainment. When the wallet or purse is empty, it’s a RELEVANT MAGAZINE
[IDE A S]
Maximize Resources, Minimize Waste MAKE OR DO IT YOURSELF There are many ways to economize on services one might normally pay for. You might learn to cut hair, cook your favorite restaurant meals at home, roast your own coffee or grow your own vegetables. You can also extend the life of many of your possessions by learning to repair them.
PLAN AHEAD Urgency can be costly. It starts to snow, and you suddenly need a winter jacket. You get to work and realize you haven’t had breakfast. With many things, like purchasing airline tickets, you can save a lot
tangible metric that means no more spending in those categories until next month. We use credit cards to pay for things like car expenses and airline tickets and then commit to pay off those charges in full at the end of each month. Many people find it helpful to use a financial program like Quicken or mint.com to track spending.
MAXIMIZE YOUR RESOURCES
For most of us, pursuing our dreams, living within our means and following a spending plan that reflects longterm sustainability will require the practice of frugality—the skill of minimizing waste and maximizing resources. At the heart of frugality is a spiritual principle:“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much” (Luke 16:10). Jesus said learning to manage our money and possessions well prepares us to handle the “true riches” of living in the present reality of God’s kingdom: “If you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” (Luke 16:11).
Sometimes we get into debt because of a legitimate crisis or urgent need, like an emergency plane ticket home or a car breakdown. Sometimes we end up with debt because we felt vulnerable and didn’t think there were any other options—as some have tragically told us: “The doctor prescribed all of these tests and at the time we thought the condition was serious, but now we have $100,000 in medical bills.” Other times, we simply fall into debt because we spend on what we think will make us feel better or happier. We book an exotic vacation to escape from the pain of a breakup, blow this week’s grocery budget on new shoes, or grow impatient with an older computer and buy the latest model we can’t afford. Take an honest look at your financial habits. Do you binge shop when you’re stressed? Do you find yourself pulling out your wallet when what you really want is security or happiness? Your purchasing decisions are often influenced by emotions, and you can learn much from pausing to evaluate them.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO WILL SUPPORT YOUR CHOICES
of money by planning ahead.
DELAY YOUR PURCHASE If you wait 30 days to make purchases, you can curb compulsive spending by realizing you don’t actually need or want the item anymore. You can also usually land markdowns when you put your purchase on hold.
BUY USED You can save a lot and prolong the lifespan of manufactured items if you buy used clothing, furniture and other items.
TRADE, BORROW AND SHARE Life is cheaper when we learn to share. Tools can be shared among neighbors. Clothes can be swapped. Among our group of friends, we even share automobiles. When we travel we usually stay with friends.
ENJOY WHAT’S FREE We’ve learned to enjoy the opportunities that are available in our neighborhood and city, such as picnics in the park, free concerts and other cultural opportunities. In most cities, museums have a monthly free day.
Most of the times we end up paying out unexpectedly, it’s because we’re spending socially. So find friends who are willing to try out a new dish at home rather than a downtown restaurant, find a free walking trail or public park or host movie nights at home. Then take it a step further and actually start talking about money. Yes, it’s one of the most taboo subjects in our culture—as much as we like to flaunt our wealth outwardly, no one wants to talk bluntly about what’s in their bank account. One friend put it like this: “I’d rather share how many times a week I have sex with my wife than talk about my finances.” A few years ago, Lisa and I realized that money is too important not to talk about in our faith community. Once a year, we come together to share the details of our personal finance: what we earn, spend, give, save, how much our debts are and what our spending plan is. Since we started supporting one another in our financial goals, many of us have been able to pay debts and pursue our dreams with freed up income and energy.
As you start taking inventory of your spending habits, take inventory of your internal thoughts, perceptions and emotions when it comes to money, as well.
BELIEVE YOU HAVE ENOUGH
The truth is, debt is not just a financial reality—it’s often a spiritual one, too. Debt isn’t always avoidable or necessarily unwise, but debt as the result of overspending often reveals a disordered attachment to money. Money cannot heal the wounds of anxiety, loneliness, rejection or loss, though we often grasp on to it to solve our immediate problems, wants and needs. As you choose to believe you have enough, you will learn to enjoy the fullness of what you’ve already been given. You’ll grow to become content—and get creative— with what you have. The beauty of getting out of debt is that it is always a means to an end. When you’re free from the limitations of loan payments, you are likewise free to invest in what really matters. Where is God leading you next? What dream of His are you following? Thrifting, carpooling and upcycling may be unconventional routes to chasing a Godgiven dream, but it can also put you on the fast track to where He is calling you.
MARK SCANDRETTE is the author of FREE: Spending Your TIme and Money on What Matters Most (IVP 2013), which he co-wrote with his wife, Lisa. Mark is also the founding director of ReIMAGINE, a spiritual formation center in San Francisco.
BY MICHAEL HIDALGO
everal years ago, I left the Church. My wife and I were deeply wounded by our closest friends and partners in ministry, rumors about us spread like wildfire and we felt abandoned. I said goodbye to God and the Church and, it was safe to say, I was never coming back. I thought the Church was a broken institution. A year before that, I was a pastor. My congregation was filled with people who loved Jesus and had a passion to see His renewal come to this broken world. I never tired of hearing stories of brokenness followed by experiences of healing. Our belief was simple: the Church should be the last place you should find people who pretend to have it all together. I was having the church experience many people are blessed to have in their lives: one that was vibrant and exciting. I didn’t know that not everyone agreed with my mind-set, and a few did all they could to ensure I would not be a pastor at that church for long. One morning, I was told I had to resign. As I looked around the room, I saw people who were more than friends—they were family. One of those in that meeting used to tell me I was “like a son” to him. But now, as one leader told me, I was simply “an issue that needed to be dealt with.” There was no warning and no conversation; just a severance agreement I had to sign or else I’d get nothing. So I did. What followed was one of the most painful seasons of my life. I walked out of that church, and no one from its leadership team ever reached out to my family again. Apparently their “issue” had been dealt with. But it wasn’t over for me. Our community, my career and our future with the church were all suddenly severed, and my wife and I were devastated. We’d had such a strong sense of spiritual purpose, and now we had no idea what to do with our lives. For years, I had met people who had been “hurt by the Church.” Now, I was one of them.
WE ARE EVERYWHERE
The saddest part in all of this is my story is not unique. Many of us have had painful experiences with the Church, Christian ministries, organizations or universities. My friend Rick worked at a Christian university for more than 15 years. He quickly became one of the most
beloved and popular professors at the school. For many students, he served in a pastoral role, offering godly guidance. Rick challenged the comfortable Christianity of many students and invited them to truly make faith in Jesus their own. Yet as his popularity with students grew, the concern of the trustees regarding Rick grew, as well. They believed his teaching went against the doctrinal statement of the college and even raised questions about his political viewpoints. After Rick had spent years giving everything to that university and caring for students, the trustees fired him without ever seeking to clarify what he believed or taught. Students protested, alumni wrote letters on his behalf, many called and emailed, asking the trustees to rethink their decision, but nothing worked. Rick was out, without so much as a “thank you” from the trustees of the university where he invested in the lives of so many. He told me he felt like “his heart was ripped out his chest.” My friend Julie went through an experience where she felt totally rejected by Christian leaders. Her husband, Dan, was an alcoholic. As much as she begged him to get help, he never did. He believed he couldn’t talk about it because he worked for a Christian ministry. He knew if he told anyone of his addiction, he would be immediately fired. After years of pleading with him to no avail, Julie found out Dan had been diagnosed with an inoperable tumor. Within months, his health deteriorated and he passed away. Julie finally opened up about Dan’s addiction to those in the organization where he worked. She was shocked at their response: They wanted nothing to do with her. In her greatest time of need, those she had considered friends ignored her and gossiped about her and Dan. She had spent years suffering in her marriage, and now, after her husband died, she suffered more. The people she believed she could trust rejected her—all this from those who worked for a Christian organization. These are not just stories. These are people like you and me. And we are everywhere—all of us wounded, not by the Church or a ministry, but by others who identify as Christians.
