Tuesday, July 30, 2013


My reading is pretty focused these days - thesis! - but I'm not finishing much. I'm eager to wrap up my evening, bedtime read, The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs. I got such a kick out of his earlier memoir, The Know-it-All. (subtitled: One man's humble quest to be the smartest person in the world) There are some fascinating insights, some important reminders, and a lot of laugh-out-loud moments in the book I'm trying to finish now. And then, it looks like I'll have to find and read Jacobs' Drop Dead Healthy: One man's humble quest for Bodily Perfection.

Thesis reading has taken me down a surprising road this month. I'm behind my own writing schedule, for reasons not entirely in my control; but the month has been fascinating. In short - much more on this later - some of the work I thought I was going to have to do, I find has been done for me. At the  moment I'm thinking specifically of the potential of music to carry meaning, to represent; the prospect that music may be (within careful bounds, and cautiously) interpreted. This is important for my thesis, but beyond that it gets at my larger project, namely, that music matters (that is, the notes, the tunes and accompaniments) and supports or undercuts the words used in worship. Oh, so much more on this, later.

Then, there are all those blog posts that people paste into their Facebook statuses. I don't spend a lot of time following bloggers. I do, but am not the guy who starts or ends each day checking in on favorite sites. I have many more book-marked than I can get to each week, and I generally look at them while I'm filling spare moments between things. There has been a vigorous flurry of posts about why young people are leaving the evangelical church. In general, I note that most of the solutions skirt the issue of gathered worship . . . even though the churches many young evangelicals are leaving for are historically liturgical. There seems to be a blind-spot in non-historical, free-church evangelicalism that believes if we just get our theology and the gospel right, young people will stay with our a-historical, culture-driven, rootless worship services. Now, I don't think the evangelical church needs to adopt the Book of Common Prayer to keep its youth. What I do think is that  evangelical churches need to commit to some historic, theological, liturgical structure - in keeping with their tradition (they have one, they just don't know or admit it) - and work in that context to serve the present age. Solid old theology, dumb new worship; go figure.

Which brings me to a post I was pointed to this morning. I don't know who Paul Washer is, and frankly I don't have the time or interest to find out nor to read what I'm sure is an excellent series of books. And as far as I know, I've never read Tim Challies' blog, and no I won't bookmark it and follow it. Though I have no doubt that I would benefit from doing so. But thanks to a Facebook friend's status and link, I appreciated these thoughts today. Challies interviews Washer about the "New Calvinism." After affirming some positive aspects of the movement, Washer ticks off seven concerns. The first four I recognize, but  have not rubbed shoulders with "new Calvinists" who exhibit these traits. Two of the last three, though. Oh my:
5 - embracing the great doctrines of the Reformation, without letting go of unbiblical models of ministry.
7 - the attempt of many young reformed to appear "contemporary, hip, cool, or even avant-garde."

Which simply sets up a critique I've kept to myself for a while: when it comes to worship especially, this movement would rather be trendy than right.

1 comment:

John Darrow said...

I read the first chapter of Jacobs's Year book at the bookstore, and it's on my list of books to get once I can afford to buy books again. Rachel Held Evans's A Year of Biblical Womanhood tackles a similar theme regarding the biblical message for women. (I'm a bit incredulous at those who smile and chuckle at Jacobs's book but are incensed at Evans's, given how similar they are in theme.)