THE PEOPLE IN THE CHURCH ARE BROKEN, BUT WE SERVE A CHRIST WHO IS MAKING ALL THINGS WHOLE.
IT’S NOT THE CHURCH THAT HURTS YOU
Recently, a young man named Ryan told me how much he “hated the Church” because of how “the Church hurt his parents.” I met a woman named Melissa after one of our Sunday morning services. It was her first time in a church in more than six years. She said, “I was so hurt by the ministry I worked for.” Speaking this way allows “the Church,” a ministry or a university to remain a faceless, impersonal organization. But a faceless, impersonal organization can’t hurt us the way friends and family can. The Church did not wound me, Rick was not fired by his university and Julie was not rejected by an organization. The reality is, it’s not the Church that has hurt us. It is the people we loved and trusted, whom we associate with “the Church” to make it less personal, less painful. And yet that’s why it hurts so much—you can’t get hurt by someone you don’t love. If I had been conspired against by someone I did not know, I could have dealt with it. It would not have been personal. But I believed these people to be my RELEVANT MAGAZINE
closest friends—people I had worked alongside, people with whom I had shared life. Those we love the most give us our deepest wounds. And when those who wound us are connected with the Church or a ministry, it’s easy to depersonalize the injury by attributing it to the entire institution. The longer we hold on to those feelings of hatred and the more we speak of being hurt only by an organization, the less chance we have of actually addressing our wounds. The best thing we can do is speak honestly about what happened—which can be the hardest part of healing. It’s not easy to speak of our pain and the names of those who caused it. At times, it can feel like we are reliving the entire experience. However, if we are to find healing and return to wholeness, this is exactly what we must do. Healing and forgiveness will find it’s way into the cracks in our heart where truth is present and spoken. This kind of honesty is truly terrifying. When we share our pain and open up our wounds with the truth, we take the chance of being hurt again. For, in those moments, we place our trust in another. Therein lies the risk. But in the risk lies the chance for healing; and not just healing for us, but healing for others, too.
Dear Church Sarah Cunningham
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Peter Scazzero
BECOMING THE HANDS AND FEET
Years ago when Julie’s friends rejected her, she spoke of her wounds and those who caused them. Now, by the grace and goodness of God, she is able to speak of her wounds and the God who has healed them. It’s the same for Rick and for me, too. It’s not because we are anything special. Rather, it’s because we met others who had been wounded, and they helped us find healing. They were the ones who came alongside us and helped every step of the way. One might say they were like Jesus for us in our time of need. When God saw the suffering and pain in our world, He sent His Son headlong into it to suffer with us. God could have done anything He wanted in response to the mess humanity got itself into. He could have snapped His fingers and made everything better or, with a wave of His hand, banished all evil from the world, allowing only good to flourish. But He didn’t do any of that. God’s decision was to share in our wounds, take up our pain and bear our sorrow. It’s in the suffering of Jesus that we find our hope. The God who suffered on the cross for us is the same God who suffers 70
with us today. Because of this, we have the opportunity to be like God for those who are wounded. This is what Paul was getting at when he called the Church the “body of Christ.” We are the embodiment of God in this world. There are some who describe being the body of Christ by saying “we are his hands and feet.” I can think of no better description—especially when we are hurt ourselves. Jesus’ hands and feet bear the marks of crucifixion—which means if you’ve been wounded, betrayed, stabbed in the back or victimized, in that very moment, you look more like Jesus than you did before. Our scars allow us to be more like Jesus to others and lead them toward healing. The Church is not a bunch of people who have it all together. It’s a bunch of broken and bruised people who know about getting hurt and causing hurt themselves. But it’s also people who know about healing. And while we should never diminish the seriousness of our pain, it’s in our pain that we encounter the suffering servant who died for us. It’s in our pain and our healing from that pain that others can find hope. Perhaps this is why Rick Warren tweeted recently, “I only hire staff who’ve been hurt deeply. People who’ve never suffered tend to be shallow and smug about other’s pain.” Our pain is the very thing that allows us to share in the pain of others and their journeys to healing. Because when you have scars and someone shares their wounds with you, it makes you weep. When others shared in my pain, they didn’t always have amazing wisdom or brilliant insight. They didn’t quote the perfect verse at the perfect moment. Many times, they struggled to find the right words for encouragement. But they bore scars that spoke of their pain and, most importantly, of God’s grace and goodness that healed them. And I learned that was often the only thing I needed.
FINDING HEALING IN THE BROKENNESS
Why We Love The Church Kevin DeYoung & Ted Kluck
Years after swearing I would never return to the Church, I have not just returned—I am a pastor. And, as a pastor, I can say that the people in the Church are certainly broken, but we serve a Christ who is making all things whole. And because He is making all things whole, the institution of the Church is alive and well. Surely only our God could orchestrate such a paradox— a broken people being sustained and built and re-created into something whole. Because the building of the Church is Christ’s alone, we know His work is not broken. This is what we affirm and celebrate every time we participate in communion. We remember that the Church was birthed in the broken body and spilled blood of Jesus. He was broken for broken people. This is the mystery of the Eucharist: Our wholeness is found in Christ’s brokenness. God knew the Church would live in this tension, this paradox, and yet be a place where He is still King. And so, Jesus took the bread and the wine and said, “This is my body broken for you and my blood shed for you.” And when we eat the bread and drink the wine, we not only remember His death, but we also participate in being broken open and poured out for our broken world.
MICHAEL HIDALGO is the lead pastor of Denver Community Church and
lives with his wife and children in Denver, Colo. His book, UnLost: Being Found By the One We Are Looking For, (InterVarsity Press) is due out in early 2014.
A SPECIAL SECTION
5 CRUCIAL AREAS OF INJUSTICE AND THE NEW MOVEMENT THAT IS CHANGING THEM.
BY KELLI B. T RUJILLO
don’t willfully turn a blind eye to the world’s injustices. Usually, we have the best of intentions when it comes to compassion and world change—and yet, we become preoccupied. We get caught up in the next deadline, the next work day, the next distraction blinking up on our phone. We get caught up in me-centered living. Even when faced with the world’s profound needs, our self-preoccupation can slip into complacency. The end result is apathy— somehow, we’ve just stopped caring. Apathy is the easy road when the horrors of life-gone-wrong disconcert us. Before we realize it, it becomes our default habit because it requires so little change. Rejecting apathy, on the other hand, is a radical counteraction. It’s the about-face to the gravitational pull of self-centeredness. We reject apathy because God calls us to embrace something far stronger: life. Because the God who made us in His image imprinted that same divine thumbprint on the soul of every human being, including the poor, the weak and powerless (Genesis 1:27). Because, as Christians, we follow the One who said: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good
news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19). From the womb to the cradle to the wheelchair to the grave, human life is created by God and is precious to Him. Therefore, it is worth protecting, championing and celebrating. After all, this is Christ’s self-professed mission: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). And not just spiritual life, but whole life. Resurrection life. The kind of life that will thrive spiritually, physically, emotionally and mentally. Following such a Savior, we answer God’s call for Kingdom justice not because we ought to, feel guilty or simply want to jump on the bandwagon of a trendy “cause.” No, we reject apathy because we believe all human life is sacred. In the following sections, you’ll find the five areas of injustice where life is most often threatened— and where God calls us to champion life once again. RELEVANT MAGAZINE
R E J E C T
A P A T H Y
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[TA K E AC T ION]
Preventable Disease By the Numbers
S E C T I O N
POVERTY If you trace most
injustice in the world today to its source, you will find poverty. Globally, 1.3 billion
Preventable disease is a physical threat to life everywhere—particularly for those without financial resources, who are left without access to basic health care. But “preventable” is a word charged with hope. It means we have the ability—the technology, the knowledge, the medicine— to stop these diseases before they take more lives. The solutions are relatively simple: clean water, hand soap, vaccinations, HIV/ AIDS testing and education, insecticide-treated mosquito nets. Because of these simple solutions, the global mortality rate from malaria has dropped 25 percent since 2000. In Africa, the malaria death rate has fallen 33 percent in the same time frame. 1 Vaccination programs have resulted in a 74 percent decrease in measles deaths worldwide. And, due to preventative care, incidents of polio are down by 99 percent—1 percentage point away from total and global eradication. 2 Kay Warren, founder of Saddleback Church’s HIV
& AIDS Initiative, finds her model for combating disease in the healing ministry of Jesus. “In the New Testament, leprosy was a stigmatizing illness. People assumed leprosy was associated with sin; they wanted nothing to do with lepers,” Warren says. “The modern-day equivalent of leprosy is HIV. There’s a toxic mix of stigma and judgment associated with it—and that’s the very reason Christians should care.” Jesus’ compassionate example also drives Stacie Zellmer, the school and faith liaison for charity: water. “Christ Himself tended to physical hunger, thirst, illness and even death on a regular basis as a gateway to minister to people holistically,” Zellmer explains. Ultimately, Zellmer says, preventing disease and caring for the afflicted arises out of Kingdom theology: “When Jesus prayed in Matthew 6:10, ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done,’ it strikes me that in heaven, 4,100 children won’t die daily due to water-related illnesses. We, the Church, have an opportunity to participate in God’s restoration of the world.”
1.5 million kids die
people live on less than
annually from diseases
$1.25 per day. Despite
that are easily preventable
America’s “wealthy” GDP,
22 percent of American
kids live in poverty.
In fact, 1 in 8 people
worldwide has not gotten
1 million people die of
enough to eat today. 3
malaria each year. 2
This year, more than 6
Solution: Supply treated mosquito nets to prevent transmission and basic medicine to treat infection. 30,000 people die weekly from illnesses caused by unclean drinking water. 90 percent of these deaths are children. 3 Solution: Engineer clean-water wells; provide hand soap, sanitation and hygiene education.
When we read statistics like these or see pictures of their effects in bloated, starving children, our instinctive reaction is often to look away or to make a quick donation and assuage any trace of guilt. Though financial giving certainly helps, turning the tide on global
living with HIV. 1.7 million
poverty takes more than
died from AIDS, and 17
just throwing money at
million kids were orphaned
the problem. It takes
because of AIDS in 2011. 4
recognition of the God-
Solution: Provide HIV
given dignity of each
testing, education and
medication; support adoption efforts.
Through the prophet Isaiah, God challenged His people to live out the
1 * World Health Organization
worship He really wants:
2 * Compassion.com
“Is it not to share your
3 * charity: water
food with the hungry
4 * globalhealthfacts.org
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” (Isaiah 58:7). Rather than keeping poverty at a safe distance, we need to see the real people behind the “issue.” God calls us to empower our global neighbors with sustainable solutions that will break the cycles of
1 * World Health Organization
34 million people today are
RATHER THAN KEEPING POVERTY AT A SAFE DISTANCE, WE NEED TO SEE THE REAL PEOPLE BEHIND THE “ISSUE.”
million kids will die from
2 * shotatlife.org
3 * Worldvision.org
4 * Compassion.com
SERIOUS SOCIAL JUSTICE
u n d e r g r a d u at e g r a d u at e a d u lt online s e m i n a ry
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poverty and help people live out their God-given potential. Microlending initiatives and fair-trade programs give impoverished people the opportunity to make a living wage, feed their families, learn skills and take pride in their dignified work. Child sponsorship programs provide food and education that equips kids to break free from illiteracy and build a future in which to use their Godgiven abilities. Feeding programs and crisis response teams provide nutrition that saves lives. Beyond just handing out rations, the organizations that make a dent in global poverty are the ones that teach marketable skills, such as farming or sewing, to enable people to feed themselves. “What gives me hope is that here, on the ground, I am witnessing change,” says Rudo Kwaramba, a World Vision regional leader in Johannesburg, South Africa. “A child finishing school and joining the job market—that’s one person out of the poverty bracket. A child vaccinated—that’s one death before the age of 5 that’s been prevented. A woman starting a small business with a $100 loan—in a year’s time, she’s able to pay school fees and feed her family.”
LOSS OF INNOCENTS voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more” (Matthew 2:18). Like the unutterable grief of the parents who lost their children in Herod’s Massacre of the Innocents, we feel left without words when we face horrifying violations of human life. And yet, God calls us to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves” (Proverbs 31:8) and help reclaim the innocence that is stolen every day.
“The Chinese government recently reported that they have aborted 336 million babies in the last four decades—that is a massacre,” says Brian Lee, executive director of All Girls Allowed. And because these abortions—which are the result of China’s one-child policy—are mostly of females, it is also gendercide: “the systematic elimination of one gender group, often by sex-selective abortion, infanticide, abandonment or trafficking.” To elevate the human dignity of females in China, All Girls Allowed works with local
Christians to host baby showers and provide financial assistance to impoverished families expecting girls. They also equip families to speak out against China’s onechild policy. “The Lord is moving through His Church to restore the value of women,” Lee says. “There are brothers and sisters all around China who are stepping out with great vigor and enthusiasm to end gendercide.”
HIV creates what Kay Warren calls “a terrible synergy” between the disease and the orphan crisis. “HIV creates orphans as parents die, and orphans are more likely to end up becoming HIV-positive because they’re more vulnerable,” Warren says. There are 163 million orphans in the world, Warren says, which may seem staggering, but the 2.2 billion Christians in the world can absorb those orphans. Warren is seeing steps toward this solution in Rwanda, where Christians are taking up the government’s goal of emptying their nation’s orphanages. “The churches in
The effort to change individual lives is also taking effect on a grander scale. Between 2000 and 2010, for example, the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day has been cut in half. 5 “We have a long way to go,” Kwaramba says, “but this is evidence that change is possible and [extreme] poverty can be eradicated.”
“THE MODERN-DAY EQUIVALENT OF LEPROSY IS HIV. THERE’S A TOXIC MIX OF STIGMA AND JUDGMENT ASSOCIATED WITH IT—AND THAT’S THE VERY REASON CHRISTIANS SHOULD CARE.” —KAY WARREN 5 World Vision e-interview
Warmly personal. Immensely helpful. Wonderfully practical. Thoroughly biblical. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to every Christian who longs to know, experience, and spread assurance of salvation in Christ.”
— DAVID PLATT, best-selling author of Radical and Follow Me
J. D. GREEAR, best-selling author of Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary shows that faulty ways of presenting the gospel are a leading source of the confusion. Our presentations may not be heretical, but they are sometimes misleading. The idea of “asking Jesus into your heart” or “giving your life to Jesus” can be misunderstood, which can give false assurance to those who are not saved—and keeps those who genuinely are saved from fully embracing that reality.
@JDGreear #SinnersPrayer JDGreear.com
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A P A T H Y
[TA K E AC T ION]
• Support a child through a Christian child-sponsorship organization. Learn more at worldvision.org/foreverychild or compassion.com. • Fast and pray for the world’s poor and hungry.
Rwanda have said, ‘We will adopt these children,’” Warren says. Saddleback’s Rwanda Orphan Care Initiative is just one of many organizations worldwide helping Christians welcome children into their families.
“Human trafficking is one of the most extreme forms of injustice our world has ever known,” says Bethany Hoang, director of International Justice Mission’s Institute for Biblical Justice. It’s also an injustice that has been growing. There are more slaves today than any other point in history—27 million victims worldwide of sex trafficking, forced labor or child soldiering. 6 Even so, Hoang is seeing progress. “Just a decade ago, most Christians [didn’t] even know the term ‘human trafficking,’” Hoang says. “Today, Christians are taking front-line leadership in what will become known as the generation that saw a final end to the sale of human beings. Where slavery once thrived, lives will flourish instead.”
healing love of Jesus to those suffering from the psychological wounds of choosing abortion.
The violation of childhood innocence is a devastating reminder of the reality of evil in the world. And yet, it happens more than we’d like to think. In America, five kids die daily as a result of abuse or neglect. 9 140 million women and young girls today live as victims of female genital mutilation (FMG), 10 often performed on them by force and without anesthesia. Today, there are 300,000 children who have been forced into armed conflict around the world. 11 Because we affirm the value of human life, we stand firmly against the victimization of children in any and all of its forms. We stand as witnesses to the loving character of Jesus, and we recognize that in these children made in His image, God has prepared a future and a hope.
charitywater.org. • Advocate against unjust war, genocide and gun violence. Learn how you can help abolish nuclear weapons at twofuturesproject.org. • Get your church involved in providing resources for HIV testing and care. Learn how at Saddleback’s hivaidsinitiative.com. • Extend dignity through choosing fair-trade purchases and supporting microlending. • Advocate for the unborn the value of girls as well as boys; learn more at allgirlsallowed.org. • Raise awareness of human trafficking in your community. Find a few creative ways to do this at ijm.org. • Donate pantry items, toiletries, money and time to shelters for the homeless and victims of domestic violence.
The abortion rate in the U.S. may be falling, 7 but globally, a child is aborted every two seconds. 8 As Christ-followers, we lament the loss of vulnerable human life and we equally lament the factors that lead a pregnant woman to such a choice. But we don’t stop at lament. Our commitment to a whole-life ethic requires us to protect the unborn and to provide women with the practical and spiritual support in their choice to give their child life. The same commitment requires us to proclaim the
• Love at-risk kids through tutoring, after-school programs or pursuing foster care or adoption • Support and take part in environmental conservation efforts on both a local and global scale. Learn about ways to get involved at arocha.org.
6 * U.S. State Department
globally by championing
• Donate toward disease
7 * Washington Post
9 * childhelp.com
10 * World Health Organization
11 * UNICEF
S P E C I A L
S E C T I O N
rmed conflicts, terrorist attacks, genocide, school shootings, drone strikes, racist violence, nuclear war—this is the ugly world we live in. And it’s the world in which the peace of Christ shines in bright contrast. While Christians may draw different conclusions on violence, ranging from pacifism to military service, we can unite together against unjust war. We can choose to stand as advocates for the voiceless victims of violence—from the kids huddled together in a school lockdown to the civilian casualties of war. As a result of violence, nearly 42 million worldwide have fled their homes. 12 But fleeing the battlefield doesn’t necessarily secure safety. “Displaced people are among the most vulnerable people in the world,” reports Nathaniel Hurd, World Vision’s policy adviser for conflicts and disasters, “because they have often left behind almost everything.” In the name of Christ, we can render aid to those fleeing the devastation caused by violence—providing medical treatment, nutritious food, clean water, shelter and sanitation to refugees. Hurd says these simple resources give refugees life essentials and hope for the future. “All they want is to be able to make a life for themselves,” he says, “and often all they need
concern that these weapons never be used because it would be a massive failure of love.” A nuclear attack strikes at the heart of the Christian life ethic, he explains, because it would sabotage the preservation of innocent life, environmental stewardship and compassion for the poor. Concerns of violence are not easy to navigate, and Christians may disagree about the answers. But ultimately, peacemaking is our business. It is the business of anyone serving the One whose radical challenge still rings out today: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27). We follow the Christ who proclaimed, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9). In our world riddled with violence, we fix our hope upon the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6-7) and pray for His Kingdom to come.
CARE God created—and continually
creates and sustains—a world He called “very good” (Genesis 1:31; Colossians 1:15-17). Through the
beauty of this natural world, God reveals His character to all of humankind (Romans 1:19-20) and provides the natural resources we need for life. And because we are made in the image of our Creator God, we are called to care for His creation in a manner that reflects His character—with love, faithfulness, mercy, service and integrity. So, as God’s people, we decry the violence waged against all of God’s creation. We bemoan the ravages of pollution, environmental disasters, waste, consumerism, climate change, species endangerment and habitat destruction upon the earth and its creatures. And we lament not just the damages to the earth itself, but especially their effect on human life. “It’s very clear that the least among us—the elderly,
“PRO-LIFE MEANS EVERY ASPECT OF LIFE. HAVING A VIABLE PLANET FOR HUMANS AND ALL OF GOD’S CREATURES TO THRIVE ON IS A FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS.” —NANCY SLEETH is a little help to do it.” Ministering to those affected by violence is of vital importance to a Christian whole-life ethic. But in addition to this, we can work preemptively to stop violence from occurring in the first place. Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, founder of the Two Futures Project and author of The World Is Not Ours to Save, is committed to just this. “Nuclear weapons are categorically the most dangerous technology that humanity has invented,” Wigg-Stevenson says. And while they should be a concern to everyone, WiggStevenson says, “Christians should have a special
children, the poor—are being hurt first by environmental degradation,” says Nancy Sleeth, co-founder of Blessed Earth, a Christian nonprofit committed to environmental care. “One extremely important way we can love our global neighbors is by making sure they have access to clean water, clean air and healthy soil in which to grow food.” Tom Rowley, executive director of A Rocha, agrees. In his conservation work in 19 countries he has observed: “People who are dependent upon subsistence farming, forestry and fishing have much less margin for protection. While a drought might hit us in
12 * UNHCR
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[GO DEEP ER]
Key passages on God’s heart for justice: Matthew 25:31-46 Isaiah 58 Psalm 146:6-10 the pocketbook, for them, it’s a
WHEN WE REJECT APATHY ... WE PAIR OUR UNIQUE PASSIONS WITH THE WORK GOD IS ALREADY DOING THROUGH HIS CHURCH.
matter of life and death.” Likewise, the poor in urban slums are poisoned by pollution run-off in their water. Indigenous coastal communities are threatened by rising ocean waters. Those breathing polluted air are suffering from preventable, lifethreatening diseases like asthma, cardiovascular disease, cancer and more. “I firmly believe that all Christians need to be pro-life,” Sleeth says, “but pro-life means every aspect of life. Having a viable planet for humans and all of God’s creatures to thrive on is a first order of business.” “The Earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1). As Christians, we believe this is true—from the soil under our feet to towering redwoods to every single human life on this planet. And so, as stewards, we strive to protect God’s created world through daily choices like recycling, reducing energy consumption and resisting consumerism. We aim to treasure God’s creation—not only for its God-infused beauty, but for its provision for human life. Creation care, at its core, is far more than “going green.” It’s learning to “live as agents of shalom to the place that God has put us,” Rowley says. “We do that by living the abundant life right where we are,” he says, “by
CHAMPIONING LIFE overty, preventable disease, loss of innocents, violence, environmental decay—these are no small problems. So as we answer God’s call to defend human life, let’s remember this: God isn’t calling us to hoist all the world’s needs upon our shoulders. Rather, “We need to recognize that we’re part of a story,” Wigg-Stevenson says. “Our actions are significant, but we’re part of a story which ends aren’t ours to bring about. As we orient ourselves toward God’s Kingdom, we will do our part—but it will be activism out of a spirit of service.” We can’t do it all on our own. But we can, with God’s leading, zero in on one area where we feel called to champion the sanctity of human life. As pastor and author Frederick Buechner famously wrote, “The place where God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” 13 We’re each uniquely gifted and impassioned. We can each discern God’s calling as we respond to global injustice. When we reject apathy, we make room for something else. We align ourselves with the life-giving mission of Christ. We pair our unique passions with the work God is already doing through His Church. “Proverbs 14:31 says it so clearly: ‘Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God,’” says IJM’s Hoang, “Justice is at the very heart of God. Some of the deepest heartaches and highest joys we will know in this world will come from simply joining in the work of our God who loves justice.” “Ultimately, we’re not going to save the world. That’s Jesus’ job, and he’s already done that,” says A Rocha’s Rowley. “We’re living in the already-but-not-yet Kingdom. And so our hope isn’t in what our efforts will bring about, but in being faithful, relying on God and looking to His Kingdom. He is in charge of the results—and our hope is in Him.”
reaching out to our neighbors, ... by getting involved in conservation efforts, by becoming
KELLI B. TRUJILLO is a writer and editor in Indianapolis. Kelli
proactive in bringing Christ’s
explores justice, compassion, and evangelism in her latest book, Shine
Your Light. Find Kelli at www.kellitrujillo.com or on Twitter @kbtrujillo.
13 * Wishful Thinking
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THE WORLD’S FORGOTTEN WAR B Y LY N N E H Y B E L S
he deadliest war since World War II is raging right now—though most Americans have never heard of it. According to CNN, this war has claimed “the same number of lives as having a 9/11 every single day for 360 days, the genocide that struck Rwanda in 1994, the ethnic cleansing that overwhelmed Bosnia in the mid1990s, the genocide that took place in Darfur, the number of people killed in the great tsunami that struck Asia in 2004, and the number of people who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki—all
combined and then doubled.” The world’s forgotten war has claimed nearly 6 million lives, and it continues to be fought today in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). I first heard about the
conf lict in an NPR news report in 2008. I learned from the report that the DRC is the second largest country in Africa—equal to the size of the entire U.S. east of the Mississippi— with a population of 71 million. Formerly called Belgian Congo and then Zaire, the country has a tragic history of colonialism, greed and exploitation. The ongoing conf lict is highly complex, involving, at times, the armies of up to nine countries, and fueled by ethnic hostilities, regional politics and greed. It’s often called “Africa’s World War.” But that’s not all. As if the death count wasn’t startling enough, I also learned this: A major weapon of war in the DRC is rape. Rebel fighters say it’s cheaper to rape a woman than waste a bullet. Women in Eastern Congo don’t talk about if they’ll be raped, but when. About 1,100 women are raped every day in the DRC, according to the American Journal of Public Health. They are gang-raped, raped with tree branches or gun barrels. The sexual violence in the DRC is widely considered the worst in the world and the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time. Before that radio program, I had never heard of the war in the DRC. But once I knew, I couldn’t sit back and do nothing. Twice since hearing that story I’ve traveled with World Relief to Eastern Congo—the epicenter of fighting. I discovered there a tragedy worse than I’d imagined. But I also discovered the most powerful positive force in the world: hope. In a concrete church building in the town of Rutshuru, my friends and I listened while 11 women told their stories. All had been raped and brutalized. Some had watched their husbands murdered and their daughters raped. They ranged from 8 years old to almost 60. They had been empowered to speak through the loving care provided for them by Congolese counselors trained by World Relief. One by one, the women stood and spoke. We wept with them. We knelt and prayed for them. We ate with them. Then my friend Christine photographed them. While she took dozens of photos of each woman, she told them how beautiful they were, that we would not forget them and that we would tell their stories as they had asked us. Something incredible happened that day. We discovered the healing power that is
THE DEPTH OF PAIN IN CONGO NEEDS NOT ONLY HUMAN ACTIVISM, BUT ALSO SUPERNATURAL HEALING.
9 10 WOMEN OUT OF
IN EASTERN CONGO HAVE BEEN RAPED
6,000,000 IN 2012, CONGO RANKED LOWEST ON THE UNITED NATIONS HUMAN DEVELOPMENT INDEX.
[GO DEEP ER]
The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo (2008) Available free online, this feature-length documentary is hard to watch, but it tells the truth about how Congolese women are suffering. thegreatestsilence.org
This is Congo Leave it to World Relief to create this helpful primer of the current climate in Congo, its tragedy and its hope—all in 11 minutes. WATCH This Is Congo www.relm.ag/ 154F7FE
Enoughproject.org Keep up-to-date on Congo’s war with the Enough Project’s news reports, and learn about the role of conflict minerals in fueling and funding the violence— and what we can do to stop it.
1 Insight on Conflict
2 Ten for Congo
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MILLION CONFLICT REFUGEES IN CONGO 1
NUMBER OF LIVES THE CONGO CONFLICT HAS CLAIMED TO DATE 1
51% FEMALE LIFE EXPECTANCY AT BIRTH 48% MALE LIFE EXPECTANCY AT BIRTH
unleashed when stories are told and heard. We experienced the beautiful transformation that occurs when people connect soul to soul across culture and language and differing life experiences. The day was profound, shattering and uplifting all at once. On another day in Rutshuru, we met with local church leaders who have created what they call “Village Peace Committees” to help resolve local conf licts. In a country where there is no rule of law, these church leaders have become the only trusted system of justice that vulnerable people can turn to. Never have I seen a community of believers “being the church” the way I saw it in the DRC. The DRC is a land of contrasts—there is extreme human violation, but there is also a God who is making the way for hope. I do not tell you this story just to inform you. I tell you this story to call you to action. Here’s how you can help: The DRC needs the U.S. government to lead the international community in working for peace in Congo. Find out how you can challenge Congress to do that at worldrelief.org/advocate.
The vulnerable Congolese also need emergency food, shelter and medical care. You can donate $10 right now to World Relief Congo by texting CONGO to 505-55. Or choose to forgo a simple pleasure, and download the “Forgo” app which will send the money you saved to Congo relief. And finally, please pray for peace in the DRC. The depth of pain in Congo needs not only human activism, but also supernatural healing. To learn how you can pray for the DRC, visit tenforcongo.com, a Lynne Hybels grassroots movement Since 1975, Lynne devoted to peace in has been an Congo. active volunteer Your loving action in the compassion can help more ministries of Willow Congolese to say, as Creek Community the women in Rutshuru Church. In 2010 told us, “Thank you she started Ten for coming. You have For Congo. She reminded us that we has also traveled are still human. You extensively in have shown us that God the Middle East is still thinking of us.” and actively And in the midst advocates for of the darkness in the peace in the Holy DRC today, we need Land. She blogs at that kind of hope. lynnehybels.com.
3 World Health Organization
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B Y B R I A N K A M M E R Z E LT
a lifelong gun owner from Northern Wisconsin, my guns hold a lot of personal value to me. I see them as part of my family tradition of hunting and marksmanship. Iâ€™m proud of the legacy of responsible gun ownership that has been passed down to me. For the past five years, I have lived in downtown Chicago, working alongside 84
others who are combating the epidemic of gun violence in this cityâ€”men and women with stray bullet holes in their homes and car doors who regularly lose children in their ministry care to violence. I have stood in candlelight vigils with mothers who have lost children and listened to their pain. Something has to be done. Despite gun-related violence and deaths being down overall, in a city with some of the toughest gun laws in the country, gun violence is up 25 percent, with over 450 school-aged children having been shot (63 fatally) last year.
Unfortunately, this is not some distant wickedness or rare catastrophe. Senseless gun violence is a present reality in my city and others. Earlier this year, in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. shootings, President Obama unveiled a comprehensive gun-safety plan aimed at reducing gun violence. As of this writing, these measures have been defeated in the Senate. The rhetoric over gun reform, in the meantime, is as heated as ever. On one hand, it doesn’t appear that more legislation reduces gun violence. On the other hand, children are being violently shot to death. On one hand, restricting liberties while existing laws go unenforced or root causes go ignored seems misdirected. On the other, children are being violently shot to death. I am also a professor of persuasion and debate who has thin-sliced the arguments over gun ownership, violence and control time and again with my students. I understand the debate. I do not want to debate. I want to stop the murder of innocents from ever happening in the first place. Regardless of your view on guns, I know you do, too. So where do we begin?
Clearly, God in His holiness abhors killing. As Christians, then, we are called to engage the issue with an extreme bias toward the preservation of all life and the reduction of violence by any means. This fact remains whether we are in favor of gun law reform or not. Do we love God more than our legal rights? More than our possessions? More than our patriotism? More than our own safety? Are we being “careful that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak (1 Corinthians 8:9)?” Now, I have made no mention of the implications of those questions to the issue of guns, but if you feel a twinge of defensiveness or pride already, I would challenge you to pray about that.
SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM
Christians are to be about the work of announcing, building and representing an entirely new kind of reality here and now, on Earth as it is in heaven. Our view is to be extraordinarily invested in the immediate concerns of this present reality.
DO WE LOVE OUR “RIGHTS” MORE THAN WE LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR?
Matthew 6:33-34 says it best: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” This means engaging the issue of gun violence and control must be directed toward stopping violence today—not primarily toward defending against a potential future where certain freedoms might be more restricted. Concern about the future of America must not prevent us from addressing the brokenness of today.
Now may be the time to talk about guns and debate rights and solutions, but it is always the time to lead with love and compassion toward others. Christians should be the first to show up to make themselves endlessly available to those most affected—standing in the breach caused by violence. Our policy views should be rooted in relationships before history. The Church should be so invested in the lives of others, especially the “least of these” in society, that when someone exhibits unstable behavior or is threatened by violence, they are surrounded with biblical love and community and given the help they need. Do we love our “rights” more than we love our neighbor? Are we willing to become neighbors to those surrounded by violence? I do not doubt for a second that if more of us abandoned our culture wars, locked up our guns safe behind our legal right to own them and brought the physical presence of Christ into the communities stricken by violence, we would see dramatically less devastation—by guns or otherwise. Not a single new law would need to be
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THE ESTIMATED NUMBER OF REGISTERED FIREARMS IN THE U.S. AS OF MARCH 2012 1
[TA K E AC T ION]
Be an advocate for nonviolence Get Informed by studying the factors that contribute to gun violence. Start here: www.relm.ag/12siwR2 Get proactive by learning how violence can be prevented in your community. Find out how at preventioninstitute.org/ unity. Pray for peace for those who are at risk of becoming perpetrators or victims, and for violent plans to be discovered and intercepted before tragedies can take place.
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VICTIMS OF CRIMES I N VO LV I N G FIREARMS IN 2011
passed and the second amendment would be safer than ever.
LOVE YOUR ENEMY
MILLION FIREARMS MADE IN THE U.S. IN 2010
46,313 MURDERED BY FIREARMS IN THE U.S. BETWEEN 2007 & 2011
1 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
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THE BOTTOM LINE, WHETHER YOU ARE FOR GREATER GUN CONTROL MEASURES OR GREATER SECOND AMENDMENT PROTECTION, IS LIFE.
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Loving others also means seeing your neighbor the way Jesus instructs. Your neighbor, according to His definition, includes those you might vehemently disagree with or even despise. It also means having patience with that friend in your social media feed who has strong opinions but seemingly little understanding, or hearing out organizational leaders calling for dramatic solutions that ignite your ire. This even means praying for the enemies we perceive in perpetrators of gun violence— the lost adolescent who goes on a shooting spree, the gang member seeking revenge, the lonely youth who buys a gun illegally. So, where does all this leave us? As a gun owner who has also seen the horrific effect of gun violence, I can get behind extensive background checks, waiting periods and controlling a certain level of lethal technology. I am for all federal efforts to remove as many illegal weapons from circulation as possible. I will not oppose laws to restrict the sale of firearms or ammunition to criminals or the mentally ill. I’ll advocate to reduce the glorification of gun violence in
video games and movies if those images are inspiring violence. I welcome the day when media outlets stop turning turn killers into “celebrities” for the deranged through sensational coverage. The laws may change and they may not, but my bottom line remains the same. Would I be willing to give up my guns in Wisconsin if it would save a life in downtown Chicago? Yes, if it came to it, a thousand times over. May I never put my rights above the lives of others. Likewise, if I knew it would reduce violence and I were legally allowed to, I’d probably carry a side arm. The bottom line, whether you are for greater gun control measures or greater second amendment protection, is life. It would be a shame to give up rights for measures that don’t ultimately make a difference. It would be an even greater shame if we allowed legal ends to satisfy our regained consciousness that something must be done. We mustn’t allow legal debates to defer our personal responsibility to combat the issue of violence. Having a position on gun laws or the right to bear arms accomplishes little if we are not willing to act. Laws will not heal the pain of tragedies like those our nation has recently seen. Deciding these things does not complete my responsibility as a Christ follower. So let’s do our part as the local and physical Church to reduce violence. The debate may get murky at times, but this much is clear: We are called to action that will reduce gun violence. We need presence, mentoring, education, and the willful choice to become a father to the fatherless. I’m not kept up at night by whether I’ll be able to own any rifle I want. “Love God, seek first the Kingdom, love your neighbor”—That’s what keeps me up at night. That’s where we need to reform.
BRIAN KAMMERZELT is an assistant professor and chair of the communications department at the Moody Bible Institute and director of The Just Life (thejustlife.org). Read more at critiquebycreating.com or follow him on Twitter @ProfKammerzelt.
2 Bureau of Justice Statistics National Crime Victimization Survey
3 FBI Uniform Crime Report
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DOES IT MATTER WHERE YOUR CLOTHES COME FROM? BY MICHELLE BROCK
few years ago, I bought a Joe Fresh shirt that was, in my eyes, perfect: comfortable, the right color, the right fit and also the right price. I walked to the checkout with a sense of accomplishment. By saving money, I felt I was practicing Christian stewardship. Each good deal would give me margin, I thought, to meet other needs and give more generously elsewhere. What I didn’t realize at the time, however, is that low prices often have a high cost. On April 24, 2013, the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed with about 3,500 workers inside. Large cracks had been discovered in the walls the day before, but the workers were told if they did not enter the building, their month’s wages would be withheld. Some were even threatened with beatings. So the workers filed back to their work stations. Hours later, the building crumbled, killing more than 1,100 people. Joe Fresh, The Children’s Place and Benetton were some of the labels manufacturing their products in the factory that collapsed. Many other companies, including Wal-mart as the largest, also manufacture their clothing in Bangladesh. The average monthly wage of a garment worker in the region is $37, and this low cost of labor is what gives companies higher profit margins. What’s more, Rana Plaza is one of many factories where safety violations have caused such disasters. This is the backstory on the other side of the price tag many consumers never see. Here is where the finger pointing begins. The race to the bottom, a byproduct of unchecked capitalism, ensures that no one is “really responsible” for what happened. It becomes a classic case of plausible deniability, the condition in which a party can believably deny knowledge of a reality because the system has deliberately shielded them from the full picture. The owner of the plaza that housed the garment factories won’t claim responsibility because the factory owner chose to operate in the building without demanding structural upgrades first. The owners of the the garment factories won’t claim responsibility because they are only trying to meet the demands of the their multinational corporation clients. The corporations who sell clothing in their stores won’t claim responsibility because they assume the 88
Bangladesh government is enforcing labor laws that align with their company codes of conduct. The government of Bangladesh won’t claim responsibility because if they start to reinforce labor codes, international corporations will pull out of Bangladesh, with significant economic ramifications. The customers buying clothing won’t claim responsibility, because they assume companies are monitoring their factories. And in the end, a stylish outfit for a low price trumps further questioning. In essence, the landlord blames the factories, the factories blame the multinational corporations, the multinational corporations blame the government, the government blames the economic climate and the customers claim their ignorance. No one is left to take responsibility for the hundreds of people crushed under the weight of concrete.
Of course, the reality is every player in this sequence is responsible. Evangelist Charles Finney once said he never witnessed a revival that didn’t include public confession and restitution. This means if we want change to happen, we must be willing to look in the mirror. Bangladesh is the second largest exporter of clothing in the world, and the U.S. is its biggest buyer. If you have purchased an item made in Bangladesh or the product of any unjust labor anywhere, you are responsible. Yet here is the paradox of justice: We are individually responsible, but to enact real change, we must change more than our individual actions. We must work together to create systemic solutions, because the problem is systemic. The impact of the Rana Plaza factory collapse has affected thousands of families who have sustained the loss of a loved one, the loss of income, the fear of going back to work at any factory and more. Sex traffickers even prey upon such tragedies. Dr. Abrar Chowdhury, coordinator of Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit in Bangladesh, told the Dhaka Tribune that in times of chaos, “traffickers can easily lure [the unemployed] with promises of jobs abroad.” And because 80 percent of the
LOW PRICES OFTEN HAVE A HIGH COST. country’s garment workers are women, the Border Guard Bangladesh has been on high alert since the factory collapse. But if families are made vulnerable to human trafficking and extreme poverty when a factory shuts down, then wouldn’t the absence of a Western market leave these families in a vulnerable place? The system is so broken, it makes workers dependent on their own exploitation. Yet to reverse this will require action at a systemic level. Restoration must begin with fostering sustainable opportunities for people in developing countries so workers are no longer dependent on their exploiters for a quasi-livelihood. This isn’t an abstract hope, either. The Worker Rights Consortium estimates that it would only cost 10 cents more per clothing item to uphold factory safety standards in Bangladesh. In the wake of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, many global retailers have signed the Accord on Fire and Building Safety, backed by the International Labour Organization, in an effort to prevent future disasters. Participating companies are signing up for a five-year commitment to factory safety inspections and paying up to $500,000 a year toward safety improvements.
However, some major retailers have resisted the act. As representative George Miller, the senior Democratic member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, said in an official statement after the factory collapse, “If they fail to sign an enforceable agreement, they are declaring that they accept blood on their labels.” The clothing production system is complex, but wherever one plays a role in the process, we all have an opportunity to move in the direction of redemption.
10 THINGS YOU CAN DO
1. Go through your closet. For
every piece of clothing made in Bangladesh, donate the amount that you paid for it to the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, which has set up the Bangladesh Worker Relief Fund at globallabourrights.org 2. Sponsor a child. Organizations like World Vision (worldvision.org) and
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Compassion (compassion.com) offer communitybased child sponsorship programs that equip children for life, thereby reducing the likelihood that they will end up in sweatshops or other vulnerable situations. 3. Inform yourself of the connection between your personal purchases and unjust labor practices. Discover your own slavery footprint at slaveryfootprint.org. 4. Run an ethical business, motivated by people over profit. Go to madeinafreeworld.com for ideas. 5. Buy used clothing, and therefore avoid contributing to the demand for new clothes that are factory-made. 6. Buy fair-trade certified products whenever you can. See your dollar as a vote, and put it toward good and just causes. 7. Research where your clothing comes from by Googling the company name with the word “labor practices” or searching the database at free2work.org. Then write a letter to the company and advocate for them to source their products ethically. Go to change.org to start your own petition. 8. As a church, start a clothing co-op or become a distributor for fair-trade products in your region. 9. Write a letter to your political representatives. Let them know that corporate accountability is important to you, and ask them what they are doing to promote this on a government level. 10. Pray that God would break the chains of greed and injustice, and ask Him to show you how to be part of that process. Because wherever you buy your clothes from, injustice doesn’t look good on anyone.
MICHELLE BROCK is the co-founder of Hope for the Sold, a charity that fights sex trafficking one word at a time. Learn more at hopeforthesold.com.
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WHY YOU CAN’T SAVE THE WORLD B Y T Y L ER W IGG-S T E V ENSON
ollowing His story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus offered up a simple command: “Go, and do likewise”— that is, be a neighbor by showing mercy to those you find in need. I want to do likewise. I bet you do, too. But that often seems like a tall order in an age of real-time global knowledge about human suffering. Every time I browse the news, I feel like I’m walking down a fiber-optic Jericho road, and the ditches on each side are filled with billions of people in distress, all crying out. How can I be a neighbor in the face of such pain? This question has contributed to the development of a Christian “cause culture” over the past decade. Though laudable in many ways, cause-driven Christianity has also perpetuated two dangerous illusions. The first illusion is that individual action helps solve systemic problems. For example, the very clothing I’m wearing now may be the product of unjust labor. But while my individual action is part of the problem, a change in my behavior wouldn’t in itself be a part of its solution. Of course we should act justly, but we shouldn’t pretend that such works
WE FACE THE CHOICE TO LIVE IN A TENSION THAT CANNOT BE RESOLVED ...
Tyler WiggStevenson (@TylerWS) is the author of The World Is Not Ours To Save (InterVarsity Press), from which this article is adapted with permission. Copyright© 2013.
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constitute small steps toward an answer. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not denying the capacity of collective action to help make changes in corrupt systems, such as the boycott of apartheid-era South Africa that helped undermine that regime. The key word here, though, is “collective.” To transform the problem of unjust manufacture, we need to figure out how to implement strong practices of justice in global trade. If we’re serious about it, it means figuring out how to channel personal commitment into genuine political activism—not just the cultural engagement our generation seems to prefer. The second illusion happens when we falsely believe we can fix the world. When I tell people I work on nuclear disarmament, they often remark about saving the world. Such f lippant comments betray the conviction that we really could save this thing if we just got our act together. But every social ill combines both individual and social factors. Even if every social condition were perfected, the human heart would remain catastrophically broken. And yet this inability to fix the heart doesn’t give us license to run from even massive problems. The abolition of chattel slavery in the 18th and 19th century was an unadulterated good—even though it didn’t excise humanity’s desire to be lord over our fellow beings, as evidenced by the persistence of slavery today. Similarly, abolishing nuclear weapons is not about curing people of our willingness to kill each other en masse, but about regulating a technology to close off certain disastrous avenues. These concerns have consequences. A generation of Christians that thinks it is called to save the world is firing on the fuel of false hopes. It is signing up for disillusioned burnout. So how do we walk our global Jericho road? What’s the secret? The secret is there is no secret. No solution—until the Kingdom of God comes—to the dilemma of living in a fallen world. We face the choice to live in a tension that cannot be resolved, refusing to be paralyzed by the absence of a solution. This is the decision to labor against vast injustices, the resolutions of which we will likely never see. This is the decision to love as Jesus loves. This is the decision, that is, to hurt. Beware of the cause that promises you anything else.
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RELE VAN T RECOMMENDS: MUSIC
WATCH The official video for â€˜Sea of Loveâ€™ relm.ag/10nTuEF
THE NATIONAL TROUBLE WILL FIND ME [4AD]
> Like most alt-rock bands, The National has found a deep groove. On the bandâ€™s sixth album, they deliver once again, especially on the single â€œSea of Loveâ€? and the blistering â€œGraceless.â€? But hold on: Matt Berninger and crew are ready to tackle subjects like the afterlife, dealing with past regrets, and the heartbreaking silence of lost love. They dial it down on songs like â€œSlippedâ€? (â€œIâ€™m having trouble inside my skinâ€?) that echo with faint remorse. This sort of stuff has been The Nationalâ€™s trademark, but itâ€™s never gotten old because each album is better than the one before, with submerged charms that only float to the surface on repeated listens. These guys are getting better as they get sadder. Apparently, growth hurts.
SHE & HIM VOLUME 3 (MERGE)
MAJOR LAZER FREE THE UNIVERSE (SECRETLY CANADIAN)
> The great secret of She & Him is that Zooey Deschanel writes most of the songs. On her third outing with producer and guitarist M. Ward, Deschanel pulls out a few vocal tricks: the opening track is drenched in oohs and ahhs she did herself. On â€œSnow Queenâ€? she stretches out notes like a lounge singer. The lilting horns accent her main strength: sounding simultaneously retro and modern. On Harry Nobleâ€™s â€œHold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me,â€? she croons like she belongs in the â€˜50s. â€œTogetherâ€? is so cloying youâ€™ll go buy a puppy.
> Talk about pulling out the stops.
DJ extraordinaire Diplo, who gained fame after working with M.I.A., corrals Dirty Projectorsâ€™ Amber Coffman (on â€œGet Freeâ€?) and Vampire Weekendâ€™s Ezra Koenig (on â€œJessicaâ€?) onto his sophomore release. Thereâ€™s reggae charm, rap sensibility and indie cred at work here. Coffman descends from the throne vocally amid the squalor of low-grade synths on the first single. â€œReach for the Starsâ€? takes Wyclef Jean into Matisyahu territory as he breaks down Instagram subculture.
Includes 8 video sessions designed for group use Mark Scandrette, author of Practicing the Way of Jesus, joins his wife, Lisa, to share the secrets of how they bought a home and raised a family debt-free in the most expensive city in the United States. Their peace should begin with the shalom of God.
DAFT PUNK RANDOM ACCESS MEMORIES (DAFT LIFE, COLUMBIA) Guy-Manuel de HomemChristo and Thomas Bangalter, aka Daft Punk, return on their fourth album with a disco ball in tow. The opening track, with Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers, is a throwback to the electronic beats few of us even remember, circa 1977. There’s a spoken word track by disco producer Giorgio Moroder that lasts over nine minutes. The song “Within” is a highlight, capturing Daft Punk’s dense craftwork and attentive retro vibe. >
DEERHUNTER MONOMANIA (4AD)
THE KNIFE SHAKING THE HABITUAL (RABID RECORDS)
SAMUEL LANE THE FIRE (VINEYARD MUSIC UK)
> “I was spinning my big wheels...”
> If The Knife walked into your
> A Brit recording in California
sings Bradford Cox on the song “Nitebike.” Dude, we can relate. Deerhunter’s sixth and most accessible album borrows from The Rolling Stones: rambling solos, monumental jams. There’s a sense the band has finally accepted their garage-rock impulses. Cox sings like John Lennon on the song “Blue Agent.” On “Team Captain,” the overdrive engulfs you. On “The Missing,” listen for the swirling second guitar that fuses the song together. It’ll all hold together, somehow.
kitchen right now, they could create a pretty amazing techno song out of a blender and some salad tongs. The Stockholm duo’s fifth album thankfully draws from more traditional instruments like whistles, Japanese drums, and, of course, the occasional synth to create a funky eclectic dystopia. The first three songs are enough to make you want to buy a Swedish flag: they’re percussive, assaulting, and intelligent. On “Old Dreams Waiting To Be Realized,” you have 19 minutes to figure out what it all means.
who sang on the amazing Beautiful album in the early aughts, Samuel Lane is the Jeremiah of worship music. His songs have an ache that boldly catapults you toward the Savior. “Fiery Love” simmers with drums and his searing voice; it’s an eruption of classic rock and blues set to a prophetic ode. Lane sings that the Holy Spirit is holding up the stars and his own heart. By the end of the album, amid softlystrummed ballads, you’ll find Lane has only one goal: to reveal and revel in Gospel-soaked conviction.
Drawing on his storied career as a pop-culture wallflower, Steve Turner provides an all-access pass to the cultures of celebrity, media and style that so color modern life. Passing on a uniquely Christian way of viewing these cultures, Turner opens our eyes to a world of ideas lying just beneath the hype.
800.843.9487 I IVPRESS.COM
RELE VAN T RECOMMENDS: DV DS
TO THE WONDER TERRENCE MALICK [BROTHERS K PRODUCTIONS, R]
> Terrence Malick’s To the Wonder, a story about a man (Ben Affleck) and woman (Olga Kurylenko) falling in and out of love from Paris to Oklahoma, continues to be dismissed for being too “Malicky.” Yet it’s for this reason it works so well. From the lyrical imagery to the poetic voiceovers to the gospel of grace at its center, To the Wonder is pure Malick through and through— and all the better for it. Of all Malick’s accomplishments, though, this new work actually turns out to be the most ambitious. In many ways, it functions as one gigantic montage rather than a feature film, given the limited dialogue and abstract narrative. To the Wonder moves like a dance, not just in the gliding handheld camerawork—Malick portrays marriage as a dance between two souls. In this, To the Wonder underlines a way in which we reflect and need the love of Christ.
WARM BODIES JONATHAN LEVINE (SUMMIT ENTERTAINMENT, PG-13)
ROOM 237 RODNEY ASCHER (HIGHLAND PARK CLASSICS, NR)
> Nowadays, zombie fare is overdone. Yet now and then, something comes along and proves to be an exception. Warm Bodies, from writer-director Jonathan Levine (50/50), marks the latest of such rarities. A story about a zombie boy (the up-and-coming Nicholas Hoult) who falls in love with a non-zombie girl (Teresa Palmer), the film offers a sweet, funny and innovative take on the tired genre. It also offers a powerful analogy of what love can do to a dead spirit.
> Room 237 explores a range of perspectives on Stanley Kubrick’s famous 1980 horror film, The Shining. One theory suggests the film is about the Holocaust. Another argues it’s about the Apollo Space Project. While these interpretations reach, they’re still fascinating, speaking to the complexities of Kubrick’s work. Director Rodney Ascher underscores the significance of film not only in his examination of The Shining but also in creating a powerful film himself.
Engaging faith to engage the world Bridging difference Listening generously Tell ing Good News
800.264.1839 | www.lpts.edu
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Explore these degrees | Master of Divinity, MA Marriage & Family Therapy, MA (Religion), Doctor of Ministry
THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES DEREK CIANFRANCE (FOCUS FEATURES, R) > After beating us down with Blue
Valentine, Derek Cianfrance returns with another dark vision. The Place Beyond the Pines features Ryan Gosling as a motorcycle stuntman who becomes a bank robber to support his family. His story parallels that of a cop (Bradley Cooper) taking on police corruption. These two plots merge and culminate into an meditation on fatherhood and legacy, anchored by assured performances and an enthralling atmosphere.
THE GATEKEEPERS DROR MOREH (CINEPHIL, PG-13)
BEYOND THE HILLS CRISTIAN MUNGIU (MOBRA FILMS, NR)
> Nominated for an Academy Award, The Gatekeepers is the best kind of documentary. It’s a documentary that puts its cards on the table, not trying to hide its agenda. The film calls into question everything we think we know about Israel, Zionism and the Middle East. Centered on the guilt-stricken stories of six former agents from Israel’s secret service, Dror Moreh’s documentary explores the ramifications of the holy war through a series of stark interviews.
> Though the plot of this Romanian
When Will The Rapture Occur? Is the return of Christ near? Is there a literal millennium? Is there a code in Revelation? These questions and more are examined in the book
Mystery and Revelation Code Examined Study guide included By Rob Westerman
“May God give usefulness to this book!”
– Dr. Samuel E. Waldron, Ph.D.
Visit today: MillenniumMystery.com Reformation Ministries International, Inc. is dedicated to the Truth of Scripture. We believe the Bible is the Word of God. We believe reformed theology and doctrine in the Sovereignty of God, salvation, and eschatology.
drama boasts a monastery and demon possession, it’s not just another exorcist entry. Written and directed by Christian Mungiu, Beyond the Hills deals with the struggle between spiritual and secular in one nun’s dilemma to stay and serve the Lord or leave for a new life. While the film’s deliberate pacing makes it slow, the approach matches the contemplative nature of the story and its protagonist as she mulls over the many possible consequences of her decisions..
JACK REACHER CHRISTOPHER MCQUARRIE (PARAMOUNT PICTURES, PG-13) > Tom Cruise in an action movie: What else is there to say? After a sensational turn in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Cruise proves that, no matter your opinion on his personal life, he is a top action hero. Jack Reacher, adapted from Lee Child’s thrillers, puts Cruise on a mission to get to the bottom of a sniper attack. Though it’s familiar, the pursuit moves swiftly and suspensefully. Cruise also gets help from the stacked cast, featuring Richard Jenkins, Robert Duvall and Werner Herzog.
CON T EN T S
Vampire Weekend 44 Sartorial prepsters. Iv y League rock stars. Vampire Weekend has worn a lot of hats during their career, and now they have got a new one: truth seekers.
08 First Word 10 Feedback
for us to reject apathy.
They have being called the new Radiohead. What else do you need to know?
12 Slices How 3-D printing can solve world hunger, the impending deluge of Bible movies and more.
32 The Drop
82 Women In The Congo Nine out of ten women in the Congo have been raped—here’s
60 Peter Hitchens
a look at one of the great
The brother of one of the world’s most famous atheists has a very different outlook.
Is Chris Tomlin the world’s most-sung artist? Also, interviews with Kim Walker-Smith, HAIM and more.
humanitarian crises of our time.
84 4 Things Christians Need to Remember About Gun Control No matter which side you come down on in one of our
38 Summer Reading Guide
generation’s most heated debates, there are a few
Give yourself something to do at the beach.
64 7 Ways To Get Out of Debt This Summer
things to keep in mind.
It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible.
68 Is The Church a Broken Institution? 48 Tweet This, Not That
Christians are giving up on the Church in droves. Do they have a point?
How to not be annoying on social media: an essential guide.
52 Does Prayer Work? We have heard stories of answered prayer, but we know the pain of unanswered
R E J E C T
A P A T H Y
S E C T I O N
S P E C I A L
72 A Justice Manifesto
prayer, too. And it begs the question: does
Preventable disease, creation care
and other areas in which it is time
88 Where Do Your Clothes Come From? In light of a recent rash of fatal factory accidents, it’s time to start checking the tag on your clothes.
92 R elevant Recommends
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Vampire Weekend's first album was a Cinderella Story and their second was a critical smash, but their newest album is their most fascinating...
Published on Jun 25, 2013
Vampire Weekend's first album was a Cinderella Story and their second was a critical smash, but their newest album is their most fascinating...